Oddly, or perhaps not, as veteran moms to many would likely tell me, I am actually more excited about this pregnancy than about any previous pregnancy save perhaps for number one. (And let’s be honest, number one was marked with periods of stark terror, lots of late night googling, and overpriced and precocious maternity purchases.)
I don’t mean that numbers 2, 3, and 4 weren’t all delightful and filled with moments of sweet anticipation, but there’s something about this pregnancy, coming during a year of intense transition and turmoil for our family, that has been so grounding and so sweet. After the first 24 hours of shock wore off, I shifted almost immediately from “well, that wasn’t in the 6-month plan” to “I can’t wait to meet this little person,” which, for me, a woman for not given to acute fits of maternal emotion, seemed unusual.
This little baby is softening my heart already. (Along with the rest of me, but that’s the price of admission to the mother club.)
I’m sure it’s due in part to my other children’s excitement for a new sibling. At 6 going on 7, Joey is old enough to understand that a baby is really growing inside me, and in fact, spent the first trimester taunting me that I was having twins because “mommy you’re soooooo sick, there must be two babies!”
(He got deep enough into my psyche that I did actually request a 14 week ultrasound and, sorry, kid, only one bebe on board. Whew.)
I’m just starting to show now at 19 weeks, though if I’m out in public with all 4 kids I can still kind of suck in and feign midsection thickness if I’d rather not cop to it. The kids have started talking to my belly, putting their hands on the entirely wrong part of my abdomen and whispering sweet nothings to fat rolls that are just sort of being rearranged. (I need to order that Blanqi asap, because Luke blew my last one out beyond all elastic recognition.) It’s charming, if not humbling, to have one’s fluffy midsection lovingly stroked by adoring sibling hands eager to suggest names (The big boys favor Leo and Nicholas, Evie prefers “Boobie Trap”) and to narrate the day to day action in our house to their little brother or sister in utero. Even Luke, not quite 2 years old yet, has taken to kissing and patting the belly before bedtime, insisting on being tucked in with a naked babydoll some nights who he solemnly tells me is “my baby, mama.”
It’s hard not to catch their enthusiasm. And it’s hard not to look at each of them and wonder whose eyes, whose nose, what shape head (size XL: guarantee). I was watching them ride plasma cars in a death defying swoop down the driveway into the street last night and realizing that for as numerous as they are, as they grow and mature, I’m seeing them more as a collection of individuals – starkly and startlingly unique – and less as a pack of toddler wolves. Improving bathroom manners go a long way toward alleviating that perception, to be sure. It’s fascinating to watch their personalities come online, seeing different interests and abilities bubble to the surface, along with specific character flaws and even tendencies to sin. I thought I had one of each four temperaments, officially, but the older and louder Luke gets, the more chagrined I find myself that I ever fancied him a phlegmatic. Homeboy be choleric, loud and proud.
I’ve been trying to not rush ahead in anticipation of the process this time, and instead accepting each week for what it brings. I usually psyche myself up for an early delivery (and I usually do deliver early) but I end up mentally and emotionally “done” at 38 weeks. I don’t want to do that this time. I don’t know if this will be our last baby (and given our track record, I rather doubt it) but you never know. And if it is my last pregnancy, I want to enjoy it, to the extent that it’s possible. I want my kids to have at least one memory of mommy being joyful while expecting a sibling and not laid out on the couch destroyed by fatigue, and having these two most recent additions 28 months rather than 18 months apart has done worlds of difference for my mental and physical health. #thanksMarquette
I hope that I can hang onto this rosier vision of gestation as the weeks and months (and pounds) tick by, but I know that by month 8 I might be crying uncle and googling “earliest safe induction by massage” and all that. For now though, this baby is the best thing going in the hectic and slightly overwhelming life of our family, and it has never felt more accurate or more sincere to speak of another sibling being the greatest gift I can give to my children. I’m so glad this baby is here, and so unworthy of the beautiful children I’ve been tasked with. I can only hope they’ll go easier on me at assessment time since I’m parenting them in zone defense rather than one on one. Kids, if you’re reading this on your hologram pads in 2032 in some ancient internet archive: mommy loves you and is doing her best, even though she keeps feeding you hot dogs and trying to fall asleep at 7 pm.