She Will Be Loved
I was sipping wine at a girls’ night, telling my friends how happy I was to have my body back, to feel like myself again. I was done breastfeeding and looking like I had before I got pregnant, my stomach flattened back down and my belly button in the shape it had been all my life.
“I finally have my boobs to myself! I don’t know that I want to do it all again,” I declared as I put my shoes on to head home. And as the words came out of my mouth, fear crept in.
Shit, I thought. I bet I’m going to get pregnant soon.
I didn’t know I already was.
A few days later, after feeling nauseated and exhausted, I took a test to rule it out, to put that fearful thought at bay. It was a few days before my period was due and I always got nauseated before it came, so my sense of lethargy wasn’t out of the ordinary.
My sidekick toddled to the bathroom with me and when I was finished peeing, I replaced the cap on the stick, and he grabbed it out of my hand. For twenty minutes, I chased him around the house, trying to coax it from him. “Oliver, can you share the stick with mommy?” I’d plead. Finally, I grabbed it and we played a bit of tug-o-war until I could read it: two pink lines. Dark.
It was October 1. My stomach fell.
We had just started the process of buying a new house, somewhat unexpectedly. We had just gotten Raz a new car to commute to work. My business was going really well, chugging along reliably and consistently. ODP was starting part-time daycare. We had just found our groove. Juggling it all didn’t feel as hard as it had, as desperate.
And now I was pregnant. This would change everything.
I wasn’t happy. Or excited. I was terrified. Honestly, I was kind of pissed.
When Raz got home that night, I had Oliver show dada his new toy. He was stunned. We didn’t talk about it much. He knew I wasn’t happy and that the shock wasn’t settling. I started to feel equally as guilty as I felt angry. We aren’t naive teenagers. We know how all of this works and we always wanted babies two-ish years apart. I just wasn’t expecting my life at that time to upend itself, right as I was settling into it. These are the jokes the universe loves to play on us, I realize, but I started thinking about all the things that would change, how many big decisions and responsibilities would rest heavily on my shoulders, and the resentment I had about that. I had just gotten my boobs back!
When I finally went in to have the pregnancy confirmed, I told the new member of my midwifery team that in my first pregnancy, my hormone levels were so high initially that they called me back for an internal ultrasound to check for multiples. That would be my first twin scare. As she moved the ultrasound stick or whatever it is inside of me, she said, “Uh huh, uh huh, well, I am seeing two sets of limbs here, so I’m going to go get someone for a second opinion.”
“You’re Punk’ing me,” I said, Raz squeezing my arm.
“I’m not.” she replied. “This is what we do when we’re not sure. We get a second opinion.”
When she left the room, I stared up at Raz and then closed my eyes, my whole life flashing in front of them. I didn’t even know if I could do one more. TWO?
When the nurse came in and adjusted the angle of the ultrasound stick, she said what I needed to hear: “Not twins. Just one big baby.”
I was already in my second trimester. This baby’s due date would be set for May 17, 2019, Oliver’s second birthday.
Was it my dad up there messing with me? In all of this baby hullaballoo, it was the one thing of which I was sure. It was the one thing that made me smile. I looked at Raz: “No more babies,” I told him. “Next time won’t be a scare.”
As you can imagine, none of what happened at that appointment helped me get my mind right about what was happening. If anything, more thoughts were swimming around in it. We were moving. We needed to sell our house. I had terrible nausea and indigestion in a scary daily cycle: until I ate, I was nauseated. Once I ate, my stomach balled itself into a painful fist, unclenching slowly and over hours and hours, resulting in one VERY unhappy, dramatic human who burped and farted her way through her days. I cried almost every day, about all of it.
We opted into the early two-factor blood tests + ultrasound that help to rule out things like Downs. With Oliver, at that ultrasound, we knew he was a boy based on his insistence on toilet bowl dancing through the whole appointment. This time, we didn’t see anything between the legs except cord and I, again, spun out mentally. I needed to know what I was getting. I needed to think of this thing that I’d been so upset about—that I’d been beating myself up for being so upset about—as a real human, who I could name and dream about and get excited to meet. I had to know boy or girl and I had to know yesterday.
Raz did not share my sense of urgency. “I don’t see what’s so bad about waiting until twenty weeks,” he sighed. “I like the process.”
I had recently seen a local blogger who wasn’t much further along than I was announce the gender of her baby. She had found an ultrasound center that specialized in gender reveals. I knew it was my sign and that’s what I wanted to do, too. But Raz’s support mattered to me as well. It was important to me that he was happy and excited, which he said he was. I still wasn’t there, and as the days went on, I beat myself up more and more for feeling scared and angry about this…blessing? This new human I would grow and come to know and to love. It took a little convincing, but I think he finally sensed my desperation, and that this wasn’t some cute “let me tell instagram with pink or blue confetti!” sort of thing, he got on board, too.
Part of it, for me, is I feel pretty strongly in my soul that I want to be two and through. I am not a person who enjoys pregnancy. I am not a person who enjoys lack of sleep and giving my boobs away. We’d always laughingly agreed that we’d have three if we got two of the same, and if we had two of the same, that meant another pregnancy, and another pregnancy meant not another twin scare. A third pregnancy meant twins. I was already terrified. Two boys meant four babies. If I were 25, becoming The Bravermans might be more realistic. I am not 25, and I have been mourning the non-reality of my 65-year-old self looking down a long Thanksgiving table at my loud and chaotic adult children and grandchildren since the first time I watched Parenthood in its entirety. Four babies is not something I can realistically handle.
So, knowing boy or girl meant I’d have a better sense of the decisions I’d be faced with in the next handful of years. It meant getting excited about a new little human who would have a face and a name and a little personality all his or her own. It meant a small level of mourning regardless of the outcome and it meant peace of mind for me, either way.
If you’ve gotten this far and read the spoiler header, you know how this story ends. I will get to see Raz as a girl daddy. Oliver will have a little sister. I will get to pull her hair into little piggies. We will meet our girl baby in May. And she will be loved fiercely.
When I finally knew for sure, I felt like I didn’t have to hold my breath anymore. I wasn’t breathing fully, but I was breathing again. I’m still terrified. I’m still not the best at being pregnant (family holidays without wine are not something I care to experience again). I still get gassy. I already have the beginnings of a few stretch marks that are making me VERY ANGRY, but I think I might be able to handle my four full-time jobs eventually (a husband, two babies, and actual creative work that contributes to our bills). I think I can, and I will.
And in the end, it will all be okay. Because it always is.
Meet you in May, sweet little chick Popa!