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I'm nearly 37 weeks pregnant, which was when I was induced the last time I was pregnant. So I'm either a few days or a mere three weeks away from doubling the amount of children (and, from what I hear, quadrupling the amount of stress) in our house. Here are my final thoughts, both excited and nervous, before my body and our lives go kablooie.
What does labor feel like? My first birth process was a long, drawn-out scary mess that started three weeks before I was due and ended up with me being hospitalized for four nights. Will this one be more typical? Will that mean it'll hurt more, or be more frazzled? Because at the very least, I was in the hospital the whole time last time, and didn't have to worry about when to get there.
What will this kid be like? How will my son react? This has to be typical—we wouldn't have a second kid if our first one wasn't so great, so naturally, we wonder how the second one will stack up. But what if this kid is much harder than our first? Will I be able to avoid comparing them? And what if our firstborn son reacts badly to sharing his time and space with somebody new? What if he hurts the baby and I'll be angrier with him than I've ever been in my life? The answer, I know, is: yes. Yes, they'll be different. Yes, our son will probably have to adjust. And the reality is that I just don't know what it's like to love two children any more than I knew before I had one what it was like to love one. So I'll just learn.
How much harder it will be with two. Somebody asked me the other day if I have a plan in place for how to take care of a toddler and a newborn and I don't, not really, beyond asking my husband to try to avoid taking on work that will fall during the hours that both the toddler and the newborn will be home. I have no idea how, on my own, I'd take the two of them in the car someplace, or deal with bedtime, or answer the door or the phone. On the other hand, I am extra appreciative of my many blessings and sources of help: My son will be in daycare during the day and my parents live nearby and I have gotten a lot more comfortable with asking for help and letting go—if somebody sees me without my makeup on or folds the laundry in a weird way, it's all fine.
This time, this kid has a sex, he has a name, and he has a precedent—he won't just be an infant but he's a future person, too.
What I'm excited and hopeful about:
The non-surprises. It won't make it easier but at least I know that my body is going to physically be a mess for a few weeks. I know that sleep deprivation is not to be taken lightly and that it will explain a lot, like why for awhile my husband and I might not be totally crazy in love with each other, or why temporary phases feel like they take forever. That newborns don't give you much but then eventually they do. Things get better, I know that now. I seriously couldn't wrap my brain around that the first time.
Fewer identity crises. Last time I was pregnant, and earlier in this pregnancy, I was freaking out about the prospect of bearing the label of "mom." Something happened the night we took our son to the zoo and I realized that every single family looked the same in the dark: a couple of shapeless grown-ups slavishly pushing around children for their entertainment. To my kid, I will not be an actual human being for many, many years and that's fine—it would be kind of weird if I were desperate to prove my relevance to a child.
And to people passing me by on the sidewalk as I do push my kids in my stroller, what could I possibly do in the span of a few seconds to show them I'm somebody other than a parent? Nothing a normal human being would do—and that's the nice thing about getting older—freedom from worrying about what every rando thinks about you. Just like I don't think of my parent friends as "just parents," I need to trust that the people who matter won't see me only as the boys' mom. As long as I hold onto the non-mom parts of me—the writer, the runner, the jokey-comment-maker, the live reading producer, the friend—the people who know me will too.
Not being pregnant anymore. Every night, despite the sexy wrist braces I wear, I wake up several times because my carpal tunnel has my forearms feeling so numb and pressurized it's like an elephant has been sitting on them, so I toss and turn and try to find positions to relieve the discomfort, which usually involve holding them out at right angles like a stick figure. I can more or less deal with the other discomforts and indignities of pregnancy at this point but this is the one thing that makes me think, "If I get induced again at 37 weeks, maybe that's not so bad."
Meeting this kid. When I was pregnant the first time I had no idea what to expect and so didn't expect much beyond what I'd seen in movies and commercials. And when I was in labor, I was so scared and worn out that I lost sight of what we were working on. I was legitimately surprised when a baby came out of me. This time, this kid has a sex, he has a name, and he has a precedent—he won't just be an infant but he's a future person, too. If you had shown me a photo or video of what my first child would look like or be like one day, I might have found his newbornhood more interesting or precious.
So, we'll see! I also know that after this new kid is born I'll probably look back on these thoughts and find them all awfully naive or silly, but the final upside is that I'll have more adventures and insights (I hope) to write about as well.