I am preoccupied lately with thoughts of a second child. I think back to being pregnant and I romanticize it. Not the hemmorhoids or the constipation, heartburn, hip pain, pimples, bloating, or swollen feet. Nothing romantic about any of that, just ask my husband. You know what was easier then? Not having to take care of a baby who is on the verge of being a toddler. It’s not that I don’t love it. It’s just that it’s hard! And I have never been a fan of difficult.
I also have the tendency to live in the past or in an imagined future. Staying in the present challenges me. It’s part of why I write a blog. I want to be here now. To some extent, planning for the future is reasonable. When will I go back to work? How do we want to invest our nest egg? Should we buy a car now or wait until the one we have stops running? Should we try to have another child? If so when? When should we think about buying a house? Are buying a house and having a second child mutually exclusive goals (it feels like it)?
The decision about having a second child cannot be put off for too long. I will be 38 in March. Who knows how many fertility years I have left? The longer I wait, the more significantly my fertility drops, in theory anyway, and the more my chances of age related birth defects rises. I got pregnant with Vivienne at 36 and delivered at 37. Every time I went for an ultrasound, I looked at the words "Advanced Maternal Age" on the screen. I picture going back at 40 and seeing "REALLY Advanced Maternal Age."
I often think of the night I went into labor. I think I tried to savor it at the time. It’s the type of scene so often portrayed in films and on television, usually for comic effect. I didn’t know I was in labor until my water broke. I remember the drive to the hospital around 1 in the morning. See, I don’t even remember EXACTLY when we went. This is what I’m talking about. I didn’t record it the way I wanted. The way I’d planned. I just let it go by, as if there would be another chance or something. It was dark and quiet on the road. I’d imagined it in my head so many times. It went by very quickly. We only live 10 minutes away from Huntington Memorial. I don’t even know if I contracted on the way there. Again, details lost forever. A possible once in a lifetime experience and I glossed over it like it was a trip to Trader Joe’s. I convince myself that if we were going to do this again, I would videotape everything. I wouldn’t rush to the hospital only to be put on a pitocin drip. I’d labor at home and really BE PRESENT. I didn’t do that with Vivienne. Or maybe I did, but I think I’d be better at it a second time. Or maybe the reality of all that pain, which is so easy to forget, would come rushing back in an instant and I’d be all SAVOR IT MY ASS!!! Because one thing I do remember is that I did not deal well with contractions. I don’t remember what it felt like because nature makes one forget the pain. I do, nevertheless remember thinking, "Wait until I’m dilated to 4 cm to have an epidural? WAIT FOR IT MY ASS!!!"
We took very few photographs. In fact, in the delivery room, we only took video. There are no photos of newborn Vivienne. What were we thinking? With a second child, I would have Odie take pictures of the whole thing. Maybe not of my girl parts, but certainly of my new baby. The second time around, I wouldn’t be so vain about my looks. I have almost no photos of myself pregnant. I was so worried that I looked fat. And I did! I gained almost 60 pounds and only 30 of it was necessary. Once I wasn’t pregnant anymore, though, I longed for documentation of that special time. My friend Sara is taking monthly photos of herself during the pregnancy (see them here on her blog at eyesofmyeyes.wordpress.com). That was just one more thing I meant to do, but never followed through on. I had no way of knowing what it would mean later.
And then there’s NEWBORN. Oh my god how freaked out I was with my newborn. How I obsessed over the color and frequency of her poop. How I stayed awake staring at her, making sure she was breathing, reading everything I could on my handheld about the hundreds of ways my tiny baby could fail to thrive. I spent the first 4 months in an almost constant state of sleep deprived terror. I tell myself that with a second child I’d be so much more mellow. I’d go with the flow. I’d take my toddler to the park with my newborn tucked away in a sling. Or I’d actually get the hang of the damn Moby Wrap before my baby got too big to like being in it! I’d put her to sleep in her crib from the very beginning when they sleep ALL THE TIME no matter where you lay them.
I’d blog about every moment with my baby. Not for a wide audience, although that would be grand, but for ME and for HER (Odie and I have decided we will only have girls).
Maybe even if I did all of these things, tried to hold on to time as it passed, I would still look up from my computer at my SECOND 10 month old baby and think, "WHERE DID IT GO?" How can that babyhood be gone forever already???
I cannot go back in time and be Vivienne’s mother all over again, only this time be better at it. So I’m going to go play peek-a-boo with her now, and cherish those shrill giggles while I can.