Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The 39th Week

Pregnancy, though loved by some moms, is generally not my favorite state of being. I value agility, energy, control of my bodily functions and emotions, and a quick, runner’s squat shoe-tie—all things that disappear when I’m lugging around a ball of baby.

Some moms glow with talk of how much they love to feel all the little kicks and movements of the tender babe growing inside of them. Hmmm. Yes, there is a nice little novelty to that feeling, but in general, I’d prefer to be able to roll over in bed without feeling as if someone is trying to pry my pelvis apart in the middle of the night. In general, I’d prefer to not feel as if a tiny fist is about to shoot out between my legs while I make a quick return at Banana Republic. In general, I’d prefer to have the baby strapped to my chest in a Baby Bjorn rather than head butting me in the spine or challenging the durability of my hips from within.

If you let me, I could bitch and moan about the pains and discomfort of pregnancy all night long, but that would be a waste of time and to do that would also be to discredit the intense gratitude I feel that I am able to get pregnant, to carry a baby full term and hoperfully, bring him safely into the world. I am quite aware that for some this is no small feat and for others, impossible. So, instead of going on and on about what is actually, in the grand scheme, relatively mild discomfort in the 39th week of pregnancy, let me focus on what is really driving me crazy. In an intensely wonderful sort of way.

The anticipation.

Not since I believed in Santa Claus have I gone to bed at night with such giddy excitement about what might happen during the night. Except, unlike Christmas where you get the child-like excitement for just one night, this is more like the world’s greatest Hanukkah minus the Menorah. I realize that not everyone goes into labor in the dead of night, but because I did with Finny, that is how I imagine it. Every night I close my eyes and wonder if something new and magical will wake me up. With Finny, I got up to use the bathroom and when I got back into bed, my water broke in a matter of minutes. So, every night, when I get up to pee, which happens at least three times a night now, I slowly crawl back into bed, barricade myself within my fortress of pillows and wait silently and anxiously for his arrival.

And every morning I wake up, shrug my shoulders and pour myself some Raisin Bran with some skim milk and a heavy sigh. I might seem disgruntled with the anxious waiting. I might seem crabby and impatient with the not-knowing. I might seem put-out by the possibility of missing that glorious 2010 tax break. But here’s the thing. Under the surface, under the heavy sighing and the dramatic eye-rolling and the exasperated head-shaking, I love the waiting. I adore the not-knowing. I am relishing in all the endless possibilities of how and when my baby will make his grand entrance. My body is writing a novel and every night I turn another page wondering with finger-biting anticipation how it will end…how it will begin. In this way, there is nothing greater than the not-knowing.

Maybe. Maybe it will be tonight. Maybe tonight, in a great flurry of inspiration, the dramatic plot will unfold and the story of this second born will reveal itself in all its wonder--new, original, a life story with a twist never been told before.

And then again, maybe it won’t. And tomorrow, I’ll sigh heavily over my bowl of Raisin Bran, roll my eyes dramatically over my cup of coffee and shake my head discouragingly as I choke down my vitamin. But don’t be fooled. It’s all for show.

Underneath it all, I am filling up with eager, giddy, secret joy that I have one more night to wonder what will happen when I turn that next page. One more night to wonder how this second pregnancy will end…how this next, extraordinary life will begin.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dear ________,

You’re almost here and the time has come to write you a letter. When your brother was in my belly, I had already written him numerous letters by this point. What a privilege it was that I got to spend that summer being a writer, a thinker, a dreamer. The only thing on my agenda each day that summer was to write as much as I could and so I would sit and think and wonder and rub my little Finny in my belly and imagine all of the wonderful things he would become and all of the great joys he would bring me.

You and I, little________, have had a different journey. While you have been growing arms and hands and legs and sprouting hair and forming eyes to see and ears to hear, I’m afraid I have not been so intensely focused on you. I have not been reading all the books; I have not been writing you letters. I have been teaching and grading and Christmas shopping and wrapping, but mainly I have been chasing your big brother. I’m afraid, little one, that while you have been busy forming into the little precious boy you are bound to be, I have still been very focused on your older brother. Such is the fate of the second born.

But even though you will never quite experience the one-on-one time that Finny and I have had these two years, even though you will not be the first at many things that your brother has already claimed, you will be our very first _________ and you will bring with you the originality that only our little___________ can bring.

We will not worry over you like we did over Finny, hovering over every noisy breath he took. We will likely not take 500 pictures of the first time you eat rice cereal or the first time you take your first steps. Many of your books will be chewed and torn and many of your clothes will be stained and worn. But only you will get to experience for the first time the great privilege and gift it is to be the second born. This is a gift that will in many ways shape who you become and it is a special bond that you and I alone will share.

I could spin you some tales of character traits that second born children inherit. I could tell you you are going to be easy going, independent, rebellious, a free thinker. I could tell you you’ll be the peacemaker, the people pleaser, the inventor. I could tell you that you may feel like you are often in Finny’s shadow or that you can do more mischief with less discipline. I could tell you you’ll be the stereotype presented in almost every TV sitcom—you’ll have the brains and the wit, but not the beauty. (Think Roseanne, Growing Pains, Family Ties, and Modern Family.) But who you’ll be is not for me to tell you. It is for you to show me. And I can’t wait for you to tell me the story you’re writing right now at this very moment as you punch and jab and deliberate about when exactly you’re going to make your decision to come out and play with us.

No, I can’t tell you who you will be or how being second is going to shape who you become, but I can tell you about one very special gift that you’ll have that Finny does not--you will have a big brother. And not just any big brother; you will have Finny. And likewise, he will have you. Because I am no fortune teller, I cannot predict that you will be buddies or best friends, that you will get along and always keep in touch. But I can hope. I can hope that Finny looks after you and you look after him and that you both look up to each other. And I can hope that long after your father and I are gone that you and Finny share and relish in the unique bond that comes with growing up in the same home. That you find comfort in shared values, joy in shared jokes, and warmth in the shared unconditional love that your father and I have for both of you.

We can’t wait to meet you, ___________. All three of us are anxiously awaiting the best Christmas gift any of us have ever received—our second born son, our little brother, our Christmas miracle. You’re almost here. It’s time now to slow down and focus in on you. To rub the belly, to dream the dreams of the wonderful things you’ll become, the great joys you will bring, and the captivating story you will tell.

Merry Christmas, _____________…



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Looking for Tinkerbell

It's been nearly two months since I've blogged, mainly because as far as life goes, I've bitten off a little more than I can chew.  By that I mean, I decided to get pregnant again while raising a two-year-old, holding down two part-time jobs, and preparing for the holidays.  Needless to say, naps have started to take precedence above all else. 

But I thought I should take this moment to announce to everyone who reads my blog that my little boy has arrived.

No, not our second boy, who is still cozily curled up in my tummy attempting--in this ninth month of pregnancy--to pry my hips apart.  My first little boy, Finny, has arrived, in all his boyness, just in time for us to spend long winter months inside together.

If you know Finny personally, you know that he is a very sweet-natured, cuddly little guy.  I would say this is generally still the case.  However, this past week, I've noticed a bit more of a shift toward that sort of aggression that comes with boys, like he just got shot with a dose of testosterone or puppy dog tails.

Phrases like "I break it!" or "I crash it up!" or "The monster!"  or "Roar!" are now common pieces of our everyday conversation.  Last week on our way home from the doctor's office, I heard some loud, violent growling coming from the backseat.  I looked back and found Finny baring his teeth, gripping the arm of his toy stethoscope between them.  When I asked him what he was doing, he responded in an Austrian California Governor sort of accent, "I break it!"

Yesterday, I found him doing the same thing with a plastic drum Christmas ornament.  He had taken it behind the couch in the family room like a wolf bringing back his kill to the pack and he was tearing it apart with his fingers.  When he saw me hovering over him, he looked up and once again responded, "I break it!"

Build him a tunnel out of blocks?  Think he might want to admire your handywork as much as you do?  Think again.  "I crash it up!" he'll say as promptly levels it, sometimes before the last block is even in place.

Think lions, tigers, bears, and dinosaurs are the only things that roar?  Think again.  According to Finny, so do giraffes, pigs, and the occasional bunny rabbit.

Think Rudolph is the cute and cuddly star of the claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?  Think again.  All Finny talks about is "The Monster!" in his best abominable voice.

But just when I think I've lost him to the dark side, when he says "I break Mommy!" and comes charging at me, just when I sigh and say, "Okay, here we go.  Bring on boyhood and all of the relentless destruction that comes with it," Finny will say or do something so gentle and sweet that will remind me that hidden behind the crashing, the breaking, and the obliterating, there is tenderness.

I had such a moment last night, as we were driving through a wooded Christmas light display at Sharon Woods park.  Finny has recently discovered Captain Hook in stories and poems and has a mild fixation on him.  One of the first light displays we pointed out to him was Peter Pan and Captain Hook engaged in a sword fight, but this time he wasn't interested in Captain Hook or Peter Pan.  In fact, for the rest of the thirty- minute mile of lights, he was interested in none of the other light displays of snowmen and choo-choo trains, and zoo animals.  For the next thirty minutes, all we heard from the backseat from his tiny, little bundled up head was, "Where's Tinkerbell?  Is she in the woods?"

There was something so sweet and small in his little question that he repeated over and over again.  Something so soft and little that made me just want to scoop him up and hold him close. 

All the books have torn pages, at least four of the ornaments already need gluing, and I get horrifying glimpses of Lord of the Flies when Finny comes charging at me threatening to "crash mommy up!"  But, little boy, no matter how big and destructive and aggressive you become, no matter how many toys get hurled down the stairs or how many towers get knocked down or how many Fantasy Football Leagues consume your mind some day, I hope there is always some part of you that is forever looking for Tinkerbell in the woods.  Then I will know you are my little boy.