Tonight, while Andrew drove us around town to pick up take out and fast food from our favorite restaurants, Max smiled in the back seat and we talked in the front seats. When I was pregnant with Max, I was scared out of my mind. I was scared I was going to lose him before he was born, but I was also scared of other things. After his first ultrasound, I was convinced for a week that he was conjoined twins. I was scared I wouldn't like him when he was born. I was scared I wouldn't like being a mom. I was scared I wasn't ready to be a mom. I was scared that he would die from SIDS. I was scared about a lot of things, and most of them were extremely ridiculous (see above: conjoined twins), but a lot of them were valid. The truth about pregnancy is that it could end at any time. Miscarriages and infertility are not common in my family, but that doesn't mean that I will never have a miscarriage and I will never become infertile. I mean, none of my blood relatives have ever had a c-section. I'm the lemon with that one, which is fine with me because, a hundred years ago, I would have been the lemon that died in childbirth. With motherhood, you quickly realize that there are millions of things out of your control. Like, when I dropped my brother off at school with my mom a few weeks ago, I freaked out because I realized that, at some point, I am going to have to let Maxwell walk through the doors of his kindergarten classroom or, my soul, put him on a yellow school bus and not have any contact with him or his watcher for hours. That's going to be scary, folks!
Anyway, Andrew and I talked about this a little, but mostly we talked about how, every week or so, I become overwhelmed with fear when I think of having a second child. This time around, I'm not as scared about miscarrying and I'm not scared to be a mom to two rather than a mom to one (yet). Sometimes I worry about how Max will adjust to having a brother or sister, but I know he'll be fine after a few weeks, so I'm not too stressed about that, either. What I am scared about is the surgery and delivery. I did not have a good experience birthing Max. My delivery was terrifying and extremely difficult to cope with after the fact. I don't care how babies come to families. I think it's great that women have birth plans, but I think it's absolutely ridiculous to mourn the loss of the delivery you wanted if things don't go as planned. Sure, it can be rough to not get what you want, but when you have a baby who can breathe, you are getting what you wanted all along. So, even though my c-section was a shock, what scares me now is how much it hurt. I wasn't on enough pain medication when the operation began and I had an extremely insensitive nurse. I know it's not going to be the same this time around, but I still see stars when I think back to lying on that table. I'm pretty certain I'll never be able to deliver naturally- no doctors in the area here perform VBACS- so in some ways, I'm glad that I know what's coming, but more than delivery, I am terrified of the weight gain and the possibility that I'll have postpartum depression all over again.
I was toxemic with Max, so when I went on bedrest six weeks before he was born, I bloated up like a whale. I put on over thirty pounds in six weeks! I couldn't recognize myself in the mirror and, bit by bit, I began to feel like I had totally lost myself. Things got better once Max was born, but when it came time for me to take care of him myself, I felt paralyzed. What if I hurt him?! All the irrational fears I had before he was born came flooding back, only this time there were more. Like, what if he drowned while I bathed him? What if he didn't have enough to eat? What if he had too much to eat? What if I didn't change his diaper enough? What if I fell asleep when I was nursing him? What if, what if, what if. I drove myself crazy and was in way over my head because I was scared to ask for help. So, naturally, I'm scared that this will happen again. Like last time, I don't have any family living in the same town I live in (actually, last time, I had a brother-in-law in town and he watched Max while I was in class which was awesome). My family is much closer this time, but they're not right here. Andrew and I will be on our own, which is how it's supposed to be, but that doesn't make it any easier.
I lost myself when Max was born. Not just in bad ways- I also lost myself in good ways. I loved (and still love) just lying down next to him on the floor and singing him songs and tickling his baby fat and hearing his guttural laugh. I adore that babe, but after being a mom for two years, I've really come to realize that, if I don't take care of myself, no one else is going to. Yes, my husband will talk me through my fears and will support me through whatever I'm feeling and yes, my babies will make me feel more matronly love than I ever knew possible, but if I don't get up and shower and get dressed and allow myself time to do things I love, then I won't feel good about myself. I didn't understand that when I was pregnant with Max and when I was going through the depression that I experienced my first year of motherhood. I didn't understand that, to fully take care of my family, I need to fully take care of myself. I know that now and, because I know it, I'm glad I went through the things that I did.
I mean, of course I wish I'd never lost myself, but I would go through everything I went through with Max repetitively for the rest of my life if it meant that I could be his mother. I already feel the same about this babe. Being pregnant this time around, I love my family so much more. I love my life so much more and I have so much more of a desire to live in the moment than I ever have before. I am just amazed at how much love mothers are capable of carrying. I can't get over how lucky I am to have my family and it makes me feel so humbled that I am going to be a mom for a second time. I'm not as naive this time around. I'm much more of an adult now and I realize that pregnancies and motherhood are not always rosy. I have had my challenges. I know women who have gone through challenges that would totally break me. I know how important it is to take care of a child and how important it is to love them. I still cry over baby blankets and little clothes and I still argue with my husband over names, but this time, I know how much love I'll have for this baby. I don't have to imagine how much love there will be- I already know. I know about the late night snuggles and the fat cheeks and the messes and the stuffed animals and the absolute chaos and the baby breath and the hand holding and I know how much I love the quiet moments where I can just sit and nurse.
I can hardly wait for this baby to join us. I'm scared, but mostly I'm excited.