Yes, for those who have read the blog for a while now, we are, indeed, closing our eyes and jumping – which is to say, in the face of all that could go wrong, and after somehow surviving Lily’s babyhood and slowly re-claiming some of the little pleasures we’d had to temporarily give up, we’re starting from ground zero again. The second (and definitely last) Grekin-McKee is currently scheduled for an early July arrival.
This was not an easy decision for us, obviously. Nurturing a baby is hard enough, but add onto that constant responsibility the need to engage with and love the child you already have, who will inevitably be a little heartbroken initially, and you’ve got a recipe for emotional and physical exhaustion.
So why are we doing this? (No, it’s not because it’d make for better blog material.) As with all tough choices, there’s no one answer that wholly satisfies. Both Joe and I felt that having a sibling, on a basic level, provides you with a person who bears witness to your life from its beginnings and shares (and thus understands) your history; as well as someone who might share the burdens, emotional and otherwise, that arise as parents age or grow ill and die.
Admittedly, that’s a bit bleak. So on the lighter end of things, I’d note that the other thing that finally tipped the scales for me was thinking, whenever Lily raced across a room to hug the stuffing out of me, how amazing it is to be loved so completely by a little person. “Who wouldn’t want to be loved like this even more?” I thought. “And how can I resist the chance to love another child in the same way?”
Cheesy and overly romanticized, I know, but it’s nonetheless true. The answer to “Why would I do this all again?” was ultimately: to feel and receive more ridiculously all-consuming love.
I realize I won’t be feeling that love so much during the baby’s first months. I’ll be sore from nursing, exhausted, and uncharacteristically weepy from Tilt-a-Whirl hormones. And the first year in general will be a tough tour. But there’s a reason Joe and I are well-matched partners: we know how to step in when the other needs a break; we know how to find humor in absurdity (a considerable part of this process); and we know what the other person needs to hear when things look hopeless.
I’m still a little surprised we found ourselves here so quickly. We dragged our feet while making this decision, so conflicted were we. (We’d promised ourselves two years with Lily before even thinking or talking about another child.) And I repeatedly said that if we tried to have another child and failed, I’d still walk away feeling satisfied, since we’re lucky enough to have a happy, healthy little girl already. Even my doctor (whom I adore) gently warned me that because I was 39, conception might take a bit longer than it did before.
But then, the next month, there I was back in the office, having a consult with the nurse. Crazy. Apparently, at-will reproduction is my super-power (which I don’t AT ALL take for granted).
So it’s time for me to break out those less-than-stylish maternity outfits – ugh – and adjust my running regimen as my body starts to expand. (Here’s one complaint I had during my last pregnancy that I will repeat now: I know it’s not a huge market, but could there be ONE niche company that sells maternity running gear?) Fortunately, like last time, I’ve had a pretty symptom-free pregnancy. But I have noticed a few differences between the first and the second pregnancies.
1. This time, I waited several days after purchasing a pregnancy test to take it. (The first time around, I was so anxious and nervous that I HAD to take it the night I purchased it.) Back in early November, I almost felt like I wanted to hold onto my ignorance about my status just a little bit longer. There’s so much hyper-vigilance about being pregnant – don’t eat this, don’t drink this, don’t get in hot tubs, blah blah blah – that I was hesitant to rush into that watchful state again. But four days after buying the test, I took it while Joe and Lily were grocery shopping, and after they returned home and we were eating lunch, I said, “Well, my suspicions were confirmed.” “Oh, yeah?” Joe said. “Interesting time to do that.” (Don’t see that exchange on the pregnancy test commercials, do you?)
2. Unlike the first pregnancy, the fact that I’m pregnant slips my mind for large chunks of time – which is nice. Getting away from that all-consuming consciousness (referred to above) is nice; and because everything isn’t completely new, I’m calmer about it all.
3. Maybe too calm. In November, I was sent home from my doctor’s office with documents and literature and some lab requisitions for tests, and not only have I read nothing, but I JUST YESTERDAY got to the lab. Oops. It’s much harder to discipline myself and focus on the process this time around. I’m only too aware that I will soon lose the small opportunities I have now to read the newspaper and an occasional novel, so as far as I’m concerned, that’s how I’m spending my few spare minutes. I’ve got to soak it up now, people.
4. Keeping the pregnancy a secret during the first trimester was easier, too, in part because it went so much faster. Taking care of the kid who’s already here kind of speeds up time.
5. But said kid also makes it impossible to get the extra sleep you so desperately want/need during the first trimester. My first pregnancy seems so decadent in that respect now. “Oh, I’m so tired, I think I’ll take a nap, and then sleep for nine hours tonight.” So that was nice for me at the time. No dice the second time around. Joe has done his best to divert Lily at times, but she just doesn’t understand it when you say, “Sweetie, Mommy’s building a person, and it’s wearing her out. She really needs to lie down for a few hours.” She wants to play and read with Mommy, just like always. So I’ve been dragging quite a bit, but if that’s the main complaint from this pregnancy, I’m golden.
So that’s where we stand. Once again, we won’t be learning the sex of the baby (we liked being surprised); and while we have our leftover boy’s name from the first time around, we’re really struggling with girl names. (Any suggestions that aren’t ridiculous?) Thank goodness this whole gestation thing takes nine months. We’ve got an awful lot to do before this kiddo arrives in our humble home – including getting over our terror that we’re getting in over our heads.
Yet I’m excited, too, at the prospect of meeting one more person that is a blend of Joe and myself. Who knows? Maybe the kid’s in there critiquing the contours of my womb as we speak.
It won’t be easy, but it WILL be worth it. My most vivid memory in that whirlwind time after our baby #2 was born was my explaining to Marissa that I had to go change newborn Kara’s diaper now and couldn’t pick her up, logically pointing out that I was Kara’s mommy and had to take care of her. I was naive enough to think that would make it all okay. Instead, I got a 2 year old clinging to my leg and crying, “But you’re MY mommy!!!”
Aside from a little spate of biting (each other), they have enriched each other’s lives far more than taken away any privileges. At least you’re not going from man to man to zone defense, like we were on #3…
So happy for you guys, Jenn!
I have started knitting!
Congratulations you two, er three!
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