Room For Two
A mother's only-child status causes conflicting emotions about having baby No. 2.
I keep forgetting I'm pregnant. I admit this is somewhat hard to do, considering my belly has popped so far out I can no longer see my toes. Plus, my pubic bone aches almost every time I exhale, as if it remembers we went through this two years ago. And, still, when I see my reflection in the minivan window, I think, "Well, look at that ... I'm pregnant!" and then promptly forget, distracted by the aerobics of wiggling my 2-year-old daughter Blair into her car seat.
When my husband and I found out I was pregnant last summer, we referred to the amoeba floating in my body as "Blair's Baby." I'm an only child. After 35 years of enjoying the benefits of not having to share and being the center of attention, my older self has started to worry about darker things, particularly the death of my parents. I'm certain that, when it happens, I'll feel entirely alone in the world. I don't want that for Blair. I also don't want her to suffer one of the worst traumas of my youth--having no one to ride with on the Lil' Toot at Waldameer Park. So, to save Blair from being alone in the world--and on the Lil' Toot--I got pregnant.
But now, as we high step around the house, Blair leading the way, hammering on her red-and-white drum while my husband and I follow behind, shaking tambourines for what seems like hours--because we have hours--I can't help but wonder: "Why are we doing this to her?" The baby I'm carrying won't be Blair's Baby. This baby will be Blair's Archrival.
This baby's very existence will force Blair to compete for our attention, for our focus, for us. How will we do it? How will I do it? I, who has very little experience sharing anything, especially myself. How will there be enough of me to go around? I'm not worried about love: They'll both have plenty of love. I'm worried about the concrete things, like having enough time, enough energy to march for hours with one and play tickle monster for hours with the other, without feeling, constantly, like neither is getting enough.
So I'm not exactly forgetting I'm pregnant; I guess I'm choosing to temporarily forget. I'm choosing to ignore the fatigue and the ever-decreasing lap space so that Blair gets her final hurrah, which includes hours of dumping quarters from a plastic jar into an aluminum pan, and back again. When she goes to bed, I give the new baby its due, trying to distinguish the kicks from the hiccups as I stare at my stomach wondering what kind of incredible person this one will turn out to be. And, when Blair wakes up, I forget again.
Until she reminds me by pointing to the bump under my shirt and yelling at the top of her little lungs, "Mommy's baby! Mommy's baby!"
"Does Blair want a baby?" I ask her.
"Yes," she says, her voice as reassuring as her big, blue eyes. "Yes, please."