A Second Baby

modern anatomy

When I think of being pregnant for the second time I don’t think of the euphoric infant days, of baby lashes and the milky sweet scent of their baby heads. Instead I think of the black hole, the endless abyss I fell into with my son. It began when I was pregnant, and the morning sickness was so severe I spent full days in bed. Unemployed and living with my parents, I felt like I had little to hope for. I stopped writing, I stopped reading. I was bombarded with the reality that my pregnancy might not be like everyone else’s. I read blogs and magazines and saw glowing women rubbing their bellies. I rarely saw photos of them puking in the toilet, screaming at their husbands, and soaking their pillows with tears. The sickness, and how it incapacitated my life led to depression, and that depression lasted for years. Last summer I mentioned to a friend that we were thinking of a second child. She knew how much I had struggled with my first. While I was trying to recover I talked to every friend I had about the depression, the body changes, the hormonal changes. I seemed to be the only one who experienced it quite like that. She looked at me across the table at dinner and said chirpily “Well, maybe the next one will be different because you’ll want it more.” Say what?! It wasn’t as if I WILLED myself to throw up multiple times a day, lose weight, and experience such strong mood fluctuations that I alternately thought about killing myself, or the baby. I really wish those things hadn’t happened, but they did, and they had nothing to do with how much I wanted the baby. If I didn’t want him, he wouldn’t be here. I didn’t have the heart to tell this childless woman all of my struggles, so instead I nodded politely and chalked her up to yet another friend who had no idea what I went through.

I think of the times spent crying on the kitchen floor. The terracotta tile orange and grimy. I cried for my past life, for my present life, for the baby that wouldn’t stop screaming but mostly for me. I was mourning the girl I no longer was. It’s been a few years since that night when I called my husband home and we hugged on the floor and he whispered “We don’t have to have any more.” But when I tiptoe up to the loft, barefoot on the carpet, and wake him with a nudge and a concerned ‘I’m late’, that night isn’t far from my mind.

In the past few months things had been good, and on those good sunny days we thought of more children, but always in the back of my mind was the fear. The fear that it would be the same as the first time. The fear was black ink, spilling into the rational parts of my mind until I had trouble seeing how much things really had changed. I wasn’t 22 anymore, we weren’t living with my parents, we had been married for 3 years (instead of 6 weeks). But the biggest change was our son, we knew him and loved him, and wouldn’t change our story for anything, no matter the numerous twists and turns it took to get us here.

Despite being a week late, I was in denial. I was still in denial after I peed on the stick. One line was bold, strong, the other was faint, wavering, barely existing.

“Well, maybe I’m not then?”

“There’s no such thing as a little bit pregnant," My husband reminded me. So I peed, and peed again, and then a few more times just for good measure. A whole box of  them with the same answer.

“Oh my god, I’m pregnant.” I inhaled sharply, looking at our messy living room, the cracked tile we never fixed, our toddler still in his pajamas jumping on the couch. I proceeded to clean with a fervor and then promptly dropped a pan on my toe.