Friday, February 16, 2007

The second child

Last week, we finally got the long-awaited ultrasound and discovered the sex of the baby. It's a girl. I was pretty surprised by my reaction to the news. Which was no reaction at all. After all this time, waiting and waiting to find out and both of us wanting a girl so much, all I said was "Oh." I didn't high-five my husband. I didn't pump my fist enthusiastically and shout "YESSSS!" Nope. Just "oh." I know we've been saying for weeks that at this point it wasn't really that important anymore, but I wasn't entirely sure if it was true. Apparently it was.

As we walked across the parking lot at the OB's office, clutching our pictures of the grainy V that revealed a lack of boy-parts on the child inside my belly, we discussed the news. max said he'd felt like it was a girl, but he knew I'd had a strong hunch all along about which way the pendulum (or lack thereof) would swing, but I had steadfastly refused to say anything for fear of jinxing it. I am terribly paranoid about jinxing things, a paranoia that closely matches the superstition of wizened old ladies with herbs drying in their kitchens and horseshoes above their doorways. My husband asked me if I would, at long last, reveal honestly what my hunch had been.

"I knew thought it was a girl."
"What, like today? Before he told us?"
"No, the whole time. From the very start. Like how I had that really strong feeling we'd succeeded and I was pregnant on the first try, but I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want to jinx it. This was the same. I just really, really felt it was a girl. Even when your mom was running around saying that she was so sure it was a boy. I kept quiet, but I knew."
"I have another...feeling. I mean, the same thing that made me think it was a girl is telling me we'll do this again."
I stopped walking, in the middle of the parking lot. "AGAIN? Are you crazy? You want another one already?" I probably sounded panicked. We've been in agreement for a long time that one is plenty, and if we do get the urge for another we fully intend to pursue fostering or adopting. We debated long and hard about adopting this one, but didn't have the patience or outlay of cash needed to adopt an infant, and he really wanted the whole Infant Experience. So what the hell was this shit?
"No, it's not that," he said, tugging my arm and pulling me toward the car. "I just...have a feeling. I have a feeling that we'll do this again. And that if we do, that one will be a boy."
"You have a feeling I'm going to accidentally get pregnant? Because after all we've discussed, 'doing this again' would mean the next one really will be a surprise."
"No, it's not that, it won't be accidental..." He was floundering.
"We're going to do this again on PURPOSE? I'm going to get hit with those supposedly-huge post-baby hormones and beg you for another baby? Or you're going to beg me for one and I'll give in?" I was definitely starting to panic. Even in the supposedly-magical second trimester, I have not been a big fan of pregnancy. I spend a lot of time wondering if I'll ever feel like "myself" again, and as time goes by I have forgotten what "myself" feels like. On top of that, I often wonder how we'll manage this baby with everything else we have going on.
"No, it's not that I super-want another one already or anything, I just have a feeling."

I let the discussion fade away as we got in the car and went on our way, but he has mentioned it several times since then. After a commercial featuring siblings and cellphones: "See? See what we'd be depriving our kid of if it's an only child?" Veiled references to "the next one," "next time" or "when we do this again."

It struck me that when people become parents for the first time, there is always an assumption that there will be another kid somewhere along the way. The parents themeselves assume it, their friends and relatives assume it, everyone takes it for granted that there will be more than one. The only question seems to be "when?"

I'm not one of those people. I think that one kid is a good number, for us anyway. The assumption that there will be another has always somewhat mystified me. Why? If you like the one you have and things are going great, why throw another one into the mix? The responses I get when I ask this question always seem to involve women's out-of-control-hormones, men's manly desires for a son, or the woe and tragedy of the pitiful only child.

And when they don't cover those options, there's always "well, I wanted First Kid to have someone to play with." Which makes me think on all the times my brother and sister and I played together. Much of that "playtime" involved one of us beating the everloving crap out of another, or two of us torturing the third. I also think about all the times we nearly drove my mother to choke us out of sheer frustration. I remember how hard it was when I was responsible for the two younger ones, how hard it was to get them to shut the fuck up and stop bickering. We all love each other fiercely, but we still fight. When I'd come home from college on breaks, my brother and I frequently got into fistfights over control of the television remote control. When I was 25, I got into a screaming match at 3:00 am with my sister over useage of the word "bridezilla." And then I thought of my mother's siblings, how they cannot go three months without fighting and rumor-spreading and "I'm not talking to you"-ing. Even my grandfather and his siblings spent a good part of our last family reunion bitching about who got what when their mother died thirty years ago.

So when my husband talks about "the next one," I have to wonder about his sanity. I'm just not sure I'm up for hearing my kids fighting every day until I die, and then having to spend my afterlife listening in as they bitch about who got my collection of carnival glass.

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