“I’m really trying to enjoy this pregnancy,” I say to my friend Danielle who has three children. “Because I know I’ll never be pregnant again.”
Danielle wags her finger at me. “Never say never,” she says. “You never know!”
I laugh, more at the funny way she raises her eyebrows than at her words.
I’ve always wanted to have four children, even before I met my husband at a party in graduate school where you had to dress in drag (which is why he was wearing a rhinestone-studded black flapper dress and I had on a construction hat, big boots, and a tool belt) when I was 25 years old.
At first James, an only child, thought he wanted “maybe one.” Still, he came around pretty quickly to my plan for a big family. We decided we would have four children before I turned 35 to avoid what our friend Karen was going through—being treated as an “older mom” and subjected to all sorts of testing and worries.
Our first baby was born when I was 29. With hubris that makes me cringe in hindsight, we credited our good parenting for our daughter’s patient and happy personality.
We timed our second so exactly that I knew the day and the hour I conceived (I glanced at the clock on the night table) but we had no idea our “easy” firstborn would turn into a willful toddler and that our second born would hate being a baby and that all the credit we had been giving ourselves for being “good parents” would fly out in the window in the face of having two babies in diapers, two babies nursing, and two babies with totally understandable but difficult to satisfy immediate needs AT THE SAME TIME.So we waited until the second baby, who thankfully turned into a very easy-going toddler (the opposite of her sister), was almost three before we had our third. Our son, Etani, was an uncomplaining, kind, and quiet little guy. He was so sweet that he would giggle with happiness just before nursing when he was only a few weeks old.
I remember sobbing with relief after he was born, wondering if I could ever parent him with enough love to deserve to have him, hoping I could be a good enough mother.
Etani was born at home in our bedroom in our little red farmhouse in Greenfield Massachusetts, six years ago today.Though it was all in keeping with the master plan (albeit a few years later than expected), when we started telling people about this pregnancy everyone we knew was surprised.
I’m so far past being under 35 at this point that the likelihood that we would even be able to get pregnant again after this one is slim.
And I know, finally and with certainty, that after this baby is born I will not be pining for another.
Or I think I know.
Ten years of mothering has taught me that Danielle is right about not making absolute statements about what lies ahead in one’s life as a parent. In the meantime, though, I’m doing my best to appreciate the few precious days I have left with another body growing and kicking and hiccuping inside me.