"Our most ancient metaphor says life is a journey. Memoir is travel writing, then, notes taken along the way, telling how things looked and what thoughts occurred. . . .This is the traveler who goes on foot, living the journey, taking on mountains, enduring deserts, marveling at the lush green places...as a pilgrim, seeking, wondering." -Patricia Hampl

August 26, 2010

The Elements of Surprise

The first surprise of 2010 was learning, on January 2, that we were pregnant again.  Details aside, it'd taken us the better part of two and a half years to conceive the first time, and so when the little pink line showed up, all by itself, without the support of injections, acupuncture, medications, interventions, procedures, teas, specialists, and several months of teary defeat, I was beyond shocked.  Happily so! 
This little pink line kicked off some other surprises, too.

1.  We'd just gotten a formal, family portrait taken of the three of us that day, and had already laid out some of the proofs on our dining room table.  I picked up a black-and-white 5 x 7 and took it over to Heath.  "There are four people in this picture," I said.  He was totally perplexed.  Did I see a ghost in the shot?  Was there some goofy Three Men and a Baby thing going on?  It took a minute to sink in.  Surprise!

2.  And not being ones to wait to see which flavor baby we'd created, we found out the gender when the time came.  And Surprise!  (If you don't already know, this one's a boy--or so said the ultrasound tech.)  More surprising than finding out the gender of your baby are the reactions of those who ask about it, including:

Congratulations!  You finally put a stem on the apple!
Oh, boys are so...different!  (Um, yeah.  They're not girls.) or:
Get ready to never slow down!  Boys keep you moving!  (Okay, but my girl keeps me sitting?) or:
Oh, that's too bad.  It's no fun shopping for boy clothes.  (Are you kidding me?  I'd enjoy shopping for toothpicks.) and this one:
Wow!  A perfect family!  One of each! Usually followed by Now you can stop having kids!  (I've never--and will never--think in terms of any family as "perfect," but the comment is problematic anyway, considering how dysfunctional any family can be despite how many people/children and/or which genders comprise them.  And I don't know if we're done having kids.) 
And my favorite...
Thank goodness it isn't a girl--they would be horrible rivals!  Okay, Zoltar.

3.  Of course, we're interested to see what Dev's response to having a little brother will be.  We've prepared her as best as we think a toddler can be prepared, inviting her to kiss my tummy, reading the Big Sister book, encouraging her enthusiasm when she sees other babies (she's a little obsessed with them).  When she got a Little People playhouse for her birthday, I was a little concerned that she kept putting the baby on the roof rather than in its crib.  Last week, though, at her cousin's birthday party, she eyed and then descended upon a toy stroller and delighted in pushing it around.  Maybe--surprise?--we'll have a natural mommy's helper.  I'll be relieved.

[3.1.  I cannot believe this kid's capacity already.  It's really nice that our pediatrician was a little impressed with her being able to reveal the blue and purple crayons and naming their colors respectively, but I was really knocked out when at Wegman's last week, Working on a Dream came on and Dev said, under her breath, Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce.  Maybe it was my imagination, but damn, I'll be so proud if she knows that album.  (Maybe she said "juuuuuuuuuice?")]
4.  No one can tell you on your wedding day just how your lives together will turn out--all you two know is that you're really nuts about each other and you're certain you'll be nuts about each other through everything.  So it is with a sense of humility that I remark here how amazing I think Heath is--both as a husband and father.  Surprise!  If I'd known how naturally this all came to you, I'd get in my Delorean, gun it to 88, go back in time, and start having babies with you when we were like, 23. And 25.

5.  I've written a lot about finding the work/mommy balance--the "it's okay to really like your job and be a mom" stuff--on this blog, and I'm probably not done.  But I am shocked to find that I am very, very lucky and happy to be able to be a stay-at-home mom for one, whole year.  In June, I was sure that I'd miss being in the classroom come September, and I'd feel the nesting instinct to ready my lessons like I've straightened all the closets in the house.  That former instinct came and went.  Big surprise to me.

6.  The phlebotomist I've had the pleasure of getting to know over the past nine months--for reasons that are pregnancy-related, but not dramatic--likes to give me her prediction, each week, as to exactly what day I'll deliver.   We actually argue.  She thinks I'll go early; I'm pretty sure I'll be on time, because, as I tell her heatedly, I can't go early, because there's just other major stuff going on and the baby's room isn't even painted and we haven't really picked a name and we have no idea what we're doing.  If she's right, I have to bring her chocolate, and if she's wrong, well, she gets off scott-free, because I don't know if I'll be getting back to the lab with an infant and toddler in tow just so that she can give me my due desserts.  One of the last surprises of the pregnancy: what our son's birthday will be, and who will win the chocolate.