My two-year-old presses his ear to the bulge that is my belly.
“She’s not big enough yet,” he informs me, his diagnosis delivered with tiny confidence.
“What will happen when she’s big enough?” I ask.
“She’ll come out,” he says.
I have over three months left in this pregnancy, but already I feel huge and uncomfortable. I dread stepping on the scale and seeing the inevitable upward curve of the little black numbers. When I lament to my husband he pinches the fat newly layered on my arm, thinking I will find him cute. I snarl and make him drive me to Dairy Queen.
But those are the bad days, the times I give in to fixating on the minor inconveniences of helping God bring a new life into the world. Most of the time this pregnancy thing is as amazing and wonderful as all the sappiest Baby Story episodes would have you believe. I am utterly in love with the tiny person somersaulting inside me. I am counting the weeks until I get to meet her, in the meantime losing myself in pondering baby names and whose eyes she will have.
I’m a little surprised that I’m enjoying this second pregnancy so much. Two years ago I was sure I would never want another child. I remember thinking during the first painful week of recuperation after my son was born, and during the exhausting eight or nine months it took to get him sleeping through the night, that I would never have the nerve to do it again. Raising one was taking all my strength; more than that seemed a physical and emotional impossibility.
Now, looking back, I can’t see what the big deal was. The memories of sleep deprivation and chronic worrying—am I a good enough mother? what if I’m doing everything wrong?—lose hold in the stream of joy my son brings me as we navigate life together. With a toddler, ordinary things are thrilling. We see a springtime robin hopping across the lawn and point with delight. The emergence of the stars in the night sky calls for tilting our heads back to ooh and ahh.
I sometimes wonder if this current pregnancy will be my last, if I will only have one more romp through the wonder of toddlerhood. In the past few months I’ve become content with the thought of a two-child family.
Though I’m aware of the voice piping up quietly in the part of my mind where all the Catholic things I’ve learned are stored. It reminds me that it isn’t quite right to think such things; it tells me I should be open to having as many kids as God will give. For the moment the voice goes unanswered, simply because I don’t know what to say to it.
When I ask my husband what he thinks of stopping at number 2, he stares at me in horror. He claims he won’t be satisfied until we have at least three. I think about this as I gaze at the large-framed ultrasound snapshot, my unborn child’s first portrait, sitting on top of my dresser.
Most people, upon seeing it, are interested for a moment or two; it’s hard to find a baby among the fuzzy gray blobs. I can linger over it for much longer, though. I easily distinguish her tiny form from the shadows. For now I am grateful just to see her head, her spine, the one visible leg, the sturdy length of cord that binds her to me.