It was back in March, on Mother’s Day, during a chilly walk through Eyam with Tristan asleep in his pram that I first talked about the fourth member of our family:
“Even though I’m incredibly happy right now I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that something’s missing. Someone is missing.”
We talked about the pros and cons and hypothetical timelines, all the while knowing we weren’t quite ready for another leap into chaos. So we left our words to hang in the cold air and went home, unaware then that just by talking about our child we’d conjured him or her into existence. Not literally of course, but in our thoughts, nestled at the foot of every conversation about the future.
You see, we hadn’t thought we’d have another baby so soon after Tristan. The year following his birth was long and difficult and I had a lot to work through. We were happy, but it was the sort of happiness that’s finely interwoven with other things like exhaustion and confusion, and a whole host of feelings that are too small and fleeting to identify but come together to weave the complicated lace of new parenthood.
And of course I wasn’t well. The illness I had was what’s generally considered ‘invisible’ but the dark circles under my eyes, the weight loss and gain, the tears, the anger, the apathy – they were far from hidden. I wondered for a long time whether I’d ever feel whole again, or at least fixed, but I soon realised that wholeness is a concept I left behind the moment I became a parent. My son takes pieces of me wherever he goes; part of my recovery was accepting that and even enjoying it.
This baby has a piece of me now. In some ways he or she has all of me while I feed, nourish, and keep them safe.
So much feels different this time – the debilitating sickness for a start. Yet one striking similarity was the speed with which we conceived. From a decisive agreement to start trying in July to staring at the second pink line on a pregnancy test was a total of 2.5 weeks. Like with Tristan there was hardly time to pause for breath before we were catapulted back into the familiar spiral of dates, sickness and food-aversion. We’re very, very lucky and I’m grateful every day for our fortune, but a downside of that luck is the sudden change of pace and direction, seemingly out of the blue. It’s like we set off an explosion in the relative tranquility of our lives and only afterwards realised what it meant. I spent the week after the positive test in a state of shock, peeing on sticks day after day to be absolutely certain.
The hows and whys aren’t what matter though, not really. The fact is that I’m growing another life, and looking at my sleeping son right now I’m overwhelmed by the thought of there soon being two human beings to love this much. It’s terrifying and I know there’ll be days when I think I can’t do it. I wonder if I’m strong enough, if truly there is enough of me to adequately nurture two little lives into fully grown awesomeness. Yes I’m scared, in some ways more than I’ve ever been, but what holds me together, what keeps me from collapsing under the weight of so much uncertainty and doubt, is the knowledge that in four short months I’ll meet a person who will change me in ways I could never anticipate. He or she will challenge me, inspire me, worry me, and educate me, and I will try to spend every day showing my gratitude for it.
I’ve already had my world turned upside down once before. Now it’s about to happen again I know to hold on, and most of all to appreciate every single second.