Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Why I Need This

When I got pregnant with Max, I hadn't ever been around babies that much. I'm an only child and by far the youngest of my generation of family. Some of my friends had them, and I liked those--they were cute and cuddly, they made funny little toothless faces at me and threw what appeared to be tiny gang signs around with their hands, they were cross-eyed and would turn purple and grimace when they pooped, and all my friends got to have those big hard pregnant bellies, and there were all those tiny little clothes, and all the waiting, and I would get these breathless phone calls at night where they would tell me that they were in labor. All of that seemed great.

The trouble was that until my late twenties, I hadn't met anybody that I liked well enough to reproduce with them. Not that that was stopping some of my friends, but call me old-fashioned. My mother went it alone for most of my childhood, and it wasn't always pretty.

When I met Dan, I was dating somebody who had a daughter who he seldom got to see, and he didn't want any more kids--despite the giant lie he told me on our first date about how he "wants another baby." That turned out to be one in a series of giant lies that, as they revealed themselves, also revealed how thoroughly incompatible we were.

Everything was different with Dan. I mean, everything. I never suspected that he was screwing around, like I did with the pre-Dan worthless boyfriend. He didn't have a lame job that I was embarassed by and felt like I had to lie about all the time, like the porn salesman I dated for almost three years. He wanted babies. He wanted them with me.

I barely had time to anticipate pregnancy with Dan--I was pregnant ten weeks after we were married. I didn't really have time to wonder what it would be like--I had to just go ahead and do it, worry about this other little person who I hadn't met yet.

I don't know the exact moment that I fell ass-over-teakettle in love with Max. It wasn't when they held him up for me to see in the delivery room: that was when I looked at him and thought, "Hmmm...we both sort of have the same look on our face right now, the look that says what the fuck?" It wasn't during the three days after his birth, when I was more concerned with why I couldn't feel my left foot or the fact that not only are babies not really born knowing how to nurse, but you're not born knowing how to nurse them either. It wasn't when we came home from the hospital together and Max immediately projectile-pooped across my bed, all of the clean clothes hanging in my closet, and my bedroom carpet. He also hit Dan, which I am just immature enough to think is hilarious.

I don't know when it happened, but all of a sudden, looking at Max was like looking at a piece of yourself that broke off and started to grow on its own. It was better than good. It was magic. It was heaven. It's so much better than any of the good things I have.

Anyone who knows me knows that I did not enjoy pregnancy. I was alternately nauseated, exhausted, in varied amounts of discomfort, and pretty much terrified by what was happening to my body. I liked it when I started to be able to feel him kicking, and for brief moments, I felt round and ripe and all of my body image issues went flying out the window. But I felt invaded, and at one point, at the worst of it, I remember saying to Dan, "I hope that you'll be able to live with the fact that I don't think I'll ever want to do this again."

Dan said he could live with it, but it turned out that I was the one who couldn't. Max was maybe a year old before I started wanting another baby, but I did. Desperately. And it's been a year, over a year, of wanting, and then not not trying, and then trying, and a false positive, and nothing. Nothing. I'm still not pregnant.

The worst thing about not being pregnant is now I know what it's like. It's a fight uphill every day. It's being afraid of, well, pretty much everything, when you've spent your life being fearless until now. It's when your baby wakes up in the morning calling for you, actually calling you Mama, when for six months he referred to you as "Diggy." It's when you get him out of bed in the morning, and he's not totally awake yet, and he puts his arms around your neck and his head on your shoulder and for the ten seconds that it takes to walk him from his bed to the changing table, you're the whole world to him, and he's the whole world to you.

It's not the tiny clothes or the pregnant belly or the funny faces. It's watching that broken-off piece of yourself growing up right in your face, right in front of your eyes. That's why I need this.

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