The Bonus Baby

When I was growing up, all my close friends were the product of still-married couples who had two children, two or three years apart. All of them. It wasn’t until I was in college that I really got to know people from really big families (11 kids!) or only children raised by single mothers.

So I guess it’s not surprising that this spring I found myself newly and surprisingly pregnant, trying to push our crappy double stroller along the uneven pavement of Charleston, mildly panicking about how we’d decided to Go Big on this parenting thing.

We were looking for a coffee shop open early enough for preschooler/ravenous pregnant lady breakfast schedules into which I could cram the giant stroller. (I’m not sure where J was, possibly at the conference.) I wasn’t sick yet and certainly not visibly pregnant, but already I felt conspicuous among the toned and carefree early morning joggers huddled around their espressos.

I have struggled a bit with getting my head around this pregnancy. It made sense to everyone around me and to myself that I would endure pregnancy again to give Pip a sibling. In the circle I grew up in, it’s just what you do, and J and I love our siblings so much. But now am I just a glutton for punishment? Now that I’m visibly pregnant, a (socially awkward? creepy?) man in the library elevator commented, “You must really enjoy being pregnant.”

Um, I hate it.

But I love this bonus baby of ours. I love the idea of Scout being a big sister. I’m even looking forward to most of the newborn insanity, after Scout’s cheery babyhood helped redeem Pippin’s tense and somewhat lonely infancy.

I like the idea of a big family gathered around our first real, grownup dining room table, love to imagine the kids piled like puppies in our none-too-big house. J and I debate the probabilities that this will finally be our brown-haired, brown-eyed baby, resign ourselves to discussing minivans. Three. How did we get here?

It’s a little crazy, by the standards by which I was raised, but exciting, too. Three feels like extra credit or a symptom of insanity, depending on your perspective. And I do worry sometimes that we’ve asked too much of God: I’m halfway through my third barfy but remarkably uncomplicated pregnancy. I’ve got two rosily healthy, generally charming non-prodigies who mostly bring joy to the world. So many people struggle for one child, and here I am getting greedy with number three.

But having or not having my own babies will not help those who struggle to have their own, and occasionally worrying I’ve gotten too big for my (maternity) britches doesn’t negate the unique wonders we will encounter when we meet sweet Roo. She is number three, a tipping point in our family’s history, but more importantly, her own tiny, miraculous person. Even if I have three more (oh help), I don’t see that wonder getting old.

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Unique person 1

 

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Unique person numero dos

 

Grubby Kids

When Pippin was a wee newborn, a friend with a toddler commented she’d had difficulty navigating the transition from keeping everything sanitary for a newborn to accepting everything would be filthy with a toddler.

I didn’t get it, at the time. Having a newborn felt pretty messy: he was kind of leaky, it seemed, always spitting up or blowing out or seeping through. It felt like a Herculean task to try to keep it all under control and his sweet seven pounds dry and tolerably clean.

Now I understand. I have an almost-toddler with dirt and butter in her curls, knees grimy from crawling, crumbs in her neck. I have an almost-preschooler who colors his legs with markers and smears PB&J around his pie(/sandwich) hole.

There is both a sadness and a glory in letting go, in letting the grubbiness take over. I can’t always pick out Pippin’s clothes now, or decorate his room just so, but in exchange I get his crazy, rainbow-hued ideas and his increasing helpfulness and independence.

I approved the Shire print, owl and duvet. The rest is all him.

With a newborn, you get to control everything but you have to control everything. These days, it’s a relief when Scout shows an obvious preference  for a lunchtime meal, and it’s touching when Pippin chooses what he’d like hanging on his walls, though there are so many times I’d rather just handle it myself — less mess, less drama. Delegating decisions is scary and frustrating and illuminating and freeing.

Pippin-selected art; Pippin-applied washi tape (I’m raising the next Martha Stewart here, y’all)
And grubby, for sure.