Three to four to three

Being pregnant for only two months was a weird thing. It wasn't something I thought I'd have gone through; especially since I spent the first bit of it so busy toddler-wrangling that I often forgot that I was even pregnant at all. Now, though, it's the opposite. The sting feels most severe every time I forget that I'm not pregnant anymore. And when I remember, I get that sinking feeling in my stomach.

I remember that I don't have to haul out my maternity clothing anymore. Or worry about how I'll bend over Margot's crib every night with a growing belly getting in the way. I remind myself that there's no more immediate need to think about how to rearrange her room, or to daydream about what she's going to be like as a big sister. I remember that it's okay to do things like have a glass of wine with dinner, take a hot bath, or take some ibuprofen to subside my pounding headache that hasn't passed in over two days. 

Pregnancy has a way about it - when I first found out, I was slammed with all kinds of feelings; and naturally, I mentally signed on for an ensuing 36 weeks, give or take, of a beautifully exciting and terrifying roller coaster ride of emotional and physical experiences. I signed on the dotted line and never expected anybody to rip that contract up. I was going to end up with a baby in the spring - so what's happening? Why am I so empty all of a sudden? 

Upon realizing I was pregnant, though, coming to terms with the idea that I was going to go through pregnancy and childbirth and everything that goes along with that for a second time around, I faced feelings I was altogether not expecting to feel. For starters, we hadn't been actively trying for this baby. To say that it was a surprise isn't quite right, but unexpected - yes. Entirely. 

I didn't totally know how to be happy. It's not that I wasn't overarchingly so, or that I didn't understand that this was a wholly amazing experience about to unfold before me, but I didn't fully grasp the concept of how to physically rejoice in knowing I was about to bring forth a new little baby into a household with a preexisting toddler in it. 

As far as kids go, the idea of zero to one was, for me, fantastic. It was great. Sure, it was terrifying at more times than one, and overwhelming and crazy, but hey - there was a baby coming! We were going to have a baby! She'd sleep, she'd poop, she'd cry, and she'd make cute little garbled noises. And she'd be fun. It'd be good. 

One to two, though, that's just bat shit crazy. How was I supposed to do that?! Are there services offered wherein we might outsource toddler A until we had a steady handle on baby B? I'm not suggesting this would have been a forever thing; five years max. But no, wait... I didn't want to do life without Margot in it every step of the way. And so where was this baby going to fit in to all this? I had heard a lot of times that women expecting their second child worry how on earth they'll find enough love in their hearts to measure up to how they feel about their firstborns - but my hesitation wasn't so much about the love quotient as it was about whether I wouldn't be so busy making sure Margot wasn't tossing cat poop around in the litter box that I wouldn't accidentally leave my new baby strapped safely in its car seat, sitting atop the roof of the car in our driveway, for reasons completely unbeknownst to me. And then when I'd realize, whether I'd yell out a half-hearted, well-meaning apology to the baby - "I'm so sorry, babe - I'll be back in an hour as soon as I can just get some of my shit together inside...Please don't take this personally..." And then figure this must be the precise moment and reason for which all children born after the Almighty Firstborn end up fending for themselves thanks to a mutual understanding that, yeah, if you want to eat lunch today you're just going to have to fix yourself your own sandwich. And also if you could take a series of selfies every now and again, I need some materials to toss into your baby book. Thanks. Oh and yeah by "baby book" I do mean a little Ziploc bag containing your dried-up bellybutton and somebody else's bandaid. ("OKAY WHO PUT THEIR BANDAID IN THE BABY'S KEEPSAKE BAGGIE?")

I felt like I was living in a very tangible moment of history. It almost felt more like history than like present, really; because it occurred to me that we would hardly remember the days that went by before our second baby joined our family; and might the memories one day fizzle out altogether? No - I wanted to make a concerted effort to keep them from disappearing. 

And now that we're back to where we started, back with each other and no new little growing babe on our horizon, well, absorbing each blessing, every day and every shred of grace and love is a project I'm working on with all my heart, limbs and senses. This time we have with our sweet girl, this time we have as a family of three, is exactly perfect in spite of what we've lost. This is our meantime - our time that's passing no more quickly or slowly than it's meant to; and I'm taking in every breath with deep gratitude. The passing of our sweet second baby will never be lost on me; but I don't dare let that loss take away from the beautiful present that's unfolding before me at a dizzying rate.