i began talking about child number three when i was pregnant with child number two. this was a pretty bold move for someone who spent nearly four years under the impression that she might not be able to have children at all. but two in vitro attempts led to two successful pregnancies, and for the first time i allowed myself to envision myself with a house full of children.
but the second pregnancy was a tropical storm of emotions. for almost six months we reacted to quad-screen test results by preparing ourselves to welcome a special-needs child. we searched (unsuccessfully) at the offices of specialists and in the many alcoves of the internet for definitive predictions regarding our little bird’s number of chromosomes. if we could have checked out for a while, filled our car with plenty of gas and taken an evacuation route to sunnier pastures, we would have.
but this pregnancy was not like that. it was the constant, embodied awareness of darkness and light, fear and joy, reluctance and exuberance. there was no way out but through.
it’s funny how the female memory works. i can recall and describe the experience of my second pregnancy, but i am no longer capable of conjuring up and experiencing its particular level of agony. likewise, the pain of childbirth and the sleeplessness of the newborn phase are wrapped up and obscured in my head by a spectacular sense of wonder and awe.
apparently, the male memory does not work this way. when the subject of child number three comes up, my husband, who has become the official keeper of the more base realities of pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn parenting, reminds me of the tropical storm we just barely survived in 2009. “why,” he pleads, “why and HOW could we ever survive that again?”
nevertheless, i have baby lust. ayelet waldmen reminds me that i am not alone:
“other women in the park are having these same internal debates, i think. when a newborn shows up, there’s a pause, a hiccup in the general hubbub. we all stare, misty-eyed. we coo; we ooh. and then someone’s kid whacks someone else’s on the head with a shovel, or a toddler gets stuck on the top of the slide and gives a wrenching shriek, and we all briskly shake off that gentle longing” (bad mother, 182).
maybe baby lust is merely the biological pull that ensures that the human species will persist. it doesn’t feel like this though. it feels more like standing at the edge of the creative center of the universe. staying outside of it takes almost as much of an emotional toll as bravely venturing in.