I am not pregnant, but for a few days in August, I thought I probably was. We were away on vacation for the first time in five years – for the first time in three of our children’s lives.
We’d had a rough beginning to the trip: my husband had come down with pneumonia and my son with bronchitis. (“Can’t we weave wiffout Daddy?” the little stinker had asked an hour before his own symptoms arose.) So I’d done all the packing and loading and driving and unloading and unpacking by myself.
It was a lot.
But there we were, two parents and five kids finally lodged in our rented condo in the Blue Ridge Mountains and I was feeling grateful.
Grateful – and nervous that I might be pregnant.
Two days into the trip, I stole away from my crew for a little time to myself. I pulled out my laptop and sat on the rooftop balcony and wrote up my feelings. I hadn’t thought of publishing them, but re-reading them now, I recognize that they sum up much of my thinking lately.
I get asked all the time whether we’re “done.” (Having babies, that is.) I wonder whether the questioners think about the emotional conflict their curiosity can trigger.
For the first time, we’re about to celebrate a toddler’s second birthday without having another babe in arms or in utero. And for the first time, we’re aiming to be “done.” The idea of another pregnancy is overwhelming, even scary (mostly for medical reasons). Yet the idea of another baby, should one ever come our way, is wonderful.
I sit here on this balcony, listening to the cars whoosh past and the oak branches rustle in the breeze. (The maple stands mostly still. Why does one tree rustle while its neighbor does not?) I sit on a simple old patio rocker, roofing beneath my feet in this forgotten space. Who will notice this balcony, the owners must wonder, when the view is from the other? But this one is partly shaded at 11am; the other bakes. I lean back in the chair and look up at the swirling clouds, water vapor shifting around, trading places in 3D. A passenger jet soars past. We aren’t that remote.
I sit here, not knowing whether I might be pregnant, but suspecting I am. I am grateful that it’s too soon to take the test. Next week, if contradictory proof doesn’t appear on its own, I will have to get up the nerve to know the truth.
I have been fearful. I have been anxious about the physical repercussions of another pregnancy. I have been feeling greedy about my time. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel: three children in all-day school within days, five children within a few years.
But just now I read a line from Anthony Doerr. “They are miracles,” Doerr writes of his twin boys. “Born from cells much smaller than the period at the end of this sentence – much smaller than that period – the boys are suddenly big and loud and soak the fronts of their shirts with drool.”
I read that line and I look down at my abdomen and I think with wonder on those cells (now perhaps bigger than a period?) that may lie hidden there. I think with wonder on the child who may soon be staining shirts with drool. So many people would think on the logistics we’ve had to go through this week: packing, fevers, bottles, stroller and child wrangling, and think that another child would never be worth it. I know exactly how hard it would be; part of me resists mightily against it. But the rest of me knows that each of my children have been the most incredible gifts life could possibly offer. And that this one, if he’s there, would be too.
* The line is from Doerr’s beautiful 2007 memoir, Four Seasons in Rome. I highly recommend it.