If there's one thing that reading around in this corner of the net taught me, it's that having a subsequent child after your loss doesn't mend your broken heart and make the sunhine come out. Since for the longest time I thought anyone who wanted another baby after a horrific loss was a bit wackadoo, it was kinda nice to see that I wasn't missing out on some big wonder drug. I wasn't jealous of the babies really, but I was a bit envious of everyone's decision making power. That drive everyone seemed to have -- must have another baby! -- was totally lacking in me. Figured it was some evolutionary maternal instinct thing that got dropped along the way with the Easter Bunny (we don't do that. I refuse.) and my penchance for swearing during televised sporting events in front of impressionable ears. I would make a poor wild animal mum having to teach my three week old to hunt and defend ("I'll get it later. Look! Shiny thing! Muthafuckin' shiny thing!").
But, well, eventually I did make that decision, and here I am a whole year later.
It's been . . . odd. Truly joyful, but odd.
Having spent the entirety of my pregnancy with Muffin Man not bonding (why bother?), I've spent the entirety of the last twelve months doing so. It's a long ramp up. It's a good ramp up, don't get me wrong, and I've never felt angst-y or depressed or even anxious, more a sense of sheer amazement that he's here. That it worked. And that this isn't some bizarro nightmare like the last time, where I'll wake up and realize it was a dream. But it's not. I put my feet on the floor in the morning -- usually, way, way too early in the morning -- and am hit with the sudden realization that I have a son. Two daughters, and a son.
So I can't really say things like "well it feels like he's been here forever!" because I think I'm still getting used to the idea. I like it. So far.
Bella is also still getting used to the idea. We didn't do much in the way of preparation because we honestly didn't know what to prepare her for: do we buy her a nice doll to dress up and burp, or a box of kleenex and another childhood tome on death? So she's ramping up too, and it too has been a slow haul. She's been forthright with her displeasure at the lack of immediate attention ("It's always in a minute, or not now, or I'm busy") and I think purposefully doesn't whisper when we ask her to. You can almost smell the slow burn when a stranger stops to chirp how cute the baby is. She's cute, too. No one seems to notice her anymore, poor invisible thing in the corner. Having said that, she knows full well that he doesn't smile at just anyone, and he reserves an outright full-blown squinty-eyed cheshire grin when she enters the kitchen first thing in the morning. (Not surprisingly, "Bella!" came very shortly after "dog" and "mom.") She pushes him around in his car, and picked out -- without assistance -- two really solid birthday gifts for him. The night she was chatting with us in his room before bathtime and he spider crawled his diapered self over to her with "Go Dog, Go!" in an outstretched hand, smiling and frantically jabbering "Da! Da!", about reduced me to a puddle.
I've also never been one to muse on "Well if x hadn't have happened, than y wouldn't have either." I'm not big into math like that. Not to mention, with the gaps between my problems, these chances of fate aren't really. There was a nineteen month spread between my miscarriage and just conceiving Bella, so I never really stopped to think about one working out and the other not happening. As far as I was concerned, one was an unfortunate lost opportunity, and the other a stroke of luck. And here with three plus years between Maddy and her brother -- not to mention the relative ridiculous ease with which he was conceived compared to his sisters -- it's not hard to think about an alternate universe where she's here, and he's here too. Or, conversely, she's not, and neither is he. Because so much time had elapsed after Maddy that we had gotten very used to our family of three, and the breeziness of a four/five year old (so easy to travel with! And find a sitter for!) and so it was a real honest-to-god fresh decision about whether to have another child or not.
In sum, he's not my replacement toaster. Not that any of your children are replacement appliances, but I'm now grateful for my own crummy circumstances. The silver lining in waiting around for some medical bombshell that never appeared was that time flowed under the bridge and allowed me to get to a new place. I was already moving forward again when the idea of him came into being. I may be an old fart, but I was ready. Really ready.
As for Ale-One: He's turned into quite the eater. Apparently dissing the pears wasn't so much dissing the pears (which he now loves on an adult portion of oatmeal with a bit of yogurt), but just saying no to mushy baby food. And bibs, and little cups, and high chairs, and baby utensils. Which for a while left me wondering what on earth to feed him, and then at a holiday party after he sailed through the cocktail-flauta, pumpkin bread, and crudite with dip food groups within a 20 minute span, I decided to just up and feed him our food. And it worked out fine. We started with fish tacos on the floor sans utensils or pretenses, and went from there. He so loves his father's Sicilian chicken with orzo (his birthday dinner) that I'm thinking when we potty train I could probably make that the reward instead of m&ms.
He's quiet and observational and laughs on a dime . . . unless he's pissed. And then he's LOUD. I mean, scary hold him away from your head loud. His first comprehensible babbles were "dog" and "cat" and they've progressed so now there's a hilarious "Kirby!" yelled from his room (think "kuhbeeeeee") when the cat isn't in his assigned chair in the corner. Just recently we've even added what sounds like an occasional "good" in front of "dog." A few more months and he'll have "Asshole!" down, I'm sure.
Today he's getting a big ol' slice of Applesauce cake, because wouldn't you know -- the kid who will eat Soba Noodles with Salmon and Beef Tortellini in Brodo spits out Banana. Hates it. Huh. Funny, I will eat pretty much anything and I don't care for banana much, either.
He's definitely mine. He's definitely here, at least for the moment. Does he bring me joy? You betcha. Sometimes it's tough to discern joy from tangible relief -- the exhale and smile are similar -- but I think it's there. I've been told by a few neighbors, "You've never looked this good!" and I don't want him to be known as "he who turned your mother around." Because 1) Bella? Hello? and 2) like he needs that set of luggage to drag around. He's not the reason for the joy although it must look that way from the outside -- I think after four years I had this coming, anyway. I'm just glad he's the willing producer and recipient. I'm glad this isn't all on him, and he's a victim of good timing. In the end, I guess I knew that all coming in. And it's all ok.
Happy Birthday, little guy. We're all so happy -- phew! -- that you're here.