I look at H these days and see a boy. His cheeks still have a little bit of puffy baby to them, but he is taller, sturdier, more sure of himself. He brought a book over to me this morning, and when I asked him if he wanted me to read it to him, he nodded. It was the first time I felt like we had a real conversation. I feel like we've rounded the bend into the second year and I'm gripping the edges of his babyhood for dear life, mentally willing us back to the fall, when toddlerville still seemed so abstract.
Don't get me wrong: I love this place, too. It keeps getting better and better, and I continue to declare each new month "my favorite stage." But I looked at some pictures of H as a newborn last night, and I can't even remember what it felt like to hold him when he was so small. It was like looking at someone else entirely. I don't know how to be better about capturing these moments. I don't know how to file them away in some safe area of my subconscious, where I can find them again and dust them off on some gray day when all of this is really behind me.
Having a second child is a kind of betrayal, to my mind. A first baby remains a baby as long as he is the only one in the house. We tell ourselves we're having another to give the first one a playmate, but really where the child is concerned, we know he would rather be the only one with reign over the toys in the house. Really, it's about giving him a family that will be here long after we've moved on -- about giving him the kind of person who will know exactly what he means when he says, Remember how mom and dad used to... and he won't even have to finish. And really, if you keep searching, more than anything it's about keeping your house filled with sweet baby laughter for as long as possible. It's about wanting to relive baby #1's babyhood, but this time in a more deliberate, less uptight, more enlightened way.
For me, and for all of us who had to work harder than is fair to get our first babies, that drive for a second may be an unfortunate biological wire crossing -- an innate desire gone wrong. I may, in the end, need to find something else to do with my time and energy for this. But I have to try. And, with 35 looming and eggs that can't afford to be any wonkier, that has to be now. I have to push toward it despite the voice asking for more time, reminding me of all that was so complicated about my last pregnancy. I have to tell myself that this one will be different. I have to trick myself into believing that, if it works again, it will be 9.5 months of pickles-and-ice-cream bliss. That I will believe in it this time, I will relish it, I will buy designer maternity jeans because they will not be a waste of money. I will have preggie pedis and have my bump placed on record by a professional photographer. I will be active until my due date. And I can have a VBAC! A two-hour delivery! No traumatic birth experience to cry about this time!
This is what I tell myself. Because I have to try.