When we told J he was going to be a big brother, it was dusk at the beach and the little guy sat in my lap staring at the ocean, a tiny flicker in his eyes, the rest of his face completely unmoving. I gently repeated the news, wondering if he had heard me, and yet he continued to sit in that same manner as if nothing had been said at all, or nothing new at least—totally still and silent—staring out into the vastness of sky and water.
The questions would come over the next few weeks: “When is the baby coming? Is the baby this big? How does it come out of mama? Does it crawl out? Will the baby have hair? Is it okay if I have four babies? What are you laughing about?” Then the ideas: “Maybe we can take the baby to the park and the baby can sit by me. Maybe I can show the baby my toys and the baby will laugh.” And then finally, the most important declaration of all: “It’s going to be a good baby to have in our house.”
Of course, I would have my own questions as well, like, What’s this going to be like with two? How will he/she be similar/different from J? How do we help them feel equally loved? Will I be more relaxed this time around or worry about everything all over again? I would have my own ideas: Maybe this second time, I really am stronger and wiser—and at the same time, maybe more humble and with more reasonable expectations of myself. And finally, I would have my own declarations, such as, I am so incredibly, deeply thankful, and it is all so hard to believe.
And, I would have my moments of emotion too, like when I burst into tears while reading a blog post about a mom sending her last child off to college. My husband gave me a strange look when I told him about it, reassuring me that we had a very long way to go. But it was a crazy feeling—a feeling of fullness, literally, my body full with this new tiny life, while thinking about the emptiness a house must feel when these very children, with such a huge presence in our lives now (J who still wants to hold my hand and says things like, “Mama, I’m so happy you’re my girl”) and imagining these little ducklings someday no longer even living with us. “We’ll be ready for it, by then,” my husband reassured me. And I knew he was right. But there was something about the loss inherent in this beautiful trajectory that the beginning stage was making me especially cognizant of.
But, in that first moment on the beach, none of this was present, and all was still inside. I was interested and impressed, for some reason, that J was reacting with such quietude. I watched him watch the water, and it was as if he set the pause button on my mind-loop of planning and wondering and worrying and celebrating and counting and rejoicing and reacting. Because there we were, three announcing four, and really, perhaps all that needed to be said was actually felt—our bodies snuggled together in warmth, toes digging into the sand, the sun dipping down into the sky.