Three.

(This post is two months late, but still.)

Three is here.  Between negotiating desserts, losing tickle fights, comforting middle of the night woes, supervising playground adventures, worrying over preschool transitions, bemoaning potty training, making up stories, giving hugs, wiping sticky fingers, quelling tantrums, and dispensing band aids, I somehow didn’t see three coming– but here it is.

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First time, second time.

Bingo’s conception and gestation were so well-documented here that I sometimes go back to the archives to remember what it was like.

Pregnancy with Powerball feels different, both than what I remember and what I wrote.

It feels less full of naivety.  With Bingo I wasn’t afraid of birth, I was enamored by newborns, and I was confident in my (then non-existent) parenting abilities.

Now, I’m nervous.  Less of pregnancy, but more of what comes after.  I think back to crashing hormones, my leaking body, sleep deprivation, the giant reality check of being responsible for a very small and wobbly-necked person.  I’m more aware of what a literal and figurative shit show parenting can be, and of my own many, many shortcomings.  I’m not totally convinced that having another child is a good idea.

It also feels less consuming.  I have photos of my first weeks of pregnancy, vivid memories of Bingo’s early kicks, recollections of a carefully organized registry.  I always knew how many weeks pregnant I was, and how Bingo’s size compared to that of local produce.

Now, Powerball’s kicks feel more like background noise.  I feel them with my belly pressed into the kitchen counter, as I try to catch up on dishes and against Bingo’s raging body as she copes with the indignity of bedtime, bread cut at the wrong angle, or a second dessert denied.  In a life much more stress-filled than it was in 2013, weeks fly by at a terrifying pace.  I don’t know how eight turned to twelve turned to twenty turned to thirty-two.  I rely on apps downloaded on to my phone and weekly e-mails to tell me how pregnant I am and how large Powerball has become.  I don’t read the articles.

It feels more complicated.  We were (logistically) prepared for Bingo’s arrival: we had a spare room to convert into a beautiful nursery, organized finances, neatly folded tiny clothes.

Now, it feels like we don’t have quite enough of anything: space, money, time, energy.  Powerball doesn’t get their own nursery, just a converted corner of our bedroom.  We shuffle furniture around our room to try to make space but, realistically, there isn’t a lot.  We decide not to paint because we don’t have the time or energy to do it ourselves, or the spare cash to pay somebody else.  We tell ourselves that beige is a fine colour for a baby’s room (corner).  We assemble the crib while allowing cartoons to parent our already here child for a few hours, then fill it with the clothes that we don’t have time to sort and fold.  I quietly panic about where we will find time when Powerball actually arrives.

It feels unfair to Powerball, really, being shortchanged from the point of conception onward because of a parent (or parents– I think Sea’s experience echos mine in many ways) who is more cynical and more distracted the second time around.  This, for instance, was meant to be the prologue to a cheerful third trimester pregnancy update* and not a post on Powerball’s parent’s (parents’) shortcomings.  So I’m sorry, Powerball.  Here’s the little I can offer you in return:

You will have parents who know something this time.  We know how to hold you and have it feel natural.  We know that babies need to sleep, and that we shouldn’t try to keep you awake for as long as possible just because of your (presumably) cute face.  I know that the hormone crash will recede and that parenting you won’t seem like the terrible mistake that it probably will in the week after your birth.

You will have parents who know what’s coming.  I know, I’ve complained more than once about that future: diapers, sleep regressions, cries that resonate in my chest.  But I can also see all of the amazing things that will come.  When I looked at your big sister for the first time, I mostly saw a stranger.  I panicked that I wouldn’t be able to pick her from a lineup of babies if asked.  Now I look back at photos of her first days and it actually takes my breath away.  I see her in that red faced, pointy headed newborn: her facial expressions, the shape of her fingers and toes, her eyes.  I feel like I’ll be able to look at you and really see you: not as a stranger, not as a generic newborn, but as the first incarnation of yourself.

You will have an amazing big sister.  We finally told Bingo about you, when she announced that she was going to be a big sister because she was growing a baby in her tummy.  We were worried– whenever we asked if she wanted a baby brother or sister she would huff, cross her arms and respond with an unequivocal “NO”– but she’s thrilled.  She hugs you, promises to share her blueberries, and regularly asks when you will come out of my “you-tur-us”.  She tells me to be careful and gentle with you, and only kicks you occasionally.

So it’s true, this pregnancy won’t be carefully documented.  That the excitement will be tinged with both experience and uncertainty.  And, when you are born, you’ll have a different family than the one your sister was born into almost three years ago.  You’ll never experience life as an only child.  You won’t get to be the first, longed for, grandchild.  You won’t meet the fresh-faced people that your parents once were (seriously, we looked so young).  Your room corner will be painted beige.  You probably won’t have a baby book.  But for all of the things that you won’t have, or will have less of, there’s some advantage to being the second act.  You’ll be coming into a family that has more experience, more toys, more people, more perspective: a family that’s ready to meet you, even if we aren’t totally prepared.

*next post, I swear.

 

Daddy.

Bingo knows what “daddy” means.

She gleefully points to her friends’ fathers and shouts to them, “Daddy!”

Any guy carrying a kid on his shoulders: “Daddy!”

The stock photography guy on the air conditioner box (lying relaxed and, presumably, cool with his stock photography wife and kid): “Daddy!”

She’s even taken two of her friend’s fathers on as her own.  When either of them is around, it isn’t Henry’s daddy or Olivia’s daddy* that we’re talking about: it’s just daddy.  “Daddy push swing!  Silly daddy!”  Inevitably, this has led to uncomfortable public announcements such as, “Daddy at Olivia’s house.  Daddy go home.  Bye bye daddy!”

I have to admit: the unrestrained** enthusiasm for daddies made me a little nervous when it first came up.  “Oh no!”, I thought to myself.  “Bingo knows that she doesn’t have a daddy, and wants one!  What if she resents us?  What if she goes on a desperate and misguided search for father figures later in life?  What if the anti-gay conservative populace hears about this?!”

Then I paused (for the split second that parenting allows any pause to last) and remembered to breathe.

Do you know what else Bingo really wants?  She wants a dog.  She loves Henry’s dogs as much as she loves Henry’s daddy.  The highlight of her short life so far has been getting to hold one of those dog’s leashes on a short walk down the street.  She waves to every dog on the street.  She tells anybody who will listen that Grandma is bringing her a dog for her birthday.

But Grandma is not getting Bingo a dog, unless Grandma wants to be disowned.  Our house is a dog-free house, and will likely remain that way.  Bingo will grow up with a bunch of cats and whatever creatures might live in our walls, but no other furry friends.  And Bingo will be okay.

So, if anybody tells me that Bingo needs a daddy (Bingo included), I’ll explain that all all families are different.  That different people and things fit into our hearts and homes: moms, dads, cats, dogs, budgies, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, friends, entire villages.  I’ll explain that not having any of those things doesn’t mean that you’re missing them.  And I’ll explain that at the end of the day the only daddy in our house is still going to be the guy on the air conditioning box.

*Not her friends actual names, but the names of pretty much every two year old we meet.

**Really though, what is restrained when it comes to toddler?

Fake it ’til you make it. 

There are times when I don’t feel grown up enough to be a parent.  When I feel like my brain is rushing to catch up to the life that I’ve created for it. That feeling was there when we left the hospital with a baby, it’s there every time somebody introduces me as Bingo’s mom, and it’s there when I look around my house- every room scattered with toys- and think, “It looks like a kid lives here.”

I feel like I’m faking it. 

But then my feverish baby calls for me over the monitor: “Mummy!”  And I take her temperature, and give her medicine, and worry a little but not too much. This is the fifteenth fever, after all, not the first. I sit rocking with her in the dark, one of her small fever hot hands curled around my collar, and I don’t feel like I’m faking it anymore. 

How can I, really? Knowing that, to her, Sea and I are everything. We’re not pretend parents, we’re not unsure parents, we’re not people pretending to be adults. We’re just her parents: the only ones she’s got.  To her, we are enough.  

Bingo is asleep again. She breathes deeply in my arms, but still moves fitfully: the fever isn’t gone yet. So I keep rocking her. And in this dark room, in this moment, I feel it too: we are enough.