She comes as a surprise. I am twenty one and we have just returned from a road trip, we went out to California. I feel an intense and immediate connection to her upon discovering the news and it will only grow stronger over the next nine months. Even unexpected, there is a feeling of innate trust to my first pregnancy. A lack of pretense, little worry. It’s as if we are engulfed in a bubble, where she and I, despite imperfect circumstance are thriving. I gain nearly sixty pounds yet have never felt more comfortable in my own skin. She is big and so beautiful and is born on a Wednesday, still in the caul. Still in a bubble. It’s not long before things fall apart between us – and I am lonely in the overwhelm, but she is as easy a baby as the days are hard.
My second pregnancy has all the giddy magic of a nearly nine year day dream, a high that carries over into her birth and all through the first months of her life. Where I am still in disbelief that she is here and in my arms. A second child, little sister. She is my husband’s first baby and in every sense everything is new. We are in it together and I am on solid ground. I finally begin to understand why everyone tells me it will be so different this time. In these happier years. I start to see that my beginnings as a mother were shaped by survival, that now, there is an easier way. My friends are having babies and we celebrate each one, in small circles of blessing or with endless rosé in Julie’s backyard in August under a full harvest moon. We start a group message every few months or so it seems, to keep each other abreast of impending newborn news. Our babies share strollers and sweaters and hours together under the sun.
Our littlest is two and fights sleeping in her bed. First trimester I’m weary, I give in. Some nights are made of a crowded unrest. In the morning, her head is heavy on my shoulder and hand to stomach, automatic, I think of you. Little lovely you. My first two babies came to me from two separate lifetimes. Sometimes, it seems. The space in between each of their arrivals granted me the time of twice nine months imagining their eyes, their voice, their names. Now it’s in these quick long days you’re growing. It’s April and it’s evening and I’ve put away the last of the blocks. I’m folding piles of their things, her jeans, her little dresses and my belly shakes with small quakes. There you are. I cannot answer that I will have three daughters when I am asked about the baby without a rush of emotion- it feels so natural, it feels so gigantic. I go to sleep too late, thinking of June.
We’ll drive to the river. Windows open, blue skies a breeze. Baby sleeps with flushed cheeks. He and I, now there’s three in the backseat. I’ll remind myself not to lean too much on my oldest to watch her toddler sister. At eleven, her instincts are dead on but remember: She’s still just a child, carefree. We’ll try to be more organized, and argue less but things will pile up, the way they do, the way it happens. We’ll ride through the hard days, we’ll try harder to plan. You are almost here, it’s almost summer little starling. I’m familiar and in awe of three times this wild mystery; all the beauty and fragility and impermanence of things.
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