I wanted to have a second child, but I didn’t want to have a second child. I wanted to blast Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely?” and dream about the little girl growing inside me. But instead, for nine months, all I could think about was the damage her arrival would cause to my Village Ghetto Land.
If you’ve read my book, MotherFumbler, you’re not surprised. The introduction was titled “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Torn.” Apparently my five-year hiatus from the pudding club healed my baby cannon but not my brain. Even while super prego with kid number-two, I’d often get surges of OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE, which cued the inner bitch slap and pep talk: “Pull yourself together, woman. After this last kick in the cooter, you’ll never have to do this again. Just get it over with.” I was terrified. My red vadge of courage was a big, fat lie.
But along with my baby girl came a surprise emotion. There was the relief of “having it over with,” yes, but there was something else too. An unexpected melancholy – that I would never be doing this again. WHAT THE. WHO AM I EVEN? BURN MY BOOK. SLAP MY BIG STUPID FACE.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to give birth a third time. I never want to be pregnant again. Like, ever. Take your sperm elsewhere, Ryan Gosling. Every night during the entire third trimester, I whispered “snip snip” in my husband’s ear as he slept. The Bearded Oyster was not yet closed, but it was selling off the last of its stock.
The surprise sadness came with the sudden knowledge that this wee one is IT. My last flesh pod into the future. My last hope for a comfortable retirement (Max wants to be Lego Batman when he grows up). Jokes aside, she is my final child. All her firsts will be my lasts.
But there’s a bright spot in these last baby blues. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m different this time. More aware. More patient during moments that drove me to drink the first time ’round.
When she performs The Great Shatsby for the umpteenth time today, I laugh instead of sigh. Then I take bets on how far up her back the butt mud goes. How can I be grossed out by her? She’ll be last little person to poop in my eye.
When she projectile pukes on my favourite shirt, I wipe her sweet lips. This is the mouth that will tell me she hates me one day, but first, this is the mouth that will call me Mommy.
When she looks at me all wide-eyed at four freakin’ A.M., I smile through my yawn and hold her gaze for as long as she’ll have me. I study every part of her face – her shapely nose, her serious brow, her extra chins. This will be the last face I ever love. And she is the last person on earth who’ll be fascinated by mine.
When she screams to be fed, I happily oblige, despite the knives in my nipples. I watch her face switch instantly from frantic to serene, calmed with knowing the waiting is almost over, the ginger nectar is near.
When she groans and grunts all night long from her bassinet by my bed, providing the soundtrack for my zombie apocalyptic dreams, I shake it off. She will be the last little walker to torture me so. I’ll sleep soundly when I’m dead.
When she cries, I try everything I can to soothe her. My dinner can go cold. My family can say I’m spoiling her. The whole world can bite me. She will be the last baby to cry in my arms, and these arms have nothing better to do than hold her.
And when she’s a cranky pants and making this column impossible to finish, I waltz her around the living room, holding her warm head to my chest and whispering rock ballads in her ear. I close my eyes and breathe her in. She smells like newness with a sprinkle of sugar. She will be the last baby I dance with. Isn’t she lovely?