This is the new parenting: your wife tells you that she’s pregnant and a couple of things run through your head.
When can I post about it?
And since we’re going to have a second child, does this mean I need to change the name of my blog? Or, should I just name the second kid Jack, regardless of gender, in order to maintain the Always Jacked (TM) brand?
These weren’t the first things that ran through my mind. But they weren’t far behind.
Don’t judge me.
It’s still early days as I type this. We’ve been to one doctor’s visit. We know a due date and we’ve seen a heartbeat in an ultrasound. We’ve told a very small handful of friends and family. This pregnancy isn’t even Facebook official yet.
But already, things are way different compared to the first one.
Lara feels terrible. Her morning sickness during Jack was just that: confined to mornings. This time, she pretty much feels like the dudes from The Hangover all day, except for a three hour stretch in the late afternoon. Whenever she makes a loudish retching noise, Jack starts laughing, which I’m pretty sure is not helping any. He imitates her and has added a dramatic touch, rolling his eyes back into his head as he coughs.
My son. Little Strasberg.
We’re different, too. Every foreign feeling, every milestone, every bit of discomfort with Jack was a consultation to a friend or a book or a doctor or, worst of all, the internet. It’s not that we were nervous when she was pregnant the first time. It’s just that the delicious combination of not knowing what the hell you are doing and not knowing what the hell is going on turns you into someone who needs, almost craves, reassurance.
This time, we’re subdued. This sounds horrible to admit, but if it weren’t for her constant waves of nausua, I would almost forget that she’s pregnant. I haven’t, of course, but it isn’t at the forefront of my mind, nearly every second, the way the first time was.
I may still be in shock and getting my head around it. We definitely want a second kid, but had decided to try and sell our house and had gotten to a place where we would be fine, waiting for a while, until we got relocated and settled. Maybe even prefer it. It would give us a chance to space things out a little.
We found out that Lara was pregnant the day we got an offer on our condo.
Oh, God, you are hilarious. We get it. We have changes this year. You don’t have to rub our noses in it. Or smite us. Please, don’t smite us.
I’ve been open with Jack about what is going on. He came to the first doctor’s visit with us. He saw the ultrasound up on the screen. “Look Jack,” I told him, pointing to the HDTV that our new doctor uses as a monitor, “there’s a little baby. Your brother or sister.”
He’d watch for a second, then turn to me. “Caillou? Elmo? Fireman Sam?”
If we started seeing any of those up on that screen during an exam, I’d sell tickets and retire.
We still can’t decide if we want to find out the gender of Peanut 2: The Wrath of Khan.
We truly feel and believe all the right things. We want the baby to be healthy and happy. We will not, for one second, be disappointed in what we’re lucky enough to receive.
But I want a girl. And so does Jack. (The wife has a preference, but doesn’t want to jinx it.)
I know all parents are biased when it comes to the mental capacity of their children, but I really do think Jack is bright. So I tend to talk to him like a little man instead of a two-year old kid. When I ask him what he wants, his answer is always the same. Always.
Me: “Jack, so mama is going to have a little baby in a few months. Do you want a little baby in the house?’
J: (nods) “Yeah.”
Me: “Do you want a brother or a sister.”
J: (sits, thinks, smiles) “Sister.”
Me: “Do you want a boy or a girl baby?”
He never wavers. It’s sweet, the consistency and ease of his answer. I feel guilty, saying what I want, because I think ahead seven months, five years, ten years, twenty years, and I never want this little person growing inside my wife to think that I wanted anyone other than who that little person turned out to be.
For Jack, there is only a question and his answer. There is no future. There are no consequences. He doesn’t understand guilt or regret. Those come when you’re older.
And supposedly wiser.
I’ve always wanted to have a boy and a girl. And I’ve always wanted the boy to be first, a protective older brother.
We didn’t find out the gender with Jack. We went into the delivery room with a boy name and a girl name picked out. After his APGAR test was finished and he was all wiped off, I picked him up and carried him to my tough, strong, beautiful wife.
“What do you think,” I asked. “Does he look like a Jack to you?”
She nodded and her eyes filled up and she held out her hands to take him.
I am sitting here, at home, early on a Monday morning, writing this and I can still see that moment, can feel an echo of how I felt that day run through me. I’m no Marilu Henner — who is, really, but Marilu — but I’ve been either blessed or cursed with a good memory. That moment, though, wrote itself on me at a cellular level. I can run that whole day that we met Jack through my mind, if I want to.
It’s sort of why I don’t want to find out. It’s amazing that we can. And there are good, practical reasons to do it. Plus, if I’m being honest, I want to know.
But at the same time, I don’t, because I wonder if the next few months would feel like reading a book that I peeked ahead to the ending of.
Lara got sick a couple of weeks ago. Some kind of horrible, mutant stomach virus. Potentially bacterial. We’re not really sure yet. We won’t truly find out for another few days when her tests come back.
She’s feeling better, as of Friday. Better than she has for a while. She was up and about a little bit, walking around our mess of a house in mid-pack. It was good to see her up, even if her color is a little low and she’s moving slower than usual.
It was scary, taking her to the hospital, twice, and having her hooked up to an IV for fluids. I know that it’s no great thing, that there are people who have considerably worse health problems all around us. Seeing her so scared and so sick and so much dimmer than she normally is was bad enough. But worrying about the baby, that added an entirely new dimension to the past two weeks.
Generally, I’m an optimist. I really do think that things work out. But the first time we were in the hospital, we had this ER doctor who was very subdued, very slow and quite a bit older. At one point, he came in to do an ultrasound and didn’t appear to know how to operate the machinery. For fifteen excruciating seconds, he kept the screen turned toward himself while he fumbled around, looking for the baby, and in my head, I’m screaming, “Turn the screen. Turn the screen. TURN. THE. SCREEN. AROUND. AND. LET. ME. SEE. THE. BABY.”
Peanut 2 was there, heart beat flashing like a light house beacon. We had the baby’s health confirmed on our second trip to the ER, by someone who engendered considerably more confidence, and by our twelve-week exam of this past week.
Jack commands a lot of attention. He runs around a lot and likes to play and has a shine about him. But I have a feeling that Peanut 2 is going to give him a run for his money.
Because if s/he is going to these lengths to get attention before birth, I can only imagine what we are in store for.
My blog is in the running for Circle of Moms’ search for the “Top 25 Daddy Bloggers”. You can vote every single day until April 5 by clicking here. Or pasting this link into your favorites: http://www.circleofmoms.com/blogger/always-jacked.
While voting for me every day would be a touch excessive, it is an excess I would totally respect and appreciate.