Parent Moments: A Public Pregnancy
I tend to categorize pregnancies into themes. Like the babies in our bellies, I believe that pregnancies are singular and unique and full of surprises.
My first pregnancy was my Earth Mother pregnancy and I relished every minute and every single morsel along the way. At the end -- well, a little before the end -- I was huge and swollen and a magnet for all types of people who would stop me constantly to talk about my pregnancy or just ask for directions.
My second pregnancy was my Busy Pregnancy shaped by the frenetic life of a mother of a toddler, pregnant with a baby who bumped, thrashed and twirled up to the very moment he was born.
When I became pregnant for the third time, I hoped for a relaxed and calm nine months -- I dubbed it the Third Time's the Charm pregnancy. Our oldest child, Julia, was now 7 and our youngest, Henry, was 5. Dave and I were so excited to share our news that we blurted it out one evening through misty eyes accompanied with hugs and smiles. We expected Julia and Henry to be excited and happy that we were having a baby, but we never anticipated just how enthusiastic they would be.
The morning after we shared the news, I told Julia and Henry that they could pick "one special friend" with whom to share the news. That day after school as the kids spilled out of Henry's kindergarten classroom, they all fixated their gazes on my stomach. Henry's teacher came to the door and embraced me. I stammered and tried to smile at the sudden and unexpected attention while I listened to Henry's classmates yelling to their parents that he was going to be a big brother. The same thing happened at the door of Julia's classroom.
The next few months were marked by the kids' constant caring for me and our growing bump: "Are you feeling OK today, Mommy?" "How's the baby?" "Did you see the doctor today?" "Eat your salad, Mommy." Their interest was sweet and so persistent that I almost began to question whether it was healthy.
Then they both became obsessed with the new baby's gender. Not surprisingly, Henry wanted a boy, Julia a girl. As my belly swelled, so did the gender campaign being waged within their classrooms. Julia's third grade class held a vote while Henry insistently told all his friends that the baby "was probably a boy." The night my husband and I finally shared the news that our baby was, indeed, a boy, Julia wept uncontrollably -- the gender battle had been lost. Henry persisted in rubbing it in by hooting and hollering, "I knew it!" no less than 100 times.
Once the fall-out over the baby's gender ended, the debate over names began in full. Both kids would come home from school with lists of baby names they compiled with their friends during free time. I would overhear Julia revealing the favored names to her relatives like a publicist leaking a movie star's latest beau. Parents I barely knew would stop me in the hall way and say, "So you're thinking about naming your baby Miles?"
Late into my pregnancy, past my due date, my doctor decided to induce me, and the appointment was made. Of course, the words were barely out of my mouth before the kids were sounding the sirens letting anyone and everyone know that their brother's arrival was imminent -- they even knew the exact date.
Julia and Henry's fascination and enthusiasm with the pregnancy transferred from my bump to Miles, and after he was born I realized that the whole experience had allowed Julia and Henry to demonstrate their pure and all-consuming love for their family and everything it means to them -- and to all of us.