I heard her call out for my husband. "Daaaaddy..."
Thinking I'd let him sleep in a bit this fine Saturday, I tiptoed up the stairs and into my daughter's room. Her face fell when she saw it was me. "Where's daddy?" she chirped.
"Oh, I'm sorry," I said. "Not who you were expecting?"
My baby girl, the one I breastfed, the one I stay home with, the one I've been told by friends that I favor, looked at me and deadpanned, "I just like daddy better."
OK, I know she's three. I know. But it hurt my feelings, and at that moment, I decided I was done having kids. My husband and I had been going back and forth on the matter for the past couple years. We have a good thing, we reasoned—one boy, one girl. We're past the tantrum phase. We're done with strollers and highchairs. The kids wipe their own bottoms—not awesomely, of course, but still, one less thing, you know?
Unbeknownst to me that early morning, I was growing a brand-new Van Cooney. Unlike the previous two, which were charted and planned, this pregnancy was fueled by Friday night's never-ending glass of Cabernet. My husband and I were the stars of our very own episode of After School Special: The Thirty-Something Years.
After the test came back positive, I vacillated between two emotions: happiness and oh sh*t. The happiness part is obvious—a new little life, expanding our loving family, that baby smell. The other part—mastitis, teething, and hideous diaper blowouts.
My husband asked if I was OK, to which I replied, "I'm fine. I'm just surprised."
He laughed when I went on to say that with the older two, when I peed on the stick and got a positive, it was like I reached a goal. Ovulate, have sex, get pregnant. Ta-daa!
Now here I am, almost 35, or as they call it in the medical biz, advanced maternal age, getting ready to have another baby. The best part of this pregnancy—I think—will be the calm; the calm of knowing what to expect when I'm expecting. The calm of knowing that all kids do, eventually, use the potty. The calm of knowing that while tantrums and sleep training suck your spirit dry and drain your will to live, they don't last forever.
While I didn't set a goal of becoming pregnant this time around, I have a new one to accomplish—enjoy my last pregnancy. Yes, I feel consistently tired and carsick, but my regular clothes still fit. With my son and daughter, I was always racing to the “Next Big Thing.” Stop being sick all the time. Show. Give birth. Breastfeed. Obsess over losing baby weight.
The race is over. Now all I have to do is breathe. Let go. Enjoy.