I am always late in turning my calendar. A shame, and odd since I'm eager for the coming month spent with a fresh page of Nikki McClure's art, hanging in the kitchen, visible and inspirational at (almost) all times. As I was doling out avocado slices or picking up a thrown water cup for yet another rinse, I looked up and realized that the calendar still said February though it was March fourteenth. George and I had plans, like we do every month on the fourteenth: go to the mall. Use the newfangled photo booth that Mama wishes was still the real, old kind with the red or blue curtain but consoles herself by choosing a funny header appropriate to the past four weeks of development. "Oh, by the way: I'm awesome" for 13 months. "I freaking love you" for fourteen months, Valentine's Day. Our new tradition whose seed was planted years before when my roommates and I covered the grimy breakfast nook of our punkrock house in photo strips, demanded one from each houseguest that crossed our couch, every band that used our floor.
I got distracted, didn't turn the calendar, but released George from his high chair and we got ready for the day. Went to the mall. Got our pictures, chose the "USA!" header for George's recent rallying cry/fist pumping victory dance. We stopped off at the drug store and came home. While George played on the floor with his puzzle, I took a pregnancy test that turned positive even as I willed it not to, glaring down at the defiant little plus sign that wussed out and only partially materialized. But it was enough. I didn't really need the confirmation, anyway. Even barely pregnant -- one day late -- my body gives itself away; we've been together for awhile, you know.
Feeling a sudden burst of responsibility to my household, I remembered I'd left February's cheery cherry blossoms hanging in the kitchen. Turning the page, I felt a little silly. If Nikki McClure could be so prophetic, a complete stranger reassuring me with her meant-to-be-looked-at-for-31-days art, things would surely be okay.
Of course, it was cruel of me to be anything but immediately delighted, and, it turns out, this pregnancy was easily jinxed. March changed to April and after three weeks of getting-used-to, what are we going to do? turning into we can do this, right?, the bleeding began. Though my midwife was optimistic and Nathan favored looking on the bright side (after all, this had also happened with George), I knew it just wasn't meant to be: an instinct confirmed by the poor ultrasound wand-wielding lady whose thankless job requires that she tell expectant women there is no sign of viability. The loss is sad, obviously, but this brief flirtation with another kid has opened my mind to the possibility of loving another one, doing this again, maybe even sooner than I'd envisioned when painstakingly organizing the timeline of my twenties and thirties.
If and when we're afforded the luxury of adding to our family, I hope the person who joins us and George are lifelong lifelines to one another. Filling each other's gaps, two 24 hour open signs when everywhere else closes at 7pm and 5 on Sundays. People -- smart people -- have told me that a sibling will be one of our most valuable gifts to George, and the chance to parent another kid would be a gift to me, for sure. It's terrifying to replay the hapless nights we spent in George's beginning: the sleeplessness, the confusion and eventual giving up akin to the moment you realize you're drowning and start to enjoy the languorous kelp floating around you. But, you know? Sometimes, you're not drowning. I wasn't. Soon came the realization that I'd drifted back inland and could easily stand. It'll come again, after all that other stuff, which will (fingers crossed) be less like drowning and more like a too-adventurous swim. I'm lucky to've had the opportunity to work through those feelings before our next (next) shot at parenthood. To start with excitement, assured that we can hack it. Nobody deserves an "oh, shit" at their first sign of life, and for that motherly transgression, former fetus, I am truly sorry.
I didn't plan on getting pregnant when I had a fifteen month old, but once I was, I quickly warmed to the idea -- the upsides, the pleasantness of the surprise, the potential -- which is, I think, my lesson in this bummer of a situation. The stranglehold I once had on PLANS has, in the past year and a half, loosened to a lazy handhold. I never thought I'd be the kind of person to let life happen to me, but here we are, Universe. Show me what you got.
Have you dealt with an early miscarriage (lame, huh)? Did you get pregnant again quickly? How did it affect your family plans?