As the inevitable approaches--I'm four days past my due date--I try to remember the joys and stresses of having a new baby. I try to remember everything that I have forgotten. Only the odds suggest that our experience first time around will be avoided. So in many ways, this birth will provide many firsts. I don't know the weight of my brand new baby against the top of my stomach. I don't know what it's like to hold my baby and nurse him when he is new. I don't know what a belly button stump looks like, or how to clean one. I never changed a meconium-filled diaper. Many of the firsts we'll experience this time will be firsts indeed, even though this is our second baby.
Then there is a big part of me that is terrified that other things will be wrong. It's like my brain is trying to shield itself from the inevitable pain by convincing myself ahead of time that things are going to be bad. Don't be optimistic. Don't be hopeful. Don't take anything for granted. I'm afraid to have this baby because I'm afraid of having a regular baby. I'm afraid of having a regular baby, only to find out later that he has so many problems. I'm afraid of having a sick baby because I've already been through that and I can't go through that again. Father in Chief says if our baby is sick again, we'll get through it--just like we've gotten through it with Toddler in Chief. I wish I felt that optimistic. I think all of my strength has been used up. I just don't feel capable of doing it again. In some ways I feel bad for this new baby. It's as if all of my energy, all of my hope, all of my optimism is gone. And if I need to pull some of that strength for the challenges that inevitably lie ahead--the challenges of a perfectly healthy, normal baby--it won't be there.
I can only hope that when he is born, all of my fears will disappear because he will be real. He will be perfectly healthy and normal. And I will fall into the rhythms and ebbs and flows of being a parent, of having a newborn, and finding myself in a new and wonderful "normal."