Somehow, I have made it nine months through a third pregnancy. I can't imagine how long this has seemed to Joey and Noah--probably like an eternity--because to me, it's felt like I'd never be anything but pregnant again.
We have taken the last couple of weeks and slowly made our house into what it inevitably becomes when a baby arrives: a circus center of chairs and baby holders that are meant to soothe and charm and sleepify baby. Drawers are filled with the tiniest clothes in the world, clothes so small that when I hold them up I can't imagine my two big boys could ever have been that size. And, I must say, when I hold those teeny-tiny onesies up to my belly, they do feel unfairly disproportionate.
My biggest fears have remained the same, and can all be boiled down into the same question. What is our family going to become now? I still can't believe that the Universe has blessed us in this way, because (and I can't say this enough), it really isn't what we expected. I look down at my huge belly and I just shake my head in disbelief. How can this be? But it is. No matter how idiotically surprised I might be, it's happening. It's a thing. It's a-go. It's real.
I pray every day that Max will be healthy. People have loved teasing us about having a third boy, and I really can't emphasize enough how annoying that is. Boy or girl, he's a person. And I truly do not care what gender he is as much as I care that he will grow up strong and healthy like his brothers.
The other night when I was tucking Joey and Noah in, Joey grabbed my wrist just as I was moving to leave.
"Mom," he said, "I have something I want to tell you." This is a new thing he does, and I love it. I mean, sometimes it's some ridiculous had-to-be-there scene from school or a completely inane fact about, I don't know, bubble gum, but I'm so pleased that he feels that he can tell me anything, I'll take it all.
"Okay," I said, sitting back down.
His brows furrowed and his forehead creased as he searched for his words. I leaned forward a bit because the air purifier was blowing and Noah was over in the next bed singing.
"Mom, I don't want our family to change." He hurried on before I could respond. "I love us the way we are, and I just--I don't want anything to change us."
I brushed his fuzzy hair backward off his forehead, something I've done since he was an infant in his crib. In fact, when I do it, if I look at him just right, I can still see him being that small again, arms thrown backward and legs sprawled out, completely comfortable and unafraid of the world.
"What are you worried will happen to change us?" I asked, not wanting to address the wrong issue or possibly plant a new one in his mind.
He frowned even more deeply. "I don't want you to die. Or Daddy! Or Noah! I love us all so much. And I don't want anyone to be sick...or to have anything...wrong."
I'm sorry to admit that I didn't have a ready answer. Mostly because these are all my own fears, the ones that nest deep down inside me and keep me awake in the middle of the night. And not even because I'm pregnant, but all the time, even before I had an idea that Max could be a real thing. I love my life so much, and I would never want anything bad to happen to any of us.
So I responded feebly, "When I go into the hospital, Joey, everything will be okay. All the doctors know exactly what they're doing, and they've been watching me closely for nine months. Doing tests and sonograms--you know that. All of that is so that they could know ahead of time if anything looked wrong. We would know by now if we had anything to worry about." And again, this all came from the things I have become used to telling myself. And I could see, unfortunately, that it did very little to assure my big boy.
Still, like me, it was enough to get him to sleep that night. And then yesterday happened.
Again, it was bedtime, although this time both boys were just pulling their socks on their feet to finish off their pajama sets. They were sprawled like crabs on the floor with me, tugging and yanking at their socks to get the heels and toes exactly where they like them.
"Just two more days until we meet our brother!" I told them in a voice usually reserved for Big Deals, like Christmas and vacations.
Again, Joey frowned. "I'm still a little worried that things will be different." The way he said it, "different," made it sound like an apocalypse was coming.
To my surprise, Noah spoke up. "I'm very excited," he said. He was still looking down at his socks, but glanced up almost shyly through his giantly long blond eyelashes. "This is the first baby I get to have who is smaller than me. And in our family. Our house. And I'll be his big brother."
I won't beat around the bush. I almost started to cry it was so cute. And this time, I'd had time to think about Joey's concerns, and what was right and true. "Don't be afraid," I said, leaning closer toward both boys. I smiled, really feeling the excitement of what I wanted to tell them. "This isn't scary--it's an adventure! It's the first day of the rest of our lives! Once Max comes, we will become the family we're meant to be."
Noah grinned, and Joey looked up at me thoughtfully. Acceptingly. My two sensitive little boys. Mad that I'm not having a girl? How silly that sounds when I think of what their faces looked like last night, so filled with hope and trust and, at last, readiness.
We are ready for our next adventure.