When George was about 18 months old, we decided to try for another baby.
Life at the time was in a state of flux. I was not working, I was feeling absolutely wretched following the death of my Dad just three months previously, and the economy was wreaking havoc with small business owners like Gerard. On paper, things looked disastrous. Anyone on the outside of our life looking in would have told us we were crazy to be thinking of babies when we could barely afford diapers for the one we had.
It felt right, though, in a way that I cannot explain. When we made the decision, neither of us questioned it for a second.
I referred to all kinds of websites and downloaded those charts you use to keep track of your cycle. I looked up the best times for us to – well, you know – and I bought those kits that tell you when you’re ovulating. We discontinued birth control (fancy way of saying, “stopped using condoms”). I pinned my chart to the wall and waited for my period so I could start tracking my cycle.
My period never came.
While I had been doing all of this planning and downloading and learning about ovulation, I was already knocked up.
My pregnancy with James was mostly uneventful, although there was an ultrasound scare at about 8 months that was prompted by poor wording on the part of the ultrasound technician rather than by any actual medical problem (note to ultrasound techs: if you’re unable to get a clear shot of the baby’s head during an ultrasound, it is NOT a good thing to call the expectant parents to tell them “there is something wrong with the baby’s head”).
I was certain that the baby would come early. George had come two weeks before my due date, and I’d been told that the second baby usually arrives earlier on in the pregnancy than the first. Then there was size, which was immense. With George, I had only really started to look pregnant at about six month. With James, my belly started popping as soon as the pregnancy test came back positive. By eight months, I looked like a pot-bellied elephant.
My due date came and went. At our Christmas Eve dinner, I sat there feeling bloated and uncomfortable, barely able to move. The following day, Gerard took me to the hospital. I had been having weird crampy sensations that were not at all like contractions. I was hooked up to a non-stress test, and two hours later the decision was made to induce.
It was while I was in the hospital cafeteria, with an IV stuck in my arm, that a kid mistook me to Santa Claus. To be fair, I was the size of a house, wearing a red bathrobe, and in the spirit of the season, a Santa hat was perched on my head at a jaunty angle.
I was in labour for only six hours, but every minute of it was excruciatingly painful.
Late that afternoon, while families everywhere were celebrating Christmas, James came flying into the world like a cannonball.
It was a sign. He hasn’t stopped since.