It’s evident quickly that this is potent.
My heart speeds when he’s close and butterflies thud around in my torso, bumping up against each other and fluttering up toward my throat. Even more than the giddiness there’s a sense of disbelief: I adore every facet of him, from his unabashed honesty to his brilliant scientific mind and his very pure, unapologetic kindness. He doesn’t withhold his shortcomings and he admits what he needs to learn. He knows how to use silence to say everything, and is OK with the fact that I am broken and glued together with slightly precarious tape. For the first time in my adult life, I feel fully understood.
I didn’t plan on this. I’d been given my fair shot at love and a family unit and I failed, pretty spectacularly in fact.
I’m a single, cynical mom. I lug 700 pounds from a rusty chain by my ankle: chaotic baggage, mildewy goldfish crackers and tattered heart shards. It’s ridiculous and idealistic to think that I’ve met my match in life only after admitting defeat at the love game. But it’s true.
We’re on a green-hemmed baseball field on a chilly fall day: BC's mountains loom behind us, smelling of pine needles and sprinkled with a dusting of snow. I’m watching my son defend a goalie net, tongue sticking out to the right of his mouth in intense concentration, as Corey expertly maneuvers a soccer ball with his feet, threatening a smooth shot. I’ve now been single for almost two full years, and Corey is the first man I’ve allowed to interact with my son.
I know, at this point, that this man will be my son’s stepfather, and I’m filled with a wave of amazement as I watch them: they laugh easily, link hands naturally, and express an easy, laughter-fueled relationship that I could not have built more perfectly in my imagination.
Though I’d previously ruled it out amidst a sea of internal protestations – I was horrible at being pregnant, babies are hard, we have such a great life now, one child is enough, my career is very important to me – that morning on the soccer field, several months after Corey and I met for the first time, is when I first started thinking that this man who’d embraced me and my son so unreservedly, deserved to experience the intense miracle of brand new life too.
Corey and I married almost two years after we met, in a tiny ceremony on a mist-lit beach in Tofino. My five year old was an integral part of our day, bearing our rings and solemnly adding his blue sand granules to ours.
I often stared at the two of them when they didn’t know I was watching: playing hockey in the yard, bent over a Nintendo game, beating cake batter for my birthday Angel Food Cake.
“Do you want to be a dad?” I whispered one night.
“I am already. Aren’t I?” he answered and tears sprang to my eyes and I knew that even though I suck at pregnancy and I am maybe too old and that a new baby would mean sleepless nights and leaking breasts -- if he wanted to, I would do anything I could to enable him to experience it again from the very beginning.
“So,” I reached for his hand in the dark: “Do you want another?”
He was quiet for a minute before he said, definitively: “Let’s do it.”
For all the reasons above, I wasn’t sure it would actually happen. If it did, I reasoned, it would take some time. I was in my mid thirties. Crossfit was a big part of our lives and my body fat was negligible. I had already had my shot at this, and I hit the jackpot with an amazing son.
So when the two lines appeared on the electronic stick just one month later, I was incredulous, emotional, and intensely, absurdly grateful.
I was 29 when I found out I was pregnant with my first boy over six years ago. By no means was I too young. And I definitely couldn’t be described as naïve at that point in my life.
But for many reasons, my thirty-something pregnancy experience has been vastly superior. I’m free of the crippling worry: more confident in my abilities to mother a fellow human being. I’m mentally prepared for the challenge of the sleepless nights and emotional tidal waves of the first year, and cognizant of the great importance of putting my relationship with my partner on par with my relationship with the new baby. I‘ve advanced in my career, and we can now afford help with the baby so I can go back to work before finances become a debilitating stress.
There are additional tests now because of my “advanced maternal age” – automatic blood tests and ultrasounds and extra peering at nuchal folds and markers for abnormalities that are more likely to be there than they were when I was 29.
These served to alarm me at first, but everything has been normal and healthy and, because of my clean diet and commitment to everyday exercise, I am sleeping well and able to exercise briskly everyday in my third trimester.
I am armed with the gift of hindsight; of knowing that the first few years with a newborn will be tough but vastly rewarding and, ultimately, will get so much easier. I know that I’ll love my toddler as much as my baby, and that my love will just stretch and grow richer, fuller. I will never know the stress of having two kids in diapers like so many of my friends have experienced.
I know now that it’s OK to keep being the woman I am, and that being a mother does not mean that I am no longer free to pursue things that make my heart soar: writing, Crossfit, date nights with Corey.
I can feel my baby boy kick inside me, my stomach now is ripe and fully round. I sit and I rub my skin above the forming life inside me and I think about the days and months when my son was one, when I understood I was on my own: I’d be a single Mom. I believed wholeheartedly that I’d lost my shot at happiness and a loving family unit.
Life rewrites its scripts with new twists every day, and I am continually amazed at its imagination, generosity and ability to morph from despair into hope when we least expect it.
I’ve been given a second chance, and I intend to breathe deeply, fuel my body, foster my strength, give back what I've been given, and fiercely love my boys. Randomly, I've been handed a second shot. I don’t intend to take that for granted for a single minute.