It seems impossible that just nine months ago, my wife and I were still absorbing the somewhat surprising news that we had another child on the way. Though convinced we were "done," it turns out we weren't. I blame science. Shortly after learning the news, I wrote about the roller coaster of emotions we went through upon discovering there would be a third Nickerson baby.
We'll be going back to Cedars-Sinai (for the third time around) on Thursday for a scheduled C-section. That's two days from now, friends. TWO. DAYS. FROM. NOW. As I sit here in my favorite chair, I'm clinging to the last couple of nights of silence. My other kids sleep through the night (mostly), and it's been a long time since a newborn baby filled our nights with feedings and burpings and cryings and vomitings and screamings and cooings. I'm not ready. I'm weirdly less ready than I was for my first, because I've been in a state of denial about this baby's arrival. Sure, we've talked about names and bought a new swing, and restocked 0-3 onesies and bought a new bassinet, and prepped the other kids for a new baby, but I've just not wrapped my brain around the fact that our lives will once again permanently change in two days. Our family is about to grow again, and I'm telling you, it doesn't seem possible. I'm excited and thrilled, of course, but I've been in this position a couple of times now.
For the first one, Lucy, every moment of the process was a milestone. OMG, 1 month down! She looks like a sea monkey right now! Whoa, First Trimester gone! Morning Sickness, it's totally a real thing! Let's tell everyone about it and throw ourselves a party and buy a bunch of baby stuff we'll never even use because we're too clueless to know otherwise! Is that a contraction? Do we go in an ambulance? When? Where do we go? Stuffed animals, fingernail clippers, thermometers, lullabyes, music through the pregnant belly and books read to a fetus. Cribs and matching sheets and curtains and mobiles and bumpers (and what the hell is a bumper?) and well-wishes from cousins and aunts and cards from strangers and updating everyone on everything and thinking they really care about each moment but realizing later they were being polite in the same way I'm polite now when someone is having their first. And 35 hours of labor that ends with an emergency C-section that dissolves into a moment that takes my breath away, not in a metaphoric way, but in a wind sucked out of my lungs upon seeing my baby girl for the first time way. I'm not sure I ever got all my breath back. The thought of it now even makes me breathe like I'm about to cry.
The boy was a whole new experience, because it was the same experience with more experienced people going through it. Old pros after the girl, we imagined that having the boy would be like reliving the exciting parts of the first one, without the shock and terror about every single step of the process. Things lost to a frazzled brain the first time around were clear and memorable and equally thrilling the second time around. Another child, after four years with only one. They almost forgot to bring me into the delivery room, but I made it just in time and my wife and I shared a look of "oh my god here we go again." I stayed behind the curtain because I'm not much for medical dramas, and especially when it's my wife's innards turned out. And then he was there and I asked if he was okay more times than I expected to, and I counted his toes and looked for problems that I wouldn't recognize if I saw them. Back to the room with the stuff in his eyes and the pricking of his feet and there he was, tiny and pink and beautiful and though I don't remember when I stopped breathing, I clearly remember finally taking a breath when it seemed like everything was going to be okay.
And so, here we are again. Two days away from another baby that seems more like a birthday cake we're going to pick up at the store. It seems impossible that in two short days, a person we've never known will become as important to us as the other two we never knew. I have no doubt my breath will be snapped away from me the moment I see that newborn girl for the first time. No matter how much you tell yourself that it's really happening and there really is a baby inside that bump on your wife's belly, it just never seems real until you see that kid for the first time. And then, it's so intensely real that you can't begin to remember what it felt like to have full days go by without thinking about it once.
I am excited and terrified, even though I claim to be an old pro. I wonder if you can ever really get good at being an expectant dad? Third time around, I still feel like a dumb ape. It suits me though, trust me.
I'll let you know how it goes.