I was in the shower yesterday looking at my belly thinking, “What if I’m pregnant?”
I haven’t missed a period. Mark and I are practicing a fairly effective form of birth control.
But what if?
I mean, I’m pudgy. Is there any reason other than pregnancy that would explain my pudginess? I don’t think so. And I am noticing lots of smells lately. That’s definitely pregnancy.
But still there’s that whole birth control thing. But what if I’ve prayed so hard and so well that God was like, “Hey. Here’s a baby. No sperm required.”
AND MY NAME IS MARIE WHICH IS THE FRENCH FORM OF MARY WHO GAVE BIRTH TO JESUS.
I start writing a fantasy trilogy about a virgin birth to a great wizard that is forced to fight to the death in a sick government tournament against other virgin born wizards in my head, and totally forget that I wanted a baby.
I’m mad, and I need to take it out on someone.
“You don’t want a baby. But I want another baby. And we have to decide. We have to decide right now.”
I have to be somewhere in 10 minutes.
“Why do we have to decide right now?”
“Because I can’t have babies forever. And if we’re going to do this we have to decide now.”
Mark is very smart. He knows he is in trouble, and he starts speaking very slowly.
“Don’t toy with me, man! Give me a baby or give me death!”
The drama has begun, Ladies and Gentlemen.
There is weeping and gnashing of husbands for the next hour. I don’t make it to the thing I was supposed to go to.
After hours of conversation I realize that I don’t want a baby. Not entirely. I mean, I would rather this unexplained pudginess be more baby, less Oreos, but I’m not all the way convinced that another baby will make me happy.
More than anything, I want Otis to have siblings. I want Otis to have a family that grows up with him.
Otis loves his family. I don’t know that there’s anything that gives him more joy than being with his family. And it scares me because the youngest member of his family is 20 years old. In my head all I can think is that Otis will be absolutely alone for the last 20 years of his life, that everyone will die before him.
I want another baby because I don’t want my baby to be alone.
My siblings and I have this game we play, I’ll call it “2 versus 1.” On every single topic we seem to be split 2 vs 1:
2 of us were born in Hawaii, 1 of us was not.
2 of us will eat almost anything, 1 of us will not.
2 of us are legally blind, 1 of us is not.
2 of us can run like a normal human being, 1 of us cannot.
We play this game whenever we’re together. We recently agreed that it wasn’t really that fascinating, but we continue to look for how one of these things is not like the other because the DNA lottery is fascinating.
Otis might never play this game. That makes me want to cry.
I remember the man I made promises to. He is an artist. He is a thinker. He is a loner. He is a perfectionist. He is a protector.
On our wedding day I knew that I wasn’t marrying a suburban dad with 2.5 kids and a dog. I knew, from the very beginning, our life was going to be weird and strange. I knew I had fallen in love with an ‘odd bird.’
And my odd bird is asking me to help him. My odd bird is asking me to be grateful for where we are today, for what we have, for who we have. He needs something right now, and a new baby doesn’t make achieving that something easier. It makes it harder.
We’re both asking each other to sacrifice dreams. To sacrifice a part of ourselves. I am asking him to put down his career. He is asking that I put down the pregnancy test.
We are the modern day Magis trying to find ways to say ‘I love you’ without letting go of, what feels like, an essential part of our beings.
This is hard.
Sometimes I daydream about having twins.
I don’t know how marriages work without sacrifice. Every member of the team needs to at least be willing to give up what they want for the other one. I mean, if you aren’t willing to give up your dreams then are you really on a team? Or was our wedding day just a casting call? Did I get married so that I’d have all of the roles filled for the show titled ‘Life’ starring, produced, and directed by me.
Sacrifice is not a fun part of marriage, but it’s essential.
I don’t want to sacrifice. I don’t want to hear Mark say, “Maybe we should have had another kid” when I’m 45 and too old to even dream about holding little babies in my arms.
But I also don’t want Mark to look back and wonder if he used his gifts as fully as he could have.
What a pickle.
“Fine! I’ll have your baby!” I yell in a lame attempt at reverse psychology. We laugh. Together. In the middle of this we’re still together.
We are in the middle of the questions. There aren’t neat and tidy answers yet. I probably shouldn’t even be writing this.
His dream is still alive. My dream is still alive. We are doing the dance of marriage and figuring out how to put each other first without losing ourselves. We are figuring out how to stay on the same team, even when it feels like our goal lines are in completely opposite directions.
Even if I don’t get ‘my way,’ I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this season has made me fall even more in love with the man I chose to be on my team because in some weird way we were able to
almost always fight for each other. And that’s a gift in itself, isn’t it?