I remember the baby fever, stretching back long before I got pregnant, lingering in a heat on my skin months after my son was born. I was addicted to deliciousness of my soft, tiny baby, hungry for another. The hormonal waves of love and peace. The cocoon of snuggling and warmth and connection. I remember, I remember.
But after a year, when his sleep was the worst of his life and when he could say enough to believe he was communicating but not enough to be clear, when he could move well enough suddenly to get into, onto, everything, but not well enough to get back again, when I worried I would never again have a moment to breathe, the fever turned cold. One child was enough; how could I face the prospect of another?
Then those troubles smoothed over. At eighteen months, he has words for so many of his wants and delights and pains. He wakes no more than once a night, if that, and sometimes even plays quietly in his room when he wakes, giving me a few extra minutes to climb out of my dreams. He is capable and strong, scaling stairs, traipsing over sand dunes, climbing rocky hills, with no problem. He is a delight, a joker, prodding us into games, imitating the spring birds we see more and more on our daily walks. We have a language, a rhythm, an understanding. He is old enough to be apart from me for half a day, a day, and (I believe) overnight, if need be. He feels safe with his father, his grandparents, his own quiet company, even the occasional family friend. And now he’s beginning to learn the Most Important Things: gentleness and sharing, cleaning up after himself, kindness.
And while my rational mind knows that we’re almost at the point where we want to start “trying” again, nine months before it would be most convenient to welcome a new baby into our very seasonal lives, my body hesitates, my heart speeds up. I’ve been told this is the point, just before a first child turns two, when most women begin to long for a second. They see their “babies” stretching longer and leaner and more independent and they yearn for the cozy simplicity of the newborn.
But I remember afternoons full of tears. I remember breasts aching with plugged ducts, underwear and sheets smelling of spoiled milk. I remember blood for weeks, my hair slipping away from my scalp and clinging to drains, floors, clothes. I remember feeling frumpy and soft and slack. I remember being so desirous of personal space. I remember, I remember.
I love my lean strong body, my sturdy, lovely son. I love my husband, the way we’re navigated the waters so far. Right now, we are enough.