So there I sat on the couch, pregnancy test in one hand and coffee cup in the other, pretty much wanting to vomit but trying to smile instead. "Well," I said in a carefully measured tone, giving away nothing, "I guess that means pressure-free sex for the next nine months."
"And my boobs will get huge," said my wife.
"Yeah, there is that, I guess." Now I was giving my feelings away.
"It's kind of like cheating," she said after a pause, "but with me, attached to someone else's boobs."
"Thanks," I sighed, "but you don't have to sell me."
There was a long, pregnant silence.
"Guess we ought to get ready to go to the soccer game," she said, holding herself up along the back of the couch.
"Guess so." I rolled off the edge of the couch and to my feet. "The Mighty Giraffes won't wait forever." As I helped Mattias get his shin guards on and double-knot his soccer shoes, I felt for Amy, knowing she was hoping for more excitement from me, but I couldn't help but imagine trying to do it with a little slobbering machine under one arm. There are plenty of things that stress me out about the idea of having another baby, but the messiness of it all is right up there. I'm not exactly a neat freak, but I do like things a certain way. Amy can tell you that surprises and I are not good friends, which will give you some idea about how I felt toward the telltale pee stick. My Blackberry and I are good friends because it's the informational equivalent of heroin in my pocket at all times, but also because it reminds me of everything in my life that is going to happen, fifteen minutes before it does.
Babies, on the other hand, are unpredictable. I'll talk about this more later, but I'm not the greatest at handling this. I have gotten better about managing chaos in the last few years. Family, after all, is a choice I have made. It hasn't been forced upon me, and I wouldn't give it up for anything else in the world. But it's messy, unpredictable, and stressful as hell. It doesn't help that my son—though brilliant, funny, and infinitely charming—has a wild and independent streak a mile long. One of the reassurances that some advisors and friends have offered is that the odds of having another child as strong-willed as Mattias is statistically improbable, but my thinking is that Mattias plus anything else—even a slightly animated sack of sweet potatoes—may be more than I can handle.
As we headed out the door to the soccer field, I was already telling myself that worrying about it wasn't going to get me anywhere.
It's coming whether I'm ready or not.
At least I have about eight more months to get used to the idea, I thought. Maybe I'll pour my thoughts out onto the page, administer some self- service therapy.
But right now, I'm pretty much back to where I started:
It smells like daddy in here. It smells like poop.
—Mattias, 2 years, 11 months
This time around, I have learned two things for sure about the babymaking process:
1. The rhythm method is a joke.
2. Wine is the ultimate anticontraceptive.
I know the day, if not the minute, when this little experiment was kicked off. Amy and I had committed to trying to have a date night once a week after realizing we had failed to spend any real, quality adult time together in about a month and a half. This may seem hard to imagine given that we both work from home, but I've come to believe that even though I imagined we would spend more time together, in some ways we end up with less.
Now if you want to be a nerd about it and actually calculate the hours in a day when we're within eyeshot of each other, yeah, we see each other plenty. And it's not that we live into the old cliché about familiarity breeding contempt; although it certainly breeds something, doesn't it, class?
Anyway, the point is that sometimes being around each other so much makes you almost invisible to one another. It's kind of like the way you look at your favorite sofa, although Amy will probably kill me for comparing her to a piece of furniture. You sit on the thing every single day, but how often do you really take time to notice it? Of course, I don't spend a lot of time sitting on Amy, but there are days when we'll be around each other pretty much every single hour, day and night, awake and asleep.
We get teased down at our local coffee shop, where we like to work a couple of days a week, because we've been known to set up our laptops back- to- back so they're just barely touching but also so we can hardly see each other.
"Aww, isn't that cute," someone will quip. "It's almost like they're holding hands." Truth is, we may share a file now and then, make a comment about something we're reading, or check our calendars for conflicting events, but we can also just as easily sit at the same table for hours and not say a damn thing to each other.