So, when are you going to have another baby?
I cannot tell you how many times someone has made that remark or a version of it to me lately. Don't worry. I'm not offended. I take it as a compliment, in fact. I blithely chalk it up to the likelihood that you are all so dazzled by the sheer brilliance that is my first child that you are breathless for another.
Or, you know, there's always the "everyone else is doing it" explanation. And actually, that's not so far from the truth. On Saturday, three different friends announced to me that they're expecting again. And that doesn't count the four friends who had babies this past fall, or the women from church who are all due any minute now. Everyone's having a baby!
Except me. I know, that just burst your bubble, didn't it? Maybe someday. I'm still working through the feelings I experienced when I was pregnant with William.
For those of you who don't know, I spent most of the first six months of my pregnancy racing to the toilet. It was wretched. I was wretched. I was covering education for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, and I scoped out all my usual haunts for good places in which to privately throw up. (For the record, the staff bathroom just off the library at Palm Desert High School is ideal. It's a quiet, single seater, and you can lock the door. And nothing is nearby, so you don't have anyone sitting right there, listening to you upchuck whatever you so valiantly managed to choke down earlier.) I kept a just-in-case kit on the front seat of my car, since I was commuting an hour to and from work each day. And when I got home each night, I basically just slumped on the bathroom floor until it was time to get in bed and feel nauseated there. I'm not exactly eager to relive that, in any form or fashion.
And then there's the Bell's Palsy issue. I had finally managed to conquer the worst of the nausea and vomiting (which I darkly referred to as the All Day Ugliness, since it was never ever confined to the morning) and was just merely uncomfortable all the time, when half my face was suddenly paralyzed. I was 33 weeks pregnant, and not only I was swollen and unattractive due to late pregnancy, but the left side of my face was completely frozen. I could not blink my left eye. I could not raise my left eyebrow. I could not even hold the left side of my mouth shut. I could not taste salt, since even my tastebuds were affected. It was devastating to my self-esteem. I felt ugly. I felt damaged. And it continued to be devastating, since I didn't even begin to recover any movement on the left side of my face until my son was about two months old.
My former neurologist said he doubted the Bell's Palsy would return, were I to get pregnant again. But the possibility, even slim, still remains at the back of my brain. It lurks there. Surely no one can blame me for that, especially since the effects of the original paralysis never fully resolved. Look at my face, and you can tell:
My left eyelid still sags, but at least, thank God, I can blink my eye. I still cannot raise my left eyebrow at all. And when I smile, you can see that the left side of my mouth cannot smile as broadly as the right side of my mouth. I try not to dwell on it, but I still really miss my old smile. I think I used to have a really wonderful smile, and it was one of my favorite things about myself.
So, I still am coming to terms with the residual feelings that I still have about my last pregnancy. I was lucky in one regard, however: I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, full-term baby boy who had absolutely no problems. When he was born, they wiped him off and suctioned out his nose (and yes, David insisted on giving him some oxygen because he's a worrywart), and they handed him to me, and that was it. No NICU. No tubes. No surgeries. No worries.
We'd like to have a bigger family. Just give me some time to get my brain around it.