On Tuesday, my baby will turn three years old.
I remember realizing that I was pregnant with him. Lottie was eleven months old, and we were getting ready to take her to a Sunday tradition: story time at Joseph-Beth bookstore. I don't know why it even occurred to me, but I vividly remember saying to Trevor, "I don't want to alarm you, but I'm pretty sure I'm pregnant again." He laughed it off, but I just knew. While he sat with Lottie at story time, I browsed books about raising two kids, pregnancy after 35, and baby names. Indeed, when I took a pregnancy test later that day, it was positive. I was pregnant and terrified.
I'm pretty sure I cried for the first six weeks or so of my pregnancy with Dallas. Trevor and I had always planned on having two kids, but I wasn't sure I was quite ready to add another family member to the fold. Lottie was still just a baby herself, and I had no idea how I was going to deal with two kids under the age of two. During one of my crying jags, I wailed to Trevor, "I just don't think I can do this!" He very calmly said, "Babe, we don't really have a choice." And that was that.
My pregnancy with Dallas was really pretty easy. I honestly didn't have time to think about it too much because I was too busy chasing Lottie around. When I was pregnant with Lottie, I had the luxury of time, and every twinge sent me running to the doctor, or worse, the Internet. I was pretty sure she was going to be born with two heads or that I had contracted some sort of rare infectious disease only found in Liberia. Trevor even threatened to take our computer's keyboard to work with him if I didn't stop trolling the 'net for symptoms. But with Dallas, that never happened. When Lottie napped, I napped. When Lottie was awake, I didn't have a spare moment to worry about a little spasm here and there or a sore back. But I still worried.
Would I be able to handle two kids? Would I lose my mind? Would I be a good mother to two? Would Lottie get the attention she needed? Would I love the new baby as much as I loved Lottie? Was that even possible?
The day I went into labor with Dallas was like any other day...well, except I was in labor. Trevor was out of town just for the day; I think he was visiting a client in prison. I called him and left a message on his voicemail that said, "I'm pretty sure I'm in labor. Just thought you should know. Talk to you soon." So blasé! That night, we put Lottie to bed for the last time as an only child at the tender age of 20 months old. Trevor and I ate Chinese food, and then he got some rest while I sat on a birthing ball to try to alleviate some of the pain. (It turns out that in addition to labor, I was actually having a gallbladder attack from the crab rangoons, but I wouldn't figure that out for five more months.) Around 5:00 AM, I couldn't stand it any longer, and I told T it was time to go. We called his parents, who had been put on orange alert that afternoon,and they made it to our house in eight minutes. Off we went to have another baby.
When we arrived at Central Baptist Hospital, the wacky hijinks began. First, we couldn't find an unlocked door to save our lives. We walked and walked until we finally found a place to go in. The night nurse in the OB ward asked what I needed help with, and it took all of my might not to scream at her to check out the way I was clutching my nine-month-pregnant belly and try to hazard a guess at why I needed help. We checked in, got the room, and I put on the lovely gown. I wasn't as dilated as I thought I should have been considering the pain, but again, that was my gallbladder protesting. I labored for a while before getting an epidural. I waited for the sweet release, and it never came. The epidural hadn't worked, and we had to wait for the anesthesiologist to come back to do another one. By this time, I was begging for someone to just rip the baby out of me right then and there. The nurse gave me a shot of something to "take the edge off." Boy, howdy. Not only did it take the edge off, it sent me into lala land for a while. I hallucinated gnomes and dwarves marching down a yellow brick road in front of me. Gnarly, dude! I faintly remember Trevor trying to talk to me, but the gnomes had all of my attention. The anesthesiologist finally returned, and the second epidural took. I rested for a bit before starting to push, but Dallas was stubborn. Like his sister, he didn't want to come out the natural way. He simply refused to move. But I'm stubborn, too, and I desperately wanted a VBAC birth. I pushed and pushed, but finally my doctor sat down on the bed with me, took my hand, and said the baby's heartbeat was dropping with every push. She wanted to get him out, and I immediately agreed. I just wanted to hold my child.
We had a son. Dallas Simon Wells, named after family members, was born on September 6 at 10:13 AM. He weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces; he was 20.5 inches long. He was a very sleepy kid, and he didn't really wake up to nurse very well until the next day. Had I known that he wouldn't sleep for the next ten months, I would have enjoyed that night in the hospital a lot more than I did at the time. From the beginning, he has been a sweet boy. The only thing bigger than his heart is his noggin: seriously, it has always been off the charts. Lottie was in love with him from the first moment she saw him, and she still considers herself his number one defender. They really are best friends, and my deepest hope is that they stay that way for the rest of their lives. My boy is wicked smart. He started talking at an early age, and he just never stopped. He's methodical and deliberate in his play; he knows what he likes to do and how he likes to do it. He's fascinated with how things work, and I wonder if he has inherited some of his grandpa's engineering mind. Dallas loves dinosaurs, trucks, books, climbing, jumping, school, pirates, and Skittles. When he laughs, it's often to the point of tears, and when he cries, he breaks my heart. Second children are so resilient. They get the hand-me-down clothes and toys, and their parents know exactly what they'll do to get in trouble before they even think of it themselves. But they also seem to have more freedom because parents have learned so much with the first child, the guinea pig. I never worried about when Dallas would roll over or crawl or walk because I knew he would do all those things when he was ready. His tantrums are almost funny because I know it's just a phase. When he goes down the slide head-first, I laugh because I've seen it all before with no tragic endings. He may always be compared to his sister, but even now, he knows who he is and doesn't apologize for it.
The minute I held my little boy, all of the fears I had went out of the window. How could I have ever worried about not loving his little face, his little toes, his beautiful blue eyes? I can't imagine our family without his quiet intensity, his goofy laugh, his sense of humor, and his enduring sweetness. About fifty times a day, he tells me how much he loves me. Though the days tend to move slowly, these three years have passed quickly. No longer a baby, my boy is (almost) potty trained, undresses himself, goes to preschool, plays silly games with his sister, and makes me smile each and every day. Both kids define my joy, and everything I do is better because of them.
Happy third birthday, buddy. I'm so proud to be your mama, and I love you so much.