“We’ve talked about these eggs as if they are future children, and not just the possibility of future children.” Will Henderson writes in the journal he kept for his child-to-be.
August 11, 2009—Your mother on estrogen in advance of implantation next week. Benefit to using IVF to conceive is you know when it happens. Downside (or one of several downsides), the amount of hormones your mother has to inject into herself. Second implantation this year. We used, and will use, fertilized eggs from when we conceived your brother. Can’t believe we did that in January 2007. He is almost two. These eggs have been in cold storage. Our first implantation this year—March? April?—didn’t take. Nothing wrong with the embryo, or with your mother’s body, but IVF is not magic. The science of sperm meeting egg is one thing; the internal multiplication and division inherent in conception is not so defined.
Your mother’s dad thinks we should have started with fresh eggs, but since your mother and I paid to store the two fertilized eggs we made when we conceived your brother, we thought we should try to use them. We think about three years is kind of the perfect gap between births.
We’ve talked about these eggs as if they are future children, and not just the possibility of future children. The doctor, when we implanted the embryo that was your brother, suggested we implant two at the same time. Would increase the odds of a successful pregnancy, the doctor said. Your mother and I weren’t sure we could take care of one child, let alone two. And look. We have a healthy, headstrong, independent son who we adore.
He looks just like your mother. They could be clones. He’s a little like me around the nose and chin. Maybe you’ll look more like me. Your mother and I joke that he’s half her, half me, and a little devil, which our embryologist, Helga (not her real name, though we can’t remember her real name), added when no one is looking. You’ll probably be part devil, too.
I don’t think this implantation will take, not because I don’t want it to take, but because I don’t think your mother’s body is up to it. She’s still breastfeeding, and plans to let your brother decide when to stop. Which I don’t think he will do voluntarily. Would you stop doing something in which you find comfort? I think your mother gets something out of breastfeeding, too. She and your brother bonded via breastfeeding. Plus, right after your brother was born, a lactation consultant said that your mother wasn’t producing enough milk, and urged us to supplement with formula, which we did until our pediatrician said your mother’s milk was just fine. I think something was triggered in your mother, when she heard she couldn’t support our baby. Not like she has to prove something, but that loving your brother is wrapped up in feeding him.
I have this job I hate, but which provides great health insurance, and because we live in Massachusetts, the cost of using in-vitro fertilization is low. At least for us. The amount our insurance company pays is astronomical. I don’t know how couples who don’t live in a state that requires health insurance companies to cover fertility treatments do it.
August 28, 2009—Your mother called, texted, and e-mailed to let me know that her blood work confirms she is pregnant. One hurdle cleared. Our next hurdle will be your heartbeat, which will look a rapidly pulsing white line on the machine that makes visible what it hears.
With your brother, I didn’t know what to look for, or what I was looking at, when we saw that white line. Your mother started crying. She knew what we were looking at. With you, now that I’m experienced, I think I’ll be better able to see your rapid-fire beating heart, or the sign of your rapid-fire beating heart beating.
At work today, pizza and ice cream. Soft economy. Hiring freezes. No raises, even for cost-of-living increases. So let’s have pizza.
I’d rather get a raise.
I’m concerned about the financial cost of having a second child; I’m concerned about the emotional cost of not having a second child. Your mother is convinced that our family is missing someone. She thinks you’re it.
August 29, 2009—I called my mother and brother to tell them about you, but I was at work and had to talk low, because I don’t want the news to get out here until your mother and I are sure that you are growing. Senator Ted Kennedy died a couple of days ago. Your mother, brother, and maternal grandparents went to his viewing. They said it was very emotional. After, your grandparents left for Maine. They’ll be back next week. They’re superstitious, and won’t share the news with anyone other than immediate family for a couple of months. I think they’re wise in not sharing the news.
Ours is kind of a crazy family, which you’ll learn. Thanks for choosing to be part of us.
August 30, 2009—Talked briefly last night about you being a boy or a girl. Already decided, your gender, though we won’t be able to tell for at least five months. I think a boy will be easier, since we have all boy things; your mother wants a girl. I know she wants a girl, though she didn’t say one way or another.
I think your brother will be happier if you’re a boy. Not that he knows enough to say. We haven’t told him that your mother is pregnant. We will. We’ve been told to tell him sooner rather than later. Make him part of the process so that, when you arrive, he won’t feel so displaced. He won’t be the baby anymore, which I’m having trouble believing.
August 31, 2009—Outside, which I can see since my desk at work is in front of several windows, clouds are rolling in. They’re gray and heavy and pregnant. Not yet September and already kind of cold. Been an odd summer. Rain most of June, growing warmer during July, and peaking with near-record temperatures in August. Changing seasons now. The sky opening and closing. Mercury beginning to fall. Snow, soon.
I don’t like driving in snow. Or shoveling it. But living in an area with seasons beats living in Florida, which is where your mother and I were raised and met. Will never live there again, though most of your family does, so you’ll see for yourself why moving back is not an option.
We’ll have to move, once you’re old enough to need your own room. We live in a condo, so high ceilings, open floor plan, but no walls and doors other than the bathroom. Your brother sleeps with me and your mother, but I’m not sure you will. Attachment parenting is one thing; co-sleeping with two children is something else.
Last night, while nursing your brother, your mother held a doll to her other breast. She was laughing. Can you picture this? she asked me. And I could, because she was doing it, but I couldn’t, because you’re still not real. Even though you are real. Does that make sense? Your brother was fine sharing for a few minutes, but then he pushed the doll’s head away and put his hand on that breast. He said the word he says for mine. I’m not sure he’s the sharing type. Not sure if your mother really plans to nurse both of you at the same time. I wouldn’t put it past her to try.
She’s grown comfortable enough with breastfeeding in public that maybe she will. Your brother cries, and your mother pulls out a nipple. She tries, as best she can, to cover up her breast, but your brother’s needs trump any need for privacy she has. The entire family is coming to town for your brother’s birthday, and to celebrate you. Still not telling anyone, but OK to celebrate in private. Not sure I understand the thinking. Your grandparents, all of them in their own ways, are nutty. If I could change them, I would.
September 1, 2009—Your brother has a viral infection. He’s been feverish the last couple of days and nights, and your mother, this morning, pointed out a rash that was spreading across your brother’s body. That, coupled with the high fever, worried her. Since she’s saving all of her sick and vacation days to use when you’re born, I took your brother to his pediatrician. I didn’t take a paternity leave when he was born. I was the editor of a newspaper at the time. No one could do my job.
Your brother was born on a Sunday. The paper came out Thursday. Between, while your mother and brother were in the hospital, I set up shop (laptop, phone, notebook) and put the paper to bed from a corner of the hospital room. I’d like to not have to do that again. I don’t take my work home with me, so I don’t anticipate having to do that. I’m not sure how much leave I will be able to take.
The pediatrician said your brother will have a fever for the next couple of days, but will be fine. The rash will go away on its own. We have to keep giving him fluids and food, but no medication is needed.
Not so scary here. You’ll see.
September 2, 2009—Appointment set to go in to see your heartbeat, a couple of weeks from now. We’ll rent a heartbeat monitor, like we did when your mother was pregnant with your brother, and we’ll listen to you every night. In time, you’ll be all elbows and knees, tumbling until you are so big that all you can do is sit and listen.
We’re getting flu shots and the H1N1 vaccine next week. No risk to you, if your mother does it. She asked. Twice.
I’ve been writing to you during my lunch break at work. By the time you can read this, I hope I’m doing something else. Your mother would like to be able to stop working and stay at home full-time. I’d like to be able to make that happen, but not here. Skills and experience here, then move on to something else.
I’m listening to a recording of a concert I went to in 2007. Tori Amos. The Los Angeles show. The show was the last of that tour. I saw several shows that tour, as your mother I do when Tori comes. This year, your mother and I drove from here to Miami and back, and then a couple of weeks later, I did the shows in the New England/New York area. When your mother and I were just dating, we decided how we’d raise kids, if we had kids, and we want you to appreciate music and books and art. Your brother does. You will, too.
September 3, 2009—Your mother called. I am at work. Her parents are going to get her and help with your brother.
—Photo credit: Steve A Johnson/Flickr