They said it, not me: A letter to Nicolás
A few weeks ago, your dad, brother and I made the forty-minute drive to visit your great-grandmother. She has trouble remembering things, so she asked again and again about my big belly. (You're getting quite big in there. About a pound ahead of your peers, actually.) After asking when you'll be joining us, she moved on to everyone's favorite question: am I having a girl or a boy?
“Boy,” I said.
Instantly, her face turned sour.
“Aww, what a shame,” she said. “Maybe your next one will be a girl.”
She's not the only one who shares this sentiment.
I get similar comments thrown at me every time someone comments on our pregnancy. The disappointment abounds, which is so different from my pregnancy with your brother, when everyone was so happy I was having a boy. The preference of a first-born boy is apparently still a real thing, I guess? This time, though, everyone wanted a girl—even people who don't know us, like the lady behind the meat counter at the supermarket.
Let me be clear.
You are not another boy. You are not my second boy. You are not the little brother. Literally, of course, you are all those things. To me, though, you are nothing of the sort.
You are my boy.
* * *
“This labor will be easier.”
You'll be here in five weeks—maybe less.
Two and a half years ago, your brother came into this world a week earlier than expected. Your dad and I had gone out to dinner with family but stayed up talking until just past midnight. (Strange for us earlybirds. You'll soon see that we're all nestled in bed by 8:30pm.) My water broke mid-conversation.
Despite having no pain at all at first, I soon began shaking violently. Though you may grow up to view me as strong and capable of things you can't do (like putting your shoes on or inserting a straw into a Capri Sun), the day your brother was born I felt fear down to the last hair on my head. Every hour that passed brought more things to be truly afraid of—escalating pain, giant needles, and eventually a delivery room with no air-conditioning.
I wish I could look into the future and know with certainty how and when you'll arrive.
If you're anything like your brother, you may decide to slide into home plate a smidge faster than anyone anticipates, leaving me unprepared and frazzled again. But, on the other hand, you might be nothing like your brother and decide to take the long way around, leaving me to waddle around the neighborhood uncomfortable and anxious for longer than I'd hope.
This very morning, I opened my eyes a few minutes before your dad and brother—a rare occurrence. I spent the precious time talking to God about these fears of mine, asking Him to send me the ability to accept whatever comes next without fear or fight.
You may arrive early. You may arrive late. You may arrive accompanied with lots of pain. You may arrive with none at all. But there's one thing that matters most.
You will arrive.
* * *
“You won’t have time for him.”
So many people around us are having their second babies right now. All at once, your brother's friends are becoming sisters and brothers. And what I hear from my fellow moms scares me more than even the labor pain that's to come:
“There isn't enough time for both kids, so you'll have to choose,” they say. “And the newborn won't remember, so...”
It breaks my heart.
Your brother and I were together constantly when he first arrived. I was running my own business back then, but he stayed by my side while I took calls at the hospital and answered emails as he slept on my chest. (Proof right here.)
A poem by Kenneth Koch explains it well:
“You want a social life, with friends.
A passionate love life and as well
To work hard every day. What’s true
Is of these three you may have two
And two can pay you dividends
But never may have three.”
When I had your brother, my work fell to the wayside by the time he'd turned six months old. I won't have a business to run this time, but crossing the threshold into being a mom of two sounds more difficult. I haven't yet become acquainted with the intricacies of juggling the needs of various children at once. The closest I've ever come was that forty-five minute stretch I spent babysitting your cousin. You probably felt my tension as you rolled around in my belly.
This time, my choice will be between the three men in my life: your father, your brother, and you. If something has to give, what will it be? I don't want to choose.
It will be loud. It will be messy. It will be stressful. It will involve lots of tears. But we will be together.
You will have my time.
* * *
“It will be different.”
Of everything people tell me about you, this is the only one I believe.
You are my boy. I wouldn't know what to do with a girl. I was made to raise you boys.
You will arrive. As your first decision in life, I'll respect your time and way.
You will have my time. I trust you to carve it out of me even when there's none left to give.
And you will be different. That is my favorite part.
With infinite love,
(But some people know me as Marcella)