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Life With the Doodles

April 30, 2009

[cross-posted from another forum, if it seems like a re-introduction]

Hi, I’m Helen, a/k/a Doodlemissy. This is my husband, Doodlemaier. We have two half-doodlekins; mine is a 16-year-old boy, his is a 10-year-old girl. When we married, we had decided that our family was just the right size, even though for years I’d wanted to have another child. Relationships never played out right, economics never seemed to quit choking me, and well, we’d just decided that being in our late 30s, we wanted to focus on our careers in our 40s and beyond, get our kids through high school and college and enjoy our relationship just as it was.

This past February, we had some somewhat crazy, semi-drunken but very romantic shenanigans over Valentine’s Day that never would have come to fruition if both of our kids hadn’t cancelled on us to stay with their respective other parents. So in a way, I guess they plotted the genesis of their younger sibling, and on March 11, I peed on a stick that gave me a plus-sign so fast that I really thought it had to be a mistake. In fact, I peed on it some more just to make sure I couldn’t cancel it out.

Thing is, I’d been bracing myself for it for a while. I was using natural family planning for birth control, and that’s part of the reason I know the very night I conceived. The very next morning, I knew I was fertile, but thought, ok, in four years of using this method with my husband, I’ve never ever had unprotected sex before the night before my cervix turned. It does that, you know. Sits up real high and quiet for about 20 days worth of one’s cycle, but then drops and effaces a bit right as that egg gets ready to cut loose from your ovaries. This is a very helpful sign for those wanting to get pregnant! But I was horrified. Several conversations I’d had with Doodlemaier led me to believe that if I did get pregnant, it would constitute a crisis. So, even though deep down I’d always wanted this, I couldn’t access the deep-down joy. Instead, I was so awash in feelings of fear, shame (I usually check for fertility signs BEFORE we’re intimate), panic, and horror, and all these emotions fled across my field of vision in a bizarre palette of various colors that one associates with bruises in the strangest experience of synesthesia I’ve ever known.

I told my husband that night, hastily arranging a dinner date at one of our favorite places, and watched the color drain from his face as the words jumbled their way out of me, full of that same joy-strangled-by-horror. He picked at his food for the remaining half hour as I told him that this child created in love needed us to live, regardless of whatever plans we thought we had made. I wanted him to say something, anything, but got nothing. And so all that was left was my thousand apologies, until finally he looked up at me with a wistful smile on his face and said, “It’s not your fault, babe.”

He came with me to have the pregnancy confirmed with my family physician a few days later, still looking like someone had killed his favorite pet, but holding my hand throughout. Within a week I already had my first ultrasound to check for viability, and heard Doodlebunky’s heart for the first time.

And in that moment, I had so much love pounding through my own arteries that I knew, trite as it seems, that this one chose to be with us, to be one of us, that it was a destiny we should embrace like rain that catches you unexpected on a hot summer day, and that if I could just open my arms and drink it all in, everything would be fine.

That said, every time someone congratulates me, now that I’m 12 weeks along and starting to show, I cringe. This wasn’t an accomplishment, and to me, won’t be until Doodlebunky demonstrates the kind of lung capacity I’d expect from the offspring of two musicians (er, ok, karaoke singers). Doodlemaier is coming right along in the meantime; he never fails to surprise me at how he’s getting on board, from swearing he’d be no use in the delivery room to insisting on being my birth partner; from sulking whenever the baby came up to initiating conversation about what kind of parents we’ll be together (as opposed to the current model, that’s a bit his and hers), from appearing to worry about what this was going to do to his life to curling his arm around my belly at night and being curiously protective and tender in a way I’ve never seen from him before.

The cat, on the other hand, is not going to take the lap competition well at all.

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