I remember knowing people like me when I had infants. I was always so glad to see them. I’d hoist my little bundle into their arms and they’d walk away cooing, whispering sweet nothings to my child while I used my two free hands to shovel food into my mouth from the table of potluck dishes or I took a few free minutes to have a real-life adult interaction.
Now I’m the one whisking the baby away and while I’d like to pretend like it’s a karmic return, a giving back because someone gave to me, it’s not, completely. It’s mildly selfish. When I lift the willing 5-month-old out of her mother’s arms it’s just as much as about my wanting to feel the weight of a baby in my arms as it is about giving her mama a few minutes in the buffet line.
I want to feel the hands of a baby on my face, I want to nuzzle behind his ears. I want to feel with my cheek the tiny layer of down on top of his head. I want to smell the back of his neck. I want this little creature -- knit pants, falling off socks, grandma’s sweater – in my arms, on my hip. I want the drool of coming teeth dripping of crooked smiles and little burps that leave spit up on my shoulder.
Nearly every cell in my body screams for another baby except for a few and they happen to reside above the shoulders, between my ears. Those few cells scream, too, and at a fever pitch. Have you lost your mind?
We are all sleeping through the night at my house. We all put on our own pants. We all poop in the potty, get our own milk and even fix our own breakfasts. Our children take ballet and guitar lessons. They ski, ice skate and walk around the block taking canned goods to the food bank. They read and write stories. In terms of infancy and toddlerhood, we are so over the hump, through the fire, out of the woods. Why is it, then, that my body aches when a baby comes into a room? Why is it that my ovaries seem to pulse for just one more?
Years ago an old friend labeled it womb itch the doe-eyed look young women get when they look at someone’s baby. I had it then and I have it now. Womb itch. Really, when will this go away?
I know it’s ridiculous but it’s biological, it’s physiological. I think it’s my last hoorah. I’m 37 and I imagine my eggs are sending me a message, loud and clear, that only they can through some hormonal pathway. Have another baby now, before it’s too late.
As for Seth, my partner in any baby making strategy, well, his womb is decidedly not itching.
I was standing in the kitchen the other day watching a video on Facebook. I don’t even remember who posted it but it was this beautiful clip of a nurse bathing a baby so tenderly that the newborn falls asleep. Seth asked what I was watching.
“Oh, just a baby video,” I said.
“Whose baby?” he said.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“So you are watching a video of some stranger’s baby,” he said.
“Um, yeah,” I said. “But it’s so beautiful. Don’t you want to watch?”
He just walked away shaking his head.
“Just one more…” I trailed off as he left the room.
So far the few brain cells not won over by hormones seem to be keeping the idea of another baby out of the realm of possibilities. Those and a husband who sees in his future a few more Saturdays of ice climbing, long runs in the country and the occasional out of town trip with his wife. When I can clear my head of the fog of hormones, I see it clearly too. We are so deeply lucky to have our two daughters, so lucky to still have each other. What we have is more than enough to sustain us and to keep us really busy.
I suppose I’ll continue to cross the room at potlucks to get a chance to hold my friends’ babies. I’ll kiss the tops of their tiny heads and remember it wasn’t that long ago that this was my only reality. I’ll remember it seemed so hard and now, it’s gone. Just like that. Maybe I’ll reach out and lift my own daughter up to feel the weight of her 4-year-old body next to mine. Maybe I’ll hold her a second or two longer than usual if only to remember, a few years from now, what she felt like then.