That's my cousin, Erica in the background. Hi, Erica!
I don't remember how far along I was the first time I felt Archer kicking but I feel like it was much later than sixteen/seventeen weeks, or perhaps he had been kicking me for a while and I just assumed it was gas. The second pregnancy you kind of just know more I feel like.
With Archer, my pregnancy was very lonely. I was barely twenty-three, a child, myself. I had no friends with children, had spent little time with babies and knew not what to expect at the end of the nine-month gestation. I wrote Archer letters, asked him questions, played him music, could not imagine his face or how it would feel to hold him in my arms, to watch him grow from tiny dancer to human being. (I have questions for her, too, of course, but this time, they do not come from a place of fear.)
This time, I'm not lonely. I have friends with children and am suddenly surrounded by babies. I have a community of mothers and parents I turn to, reading their words, relating, feeling support from. I have a best friend on the same journey. I have more than a vague idea of what I'm going to experience the moment I meet my new baby for the first time...
...So clearly I remember the moment Archer emerged, covered in guts and was handed to me. Shock and awe.
Awe that grew more and more punch-drunk through the weeks, months, years that followed.
And now, three-years later, never have I been more in awe of him or anyone.
There's something very special about this pregnancy. Something I wasn't prepared for-- the double whammy of feeling the kicks of my unborn baby at the same time I'm wrestling with the one who was. Archer will always be my "baby" of course but he's a big kid, now. Old enough to pick out his clothes in the morning. Old enough to tell me "I'm being mean" when I tell him to put on his shoes before he goes outside. Old enough to ride the helicopter ride at the Del Mar Fair all alone.
The other night, Archer woke up screaming, so we let him come into our bed, sleep between us, like he did in his infancy, on a pillow between Hal and me, his little hands wrapped around my seemingly enormous fingers.
"Cu-doh me, Mommy," Archer said.
He turned his back to my chest and pulled my arm over his waist like a seat belt. And we lied like that until morning, the two of us as close as we could possibly be and yet... separate. Meanwhile, the baby was kicking me from inside, dragging her feet, poking a knee against my abdomen as Archer squirmed in my arms.
Such moments produce feelings I will most likely never experience again: holding such loved life in my arms and my body, Archer's hands pulling on mine on the outside, as foot-taps on the inside become familiar.
I'm getting to know you by the way you move inside me.
Clearly I am most excited about this pregnancy because of Archer. Because he was once kicking the same walls she is. And now, three and a half years later I have this perfect little person by my side, bouncing in my lap, rocking my world, loving me back, which can only mean that very soon, she will be too. And preparing to fall in love all over again?
Love on horseback.
I can't begin to imagine something better in all of life.