We always wanted three kids. Maybe it’s because we’re both children of three-sibling families, or because we have a four-bedroom house … It just always seemed like the “x” on our treasure map. When we told the older two that Mommy had a baby in her belly, Spikey said, without pause, “Let’s call it Sloppy Joan!” Like all nicknames, we should have known it had legs. About a week after the initial announcement, I made sloppy joes for dinner, thinking that was the connection. It wasn’t. And they didn’t eat them. I still don’t know what part of her brain served it up that night.
I’ve never been a glowing, peaceful pregnant woman. I mean, unless “glowing” means sweaty and “peaceful” means paralyzed by weight and general lethargy. But as I came into the final turn and the homestretch in this, my (most-likely) final pregnancy, I suddenly wanted it to slow down. Realizing s/he would soon be here and then I’d blink and s/he’d be 3, I started baking a layer cake of anxiety. Of course wanting it to last longer sent me flying into labor.
JoJo was born on May 1, and Spike on August 1, so we joked that it would be convenient if Sloppy Joan followed suit on June 1. Unlikely though, we thought, considering my due date was the 8th. June had a sunny start, and on the 1st we went to my niece’s birthday party. I floated in my brother’s pool for a solid 4 hours. I was a Killer Whale who’d finally been able to be weightless, thanks to the water. Every strained muscle had finally relaxed. At 10:30 that night I laid down and got a shooting contraction. “Ouch.” Five minutes later, another. Then five minutes after that, then three, three, three, three … “Shit!” There’s always that moment on the drive to the hospital, no matter how ready you are, when you think, “I really don’t want to do this,” referring to the human coming out of your body part.
I labored through the night to the tune of a Friends marathon on TVLand. A few quick pushes before the sun rose the next morning and she was here. The first time you set eyes on your child is such an out of body experience. With JoJo, it was like I couldn’t focus on her face. With Spike, I couldn’t comprehend that all that baby came out of me. And with Sloppy Joan it was the hair. Oh, the hair. She was our smallest, coming in at 7 lb. 8 oz. and only 19 ½ inches long, but I’m pretty sure that at least 1 pound of that was her generous dark mane.For reference, depending on your generation, I would liken her to either Dudley Moore or Harry Styles, respectfully. But oh my gosh, was she sweet.
And is sweet. Her smile can light up a bear cave. She’s never quick to cry and very accommodating with her “helpful” big sisters. But to those who don’t know her, the poor girl’s hair will always trump her delightful demeanor. Going to the grocery store on Tuesdays (Senior Citizen Day) was always the worst. “Oh. My. Goodness …” – here come the hands – “Would you look at all that …” – please, no – “I mean, have you ever?” – Get back, Grandma! “Seen such a head of hair?!” And then they would reach out and move the strands, already covering her newborn eyes, across her forehead. It was a weekly occurrence I found simultaneously heart-warming and stomach churning.The third time around is certainly charming. She is a joy and 8 months in, we’re finally getting out of the weeds. And, I mean, this face … c’mon …