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Sur-reality

April 30, 2010

I spoke with Sara yesterday about the upcoming scan on Monday.  We shared amazement over the movements of a 10 week old fetus in an ultrasound video on You Tube; we talked about maternity bras and future milestone appointment schedules, how she was feeling and just had a great chat in general.

“Only two more weeks to go before I can stop holding my breath,” I thought as I hung up the phone. “Then I can finally tell everyone what’s going on.”

I clicked away from the ultrasound video to watch one of a young couple conspiring to surprise the woman’s mother with the news that she was about to become a grandmother and I wondered, not for the first time, what it would have been like to have my mother around to share this  journey with.  Not having her to talk to when I miscarried repeatedly was bad, but not having her to share the excitement I’m finally allowed to have is worse.

As I mentally prepared my list of who I was going to tell and in what order, it occurred to me that it doesn’t really matter.  All the people in my life who have been close throughout our struggle already know.  Some because I just couldn’t keep my trap shut (my BFFL, B, who lives in FL now and came to Disney while we were down there) and some out of necessity.  My friend A is helping plan our friend, P’s 50th birthday bash in Iceland and when the RSVPs started rolling in, it became evident that people with children would not be able to attend on Labor Day because their kids’ school starts the day after we’d be returning home.  There was talk of moving it out to November and I had to beg off because our due date is 11/23 with the expectation that, since it’s twins it will likely happen a few weeks early.  It had gotten to the point where I finally had to fess up that we had something brewing and of course the questions then wouldn’t stop until I had told the whole story.

Additionally, while we were in FL, we told BH’s sister and her husband.  BH’s mother already knew because her birthday happened to be on the same day we got the third blood test back and while we were on the phone with her, she inquired about the status of our ongoing mission and BH just couldn’t help himself and told her.

My nephew had called me the last day we were in FL to tell me he landed safely in Basra and I couldn’t help myself again and I told him. I figured the odds of him spreading the news to anyone else was pretty slim.

The only people who don’t know about it by now are my sister and father.  And here’s where I faltered yesterday.  My thoughts took a turn that had me fighting off a depressing funk that I still haven’t shaken as of this morning.

My sister, of course, will be full of the congratulations that one would expect from your older sister but it will be during her delivery of the words that chunks of my breakfast burrito will begin creeping back up my esophagus like Jessica Biele ascending Mt. Kilimanjaro. Because my sister won’t just say, “I’m so happy that your dream is finally coming true.”  She’ll immediately fall into this sing-song voice she uses when she’s uncomfortable and start talking to me like I’m a five year old who just crossed the stage in a series of pirouette à la secondes for my first live performance.

“Ooooooh, baby girl,” she’ll coo, “you’re going to be a MA-ma.”  She’ll end with a ridiculous giggle that I believe she thinks is cute but honestly comes off as a bit creepy for a 50 year old who’s been drinking hard and smoking since she was a teenager.  She’ll play it off as if this is such a great thing (which it is for me) but I’ll know, and so will she, that ever since I’ve been trying to have a child, her advice to me has been:  Don’t do it.  They’re more trouble than they’re worth.  There’s really no upside – only a down side.

It’s obvious from the way she raised her own son that this is how she feels.  It’s one of the main reasons he asked to come live with me.   And then my sister will ask if I told my father yet.  And the answer will be no.  Because, really, what’s the point?  The last time we spoke about this, he had driven my Papa up for a visit over the summer.  I had made plans to babysit my God-daughter one day and, because it was a good chance to show them the apartment buildings we’ve bought over the past 3 years since we started the business, I took my father and Papa with me to pick her up.  Once we were back home, my Papa, in true grandfather form, held the baby, fed her, played with her and talked to her, all the while grinning from ear to ear.  In short, he acted exactly like the grandfather I’ve come to know and love all my life.

My father on the other hand stood or sat off to one side and refused to even acknowledge her.  I walked by carrying her at one point and when the phone rang, I tried to hand her to him so I could find the ever-elusive (at least in my house it is) handset.  He stepped back with his hands in his pockets and shook his head, no.

When I finished my phone call and asked him about it he said, “I don’t want nothing to do with it. [Side note: this ‘hick’ speech pattern is new for him. My mother was an English teacher and I don’t recall him ever speaking in such a grammatically incorrect manner. I’m not sure where he’s getting it from because his present wife sure as hell doesn’t speak that way. It’s a bit baffling.]  And he continued, “I don’t know why you’re so keen on having kids.  They just fuck up your life.”

Gee, thanks Dad.

As I sat yesterday contemplating how I would tell my sister and father the news about the most important thing that is happening in my life, I realized that it didn’t really matter when or how I told them.  I’m making a prediction here that my father will say, probably verbatim, “I see.  Congratulations.  Kiss your ass goodbye for the next 20 years because your life is over.”

And my sister will coo and gush and will rush off to be the town crier, telling everyone in the family about my good news but after the immediate surprise wears off, I’ll bet there will be a lot of long conversations about how I’m wrecking my life….how I’m too old for this …etc from most of the family.

The anticipation and excitement I always imagined I would feel upon finally being able to share my good news is tarnished by the reality of the situation and the fact that no one in my own family will really see this as a good thing.  Having kids is something that they all did because it was “the next step” in their lives.  In Erie, Pa, that’s what you do.  You graduate from high school (if you care to), get married before you’re 20, have a few kids and you’re divorced by the time you’re 30.  If not divorced, you’re already cheating on your spouse and you justify it by saying, “She never lost the baby weight,” or “He’s a mean drunk.”  Having kids isn’t ever a “thing” because it just happens, sometimes even when you don’t want it to.

My step-mother will be courteous and cordial about it but any illusion I may have had about my kids having a relationship with her as “grandmother” are gone.  Since I loaned her and my father about $30k to save their house and stop them from having to declare bankruptcy (after receiving a panicked phone call 2 days before my father had a quintuple bypass and was convinced he wasn’t going to make it), she’s barely said 2 words to me.

In the end, I’m sad about it all.  My grandmother and Papa were a huge influence in my life. I always pictured my kids hanging out with their grandparents and having fond memories, like I do, of fishing with Papa or falling asleep in the back seat of their car at the drive-in movie or taking the five dollars I’ve scrimped and saved to the toy store with Nana and buying that Barbie Doll I’d been begging for since the year before.

BH’s mom is a fantastic person and a wonderful grandmother to our nephew.  But she barely knows Skiddle.  They see each other every other year when we get Skiddle for Christmas and some years in July when we celebrate all the birthdays at once.  Otherwise, they don’t really get to spend any time together.

So while today I’m still celebrating my little miracle, I’m feeling a bit alone.  Besides BH and Sara, I have no one to talk to about the most important thing that’s happening in my life.   I don’t want to inundate Sara with phone calls – she has 2 kids, a husband and works 2 jobs in addition to carrying my little Sparks (as BH now calls them).  And she’s 20 years younger than I am and lives 2 states away.  We don’t have that much in common to talk about except this and I feel as though calling her to discuss it any more than I do might be an intrusion.  (She has never made me feel this way- it’s just what I think when I stop myself from calling her every day.)

If I were actually pregnant, I imagine BH and I would lie together at night, reading or watching tv, maybe with his hand resting on my growing tummy while we talk about the changes to my body, our babies, our lives.  Without that, we’re reduced to discussing tasks.  Names? check.  Milestone appointment schedule? check.  Smumzie obsessing over ultrasounds in books and on google? CHECKCHECKFORTHELUVOFCHEESECHECK!

And that’s the extent of it.   Look, it’s no secret that I am ecstatic about this.  It’s just that my whole life when I pictured having kids, I had that dreamy image of sharing the news with everyone, playing silly games at the baby shower, talking about it all with friends and family and now…I feel so far removed from it all that it just doesn’t seem real.

When will it start to feel real?

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