Friday, September 17, 2010

June 2009, Part Three

Usually, I'm the one who cuts and colors my mom's hair. I've got a cosmetology license, and I'm much cheaper than a salon. But for reasons that would take too long to explain here, my mother went to a salon in mid-June to have her hair done, and I tagged along.

I got a million questions and comments and congratulations from the hairstylist, her co-worker, and other clients. It was refreshing and wonderful and made me very happy. I thought to myself that this must be what it’s like for pretty much any other pregnant woman. It was nice to feel normal for a change.

My youngest brother finally spoke to me on the telephone. He told me that he and his wife were praying that I would make the right decision. This meant that to them, there was a wrong decision, which irritated me. I was having a baby. That was the right decision, end of story. I really wished people could have seen that.

Owing to a combination of procrastination, fear, and defensiveness, I was due in two weeks and I hadn’t told any of my extended family that I was expecting (don't judge me). I wasn’t looking forward to their reactions. I fully expected everyone to pity my poor mother – first she lost her husband, now this. And I’ve always felt like a loser and a screw-up compared to other extended family members - not so much a black sheep, as a sick sheep who wasn't producing any wool. This wasn’t going to help. But my mom was going to visit my grandmother for her birthday, and I came along. I wasn’t sure what to say but I figured my belly would do the talking for me.

There’s a line in the Genesis song “No Son of Mine” that goes, “I rang the bell with my heart in my mouth.” I never understood that line until I got out of the car in front of my grandma’s house. I closed the car door with my heart in my mouth. I felt a nausea unrelated to my pregnancy.

I trailed my mother up the steps onto the patio. My mom gave my grandma a hug and went into the house. I bit my lip and gave my grandma a hug.

“Hi, Grandma. Um, I’m pregnant,” I said.

“Oh, no you’re not, honey, you’re just fat,” she said consolingly.

Just a refresher, here’s what I looked like in mid-June.

Fat? Just fat? I mean, I'm not a toothpick like most of my cousins, but really? Just fat?

“Um, no, really, I’m pregnant.”

“Oh, honey, no you're not, you just need to lose some weight.”

“No, really, Grandma, I am pregnant.”

Again, she insisted that I just needed to diet. I was tempted to say, Well, that's news to me, because my doctor's done several ultrasounds and it sure looked to me like I was pregnant.

Finally she seemed to believe me.

“Well,” she said, “I didn’t even know you were dating anyone.”

(This was, by the way, the reaction of pretty much everyone - they were stunned not at my pregnancy but at the fact that I had actually had a boyfriend.)

“I’m not,” I said. “I was.”

And out came an edited version of the last year of my life. But my dear old grandma, ever the Midwestern stoic, took it all in stride.

“These things happen,” she said, and she told me about a relative who’d become pregnant after a death in the family. I felt a little better. I don’t know why I was so nervous to begin with. This was, after all, the woman who, after my dad told her his cancer had returned and he was going to die soon, had sort of shrugged and then complained about her satellite dish.

I really am a genetic mutant, I think, because I like to talk things out and feel my feelings, and my dad’s immediate family is very much the opposite. I love them dearly, I really do, but they tend to react to life-changing news by either shrugging or changing the subject.

But it was good to get it out in the open finally, and good to see my grandma and talk to her. It had been months. And now that my grandma knew and would spread the word, my mother seemed to be more open to talking to people about it. She told one of her friends on the phone. Her friend was excited for me, which I thought was super nice. I wished more people were excited. Getting it out seemed to relax my mother, too. She seemed less tense, and less prone to snap at me.

My brother came over to help put the crib together. He also gave me a priesthood blessing. I don’t think I could ever say enough about what an amazing brother I have. He should be given an award. I don’t think I could have gotten through my pregnancy without him.

My last full month of pregnancy was ending quickly but I hadn't yet reached the point where I just wanted the baby out. I liked being pregnant. I liked feeling my baby kick. I liked knowing she was safe and healthy and happy. As long as my little girl was in my belly, I didn't have to do anything or make any decisions. I dreaded my pregnancy ending and life getting more complicated - and even then, I knew it would.


Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Oh my gosh, the dialogue between you and your grandma is totally cracking me up!
And BTW, I called my grandma while I was in the hospital after my baby was born...and my other grandma didn't know until three years ago (when that baby was almost 9!) you're not alone in that. :)

Heather said...

I just so love the comment:

"And I’ve always felt like a loser and a screw-up compared to other extended family members - not so much a black sheep, as a sick sheep who wasn't producing any wool."

I still feel that way with my extended family. All of them have been married in the temple and have these cute mormom families. I don't think they all know that I had a baby when I was 17 and placed her for adoption. Even after 22 years.

You're grandmother is awesome. I want to be a grandma just like that.

Mary said...

"You're just fat." . . . That is so sad and funny and awkward at the same time- especially considering the picture you posted! Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

Sarah Buttenwieser said...

Really poignant. You are a brave person for your honesty & your willingness to acknowledge how you realized you were in very complicated waters. And then, you swam.

CCmomma said...

i remember when i was bulemic and weighed like 85 lbs as HS student and my great grandmother (who was around 90) told me that i was looking chubby. Everyone in my family who heard her say that cracked up b/c i was skin and bones- old people- they are so silly some times:)
Loved this post!