Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I remember the text, "We need to talk."  The almost instantaneous phone call, the panicked, "What's wrong?"  And as a lump formed in my throat, I confided in him that we were expecting the unexpected.  His reply, firm and unaffected, "Ok."  So strong, so matter-of-fact - as though we were discussing the weather from yesterday and not a baby.

And so it began.  My mind raced. 

So different, already, than my first pregnancy, where I, barely out of graduate school returned home heartbroken but determined to keep the child growing inside me.  The pregnancy I so thrilled in, begging for photos of my tiny tummy and stretching t-shirts taught to show the slowly forming curve of my baby girl.  The pregnancy that ended a two-year relationship and began my life at the same time it began hers.

Then, my father breifly brooded, this unwed mother scenario was not what he wanted for his daughter.  But not once did he falter in his support - staying vigil in my hospital room as I wavered between life and death, as my kidneys and liver decided to quit and my skin yellowed with jaundice. Dad kept his laptop out, carefully documenting every medical-type person who entered my room, waiting for a prognosis, a diagnosis, for a miracle.  Doctors ultimately decided it was Fatty Liver Disease and HELLP syndrome even though I met none of the listed attributes of people who succumbed to either ailment.  And when I finally woke from the wavering coma-like state I had been in for nearly two weeks into motherhood, I saw his motivation board above my bed, complete with pictures of his granddaughter and inspirational sayings about strength, faith, and perseverence.
My brother had taken instantly to being an uncle, but in reality, Unc - then a new college student - was a father in every sense of the word. When I secured my first teaching job and moved into an apartment, he moved with me.  We had three rooms - one for me, one for Chi, one for Unc.  He went to school full time, but returned to watch his niece while her Mom (me) went off to work on a degree necessary to keep the job.  Beyond that, there were countless times he rescued me when a restless and unsoothable infant threatened to break her tired, overworked mother.  And he memorized things like "Finding Nemo" and No More Monkies Jumping on the Bed," through countless viewings and readings with an adoring niece.  Unc made it possible for me to create a career by allowing my poor butt to get to class while he sacrificed a social life to babysit. And he was the voice of calm when the 24-hour-mom-sans-father-relief spawned brief lapses into psychosis.

I can't encapsulate what my mom (Oma) did during this time.  She did it all: holding my hand and sharing in my delight at seeing the grainy first images of my child bounce across the ultrasound viewer screen, to planning the baby shower I was too embarrassed to have, to serving as my birthing partner when the doctor said, "I'm sorry, we're going to have to do a C-section.  The baby is not doing well."

It took five years to find a balance.  It took an incredible support system.  It took a lot of introspection to find personal peace.  And it took faith in God.

And here I was again.  Pregnant. 

As I weighed the possible meaning of the solitary "okay," I began to berate myself.  I sat contemplating the unraveling of my delicately woven family unit - that of my daughter and myself - with the introduction of a new baby.  I'd worked so hard to create a stable life for my girl - one where though she may miss her father living his life in another state far away,  she was not without amazing father figures (her grandfather and uncles) who adored her every fiber from the moment they knew of her existence.  And then here was this new life already en route and I dreaded the rejection that surely would come from another who wasn't envisioning a family. 

But he said "ok," and he'd meant it'd all be right...