We are racing to the finish. Speaking of racing, this episode of Thirteen and Three is brought to you by a remote control Strawberry Shortcake car (the batteries are dead so Beazer is pushing it around with her hand. Very old school, circa 1892.) This episode is also being brought to you by the laundry room in the basement of my building, which is weirdly crowded for a Thursday morning, so I have to be New York-er pushy to get 3 dryers before someone aces me out (it's Thursday for me, Friday for you. As you are reading this, I am driving to Maine! Hopefully with clean laundry!).
My friend Jacob, who is a bit squeamish about discussing female personal hygiene and intimacy sent me the following text this morning. "I'm so nervous reading your blog. Tampons and periods. Unprotected sex."
Which brings us right back to where we left off. Talk about nervous? I was a wreck.
I woke up at 6am on Memorial Day (I was in Pennsylvania at my in-law's house, which was loud with chirping birds and other happy/annying to city-folk outdoor noises.) I went to the bathroom, knowing that pregnancy tests get the best results if you test the first thing in the morning when your urine is full of hormones (Jacob is so nervous right now. Also, don't take that urine/hormone information as medical fact because I am kind of making up the details, although I am right that it is best to test in the morning. It says so on the box.)
I take the test. I experience every emotion known to the human species as I wait for the lines to appear.
You know those books that have different sections of faces that you can mix and match? You can match up happy eyes with a sad mouth, or crazy eyes with a smile? That was me. Emotions changing like a flip book as I stare at the test.
The line appears. Another line appears. Positively pregnant.
Two seconds later I am nauseous, craving watermelon and my boobs are killing me. I can already tell I am having a boy. I might be in pre-labor. My son's life flashes before my eyes. He has dark hair that curls a bit like mine, he has a strong chin like Rob. He is on the debate team. He is in law school. He farts at the dinner table and I am furious at his foul behavior. We're at his wedding. I have grandchildren.
I decide I should wake the father of the farting lawyer to give him the news. Especially since I am already having labor pains and I'm craving Chipotle.
I shove the test in the bottom of the tampon box and climb back in bed with Rob. Sweet, diplomatic, blissful Rob who is able to sleep through pregnancy and the squawking aviary outside. Unaware that his peaceful world is about to change forever. I whisper gently, "Rob, honey?"
I try again. "Rob?" I say it louder. "ROB." I give him a shove. (I can't help it, I'm pregnant and unable to control my bionic, hormonal self) "Seriously, wake up."
He doesn't open his eyes, but smiles in his sleep and says, "Good morning."
I've been alone with this information for at least five minutes at this point. Clearly, CLEARLY he has forgotten that today is D-day. This is going to be fun in a terrifying kind of way, sort of like going to a horror movie. "GUESS WHAT?"
He, still with his eyes shut, totally relaxed, stretches and says, "What?"
His eyes fly open. "Oh my God."
I am suddenly aware that we are making memories. When I found out I was pregnant with Charlotte, I had put out a display of pink and blue balloons with a card saying,
"Congratulations, Daddy!" which was waiting for him when he came home from work. Charlotte loves the story about Rob coming through the door, reading the card and choking up with joy.
This baby's story was going to that Daddy said Oh my God in panic and Mommy laughed because she sadistically enjoyed Daddy's terror. Do-over needed.
"Rob close your eyes. I'm going to tell you again and you have to act happy. This story can't be that we were so freaked out. It's a good thing. I promise." Rob, in a show of good sportsmanship, closes his eyes and we do it again. "Rob! I'm pregnant!"
He opens his eyes. With total sincerity he smiles widely and says, "That is so wonderful!"
"Really? You're okay?"
"I'm totally okay. I was just surprised, I mean,really? We do it once and you're pregnant?"
"We did exactly what Charlotte said to do. Do it once, it's gross, she has a brother or a sister. Bam."
We start to laugh and the joy floods in. I get fatalistic and emotional. "It was MEANT to be, Rob, I just know it. We are supposed to have this baby." He nods. This is right. It is the right thing to do. A BABY! I resist the urge to get in the car, drive to the mall, and wait until it opens so I can look at all the cute baby clothes at Baby Gap. Instead, I run to the basement where I fish out all of Charlotte's baby clothes and toys and strollers and highchairs and books that have been waiting there, just waiting for this baby. I'd kept it all, every bib and bow, spread out over three different houses (my mom and dad's, my in-laws and a friend who was using Charlotte's crib.) Who was I kidding? I always wanted another baby, otherwise all this outdated, probably safety recalled gear would have brought in $20 in a garage sale that we would have blown at Dairy Queen.
Somehow now that I actually am pregnant, I allow myself the joy. The hardest part, of course, was not sprinting to Charlotte to tell her immediately. Rob and I wanted to spare her the emotional ride of the first trimester, especially since I'd miscarried in the past. She couldn't handle a miscarriage. So, we waited.
(I am going to skip ahead in time because writing (and talking) about pregnancy is one of my favorite things EVER (I am a terrible pregnant person, but I find it HILARIOUS) and I will write about it later and not drag the story down here. The focus is Charlotte and the Beaz.)
My progesterone levels dropped sharply at one point, so there were some scary days. All in all though, I was fine. Sick as a dog, but fine.
I don't have a big story about how Charlotte took the news. She was really calm at first, but as the pregnancy progressed, she became more excited. I think it is a lot to take in. I think she worried that the baby was healthy and that I was healthy. I think she got really sick of eating mexican food (which was all that tasted good when I had any appetite at all).
I was also working and gone a lot. Just after I found out I was pregnant, I was called to be a 4 month understudy replacement in Avenue Q on Broadway. I want to say this about show business. The fact that those producers hired me at 40 and allowed me to perform Kate Monster while 6 months pregnant proves that anything is possible. So thank you to them. And for hiring me back full time right after I delivered Beazer. I love Broadway.
After 8 months of hauling my pregnant-ness up 5 flights of stairs, we moved uptown to a massive 3 bedroom apartment in an elevator building. As an added bonus it was substantially cheaper because we were out of the ritzy 'hood. Oh--and I should mention that we decided not to find out the gender of the baby a head of time because we consider it one of the greatest surprises in life. I love that moment of "It's a _____." (Litter of golden retrievers.)
Charlotte struck a deal with me that if I went to the hospital while she was in school, she would get to be paged during class and get to head to the hospital to meet me. She prayed I would go into labor during math class and she would hear, "Charlotte Meffe, your mother is in labor. Report to the main office immediately." As any pregnant woman can tell you, labor never co-operates with any plans, so I told Charlotte the chances were miniscule. Still, as the day approached, Charlotte had all of her friends so excited that any time the PA went on, they would just stop what they were doing and look at her to see her reaction. Anticipation mounted since Beatrix delayed her arrival until I was 39 weeks and 4 days.
If you can believe it, labor co-operated. I went into labor at 9:30 on a Wednesday morning, and my mother went to school to call Charlotte out of class and bring her to the hospital around 11:00am. Unbelievably, Charlotte was in the bathroom when the announcement happened, but she came back to her class mates screaming and cheering, shoving her backpack and coat into her arms and following her to the main office like she was Forrest Gump. Perfection.
My mother and Charlotte waited out the labor in the sun room of Lenox Hill hospital (foreshadowing...Lenox Hill Hospital plays a large role in the next story I am going to tell here on My Own Space) and Charlotte made her way through various snacks in the vending machine. Because I did not want her in the room for the birth (too bloody and scary), they had periodic updates of my condition. At one point, Dr. Marks went down to get them so they could visit me for a little bit. Although I love to write, some things are better seen, and since this is a BLOG and not a BOOK, you can experience it first hand. The volume is a little low, so if you have head phones, it might work better.
I mean....does it GET any better? Are you crying? Rob is crying, I'm sure and I'm not even with him as he watches this.
The moral of this story is NOT that you must have a sibling to be happy. The moral of the story is that CHARLOTTE needed a sibling to be happy. And sometimes, mothers and fathers, you have to listen to what your kids say even when it is really hard.
In a goose bump making revelation, I have to share one more thing with you. (No, I am not pregnant.) When they wheeled me in to my room after having Beatrix, I said to Rob, "You know, I think this is the room I was in with Charlotte." Rob (naturally) thought I was nuts, because Lenox Hill is gigantic, but when I got home I pulled out the following picture of Charlotte and confirmed it. In the upper right hand corner, you can see the hospital room number, 6614, which matches Beatrix's room number exactly. And, as the final sign that everything was supposed to happen exactly as it did, please notice who is watching over Baby Charlotte in her bassinette. Beatrix Potter toys.
Charlotte, you were absolutely right. Beatrix was a really great idea.
So, dear readers, this brings us to the conclusion of Thirteen and Three. I will write another story starting in about a week, and we will follow the same format and schedule since it seemed to work so well. Be sure to subscribe to this blog, or "like" the Facebook page I am going to create for this site (I am too tired now...it's 1 am and I have been packing all day). That page will probably go up over the weekend and maybe I will put a little post-Thirteen and Three wrap up at that time. If you subscribe or "like" my page, you won't miss an installment. I'd love more readers, so please invite friends to catch up and join the fun by hitting the facebook, twitter or e-mail buttons directly below this post. That's what Erma Bombeck would ask you to do.
I love writing all of this, and I am grateful that you are here.