I’m at the beach sitting on our screened-in porch, mindlessly scrolling through a website just as my phone rings and draws me back to the immediate. I see it’s my daughter Kara calling. I answer and she says, “Hi Mom, um, I have something to tell you.” That’s a hell of a lead in. She then breaks it to me – she’s pregnant. And not married. In all fairness, she stammers a little bit and beats around the bush some. She’s sheepish about it, and worried, along with all the things you’d think you’d be, if you had to make this call to your parents. The reality is, she and Sam are both thirty and have been together for over six years and have lived together for three. The ring has been bought but not presented. Marriage was the plan – it was just the when that got confusing. Pregnancy was not the plan. Blame it on the alcohol. It’s family planning’s worst nightmare.
As it turns out, Kara and Sam get married by the Justice of the Peace on the same day her obstetrician calls and tells her that some tests have come back and they need to induce her today – three weeks early. She and Sam get the call moments before they stand in front of the judge with her best friend Randa as witness. Randa is taking a video of the to-be parents, both of which have looks on their faces of the holy shit kind. They try not to laugh through the process of getting hitched because they are also going to be parents on the same day. You just can’t make this stuff up.
Living in Brooklyn, and working in the city was their collective dream. They have a nice little apartment, and by New York standards, I mean little. Kara and Sam have full time jobs and both do a lot of freelance work on the side. As a new mother, Kara is in a continuous state of tired. More like exhausted. She’s up a lot at night, and working every free moment with a newborn and trying to make it all work. She keeps telling me how tired she is, and how nursing is getting harder and harder so she finally decides to stop. This choice means more hormones to contend with. The female body is always adjusting to hormones before, during and after babies. It’s a continuous cycle, to be sure.
I start getting texts that she’s just not feeling well. “Like my body doesn’t feel well – something’s off Mom,” she tells me. A few times actually. She says she has no appetite for healthy food. “That’s not like me Mom “ – she says again. Forever an optimist, I suggest that hormones could be the cause. And as much as I don’t want to travel down this road, one day I daringly text back and say “You preggers?“ Crickets.
A couple weeks go by and we’re in this cycle again. She texts she doesn’t feel well. I text again – “You preggers?” Radio silence. She then texted and the message said: “I just threw up.” Again I text: “Kara – are you pregnant?” Nothing. Clearly she’s avoiding me, or maybe she’s just avoiding the question. So I call her. I’m happy she answers. I tell her she has to take a test and at least cross that off her list. I’m certain she’s not, I mean – how could she be, the baby is only seven months old, for God’s sake.
My son Sean, his wife Leanne and their baby Quinn and I drive up to New York the next day for Kara’s birthday. She says she got sick in the morning but we all still head out to breakfast anyway. She’s a trooper like that. In a little café on a beautifully dirty Brooklyn street, we had a fabulous breakfast. Kara however was not eating much – so I helped her out. I ate some of hers too. We finish and together we all walk New York and take the ferry over to Governor’s Island.
Waiting for the ferry, Kara is sitting on my left. Her right leg is crossed over her left as she has her elbow resting on her knee and her fist holding up her chin. We start talking and I ask how she’s feeling. “Eh,” she says. I implore her to get the tests and at least find out if she is or not. Pregnant that is. This convo is all in code, mind you. She looks down at the ground and hunches over further as she is starting to turn her head and shoulders away from me to avoid breaking the news. My dogs have this same reaction when they get caught chewing up a shoe. She keeps turning and I say, “Kara – you took a test, wait, what?? Kara are you?” If she keeps moving forward to avoid me, she’s going to slide off the bench and fall on her face. She’s straining to turn her head and body away from me so she doesn’t have to make eye contact. I touch her arm, somewhat nervously laughing, because this kid of mine is pretty funny and it’s sinking in what is happening right here and now. “Kara!” I say again. She never really admits it but at this moment, her body language says it all – it happened again.
The test is positive. I laugh – well, kind of. “Mom – we were using protection. We didn’t want this to happen again – not yet.” Well, another sucker gets gut punched by the 1% of society that birth control does not work for and I’m sitting right next to her. This is reminding me of the “Friends” episode where Rachel has to tell Ross she’s pregnant and he resists yelling “No you’re not – we were using protection!” She calmly tells him that condoms are only 99% accurate, as he runs into his room to grab the box. Out loud he reads the cover that explains it is not 100% full proof, as he squeals that they should have that in bold letters on the FRONT of the box. He may have a point.
We take the ferry out and I have a daughter in law that gets seasick and a daughter that apparently does too, but for entirely different reasons. Kara’s pregnant after all. I’m taking in the sights, the sounds and the reality that my daughter is having another baby. When we get to Governor’s Island we head to a bar. We get some drinks and some food. We just left the breakfast place, and now we are eating again. Kara is hungry. Go figure. The others order beers, Kara orders a Pepsi to quell her upset stomach, and I need a stiff one. Not usually one to drink in the daytime, because of its automatic effect on my need to sleep, I have a Rose’ spritzer with a cucumber slice and strawberries at the bottom. It’s so good, it’s so refreshing and well frankly, I’m stunned, so I have another. I’m giddy because I know the secret. The more I drink, the funnier this becomes. I’m not really sure why, but I am now on the tipsy friggin’ hilarious train. I tell her she has to tell Sean. She says no. I say yes. I tell her, laughing, that I’m going to tell them and so she blurts it out – right there with no introduction, no prelude, she just puts it out there: “Um you guys, I might be pregnant.”
Being hyper vigilant, nothing gets past me. Especially the look on Sean’s, Leanne’s and even Sam’s face as Kara spews the news. This part is really funny. I giggle. I’m tipsy after all. Everybody’s eyes are darting back and forth trying to figure out if this is a joke. Sam is not sure if anyone is going to hit him. I keep laughing. Kara doesn’t budge, but she has a shit-eating grin on her face that only people in this family can understand. This makes me laugh some more – well that and the spritzers. Sean takes the lead and stammers and realizes it’s no joke and says “Wow, really – congratulations Sis.” He gives her a big hug and shakes Sam’s hand and Leanne does the same. I continue to laugh. I shouldn’t drink during the day. Maybe I shouldn’t drink at all. But the secret is out and I think it’s funny. The whole day is funny.
After Kara spills the beans, she regales us with the story of how she and baby Wesley went to the drug store the day before and picked up a pregnancy test. Hungry, because she’s pregnant, they stopped in to get some sushi at a take out restaurant on their way home. The Asian lady standing at the counter taking her order, in her thick accent, tells Kara how cute Wesley is and proceeds to tell her she should have another. A baby that is – not sushi. Kara can’t ignore the irony but didn’t have it in her to reveal the EPT Pregnancy Test in her other grocery bag, as she takes her sushi to go. I can picture this scene happening, so I laugh even more.
We take the ferry back to Brooklyn and meet Kara’s friends at a restaurant for her birthday dinner and more drinks. There’s been a lot of eating, drinking and laughing going on today, especially on my part. All of us in the know hold on tight to the newly divulged secret, as we all realize how special it is, no matter what the circumstances.
And as the spritzers leave my body, the reality hits me and I think: Whoa baby. Baby makes two.