For several weeks now, my cousin has been referring to this past weekend as ‘D Day’. D Day may stand for delivering good news day or doom’s day. I prefer the first; she thinks the latter, hence, she nominated me the news bearer.
My aunt and uncle arrived at my cousin’s late Friday. We arrived Saturday. I’m severely allergic to long-haired dogs and especially cats, and my cousin has both. My poor aunt spent hours cleaning the floors, tables, and furniture so I could visit for an hour with them in the house. Little did she know she was cleaning the house for me to sit and tell her that her daughter was pregnant.
My husband and I walked into the de-haired house. We talked about their upcoming vacation, other family members’ vacations, my immediate family, while my cousin timidly sat like a mouse cowering in the corner of the living room. Yet her eyes pierced me, drilling into the side of my head, urging me to say something. I refused to bring up the subject until at least I had some quality catch-up time with my aunt and uncle. It’s been well over three years since I saw them. She would have to wait. And she did. And the more she waited the more she looked ready to pounce on me and choke the words out of me. I couldn’t take it anymore.
“So we have something to tell you,” I said anxiously looking at my aunt and uncle and ignoring my cousin’s facial expression.
They scooted toward the edge of the couch and smiled.
“You daughter has done something wonderful and has played a tremendous part in helping us to have a family . . .”
“You’re pregnant!” My aunt jumped up in excitement and rushed over to hug me. “We’re so happy for you!”
“Thank you,” I said, wishing we could be celebrating me carrying a child. This conversation would be much easier. “But there is more.” I studied my aunt’s face. “Because I can’t carry a child without risking being paralyzed, your daughter is carrying our child.”
Deer in headlights. The deer looked at me, then at my cousin, as if afraid to move without getting hit again by unforseen words. Yep, that wasn’t what they expected to hear.
“She called and asked to do this for us. She found the clinic and we’ve been working on this for several months. She is about 3 months pregnant. Everything is going very well with the pregnancy.”
I discussed everything in detail. Then I paused for a response. Silence. My aunt and uncle sat blinded from the news I just flashed before them. Perhaps they were processing all the information? So I explained everything again. . . and again. Gradually my aunt’s eyelids began to relax as her eyebrows dropped back down from her hairline. Her mouth slowly changed from a frozen, gaping position to relaxed lips resting upon one another.
With one loud pat of her hands on her lap, my aunt got up and said, “Well, as I said, congratulations to you two.”
“And I am very proud of you,” she said looking over at my cousin.
My shoulders dropped and I took a deep breath, replenishing my body with some much-needed oxygen.
“Why didn’t you tell me this?” My aunt asked, looking hurt.
“I didn’t want you to worry,” my cousin responded.
“Of course I worry about you,” my aunt told my cousin, “but that’s because I’m your mother. But I am also very proud of you.” She said this with deep sincerity.
“I’m old enough to do this on my own,” my cousin proclaimed. “I thought long about this and found the clinic myself. . .”
“I heard that,” my aunt reiterated. “I’m really proud of the work you put into this and for helping to create another family.”
“And . . .”
I interrupted my cousin as she began to escalate with defensive words, for which there was no reason. “We really appreciate your support. You have a very special daughter.”
“I know,” my aunt and uncle replied.
I looked at my cousin. She sat erect and ready to explode with one wrong word from my aunt. I watched my aunt pause and carefully choose her words to convey how honestly proud she was of her daughter. I felt bad for my aunt. She struggled while asking typical questions a mother may ask someone who had never been pregnant before: “Are you aware of all the different things that could happen during pregnancy? What if you get attached to the baby?”
Comments were thrown back: “What do you even think of me for asking that? Your conservative, of course I didn’t think you would understand. ”
Actually they were similar questions that my parents asked, but my cousin instead looked at these questions as accusations of immaturity.
I felt like I was watching a tennis match as my head went back and forth from one defensive comment to a question or praise. As my cousin glared, my aunt strained to find the right words.
“Why don’t we celebrate and we’ll take you all out to dinner,” my aunt said, then stood and gave us all a hug.
Despite the unexpected tension of being a mediator, I am so relieved by my aunt’s and uncle’s responses. My mother was correct; they were wonderfully supportive. I am so fortunate and grateful to have them as family. At dinner my aunt told funny stories of when she was pregnant and taking care of my cousin and her sister when they were newborns.
I think my cousin’s negative preconception of today’s talk interfered with her ability to experience the same excitement the four of us felt and expressed during dinner. Not once did my cousin’s parents utter one negative comment to her. Instead, they showed loving support. I hope she looks back on this experience with relief when her internal tension dissipates.
My husband and I feel so grateful and fortunate to have such a supportive aunt and uncle, and we know this will continue. She already talks of having me borrow the crib that my uncle made for my cousin’s sister, and their pack-n-play, and the list goes on. I also feel relieved that my aunt and uncle are available to help my cousin with whatever she needs and I can’t provide. Sometimes there’s nothing like having your mom around.
I know it’s cliché to say, but my husband and I felt a huge weight lift from our shoulders. It feels so good to start telling people that we are expecting, and despite the unusual way we are having a child, the news is received with hugs and happiness for us and for my cousin. Finally I may begin to relax and look forward to enjoying the development of my baby, and bonding more with my cousin through this unique and special time.