Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Which I Get a Sister

The day after my nineteenth birthday, my boyfriend took me out to celebrate.  I got home pretty early, though, because my job that summer, for the Indiana Department of Highways, required me to get up at five am.  When I walked into the living room my parents were acting odd--giggly, but it a weird way.  My Dad held a magazine over his face like a shield.  "You tell her," he said, from behind it.

"Oh, I have to tell her?"  My mother laughed.  She paused for a moment, while I wondered what on earth was going on, and then she came out with, "your brother isn't the baby of the family any more."

It took me about five seconds to work it out.  A baby!  A baby!  I hugged my mother, kissed my father, and said, "Wow, Dad, I didn't know you had it in you," which caused him to go beet red and dive behind his magazine again.  My mother said, "I told you she'd be happy."

My mother was due in late November, five months from then.  She'd been a bit late figuring out she was pregnant because, well, because.  She was forty-three, with a son in high school and a daughter in college.  "Don't tell anyone yet," my mother said, and I agreed.

As soon as I got upstairs, my brother knocked on the door.  "Can I use your phone?" he asked.  (This was before cell phones were even dreamed of, natch.  But I had a phone in my room, a privilege I'd been granted after years of whining about it.)  "I need to call a few people."

"As soon as I'm done," I said.  I was already dialing my boyfriend.  (My father kept his vow of secrecy until noon the next day, when he went out to lunch with the most gossipy of all his friends.)

After we'd called the most important people, my brother and I fell into an argument.  Boy or girl?  He, naturally, preferred a boy, but I argued that I already had one little brother, whereas if he had an older sister and a younger sister that would be two entirely different things.  We finally agreed to settle it with a coin flip.  I won.  Despite her Advanced Maternal Age, my mother never had amniocentesis, and the ultrasounds back then weren't detailed enough to show gender.  But it didn't matter.  From the day after my nineteenth birthday, my brother and I knew the baby would be a girl.

"Besides," I told him, "I need a sister."

Twenty-seven years ago today, my mother had a healthy baby girl.  Lauren's a mother herself now, to a wide-eyed beautiful boy, so she understands how happy were all were, so long ago, to know she was on the way.