Eventually we had to start telling people about my girlfriend’s pregnancy. We had hoped for another few weeks, but because she needs to take time off work to relieve some of the stress on her body, that meant telling her boss. And in a small town, when you tell one person you might as well be taking out an ad in the paper.
Our basic thinking had been, since the first trimester is typically when the worst things tend to happen, it would be best to not have everyone’s hopes up only to have them crushed. My girlfriend has had two tragic endings to pregnancies before, so this one is considered “high risk”.
So far the “high risk” part has meant pain for her, and multiple 3am trips to the emergency room for the both of us.
So she planned on speaking to her boss on Monday. Which meant I had to tell my parents on Sunday — I also sent an email to my younger brother, and the oldest of my sisters.
My plan was to tell the majority of my immediate family during a birthday dinner on Sunday for my youngest brother’s girlfriend… she just turned twenty-four.
But, as I watched people eat a cake with four inches of diabetic-killing frosting, I decided I’d tell my mom and step-father alone because at the time I really wasn’t sure what their reaction would have been. I know my youngest brother and his girlfriend would have been excited, and my step-grandmother probably would’ve pulled out the brandy. But I didn’t want to have half the table screaming “way to go” and the other half mumbling “oh yeah… so awesome.”
So the new plan was to tell my parents after they drove me back to their place after dinner… so after pulling into their driveway I said goodnight and, of course, started to walk home. I wasn’t terrified, but I was really nervous… apprehensive.
All night I had felt like I was thirteen and had to admit I just crashed the car. As I walked to the birthday dinner I had mini-fantasies where, as I was telling my family I was having a baby, everybody stood up and congratulated me and we had some fantastic diabetic-friendly desserts.
But as I got to my step-grandmother’s door I remembered I don’t live in that family. And that’s when I started to feel as though I was about to be punished for something I had done wrong.
…most of the problem comes from this all happening so quickly. My girlfriend and I have only been dating for three months, and she’s only met my parents twice — other than serving them a few times in the convenience store. I’ve met her father a few brief times, but her mother only twice. We only dated for about three weeks before she became pregnant so I barely know how I feel about my girlfriend, I can’t imagine her parents have had much time to form an opinion about me either.
So, instead of telling my parents right then in their driveway, I decided I’d wait until Wednesday when they were back from their respective conferences. And I walked away. But then I turned back… then away, then back, then away, then back, then away… until I walked back to the house and let myself in.
I put my arm around my mother’s shoulders right away and told her: “[My Girlfriends Name] and I are having a baby. It’ll happen sometime in January.”
Her first reaction was to ask twice if I were joking. Her second reaction was to start planning living arrangements… I tried to interrupt her three times before she finally slowed down enough for me to explain our plan for now was to continue living separately.
Then I told her she had seven months to come up with a nickname… people in my family don’t use the traditional “Granddad/mom”. When we were children my grandfather sat my brother and I down and said “stop calling me ‘Papère’, I’m too young to be a grandfather.” So my mom came up with “Lulu” on the spot.
She seemed to get genuinely excited, and took off to get my step-father. So when I told him I was expected basically the same response… I’m not even sure what his response was. I think he might have expected my mother to be upset, so he assumed he was supposed to be upset. Either that or he just decided to be an asshole. He barely even took my hand when I put mine out.
But I knew my mom would start looking for baby stuff almost right away. So I left feeling pretty good.
It was the first time in a while I’d felt really comfortable about what’s going on. Like it was making sense. Then I got home and checked my answering machine. While I was at the dinner one of my girlfriend’s friends had left a panicked message saying my girlfriend was in the emergency room, crying and in acute pain.
So thirty minutes after finding out she was going to be a grandmother, my mother had to drive me to the hospital where my girlfriend may or may not be having a freaking miscarriage. Which is exactly the scenario I was trying to avoid… my girlfriend and the baby are fine.
Afterwards I got a ride home with mom. All the way back to my apartment she was asking questions about finances, government support programs, nutrition and baby clothes. In the past few days she’s already approached some of her friends about how their recent grandchildren are being taken care of… so my mom’s committed to this pregnancy now. Which is good.
My girlfriend told her boss about the pregnancy on Monday. They sat down and came up with a schedule and new working conditions that would be better for her. So I thought we were all cool. All the parents knew and the boss knew.
But my assumptions were only half right. We went to the Employment Insurance office on Wednesday to find out what they could do for us (I’ll write about that later), then saw her divorce lawyer and had a nice lunch. Then, on the way home, she asks if it would be all right to swing by her parents place.
I’ve asked her in the past not to spring her parents, family and friends on me… I’ve got some serious introvert tendencies, I need time to prepare for people. But she said it would only take a few minutes, so I agreed as long as I could stay out in the yard.
I didn’t hear the yelling because I was wondering up and down the street taking photos of clouds, but that was when my girlfriend told her mom about the pregnancy. Her mom’s first response was “that was fucking stupid.”
It turns out my girlfriends trip to the Emergency Room on the previous Sunday night was precipitated by a screaming match between her and her parents about who was best suited to raise her three-year old son. I found this out on the way home after she had stormed out of her parents home after telling her mom.
On Sunday her son was staying with his grandparents for a few hours and couldn’t use the washroom. So his grandparents were going to use a laxative on the little dude. My girlfriend calls while her father is out buying them, finds out, freaks out, drives out, and the screaming match goes on for twenty minutes. Everybody calls everybody’s parenting skills into question at the top of their lungs, my girlfriend leaves with her son promising to never bring him back.
Three hours later she’s in the ER. Three days later she’s telling her mom she’s pregnant… while I’m wondering around their property taking photos.
But I’m rapidly finding out that’s how her family works. Everybody screams until everybody is hoarse, then the next day someone calls up to say they’re sorry without actually using the word, and the other person makes them grovel until the fight starts up all over.
My girlfriends mom called back on Thursday to offer babysitting services for this weekend. So that fight is over for now. But I was able to experience firsthand the level of passive aggressiveness this family deals with in action over Easter brunch… this is something which will be brought back over and over again until my kid has her own kids.
But at least people know now, this isn’t a secret anymore… and it feels really good to have people look at me and say “so… you’re going to be a father.”