I’ve known my sister-in-law since we were in seventh grade. Even way back then, the two things she knew she wanted in life were to be in law enforcement and to have children.
When she got her first job working for a police department in Georgia, it seemed just a matter of time before she got pregnant and fulfilled both of her lifelong dreams. But in a sort of cosmic bad joke, she learned in her mid-twenties that she wouldn’t be able to have children.*
The news hit everyone in the family hard, and it was one of the things that prompted Ken to re-examine his desire to remain childless. So when he found me sobbing in the bedroom that day, brokenhearted over my realization that I wasn’t on board with the “no kids” thing, it wasn’t very long before we decided that maybe we’d been hasty in the whole childless lifestyle, and that having a baby sounded like a Pretty Good Idea.
Every October Ken and his dad would go fishing for a week up in Frankfort, Michigan. When his parents moved to Atlanta, my mother-in-law would make the trip up with my father-in-law, and we two fishing widows would spend the week together at my house while the men would go stand out in freezing weather, trying to wrestle giant fish onto land.
She and I were out to dinner one night during that fishing week, and she started telling me a story that ended with her getting very very sad when she thought that she’d never have grandchildren Since I am biologically unable to keep secrets, I blurted out over our enchiladas and margaritas, “Ken and I are going to try to have a baby!”
Once that admission sunk in, she asked, “When?”
When. Always a teacher at heart, I had approached our impending attempt to conceive a child like I would have a field trip. There was intel to gather! Arrangements to be made! I had been to a doctor as a combination “get to know you/physical to make sure everything looked ok” visit. I started charting my cycle. I had purchased ovulation predictor kits. All my organization and planning had indicated that the optimal time to try and get pregnant that month would be smack dab in the middle of Ken’s fishing week. While his mom was staying with us.
Ken had agreed to cut his trip short by a few days, but there was the delicate matter of our houseguest. Our house was very small, and had very thin walls. What, exactly is the protocol for asking your mom to leave your home for a little while so you could try and conceive her a grandchild?
If a delicate and tactful way to broach such a subject exists, I did the exact opposite of everything it says. ”When?” I said, ”Now! As soon as Ken gets home from his trip!” Too excited at the prospect of finally being a grandma to care about my utter lack of social graces, my mother-in-law made plans to spend the evening with a friend of hers. When she came back from her visit, she had gotten us the funniest card I’ve ever received- giant fireworks on the front, with something like, “Congratulations on all your endeavors!!” on the inside.
Anyway, nine months later, Lotus was born, and for a while we figured we were “done”. One kid, one cute, easy baby.
By the time she was two, I started looking at her, realizing that she wasn’t a baby anymore, and longing to give her a sibling. Ken took a little longer to get on board with this plan, but eventually his heart changed too, and eventually Joaquin joined our family.
In my head, we were “done done”. We had a girl, we had a boy, we had two kids, and the thought of having any other didn’t even occur to me. It wasn’t even something that I was set against, because it was something that honestly I never considered. In fact, when Joaquin was three months old, and Ken and I started going through RCIA, our priest casually remarked about our future children, and it was if he were speaking an alien language.
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