I've decided to post about my brother. He is ten and a half years younger than me and is my only sibling. He means the world to me, so I thought I'd write about him for awhile.
I was an only child as a young girl and I hated it. Most of the families we were knew had at least 3 children. I was the only, only-child I knew. Each day I'd beg my mom to call a friend to play with me. She'd say, "But we called them yesterday. We can't call two days in a row." The extrovert in me suffered.
When I was five years old my mom got pregnant. She lost the baby girl at 37 weeks. Each March our family still feels the sadness of her absence. We never found out the cause of death. I do not remember anything about that pregnancy or loss. My mom says I came into the hospital room and crawled onto the bed with her. I was crying and said, "I want the baby." She replied, "We'll get you another baby." I shook my head, "No. I want THAT baby." The one thing I recall was being in a dark hospital hallway with my caring Uncle Jerry. He gave me a medium sized stuffed bunny that had a music box inside. I wonder if he bought it for the baby and gave it to me instead?
After the stillborn, my parents didn't know if they'd be able to get pregnant again. Five years passed. My mom suffered with severe chronic fatique during that time; many of her days were spent in bed. I longed for a brother or sister with all my heart.
One day she was sick in bed and I was moping around the house, bored. My dad was in the bedroom with her, and they called me to the room. I sat at the foot of the bed and waited to hear what they wanted to say. My dad said, "You know your mom is sick a lot of the time. Usually we don't know what the cause of her illness. But today we do: She is pregnant!" I gulped in disbelief. A smile spread across my shocked face. An involuntary laugh bubbled from my mouth. As I giggled with delight, tears spilled down my face. It was the first time I cried for happiness.
The pregnancy was long. At the beginning there was bleeding and fear. One of the first appointments was scary. The doctor thought my mom was about 12 weeks along. A nurse listened for a heartbeat and heard nothing. My parents nervously waited, knowing the odds were against them with my mom's history and weak health. The doctor came in to attempt to hear the heartbeat. Nothing. He said, "Let's do an ultrasound and see what happened." My mom and dad began to cry, assuming the baby was gone.
The tech put the ultrasound wand to her belly. Their eyes turned to the screen expecting to see a still figure. Instead, they were greeted with a jumping, moving, healthy baby. They exclaimed with joy and shock. The baby was only 8 weeks along, not 12, which explained the undetectable heartbeat.
I remember the rest of the pregnancy as a long spell of bedrest, nausea and never-ending hunger for my mom. The kitchen was continually dirty; one morning the smell of moldy oatmeal sent my dad into a angry frenzy when he couldn't take it anymore. One day in the fifth month I remember going somewhere with my mom. As I clicked my seatbelt in our massive green Mercury, I looked over at her and smiled. I was excited to be out of the house with her. Until then, she had been too sick to leave the house. In the third trimester I remember her reclining in my dad's big blue chair. He treated her like a queen during the pregnancy, taking care to keep the baby safe. We'd take turns sitting next to the chair on our knees with our ear against her belly, trying to hear the heartbeat. I loved seeing her stomach jump methodically when the baby had the hiccups.
February 24th arrived. I got up to go to school and noticed my dad was in the living room. Typically he would've left the house for work already. I walked to the end of the hallway with a question on my face. He said, "We think today might be the day." I shrugged and turned back toward my room thinking, "Yeah right. She's going to be pregnant forever." I really felt that way. A few hours later I was sitting on the gym floor in PE, waiting for my turn in a game. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a familiar person. I turned and looked up to find my best friend's mom. Her plump face was shining with joy as she said robustly, "It's time!!"
The drive to the hospital was surreal. There was road construction on the way and I wanted the car to go faster. My heart raced and my hands were sweaty as we neared the hospital. In the waiting room I saw familiar faces. Church people. Aunts and uncles. Everyone was jittery with excitement. My mom had a c-section because she'd already had two of them. Behind the doors to the operating room, my dad was dressed in scrubs, head to toe. He actually WATCHED the doctor do the surgery. Instead of being terrified to see his wife cut open, he was fascinated. The doctor even showed my mom's organs to my dad!!!! He saw her stomach, liver, etc. He still boasts that he know's her "inside and out." Ew. I hate that story.
We did not know if the baby was a boy or a girl. My mom was given general anesthetic because her epidural didn't take. The only thing she recalls from the surgery was my dad YELLING, "It's a boy, Alice! It's a boy!" For some reason they had assumed it would be a girl. The surprise boy came out healthy. His name: Christopher Milton.
I was the first one taken to see my mom and the baby. I was ushered into a tiny room where I stood beside a bed on wheels. It frightened me to see my mom half asleep, trying to wake up from the anesthetic. Her cheeks shook as she attempted to smile at me. She was trying to ease my fears, I think. At the other end of the room, my dad held up Chistopher, like Simba in the Lion King. His tiny body was wrinkled and he resembled a frog in shape and color. I felt shocked with awe. I finally had a sibling. My parents could now say phrases like, "the kids" and "both of them."