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August 24, 2003.
“John, Sarah, Gregory. Come downstairs; I need to tell y’all something.” I think, “this better be important. I have a lot I need to do.” At the sight of my brothers, I can see the feeling is mutual. All three of us are in the upper grades of grammar school and have homework due. We file in line, and three pairs of bare feet reluctantly trudge downstairs. My foot hits the cold tile in my mother’s room, but warmth overtakes me as we all climb onto her bed. “I have something very important to tell you three,” my mom says. I feel the cold again, but not just on my feet, it’s overtaking me. Instantly, my mind races through ideas of what this news might be. What should I be prepared for? She called us all to her room-- this must be important. Are we moving? Did someone die? No, her expression does not match either hypothesis.
“What? You’re having a baby or something?” my younger brother blurts out.
The three of us laugh until we notice Mom’s slightly shocked expression.
Her answer is simple. I have heard it about a million times in that day alone. However, I have no idea how one word can hold so much meaning.
I am Wile E. Coyote standing thirty stories below the piano that is about to smash me like a pancake. On the show, I bounce back like an accordion. But in reality, what do I do? My brothers can’t be more enthused, but my mind is still processing the information. I do not have to search the files of my numbed brain to assess the situation. I receive pop-ups: “I hope she doesn’t have this baby. Everyone will know he or she is a mistake. What will they think? How will I respond? My life is going to be completely different. How can she do this to me?”
I try to duplicate my brothers’ reaction, but my mom sees right through. She puts her arm around me and surrounds me with her vision of the future. The idea is bright and inviting, but it doesn’t give me the answers to the inevitable questions my friends will ask when they put me in the hot seat. Fortunately, my mom wants us to wait a while before we tell anyone.
Weeks pass, but there is not a day when I do not carry the burden of knowledge. In my mind, every “Hey, what’s up?” from a close friend is the equivalent to, “Hey, why haven’t you told me yet?” At first, I am afraid. I fear the responses to such shocking news. However, fear turns into power. I know something no one else knows. The choice is mine on how and where I will enlighten my ignorant classmates. By the time my mom allows us to tell our friends, I have already devised a plan. The day dawns, and my mission is already in effect. Plant the seed. I take my closest friends into the hall. I look at each one of them and say, “I have some really big news to tell you guys.” The circle gets closer, and the eyes grow wider. I continue, “But I have to tell Peter first.” Peter is my “boyfriend” whom I talk to every blue moon. Therefore, my friends’ reactions are plausible-- “What?! Are you serious?! Just tell us!” The seed is planted and I now feel the satisfaction of knowing that my friends are aware of the mystery I’ve kept inside for so long.
Word gets around about my “big secret.” Everyone begs to know, but my mouth is locked, and I am the one with the key. Finally, recess comes. My posse is behind me until my eyes focus on the tall, blue eyed, blond haired boy I call my boyfriend. The walk toward him feels like a model on the runwayâ€” all eyes are on me.
“So, I want to tell you something.”
“My mom’s pregnant.”
“Uhh, yeah, I saw her the other day at mass.”
Now I know how my mom felt when she saw my disappointment to hear the good news; not quite the response I had in mind. I run back to my friends, all eagerness and smiles, and I tell them about the new baby. We laugh, we dance, and we jump in jubilation. Now this is how it should be!
March 24, 2004.
Matthew Anthony is born in Baptist Hospital. He weighs six pounds, six ounces, the lightest of us all. I take him into my arms and run my finger from his feather-like hair to his button nose. He opens his eyes to reveal a dark blue ocean of curiosity. He is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen with his tufts of black hair and long arms and legs. How could I have ever felt ashamed of such a miracle? I am embarrassed for ever thinking such selfish thoughts. In my heart, I ask my new baby brother to forgive me. His fragile body is passed like molasses from one family member to another. We laugh at John’s ability to hold the miniscule person in one arm. With hearts and arms wide open, we welcome the newborn into our family. I know now, in spite of all of my unnecessary worries, this little miracle is an angel in disguise; he is the ribbon that binds our family closer; he is the neophyte.