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A Pregnant Pause, Part Two

May 5, 2012

So there I was in a Lamaze class with a woman I hardly knew, pregnant with a child that was not my own.  We worked on breathing, calming techniques, and even massage therapies.  We had extensive discussions about her cervix. We watched startlingly graphic videos of childbirth.  I had seen many of these type in high school health class, but when you are holding the hand of someone about to go through this, it suddenly becomes far less abstract.  As you can imagine, there were many awkward moments, many about how to address me:

“Here, your husband can turn you over like this—“

“I’m not her husband.”

“Oh.  Well, your boyfriend can—“

“I’m not her boyfriend.”

“Well, you are the father, right?”

“No, we don’t know where he is.”

It reached the point where it got far too difficult to explain my presence, so if someone referred to me as boyfriend, husband, or father, we just shrugged and went along with it.  The path of least resistance is not to be despised this deep into a pregnancy.  I also found something happening that I absolutely did not expect:  I really began to enjoy the classes.  Even though I couldn’t understand why Darlene trusted me so much, I was glad that she did. The truth was I really enjoyed being needed.  I was also impressed by Darlene’s strength.  By then, the fetus appeared to be about ten percent of her body weight, and she was clearly uncomfortable most of the time.  In spite of this, she never lost her ability to laugh and smile, and not once had a cross word for me (some of the other chaps in the class were far less fortunate with their partners).  I was in awe of her.

After we had finished the course, Darlene got a call from her Aunt Mary.   Mary had decided that the family boycott of Darlene was absurd and hurtful, and announced she would no longer observe it.   Mary told Darlene that she would be there to help her in any way she needed.  I liked Mary—she was smart and no nonsense, and Darlene was clearly relieved to have her aunt back.  Mary seemed to like me as well, but I don’t think she ever understood why I was bothering to help Darlene.  I would sometimes catch Mary gazing at me as if she were trying to suss out my agenda.  My only agenda was that I had come to care a great deal about her niece.

Mark and Angie, however, were far less excited about Mary’s presence.  They must have perceived her as a threat to the level of control they felt they had over Darlene.  One evening, they sat her down and told her that Mary could not be involved in her life—not until the baby was born, and Darlene had moved out.  They claimed that Mary gave off “wicked energy”, and were worried about how her presence would affect their baby.  Mark also wanted to remind Darlene that she was an “immoral sinner whose only path to redemption was giving them her child.”  When Mary found out what they had said to her niece, she made Darlene an offer she couldn’t refuse: keep your baby, move in with me, and I will help you raise it.  Mary knew this would lead to her being ostracized from her own family, but to her credit decided she had had enough of intolerance and judgment.

A week later, I was moving Darlene’s stuff out of Mark and Angie’s house.  Mark decided he would follow me around and loom over my shoulder. I decided that I would move suddenly and bump into him—a little harder each time.  If Mark warned me something was valuable, I made very sure to collide with it. Heading for the door with the last of Darlene’s belongings, Mark called out to me and said, “I’d like you to give Darlene a message.  Tell her we are very disappointed, and hope that God will forgive her.”

He just stared at me, daring me to respond.  I trembled with rage, and glanced around the room looking for some valuable he warned me about I could kick over.  I also contemplated bringing my knee up into his groin. The man I am today would have said something along the lines of “I’d like to give you a message from Charles Darwin.  He is not the least bit disappointed to tell you that it’s really good for humanity that you are unable to pass on your hateful and bigoted genes to the next generation.”  But I was not yet who I am today, so I went with:

“Go fuck yourself.”

In Darlene’s new room, I unpacked her belongings as she directed me from a rocking chair.  When the unpacking was finished, she turned to me and said, “So…my due date is the 14th.”

“Yes, I know.  I’ll come by after work.”

She gave me a quizzical look.  “You’re not taking the day off?”

The whole day?  Why?  “Oh.  Well, I suppose I could.  Do you think you’ll need me?”

She looked at me like I just answered her in Urdu.  “You’re my Lamaze coach. I’m going to need you there the whole time.”

Um…what? “You mean in the delivery room?  When you give birth?”

She stared at me like I was someone who couldn’t tell you in which year the War of 1812 occurred.  “I told you I didn’t want to do this alone.”

Yes, but I didn’t know this is what you meant.  “Well,” I said with a desperate whine.  “Mary will be in there.”

“Yes, but she didn’t take the class with me.  You did.”

To this day, I don’t why that didn’t occur to me.  Whether it was because I was nineteen, or thick as a concrete wall, or just in denial, I was honestly surprised by this expectation.  One thing was now abundantly clear:  I was going to be in the delivery room to help Darlene deliver her baby.

And how did that go?  You will discover next time.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2012 7:00 pm

    I have been following your pregnant series, and loving it! You should definitely write about your “stories”.

  2. Dan Ports permalink
    May 19, 2012 11:30 pm

    Heh, this and the previous post gave me a few chuckles. You seem to have a knack for meeting some interesting characters and getting into some interesting situations.

    +1 to the idea of continuing with your stories — I think you are a great storyteller, thanks to your use of hyperbole, apt and unusual analogies, a moderate dose of introspection, and your ability to connect to the emotional aspects of the experiences related (especially the uncomfortable, ironic, and comical aspects!).

    • May 20, 2012 12:31 pm

      Thank you! That is by far the kindest review I have ever yet received.

      • Dan Ports permalink
        May 31, 2012 5:49 pm

        Well, it’s too bad I’m not one of the people in charge of reviewing your screenplays… 😉

  3. June 27, 2012 3:56 am

    I don’t know what it is about this one that sticks out to me. I’ve heard the pg-version of this story (Part 3, I believe?) first-hand, and it stuck with me. Your use of introspection is fantastic, and you build an almost surreal suspense with your prose that death grips the reader into feeling empathy for something that is forever in the past. Regardless, I enjoy the view into your religious perspective, and how you compare the present version of yourself to that of the past. Speaks to how our beliefs (or lack thereof) don’t necessarily change, but develop as we age. Again, beautiful work, and I look forward to more.

    • July 11, 2012 8:19 pm

      The PG version is actually a condensed version of all three parts. Thanks for your kind remarks! Glad you enjoyed it.

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