My stepson was eight years old when his father and I got married, about nine and a half when we told him I was pregnant, and ten when his little sister was born.
It was a rocky road – we got along well as long as I was a friend of his father and even when I became his father’s firm girlfriend, but when we got engaged he knew that getting married would mean that at some point he would be a sibling will be received.
Until then, he was an only child and absolutely satisfied with it.His parents shared 50% of custody, and before I showed up, they were both determinedly against having a second child, and no matter what house he was in, he was the only one and thought it was good as it was. In his eyes, I have transformed myself from a funny adult, whose company he enjoyed very much, to a terrible intruder who only turned up to ruin his life. Although he liked to have an extra pair of grandparents and a few uncles, he looked at me with suspicion and hostility, and every time this facade accidentally slipped away from him, and he allowed himself to get into his normal relaxed and I could see how he regretted it and retreated back to his cocoon.
His mother prepared him; his father prepared him.He remained stubbornly unprepared and increasingly grumpy.
We tried to make the sibling’s announcement as painless as possible – dinner at a pizzeria he loved, but we didn’t visit it often.That night, his beloved Red Sox clinched a Spot in the World Series, the first time since the baby curse was placed on the team. He shrugged and almost never talked about it again in my presence.
The pregnancy proceeded with some complications (Placenta previa, how funny!And, oh, bed rest, you sound so adorable for a lazy fur like me, but in truth it’s so horrible!), and at 36 weeks I was cumbersome and bullet-rife and his tenth birthday was just around the corner. My husband and I stroked my belly and whispered to the fetus we had called Halloweenie (my appointment was at the end of October): “Stay in it! Stay in it! Don’t give him his special day!”
The party came and went.The next day I met my patent daughter (she converted as an adult and only a few years younger than me, but she still affectionately calls me Godmama) and her mother for breakfast at a diner in Shattuck, Berkeley. My patent daughter later told me that her mother said to her on the way home: “She’s about to have her baby!” “Oh, Ma,” my goddaughter said, “it’s not going to happen until four weeks from now.” To which her mother replied, “It won’t take four more days.”
That night I woke up at 00:45 and the amniotic fluid ran out of a fire hose.(Really. I was so round that people thought I was going to have twins, but it turned out to be a huge inland sea with just a small cork.) Twenty-nine hours of frustrating and unproductive labor later, they finally cut me open and pulled them out.
After they patched me up again, I was rolled into the wake-up room where my husband and parents were already weeping in front of them about the miracle in the form of our daughter, and insisted that my husband ask his ex to pick up their son today.He hadn’t planned that – his son would come to stay with us on Thursday anyway – but I insisted that the boy should be here today, that there should be no kind of family unit without which he is there from the beginning.
So my husband called his ex, who told him I was absolutely right, and jumped straight into the car to pick up her son from school.When she stepped into the door of the classroom and he saw her, he knew exactly what happened, put his head on his table and cried.
She told him he was free from class for the rest of the day and he kept crying.She bribed him with sweets and he nibbled at it as he wept. My husband then met them at our home (there was a toy he had forgotten and missed in the time he was with his mother, so they were just over at home before heading to the hospital) and got him a milkshake. No more crying, but he drank his milkshake bitterly and didn’t say a word on the rest of the way to the hospital.
Everyone came into the room.He ran stiff and annoyed to the cradle. Looked at her three-hour-old self. She stared at him. He bent over the cradle, down to her, nose to nose and forehead to forehead. They stared intensely for almost a whole minute. Eventually, he got up and asked, “Is it okay if I keep them?”
He held it for another 20 minutes.When he found out that the cradle has roles, he insisted on taking her on a walk around the maternity ward and explaining everything to her. When we finally got home a few days later, he carried her up the stairs. He buttoned up his shirt so that she could lie directly on him with skin contact because, he explained, babies like the heartbeat very much. He showed her all his stuff and shared it with her, and drove his friends crazy at school because they wanted to talk about baseball and Halloween costumes and the latest Lego Batman game, but all he wanted to talk about was his little sister.
From the moment they were nose to nose, their affection for each other has never wavered: she is his favorite person in the world and he is hers.And my position in the household has soared because his real mother and father gave him birth, but it was I who gave him his pumpernickel.
edited to add two images
at that time: