In the family way
On the phone a few days ago, I told my mother that I'd be going to New York next week, and why. I was touched by how excited she seemed how hopeful and pleased that we were giving it another shot.
Today a package arrived from her. Inside were three thick and trashy novels, some baby-pink nail polish, and a box of Girl Scout cookies. Thin Mints. On the outside, she'd taped a card that says, "GL and BW from M & D."
A little more than a year ago, we were facing IVF #2 and I was worried about how to tell my grandmother that I wouldn't be at our annual family gathering.
I finally came clean, explaining that we were trying to have a baby and needed medical assistance, assistance that needed to occur during the one week of the year set aside for our week in the woods. She responded with a letter full of breezy news, typed on her IBM Selectric and peppered with her usual typos. The last lines read,
Of course, we will miss you mightly, but are most prayerfully hopeful that all will go well. Give our love to Paul and we will send you a post card!
I came across this letter today as I was moving boxes back into my office. What made me teary wasn't those kind sentences, though it was the line she'd typed across the very top of the page:
ALL MISTAK_ES ARE THE FAULT OF THE MACHINERY. NOT THE OPERATOR. SO THERE
Paul's sister visited last weekend with her teenage kids in tow. None of them are aware of our difficulties. Some relevant reproductive highlights, all coincidental:
- The girl, 18, is sure she never wants kids. I couldn't help but remember myself at 18, convinced that I didn't want them for myself, but believing I'd be willing to be a surrogate, sure I'd be good at pregnancy.
- The boy and girl spent quite some time describing the plot of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie in which a fertilized egg is injected into one of our hapless hero's muscle cavities (whatever a muscle cavity might be), resulting in a successful pregnancy. I didn't even know what to say.
- The boy, 15, asked at the dinner table whether he and his siblings would inherit our estate if we didn't have children. We assured him we had every intention of leaving it to the cats, who will live like lardy feline potentates upon our sad demise. Then he wondered who would inherit the estate of Paul's other sister, who is childless. "Don't have kids," he directed us. "Because then we'd have to split Aunt C.'s money into more shares."