I didn’t want kids.
No, let me rephrase that. I did want kids. At one point.
I loved babies and children as much as they seemed to love me. All of my summer jobs before I “became an adult” were with kids. Couldn’t get enough of babies and I most definitely wanted one. Eventually. At age 20, my twin sister Jade announced she was having her first baby. What?? (Pretty much everyones reaction). Me, I was excited. BABIES!!! I was going to be the best auntie ever. When we found out together that it was a girl, I was even more excited. Yup, pink everything!!
One of the most traumatic experiences of my life? Labour day.
I was a horrible sister; my support plan went right out of the window when I saw Jade writhing in pain on the hospital bed crying and overheard the stone-faced nurses snippy responses to her pleading. I was in the labour room with her for all of five minutes before I gave her arm a reassuring, somewhat awkward, squeeze and exited the room fighting back tears. I would soon learn more harrowing, uncensored details from her delivery. As she recounted her experience and I stared at the beautiful, innocent face of my new niece Aava, I confirmed- Nope. No kids for me. Thanks, but no thanks.
I voiced this to my boyfriend John, who obviously, wasn’t having it. “We could always adopt, or a surrogate”, I would argue, but he was not convinced. We never really discussed children until this point; both of us were consumed by school, our current careers, (both working two jobs) and just enjoying each others company. Fast forward a year later, Jade drops the bomb. She’s moving to England. Like, tomorrow. And Aava isn’t going. Well, at least not right away. Once Jade left, Aava spent a month on and off with her dad, before it was agreed I become more of a dominant role. Aava was to live with me. I was going to be a mum…
…Well, sort of.
Aava did call me “mummy” for the first few months before the introduction of “Aunty Ash” which has now become a household name. I’m not going to lie, being a “mother” was not easy. Being a mother to a newborn, I can only imagine, but a feisty, little toddler with a personality reminiscent to that of a “Toddler & Tiaras” cast member, was a constant uphill trudge. But, I loved every minute of it, and secretly adored that strangers thought I was her mother, and strangely enough, John, her father. It was like we had our own little family and I didn’t have to lose my figure, gain stretch marks, or suffer any perineal tears to get it.
Shortly after Aava turned two, I started having extreme abdominal pains. Pardon my dramatics, but I thought, “This is it. This is how I die.” No, but seriously, the pain was indescribable. “Maybe you’re pregnant”, John would joke around. Pfft. Yeah right. Unless my birth control went on strike with the rest of the country this month, I am definitely not pregnant. Eventually, the pains became so unbearable, I decided to visit my doctor. When he returned to his office with a grin and said “Congratulations”, my response was “What?” “You’re pregnant,” he continued. I was silent, cursing John in my head for even putting the thought out into the universe. Fuck. I’m pregnant. I don’t know what my face looked like, but my expression prompted the doctor to ask me, “You’re not happy?” to which I replied, “I’m not ready.” In theory, John and I were ready. We both had steady, secure jobs. We had no mortgages or excessive financial responsibilities.Our relationship was at a great point after a brief breakup and Aava had been both a blessing and a lesson to prepare us for what life with a child would resemble. But, I WASN’T READY. I was in the best shape of my life physically after becoming dedicated to fitness and healthy eating, I looked forward to the next 5K run John and I would pursue together, I was responsible for ensuring Aava got to and from school which sometimes entailed me taking her myself, I was just about to start a new job further from home; all in all, my life was too fast-paced as it was. The thought of tackling all my daily activities with a burgeoning bump in my way was not exactly a pretty picture. I WASN’T READY. I called John when I left the doctor and told him the news. He, too, was silent. “No way”, was his eventual response. I’m sure now, as I was in that moment, that there was only one thing on his mind- telling his parents. We decided to tell his sister first, since she was a family doctor so we knew she would give good advice.
“Do you see yourself with her in the long-term future?” she asked. “Yes.” was Johns reply. “Well, then, keep it.”
So, John took the easy way out and told his parents over the phone. Yep, like the cowardly douchebag on the other line telling his girlfriend of 20+ years that he no longer wanted to be with her.
Ok, maybe not that bad.
And, I can’t say I blame him either. His parents, are old-fashioned and he’s practically still a baby in his mothers eyes so I can imagine it wouldn’t have been the most comfortable of conversations. They didn’t congratulate us, at least not at first. Me, I had to break the news to Jade. Easy peasy! She’d already been here so this was going to be a breeze. I nonchalantly gave her the news over webcam, in-between bites of a ham and cheese bagel. Her expression was priceless. “How are you so calm???” was her response. An appropriate question, given that carrying and giving birth to my own children wasn’t exactly on my “Top Ten Life Goals”. But what could I be, but calm? I thought John was going to freak right out, but his composed disposition was a refreshing surprise and I knew that we were going to be alright.
I was pregnant and we were going to be alright.