Where I Am Now: Part 6

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

“Hey Bean. “

“Hmmm?”

“Guess what?”

The Bean sighed, heavily, already anticipating the punchline. “What?”

“We’re married.”

“Yes. I know,” he said in a slightly annoyed tone, attention already wandering.

I really couldn’t blame him – it was probably the twentieth time I’d said it that afternoon. I still found it hard to believe I was married.

Married.

Me.

The Bean was my husband. I was Becky Bean. Mrs. Becky Bean. I liked my new last name. Everyone agreed – it suited me.

Still, it took some getting used to.

For a shotgun-style wedding we certainly had a lot of people show up. Well, let me rephrase that— I had a lot of people show up.

The Bean told his family that we were having a private civil service ceremony.

His family said they understood and mailed off a few sweetly-written “Congratulations!” cards with a couple of checks and gift cards to start us on our new journey together.

Then it was my turn. I told my family that I was having a private civil service ceremony.

After discouraging several people from showing up I ended up only having to cram 19 of my closest family and friends into the miniscule curtained-off area in the Orange County courthouse.

So much for eloping.

I set my foot down and refused to plan anything overly elaborate. We bought a case of hot dogs and several bags of buns from Costco. We threw in a couple of flats of “Kirkland” brand soda, some makings for s’mores, and called it a day.

My mother was a little horrified at how bare bones everything, but she could see that I wasn’t going to budge.

We compromised on the dress. It may have been cream colored, but it also had black, and we bought it on sale at Dress Barn.

When The Bean asked me what he should wear, I told him that I liked the way he looked in a fancy, mock-turtleneck and slacks I’d once seen him wearing.

The day of the wedding dawned. I felt surprisingly mellow, considering I’d left so many details for the last minute.

My mom did a beautiful job with my hair, and I showed up at Macy’s at the local mall and had one of the makeup girls do my makeup in exchange for me purchasing some eye shadow and lip gloss.

By the time I finished getting ready and arrived back home to throw on my dress and drive to the courthouse, I knew I was going to be late.

The day was unseasonably warm, and I sat sweating in the backseat, barking out orders to help my out-of-town friends navigate their way to the courthouse. If you’re not used to dancing through the lightening-fast lane changes and complex freeway interchanges that make up the average Friday afternoon drive on a southern California freeway, it can be a little daunting.

We pulled up to the front of the courthouse, and I saw the Bean waiting for me, surrounded by over a dozen of my friends and family that he didn’t even know.

He looked distinctly uncomfortable, eyeballing the laughing strangers like a horse about to spook. Of course, I may have been reading into a little too much. He might have just looked uncomfortable because I had ordered him into a wool turtleneck on an 80 degree day and then left him standing in the hot sun waiting for me.

I stepped out of the car to the “oohs” and “aahs” of family and friends, all of them politely ignoring the solid bump that lifted the front of my dress. I may have only been 4 months along, but I had popped out early.

I waited for the Bean to compliment me, and then noticed he was looking almost green.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Let’s just get inside.”

I reached over to hug him and someone shouted, “Give her a kiss! Give her a kiss!”

Robotically, the Bean leaned forward and gave me a chaste, impersonal kiss on the lips.

I could see a slight sheen of sweat on his forehead. The sun? Nerves? I wanted to ask him, but with everyone milling around us I knew I wouldn’t get anything more than a mumbled answer. For a smooth-talker the Bean is surprisingly introverted, and from what I could sense he was completely out of his comfort zone, to the point he had almost shut down.

“Let’s get inside.” I grabbed his sweaty hand with my own damp palm and the two of us headed up to the second floor.

The hallway was surprisingly crowded for an early afternoon. Glancing around at the other brides, I had to laugh.

One of the brides wore an exquisite, pearl-encrusted, full-length white wedding gown. The thing looked like it cost a thousand dollars.

She was also at that stage of pregnancy where it looked like if you bumped her too hard her water might break. Suddenly, my worries about my “baby bump” disappeared and I was able to relax a little.

Still, as nervous as I was about the whole day, I don’t really have a clear, fluid memory of the events – instead, I was left with bright, disjointed flashes of memory.

I remember finding a sign that said passports/visas to the left, marriage certificates to the right, and pointing it out to The Bean.

I remember catching him staring at it so intently that I actually began to worry which direction he was going to head..

I remember the look on my Grandma’s face, and her warm hug.

I remember my mom taking pictures – Lordy how she took pictures – pictures in front of the courthouse, pictures walking to the elevator, pictures in the elevator…

I remember looking over as she took pictures of somebody’s shoes. “Mom, what on earth?”

“I ran out of stuff to take pictures of,” she said defensively. “So I’m taking pictures of shoes.”

I remember heading over to a side room to sign our marriage license. It was an insanely busy room, with brides, grooms, family members, witnesses and everyone bumbling about in a melee.

I don’t really remember signing the paper… and I guess that’s for good reason.

The license at the courthouse has The Bean’s signature.

The license has the signature of our two witnesses.

It has the county clerk’s signature.

You know what it doesn’t have?

My signature.

Apparently I got so distracted by the hubbub that I forgot to actually sign the piece of paper. I didn’t notice this until I went back to get a copy of it.

Typical me.

Anyways, I remember the officiant calling our name, and our laughter as we tried to fit everyone in the narrow, curtained off area. I don’t think everyone actually made it through the door.

I remember my mom moving around the room, snapping dozens of pictures a minute.

I remember the officiant had a nice speaking voice, and that I agreed with what she had to say about marriage.

I don’t remember what she actually said, though.

I remember laughing as the Bean struggled tried to slip my ring on my finger, and finally pulling my hand out of his grasp and popping it over my knuckle for him.

I remember sliding the ring over his finger and repeating my vows.

To love. To cherish. To honor.

I remember heaving a big sigh and quietly mumbling “and obey” in a sulky, sullen tone after the officiant left that part out. I remember I sounded as grumpy as I felt about adding that line on – but after the years I’d spent mulling over whether or not I wanted it in my wedding ceremony, I decided last minute that it needed to be there.

It’s okay, though. I don’t think The Bean heard me, so I think I’m safe.

I remember sliding the ring over The Bean’s finger…. And looking up to see my mom leaning over his shoulder as she took a picture. She was up on her tiptoes, elbow resting on his shoulder, cheek inches from his cheek as she tried to get a better angle for a picture.

“Why didn’t you tell him to clean his ears?” she would complain later. “You can see his earwax in every shot.”

I remember everyone cheering as we kissed, but I don’t actually remember the kiss.

The drive to the beach and the bonfire was also a blur. Everyone was relaxed and laughing. I remember looking at The Bean from across the fire, watching the firelight play along his jawline, studying the intelligence in his eyes. My husband. I felt both proud and a little unnerved.

We opted to have a photographer friend take photos in lieu of a cheap, weekend honeymoon. We were broke, so it was one or the other.









I’m still happy with the choice we made.

Two days after we were married, I was still trying to find a way to make it all sink in. Married. Me.

Wow.

I bumped The Bean playfully with my elbow. Again.

“Hey Bean, guess what?”

Where I am Now: Two Years Ago

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

“For the last time, I’m not wearing white.” I crossed my arms sullenly, and could actually feel my chin starting to jut out with anger. “I’m four months pregnant and getting married in a courthouse. I don’t think we’re fooling anyone.”

My mother lowered the white linen dress, returning my stubborn look with one of her own. “It’s your wedding, Becky. What do you want to wear, then? A pair of Levis and a tank top?”

I actually had to bite my tongue to keep from responding honestly. Well, actually, yes.

“I just… I don’t know. I don’t want to wear all white. It’s important to me. ” I pulled my baggy shirt tight against my swollen stomach, making it appear absurdly large for my barely 4 month pregnancy . “I think we’ve missed the boat on white.”

My mom slowly returned the dress to the hanger, then brightened immediately. “Cream? What about cream?”

*****

We’d broken the news to my parents on Easter Sunday. After all, who can get upset on Easter, after a beautiful church service, right? My parents had invited The Bean and I on an afternoon cruise around the San Pedro harbor, and we figured the timing would be about right. The Bean was a nervous wreck; even more so than I was. Crouching at the top of the boat, he hid behind the mast and sucked down forbidden cigarettes one after another like they were the oxygen he needed to survive. He smiled guiltily at me when I caught him for the second time. “I’m quitting, I’m quitting. I just need to settle my nerves. This is the last one.” Extending my hand, I dragged him down behind me to the cockpit to face my parents. I cleared my throat nervously.

“Um, so… you guys got any plans for Friday the 11th? About 3 weeks from now?”

My mom’s eyes narrowed, picking up on my nervousness immediately. “Why?”

I glanced over at the Bean, who was doing an impressive impersonation of a mute.

“Well, uh, we were wondering if you guys might want to come to the wedding.” I glanced at the Bean again, hoping he would chime in. He gave me a quick hand squeeze and a tight smile, so I figured it was up to me to forge on.. “You know. Uh, our wedding.”

My parents froze, glancing at us, our tightly gripped hands, our obvious nervousness. They waited half a beat for us to finish with the punchline, not understanding that we’d just delivered it.

“Wait. What? Are you serious?” My stepdad looked confused; my mother looked aggressively curious.

“Uh, yeah. Actually. We’re serious. We’re getting married on the 11th at the courthouse. We, uh, wanted to know if you wanted to come.”

My parents stared at us in disbelief, silently, still waiting for the punchline.

I took another deep breath, and figured I might as well give it to them.

“Oh. And, uh, we’re also pregnant.”

I watched the understanding dawn on in their faces, as if I had been speaking in a foreign language and had finally brought out a translator. “Baby? A baby?” My mom’s face lit up like a light bulb as she leaped over to hug me and my stepdad gave a short bark of a laugh. As far as reactions went, it couldn’t have gone any better.

How did the reaction go with my potential new-inlaws? I have no idea. After the way The Bean chickened out in assisting with my parents, I dumped the responsibility of informing his parents squarely on his lap.

Besides, I felt like I had already survived more than enough embarrassment/awkwardness where they were concerned.

Oh, what’s that?

You think YOU have embarrassing meet-the-parents stories?

No.

No you don’t.

You can NOT top my story.

I double-dog dare you to come up with something that can surpass the awkward feeling felt by all as we:

A: Sat in the living room
B: Avoiding each other’s eyes
C: While trying to make banal nice-to-meet-you conversation
D: In desperately loud voices
E: In an attempt to cover up the extremely loud, rhythmic squeaking of the sweet little next-door lesbian couple who decided to (of course) that very moment (naturally) have some REALLY LOUD, athletic, strangely long-lasting sex.

I’m waiting… Anyone? Anyone?

Does anyone out there have a meet-the-parents story that’s worse than that?

Is that a hand I see in the back of the room? No? You were just scratching your nose? Oh, sorry.

Anyone?

Wow, that’s a surprise. Nobody raised their hands. What a shocker.

Yeah, so the next time you think you’ve been in an awkward situation, I want you to think of me. Remember me huddled awkwardly on my slightly stained sofa, pulling my long sleeves over the Sea Bands that were helping to hide my pregnancy-induced nausea, answering questions about my job and my schooling in a desperate near-shout, and doing my best not to tap my foot along with that old-fashioned Murphy Bed rhythm.

I can’t remember who it was that suggested we head out to dinner, but you should have seen us all leap to our feet in unanimous agreement. You would have thought we’d all been goosed. I’m pretty sure none of us was actually hungry, but we almost had a traffic jam as we fled down the apartment stairs, bumping shoulders as we spilled through the narrow doorway into the thankfully-silent courtyard.

We made it to the restaurant in record time, and just about the time my nerves were starting to settle, I moved my hands wrong and my about-to-be-Father-in-Law (not that he knew that) saw the Sea Bands.

“What’s on your wrist?”

I froze. It took everything I had not to pull my sleeves down in an obviously guilty gesture. “What these? These are Sea Bands.” In an attempt to seem nonchalant, I pulled my sleeve up, flashing them at him before quickly rolling the sleeves down. My almost-father-in-law looked at me, his husky-blue eyes intent.

Aren’t those for nausea? Aren’t they the things you wear while on a boat?”

I gave him a watery, wavery smile. “Uh, yeah. Yeah they are.” My brain raced for an explanation. Maybe he’d just ignore my vague answers?

Ha. Ha ha ha. I crack myself up sometimes.

“Why are you wearing them? Are you sick?” He stared at me, eyes studying my expression. I felt like I was being interrogated by the CIA.

“Well, uh, I do have problems with nausea from time to time.” Actually, it’s all the time. “It’s just a side effect.” Of being pregnant with your grandson. Surprise! “It’s not that bad, though. Just a little side effect…” I trailed off, hoping he would get the hint.

“Side effect of what?”

“Of, uh, a condition.”

“A condition? Like, a sickness?”

I could feel myself starting to sweat a little. In desperation, I ventured off the path of half-truths and into the scary territory of outright lies.

“A side effect of some medication.” I fixed my eyes on him, hoping he’d get the hint.

“Medication? What kind of medication?”

Obviously, this man did not take hints well. And with that we began a verbal dance.

“It’s just some new stuff that the doctor put me on.”

“What’s the name?

“I can’t really remember… it’s some new stuff.”

“Do you remember the classification?”

“I’m not even sure it’s going to work out for me. I don’t’ really like the nausea side effect, so I am probably going to ask him to find something else.”

“ What does it treat?”

Just as I was frantically searching my mental database for another vague non-answer, my dear, sweet, heroic potential mother-in-law happened to glance over. She took in my wide eyes, and the intent, bulldog expression of her husband, and she pounced. “DAVID! Leave her alone. What are you asking her? Nevermind. Leave her alone.” She gave me a small smile. “Just ignore him. He always asks too many questions. Was he interfering? Sorry, it’s none of his business.”

I gave her a shaky smile. “Oh, it didn’t bother me. No worries. Do you want some bread? Do you like living in Arizona?” And with that, we were back on neutral territory.

Can you blame me for having The Bean take point on breaking the news to his parents? He says it went smoothly, and since I don’t really want to know if it didn’t, I left well enough alone.

Besides, I was in the process of dealing with my family, where we currently experiencing a complete and utter breakdown in communication.

Here is what both the Bean and I distinctly remember saying that Easter Sunday: “We love each other. We’re getting married. Would you like to come? Oh, and on a completely separate note, we are pregnant.”

Unfortunately, what my side of the family heard was: “I’m pregnant. I’m frightened, and I have no idea what I should do! Please give me advice! Otherwise, I guess my only recourse is to marry this complete stranger…. Gee, I hope this isn’t a bad decision. Oh, well! Here I go!”

It took forever to calm that furor down, and by the time I had finished solving that issue, we had another problem to face:

Unfortunately, no matter how much she protested that she loved the idea of a courthouse ceremony, my Mexican mother wanted a wedding. Somewhere along the way our simple civil service with two witnesses had morphed into 20 friends and family, some who were traveling down the night before, and all who would require feeding and some sort of entertainment afterward. I didn’t really feel like planning a party, but even I had to agree that I was under some obligation to feed them.

So I threw the only kind of party I know how to throw: I went to Costco and loaded up on Hebrew National All-Beef hotdogs, Kirkland brand generic cola and purple/orange soda, hot dog buns and a couple of bags of chips. I stopped by the store and picked up a couple of stacks of firewood. Voila. Party planning complete. It may not have won any classiness awards, but I knew that people wouldn’t leave hungry.

That left us with: The Dress.

******

My mom slowly returned the dress to the hanger, then brightened immediately. “Cream? What about cream?”

I lowered my eyebrows, feeling my face return to the sullen lines of my high school years. “No cream or white unless it’s got some other colors on it,” I snapped. “I just want… A dress. Not a wedding dress, but just a dress. It’s a civil service, and we’re roasting Costco hot dogs at the beach afterwards. I’m not even buying name brand soda. We’re looking for a regular dress. You know. Something to feel pretty in. Something I’ll wear again. Something that’s not going to make me look like a stuffed sausage in 60 yards of lace and sequins in a color that makes no sense.”

In a tacit agreement to keep from wringing each other’s necks, my mother and I decided to look on opposite ends of the store.

Where I am Now: Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

“Your boobs look great!” My mom smiled widely, motioned at my newly-developed cleavage and gave me a big thumbs up. I heaved a huge, inward sigh, gave a small, plastic smile back, and then went over to toss my backpack into the back of the boat. After nervously trying on several different shirts and posing awkwardly in front of the mirror for the better part of the hour (does my belly pooch out in this one? Does that one’s color make me look as lifelessly nauseous as I feel?), my mom had noticed the difference in my body immediately.

It wasn’t a good omen. I was about to be trapped for five hours on a 32 foot sailboat with my mother. Somehow, I had to make it through without throwing up, or without her noticing that I was showing signs of having a wombmate. The Bean and I were still trying to figure out how we were going to break the news to her. We weren’t sure about the details, but we were certain we didn’t want to do it quite yet. This was tougher than it sounds, as there have been times in my life when my mom displayed an almost psychic ability when it came to figuring out things I was trying to hide.

I had downed ginger pills, ginger cookies, ginger gum, and wore long sleeves to cover my sea bands . In my backpack I had hidden two thermoses of ice (to chew on as well as to plunge my hands into–cold hands sometimes staved off the puking), some Ritz crackers, a couple of 7-ups, and an extra box of sea bands just in case.

I thought I was ready. Now I wasn’t quite sure.

“Come on in! We’re just getting ready to shove off and head out!” My mom was bubbly and excited, bouncing around the tiny cockpit with a plateful of hors d’œuvres as she showed the sailboat off to her friends . My mom is Mexican, and she shows love by feeding people. We weren’t even out of the harbor yet and she was already trying to get the food party started with a decorative plate of nibblies.

Thinly sliced boiled rotten eggs. Slimy ham. Stinky-foot cheese. Half-rotted pickles. I didn’t have to even look at the plate to know what was on it. My nose let me know long before it even got to me.

My stomach stirred uneasily, sliding around inside me like a cold lizard. “Gum!” I said in my fakest, most cheerful voice when the poisonous plate was passed by me. I pointed at my mouth, and did my best to give a wide smile as I held my breath and passed the plate along in record speed.

My mom frowned at me slightly. “Becky, you have to try the eggs! They’re delicious!”

“I’ve got gum!” I repeated in a slightly louder voice.

“But this is Helen’s recipe! From church! You’re going to DIE when you try these eggs!”

I glanced apprehensively at the plate, at the unappetizing display of cold, white, jiggly chicken semi-fetuses. I swallowed hard.

“But it’s REALLY good gum! I just put it in!” I sounded slightly panicky. You would have thought that chewing this gum was the cure for cancer.

My mom frowned in disappointment for a moment, then brightened. “I’ll save you some! You can try it later!” I smiled weakly back at her, then turned my face into the cool, salty breeze, breathing away the fumes.

I’m going to spare you the exact details of the next five hours. Do you know why? It’s not because I’m running out of adjectives, and it’s not even because I’m sympathetic to those of you out there with weak stomachs.

It’s because as I sit here typing about that nightmare day, even though I’m warm and safe in my own living room, and I’m getting nauseous just remembering it. Apparently that day was so awful that I’m having flashbacks.

 It’s been almost two years, but just typing about it makes my mouth fill with that familiar thin, metallic-tasting spit. On a side note, on more than one occasion I would threw up so hard I bruised the area around my eyes. Check it out:

There were also several times that I broke the blood vessels in my eyes from puking, and walked around with the whites of my eyes stained completely red. I never could bring myself to take a photo of that ugliness, so I don’t have any proof.

At any rate, back to the story.

Suffice it to say that I didn’t throw up. This is really a miracle, because the entire time we were on the boat, in an attempt to show me love,  my mom paraded every single raunchy item of food that she could come up with. I’m sure that the food wasn’t actually raunchy – it’s just how I remember it.

I finally escaped to the bow of the boat, leaning dangerously over the side, knuckles white as I clung to the rigging. It became a sort of a game, trying to beat back the nausea. I breathed deep, measured breaths, trying to chase the sickness away. Each breath became a mantra. I. Will. Not. Vomit. I. Will. Not. Vomit. I. Will. Ooops! Swallow it, Becky. Swallow it! NOW! SWALLOW IT!Ahhhh. Success. Swallowed it down… Continue breathing… Iiiiin. Ouuuut. Iiiiin. Oouuut. Iiiii. Wiiill. Nooooot. Voooomit.

I tried to make it a battle of will against my body. Technically, I knew that there was no reason to throw up. My nausea was caused by an influx of hormones caused by the budding pregnancy. It was an adaptational response to centuries of natural selection, causing me to avoid unhealthy foods that might accidentally trigger a miscarriage. It was just a matter of making my primitive body understand what my advanced brain was able to comprehend, right?

Iiiiin. Ooouuut. Doooon’t. Voooomit.

I tried every mind game I could come up with. Throwing up is a sign of weakness….. Mind over matter, Becky….. Pain is just temporary… Hmm. That’s not working. Okay, uh….My mom is an evil terrorist, and if she sees me vomiting, she’ll blow up a building. Not throwing up saves lives! Don’t let the terrorists win!”

Somehow, I made it back to the docks without tossing my cookies. I’ve never been so grateful to step onto dry land in my life. Tottering back to my car, I followed my mom to the Mexican restaurant we were supposed to have dinner at. I had specifically chosen Mexican food, as I was currently able to eat 5 things without throwing them up later: refried beans, cheese, corn tortillas, cottage cheese, and Funyuns. Since there weren’t a lot of places that offered Funyun-flavored cottage cheese, Mexican food it was.

Or rather… Mexican food it wasn’t. Following my mom, we drove right past the La Capilla and their nourishing beans and tortillas. Grabbing my cell phone, I dialed my mom. “Didn’t we just pass the place?”

“I have a surprise for you!” She said excitedly. “You were such a help taking out the boat that I want to do something special for you!”

“Oh.” That sounded…. ominous. “Well. Uh, thank you?”

“Here it is! Turn here!”

I hung up the phone, and pulled into the driveway of…. an abandoned dock?

No, wait. What was that smell? An old fish market?

My stepdad grinned widely, holding open the door for my mom and I. My mom followed right behind me, almost bouncing up and down in her excitement.

I stopped dead, and stared around me.

Fish. Hundreds and hundreds of dead fish, all looking up at me from their icy graves.

Slimy. Dead. Eyeballs-are-staring-at-me-gonna-puke Fish. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not normally squeamish, and I actually love the taste of fish, which is why my mom had chosen this treat……but after 5 hours of fighting the nausea, this was a far cry from the innocent plate of refried beans I’d been daydreaming about.

“Isn’t it GREAT?” My mom was so excited. She dashed around like a kid in a candy store, pointing at one dead fish after another. “You pick out the fish you want, and then you hand it to the guy behind the counter and he deep fries it for you! They leave the heads on and everything!”

Oh, boy.

“Hey, Becky. Look!” I turned around to find myself nose-to-nose with a dead fish that my step dad was holding up to me. Using his thumb, he made its jaw flap as it “talked” to me.

“Hello, Becky! Don’t I look yummy? Yum, yum, yum! Pick me to eat! I’m yummy!”

The fish and I stared at each other in round-eyed horror.

Desperate to get out of there, I nodded and did my best to play along. “Yes! I pick you! Jump on my plate and let’s go fry you up!” I held out my tray, cringing, then passed Mr soon-to-be-eaten-dead-fish to the man behind the counter.

True to my mom’s word, about 2 or 3 minutes later they handed me back my fish, eyeballs and all, along with a plate of greasy vegetables and (thankfully!) a couple of limp tortillas. The three of us found an empty picnic table and my parents started chowing down.

I stared at my fish.

He stared back at me.

I stared at my fish.

He stared back at me, accusingly. Eat me. Don’t make me die in vain.

I swallowed hard, and poked at him with a fork. I noticed my mom was staring at me, so I tore off some of the meat and placed it in my mouth. I’m sure it had a flavor but I don’t really remember what it was. I was too busy willing it to go down my throat, instead of up.

“Don’t you just love it? Isn’t it the best? Isn’t the meat so incredibly juicy?”

I gave a wan smile at my mother. “It’s like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.” I poked at it again, doing my best to ignore the way it stared at me. “I’m going to remember this meal forever.”

Where I Am Now: Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

The first thing to decide was who to tell.

Thankfully, The Bean and I both agreed: the less people that knew, the better. It’s hard enough to make tough decisions without the clamoring voices of your family spitting out a waterfall of loving advice.

Besides, if I knew that if I were to miscarry I would want to deal with my grief in private. There are many ways to describe a large, loving Mexican family. “Private” is definitely not one of them.

The Bean had mentioned to his parents that he had been seeing someone but hadn’t really gone into much detail. With the news of our pregnancy, we decided that it might be nice to give them a chance to meet me before they found out they were going to have a grandchild.

Besides, I wanted them to be able to give an honest opinion to the Bean in case they hated me. I figured that if they knew I was pregnant they would never be able to do that.

As for my side of the family… well, I hadn’t even told my mom that I was seeing anybody. While I had dragged the Bean with me to their house one evening for dinner, it had been done under the guise of friendship. I knew that she would never guess that we were dating because of one simple fact: The Bean is shorter than me.

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad.

Its only about 2 or so inches, but the height difference is still there. I’m tall for a woman (5’9 for my American readers, and 175 centimeters for all you weird people who don’t base your units of measurement on the smelly foot of a deceased British king). My mom, on the other hand, is 5’2″ (157 cm).  I don’t think it even crossed her mind I would date someone who wasn’t at least as tall as me.

Height has never interested me when choosing a guy. I’m more interested in the size of their big, sexy brains. Still, I knew that The Bean wouldn’t even cross my mother’s radar. He was short. Of course he was just a friend!

(Admit it. You guys are jealous of my mad photoshop skiiiillz!)

The next day, while The Bean arranged the whole “Hey, you should come down and meet my new girlfriend” visit, I went over to my mom’s house to start the process of breaking the news that I was pregnant. I mean, you can’t just go drop a bomb like that. You have to start slooowly.

After the din of the yelping ratdogs announcing my arrival quieted down, I grabbed a basket of laundry and started nervously folding. “So, how’ve you been?”

“Busy. Here, Becky, give me a corner of the sheet, I’ll help. Hey, are you busy at the end of the month? I need a hand taking people out on the boat and your stepdad is busy.”

“Huh? Sure. No problem,” I said absently. “So, guess what?” I said in my most enthusiastic and totally not-pregnant voice.

“What?”

“I don’t think I’ve told you,” (Ha-ha. We both knew I hadn’t told her), “but I’m kind of seeing someone.”

My mom dropped her corner of the sheet and honed in on me. “Seeing someone? What? Who? When? How long? Who is it?”

“Oh, remember The Bean? You met him, remember?”

I watched her reach back into the recesses of her memory. “No…. No I don’t think I have.”

“Yes you did, remember? I brought him by here for dinner one night? He’s the guy who sells cars and likes to sail?”

It took awhile. “Wait. The short guy?”

“He’s not that short,” I said defensively. “Yeah. Him. He’s really nice. I like him.” Enough to make babies with him. Speaking of babies, I literally have one in my uterus. Right now.  Your grandchild is about 2 feet in front of you.

She picked the sheet back up, folding it slowly. “So, you like him?” I could see her searching for the right words. “He’s, uh, nice?”

“Really nice. He’s got a great sense of humor, and he’s so comfortable to be with.”

“Oh. That’s nice.” She continued folding, disapproval radiating off of her in waves. Her youngest daughter broke up with the good-looking, well-off, 6’2″ Christian boyfriend to start hanging with a short car salesman she knew nothing about?

Still, I have to give her points for trying to filter her feelings.

“So, this, uh, Bean…. It’s going well? How long has it been?”

Long enough to get knocked up. “Oh, a bit. Couple of months.” That sounded respectable, right? “And it’s going great!” I tried for that enthusiastic tone again. I mean, if I was going to break the news in a couple of weeks I had to build a firm foundation, right?

“Really.” Fold, fold, fold. “So, do you really think it’s going to go somewhere? I mean, is this serious? Do you think you could see yourself with this guy for the rest of your life?” She fixed her eyes on me again, eyebrows raised.

“Well, yes, actually. I dunno, I just have this gut instinct that this might be a pretty long-term relationship.”

That wasn’t a lie, right? I mean, your gut and your uterus are pretty close together, right?

The rest of the afternoon went off without anything serious happening. I hugged her goodbye, bending down to kiss her cheek. I drove home and met up with The Bean to compare notes. So far, so good!

The next morning I woke up and did my best to feel pregnant. Aside from being constantly sleepy I had no outward signs of pregnancy. I called up my sister to gloat, pleased that I had somehow managed to escape the whole morning sickness thing. She asked me how far along I was. When I told her 5 weeks, she laughed at me and told me to quit jinxing myself.

That evening I went out and bought What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I curled up on the couch, reading it in fascination as the delicious scent of my neighbor’s cooking floated gently into my windows. Mmmmm! One of these days I was going to have to go downstairs and become friends with my neighbor. He always made what smelled like the most delicious meals! What was tonight’s? Teriyaki chicken? MMMMmMm!

The next morning I woke up and tried to feel pregnant again. Nope. I still felt like plain ol‘ me. I worked a long day shift at the bar, and came home in exhaustion. Curling up on my ancient, creaky Murphy bed, I wrinkled my nose. Tonight my neighbor seemed to be experimenting with his food. What was that smell? Curry? Onion? Oh well.

The next morning I woke up and felt vaguely queasy. Yaay! I really was pregnant! Cool! It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. I went through my day, vaguely aware of a low-lying state of nausea, but that was about it.

Until I came home that night and discovered that my downstairs neighbor had apparently cooked up sweaty feet for dinner.

disgusting smell Pictures, Images and Photos

Gagging, I bolted for the toilet, hugging it for about an hour. I never managed to throw up. I just hovered riiiiight on the edge. You know that feeling you get when you are about to throw up? The one that happens as you lift the toilet seat, lean over, and prepare to make a call on the porcelain telephone?

A cold chill runs up your spine, and every single hair on your arms and legs stands up as if you’re trying to frighten away a predator. Your mouth suddenly becomes very full of spit, and your forehead beads up with a hot, nervous sweat.

Yeah, that feeling.

For the record, from that morning on I felt like that. All day. All night. I even dreamed about vomit. For 8 weeks straight, I lived right on that edge of puking.

 The only respite I got was if I actually managed to throw up. If I threw up (and how I looked forward to actually throwing up!) then I would have about 15 minutes of feeling “alright”. I’m convinced that the pregnancy glow people talk about is really just a farce. It’s just that you’re so used to seeing the woman tinged green during the first trimester that when she regains a bit of normalcy she looks FANTASTIC!

I tried everything. I tried sea bands, ginger pills, crackers, ginger ale, 7-up, wrist-pressure techniques, ice cubes, nibbling, starving, drinking, standing on my head…. I TRIED EVERYTHING. If I constantly nibbled (NEVER STOPPING, AND NEVER ALLOWING MY STOMACH TO GET EVEN REMOTELY EMPTY), chewed ice, wore my sea bands, and sipped 7-Up then I could keep the puking down to about 2 times a day. (Nausea plagued me all the way through my pregnancy, but it was only that first trimester that was unlivable.)

I grew to hate my stupid, ugly, downstairs, constantly-cooking neighbor. I mean, I REALLY hated my neighbor. As far as I could tell, every night he boiled gym socks and horse pee for dinner. The Bean assures me that wasn’t the case, but I think he’s lying. I know what I smelled.

It was about 2 weeks into this hell that I realized I had promised my mother I would help her go sailing. I also knew that she would immediately know that I was pregnant if I threw up. I’ve never had a history of nausea out on the water, and you can’t beat the intuition of a mother, specifically my mother.

Armed with sea bands, crackers, and a whole bunch of nervous prayer, I drove my way down to the docks….

Where I am Now: Part 2

Part 1

Tell him?

Not tell him?

Wait until I hit the 12th week “probably no miscarriage” mark and then tell him?

Call him up right now, sobbing with the news?

Never talk to him again?

Frankly, I’m not sure how I managed to drive the car back to my apartment without getting in a huge wreck. My mind was racing, but in a slow, steady, muddled kind of a way. Every time it started to rev up and get going, that whole “YOU’RE PREGNANT” thing would get in the way and shock it into stopping.

Skip forward a couple of hours.

Skip forward past me breaking the news in desperation to my sister, and her telling me I’d be an idiot if I didn’t tell The Bean the truth, that very night.

Skip past his phone call telling me he was on his way over, his tired voice complaining about the flu I had passed on to him and how very long his day had been.

Buddy, you have no idea how long your day is about to become.

Fast forward to The Bean plopping himself down in a fever-ridden exhaustion on my couch, eyes closed and neck lolling.

“I feel awful. Unnnngggh….” He groaned theatrically, only half-joking, and blinked over at me wearily as I perched awkwardly on the couch beside him, back uncomfortably straight.

“Yeah? You’re still sick?” I picked at the corner of the pillow beside me, the knees of my jeans, my own fingernails.

“I think I have a fever.” He tipped his head back again, eyes closed. “Is that soup I smell?”

“Huh?” Pick, pick. “Oh. Yeah. Soup. Yeah, I made soup today.”

Silence.

I opened my mouth to speak, then closed it again.

Silence.

I picked at the cushion some more, watching him from beneath my eyelashes. C’mon, already. Ask me what’s wrong….

Silence.

Heavy breathing.

Wait a second… was he asleep? Seriously? I looked over at him, at his slightly gaping mouth and even breathing. Asleep? Couldn’t he see the anxiety radiating off of me in waves?

I opened my mouth and took the plunge.

“So, I got some news today,” I stated loudly, watching him jump slightly as he jolted back to consciousness. I waited for him to open his eyes and focus on me. It took a few seconds (I found out later that his fever really was well over 102), but I finally had his attention, or as much of his attention as he was able to give me.

“Hmm?” He made an effort to sit up slightly and appear vaguely interested.

“Uh, yeah. Pretty decent news. Um. Fairly big, I mean. News, that is. Um. I guess, well…” I trailed off, trying to come up with an angle to soften the blow. Ah-hah! Appeal to his financial side! “Uh, well, you know how you were just complaining about taxes?”

“Hmmmm.”

“Well, maybe, uh, I might have a way for you to save money next year.”

“Hmmm?”

“Uh, yeah. Like, maybe in October? A tax break? You know?” I sat there, staring at him, willing him to count the months, do the math, figure it out.

“Hmmm.”

His eyes began closing again. Frustrated, I tried to be a little more direct. “Yeah. You know. Like, a third party tax write-off. As in, ANOTHER PERSON. A tiny, loud tax write-off. In October.” I sat there and watched him try to figure it out…. and watched him fail.

Sigh. “I’m pregnant.”

That got his attention. “Wait. What? Pregnant?” He sat up, staring at me. I edged closer to the end of the couch, putting more space between us.

“Yeah. In October,” I said, gesturing, emphatically. “Plenty of time for the next tax season,” I joked lamely.

He stared at me in fever-ridden confusion, and then said something truly stupid. “But I didn’t even know you in October.”

“The baby will be BORN in October,” I said coldly. Visions of butcher knives being slammed into his eyeballs calmed me slightly, but not by much. “And what do you mean, you didn’t know me in October? Are you trying insinuate something?”

Standing, I began pacing the room, clutching my pillow to my chest as I waited for his answer. I could throw this pillow at him first, and then head for the kitchen… there’s plenty of things that could do some damage if I actually managed to make contact with that STUPID head of his… pots… pans…the refrigerator…

“No, no, no,” The Bean backpedaled, “I was, uh, just confused. I mean, uh. Wow. Pregnant.” He shook his head from side to side, looking puzzled.

Slightly mollified, I sat down lightly on the couch again. “Pregnant.” I’m pretty sure I said it in the same tone of voice as one might say “Head Lice” or “Overdue Parking ticket”.

I buried my face in my hands, looking up as I felt his hand on my shoulder. “Hey, Becky, it’s okay. This is a good thing.” He paused, searching my face. “It’s a good thing, right?”

“I guess,” I said sullenly, glaring at him. I didn’t even know you in October? STUPID MAN. “What are we going to do?”

He wrapped an arm around my shoulders, pulling me against him. “I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.”

I pulled away from him and angrily swiped at the fat tears rolling down my face. “Sure. I guess. Whatever.” Pregnancy hormones— they are truly frightening.

The Bean sighed, and grabbed my hand, holding it. “It’s a good thing,” he reminded me in the calm, easy tones you’d use on crazy people and rabid dogs.

His knee bumped against mine, the heat and weight of it somehow reassuring.

“We don’t have to figure this out right now, Becky. We’ll figure it out as we go.” He paused, took a deep breath, and blew it out shakily. “Pregnant.”

“Yeah. I know. Pregnant.”

His hand tightened, fingers interlacing with mine. We both leaned back, sitting side by side and silent on the beige couch. It was a good thing.

Where I Am Now: Part 1

It seems a little presumptuous to name a post “Part 1” before I’ve even finished the first sentence, but I’m pretty sure this is going to be a multi-part story.

Half Dozen Farm left a comment awhile back, asking me what the story was behind my sudden transition from a ” ‘carefree’, penniless college student to a wife/mother.”

For the sake of brevity (ha, ha. Me? Brief? Haha. I’m so funny), I guess I’ll just jump right in.

After being in a committed relationship for well over two years, I found myself suddenly single and a little confused about the direction my life seemed to be taking. I was working in crappy, dirty bar, my car had caught on fire and died, the tiny slum of an apartment I was paying exorbitant fees for was falling down around my ears, and I was sinking slowly into a fairly deep depression as I eked out a living in the middle of people-infested downtown Long Beach.

Enter The Bean.

It wasn’t love at first sight. Well, at least not for us.

The Bean was in lust love with the little red-headed bartender that worked behind the bar, and I was just the cocktail waitress who brought him his chicken strips and side of ranch. He’d noticed me, but dismissed me as “pretty, but kind of stuck-up and bi***y”. (For the record, I was not stuck-up, but just really uncomfortable in a bar atmosphere and rather busy, so I didn’t chat much.)

I, on the other hand, hadn’t noticed him at all.  At ALL. He’d been showing up on Friday evenings and sitting in the exact same spot at the bar the entire time I’d been working there. Coulda fooled me! The first time I heard about him was when the little red-headed bartender started hollering that someone had stolen the tip that The Bean had left her. Apparently, he came in every Friday and flirted with her, drank a beer or two and usually left a sizable tip.

 I was intrigued that there was a regular that I hadn’t noticed and made a mental note to keep an eye out for him next week. The next Friday, somewhere around 7 or 8 at night, Miss Yoga-Figure-Skating-Redhead (jealous? me?) nudged me and pointed him out. “That’s him. That’s The Bean.”

I glanced over at the Bean.

“Oh.”

Maybe if I had known that in six very short months I’d be standing in front of the majority of my friends and family, nervously sweating and swearing to him a series of lifelong vows of love, honor, fidelity, etc, etc I might have paid more attention.

Instead, I did a quick once-over, taking in his blue Kentucky hoody and friendly-looking brown eyes, then shrugged and dismissed him. “Huh. I don’t recognize him.” I was much too interested in the upcoming date I had with a helicopter flight instructor to pay much attention to the unassuming character at the bar.

 Besides, he didn’t seem that interested in me, either. Apparently The Bean was one of those strange guys that just have a thing for waist-length curly red hair, toned thighs, tiny waists, and taut little butts you could bounce a quarter off of.

The next week was Little Miss Yoga Figure-Skater’s last week at the job. When Friday hit, like clockwork, in strolled The Bean. He looked a little taken aback at the new bartender, but didn’t say much. Taking pity on him, I went over and explained the situation and the fact that his romantic interest had moved on. Poor guy, I thought. He never had a chance to really say goodbye to her. I took a break from my busy section and chatted with him a little, feeling kind of sorry for him.

That’s when IT happened.

No, no, there wasn’t any fireworks. “It” didn’t consist of chirping birds, or Cupid’s arrows, or Disney love songs…

“It” consisted of laughter. Good, honest, ouch-ouch-my-sides-hurt-I-can’t-breathe laughter.

The Bean had a great sense of humor, and a comfortable, relaxed way about him that drew me to him. We shared a lot of the same views on life and the conversation never ran out. He seemed to enjoy my company, and I knew that I enjoyed his.

“Ah-ha!,” Thought Stupid Becky, “I’ve found a best friend! This is awesome! Guy best friends are so much cooler than girl best friends! There’s no drama! And there’s no uncomfortable potential romance between to mess it all up, either!
Most Sunday nights found me over at his house, the two of us relaxing on his sofa and laughing at Family Guy. It was the kind of comfortable, casual friendship that you see depicted on television but never really exists in real life. It was wonderful.

May I just say that there is a bartender in Long Beach that makes the most delicious Lemon Drop Martinis?

 And may I just say that Family Guy is much funnier when you drink a lemon drop before watching it? After all, football Sundays was a miserable shift, and The Bean’s house was only a two minute walk from my bar.

May I also say that while one Lemon drop martini makes for a delicious alcoholic drink, when it’s served in a pint glass (no ice) it makes for poor decisions?

Yeah.

Now that I had successfully “ruined” my best-friend-ship with romance, I decided then and there I wasn’t going to “ruin” my life as well. For the record, I believe in waiting for marriage. I believed it even when my actions screamed the opposite, which only added to my frustration about the hole I had dug myself into. Making sexy-time with people you aren’t married to—let alone people you have no intention of seriously dating— forget about right and wrong, it just complicates life. And life isn’t complicated enough, wouldn’t you agree?

On the other hand, even if I didn’t think what I was doing was right, I wasn’t going to be stupid about it. I knew what the consequences of sex were.

Besides, I’m half Mexican, and my family is known for our magical fertility. I was not even remotely ready to have a child, so armed with a firm resolve, I got into my car and descended into Hell.

Oh, wait. No, never mind. I think the place was called:

Seriously though, could they make a place any more… embarrassing? Or depressing?  Did you know that when you leave they hand you a little brown paper baggie FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH CONDOMS? Seriously. A little wrinkled brown paper lunch bag… cram-packed with prophylactics. It looked so innocent. I half-expected to open it up and find a peanut butter sandwich and a Capri Sun.

Instead, after slinking through the parking lot to my car and throwing it on the seat beside me as I tried to get the heck outta there, my innocent-looking brown paper bag fell over and out spilled FORTY-THREE CONDOMS, a 3 month supply of birth control pills and two plan B boxes. It was like the grab bag from hell. I mean, really… forty-three condoms?!

Growing up sucks. Back in the innocent days of my childhood when I went to the doctors and had a bad experience they handed me a lollipop and a hand puppet. Now when I went I got handed the Slut-Grab-Bag-From-Hell.

Depressed about ruining my perfectly good friendship with unnecessary romance, as well as my obvious descent into 43-condoms-worth-of-slutdom, I started the pill.

Telling you about the joys of the pill is a whoooooooole ‘nother post. The pill sucks. It has the magical ability to turn rational, clear-thinking Beckys into a weepy, maudlin, uncontrollable complete mess of wildly-fluctuating emotions.

Again, that’s a story for another post.

Now, according to the packet, when taken appropriately, the pill becomes effective almost immediately.

I did not trust this.

Here I was entrusting my entire future to a tiny little white dot less than a 1/4 the size of my pinky nail? Nuh-uh. Noooo way.

I waited over a month before deciding to trust it. And as the pill has a side-effect of making your periods lighter, 4 weeks after I started it I found myself back in Hell my local Planned Parenthood, POSITIVE that I was pregnant.

 After all, I was making whoopee, and making whoopee had a tendency to make mucho babies in my family. Even if I was following the directions on the pill package like my life depended on it (and if my life didn’t, then my lifestyle certainly did), I found it hard to believe that such a tiny little object could combat such a primitive force of nature.

The workers behind the counter rolled their eyes at me, gave me a pregnancy test which was obviously negative, patted me on the head, and sent me home with another Slut Grab Bag, this time with only 37 condoms, a 2 month supply of birth control, and only 1 plan B package.

Apparently, my sluttiness quota was dropping.

Another month went by, and when my Aunt Flo was late in visiting, this time I didn’t drop everything and dart back to Hell. Instead, I went to a local grocery store and bought myself a neat little pee-on-a-stick.

And I peed on that stick.

And that stick did something strange.

You know how there’s supposed to be 2 lines? One for pregnant, and one for the control line?

Well, the one for pregnant lit up….. and then the control line started to… and then it disappeared.

So I had a nice little stick with only 1 line on it… which was supposed to mean I was not-pregnant… but the line was in the wrong place.

Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was 40 minutes before Planned Parenthood closed for the day, so I dashed down to my car and found myself back in that familiar waiting room.

Back I went to that familiar little bathroom, and peed in that familiar little cup.

Back I walked to the waiting room, which was now nearly empty, and waited for my name to be called.

“Miss Becky?”

I stood up, and walked to the pathetic little “private” room that the workers liked to use to descend their bad news upon you. The walls were paper, paper thin. It was usually kind of interesting sitting in that room, because you could hear employees dole out their evil pronouncements of pregnancy and chlamydia and be entertained by people’s responses.  It was kind of like Live TV, only without a screen.

In walked a vaguely familiar employee, face closed off, looking vaguely stressed as he glanced up from my chart to see me sitting uncomfortably on the edge of my chair.

“Weren’t you here last month?” he asked me grumpily.

“Uh, yeah…”

“Didn’t we just test you for pregnancy last month?” He demanded again, setting my chart down.

“Well, yeah, but…”

“Did you take your pill like you were supposed to?”

“Well, no, I didn’t, but…”

“Did you take it at the same time every day, like you’re supposed to?”

“Well, yes, but….”

He gave an exasperated sigh. “Look, you’re not pregnant. If you took your pill like you’re supposed to, then it would have prevented you from ovulating. Even if it did take, it would have prevented it from implanting. That’s how it works.” He picked up my chart to place it in the “Out” bin, but stopped when I waved my hands at him nervously.

“Well, yeah, but… you see… it’s just that I’m worried because I’m from this weird family. We’re, like, really fertile. So I just don’t… Well,  I peed on a stick and it did something weird… I mean it only had one line, but it was weird….and I’m just nervous because I’m from a fertile family,” I finished lamely.

He stood up to leave, shaking his head. “Look, just trust the pill. You’re not pregnant.  Just keep–“

I interrupted. “Can you please just check? Please? It’s the last time, I promise. I just… I just need to hear you tell me I’m not. I already peed in the cup, so all you have to do is just check. PLEASE?”

“Fine.” He left the room with no small amount of frustration,  leaving me to nervously fiddle with the brochures of cervical cancer, herpes, HPV, and the other various assorted joys of sex. After a few minutes he came back in, still holding my chart loosely, and as he closed the door he turned to stare at me.

“You’re pregnant.”

It took a moment for it to sink into my brain.

“Wait. What?”

“You’re pregnant.”

“Umm….Are you sure?”

“Yes. I’m sure,” his look softened slightly, and he sat down in the chair in front of me. “Where do you want to go from here?”

“Wait. Pregnant?” I sat there in the chair, and reached deeeeeep down inside of me, for that tiny little spark that all women claim to have— the one that they feel deep in their bones, the one that lets them know they are carrying another life.

I did not feel this spark.

I didn’t feel it at all.

In fact, I felt distinctly un-pregnant. I was, like, the least pregnant I’d ever felt in my life.

“Are you sure you tested the right cup?” I looked at him, eyebrows raised, hopeful.  I mean, this was one an obscenely busy office.  They must have had dozens of little pee cups in the back, right?

“I’m sure. You’re pregnant. Where do you want to go from here?’ He sat there,  foot tapping the floor in an impatient rhythm as he waited for my answer.

Pregnant? Me? What? Wait… What? Pregnant?

“Well, I mean, I don’t believe in abo–” I couldn’t even make myself say the word, so I tried another route. “Well, obviously I’m keeping it.”

The worker nodded and stood up. “Well, okay. Then stop taking the pill, and uh… your last menstrual cycle was in January, so… October 10th. It should be about October 10th. Go ahead and use this piece of paper if you need it to go see someone in ObGyn, and good luck.” He thrust a handful of paperwork at me, and stood up to go out the door.

I sat there in the chair, hands limp in my lap, staring at him stupidly. Pregnant? What? Me? Huh? “Um… so… this is it? I don’t come back here?”

He shook his head. “Nope. Not if you want to go the route of keeping it.  We’re not certified to help you if you want to keep it.  Good luck.” He kept edging towards the door.

“But….” Me? Pregnant? “What…. What do I do?” I looked at him, completely lost, and as I did his face lost its hardened look for the first time.  He leaned against the counter, really looking at me for the first time.

“Go get some prenatal vitamins. My wife buys the ones from Trader Joes. You’ll be fine.” He paused, and then nodded. “You’ll be okay.”

I thanked him in a thin voice, grabbed my paperwork, crumpling both it and the little pronouncement of 4wks, 5 days pregnant to the very bottom of my purse, and headed out Hell’s door for the last time in a complete haze.

Me. Pregnant.

Now where was there a Trader Joe’s in this neighborhood?