Getting married and having a baby are two of the most wonderful/happiest times in a person’s life, right?!? But what if those two happy events happen to two very close sisters at the most imperfect time? DRAMA ensues!
My sister (Sarah) and I are very close. She’s always been my best friend and closest confident, especially during a time in my life where I don’t feel like I am a good friend to anyone who lives near me. My time is spent working my full time job, working my beauty business, writing, being a mom, being a wife, etc. It’s hard to fit time in to be a good friend, but I can always find the time to chat with my sister on the phone. And, I can be real with her. It’s a very nice and treasured relationship to have.
Last Fall, Sarah’s fiance called not only my mom, but also my brother, me, and Mark to ask us for our blessing because he wanted to propose to her during their vacation in Vegas. We were all elated! We love love love Anthony and feel like there is no better fit for Sarah than him. They are perfect for each other AND he fits in perfectly with our crazy family. It’s like he’s always been a part of us.
Mark and I have always known that we wanted to have a big family of our own. When Sarah and Anthony got engaged, our youngest (Jacek) was 7 months old and we were already trying for our next baby. Because we want to have a few more kids, and the fact that I am 33 and Mark is 40, we are trying to have our kids as close together as possible. No one tells you before you start trying to get pregnant that it doesn’t just happen whenever you want it to. You spend all this money to try and prevent pregnancy when you don’t want it to happen because you are always told that one little mistake and BOOM you can get pregnant. In reality, it doesn’t happen that way. It took us 7 months to get pregnant with Harlow and 5 months to get pregnant with Jacek (with a miscarriage in between). While that may not seem that long, you never really know how long it is going to take.
When Sarah got engaged, she asked me to be her Matron of Honor. Anthony asked Mark to be a Groomsman. They then asked Michaela to be the Junior Bridesmaid, Harlow to be the Flower Girl, and Jacek to be a Ring Bearer. The whole family was going to be at their sides on their big day!! The next thing she said to me was “you better not be pregnant at my wedding.” They got engaged in September 2015 and the wedding was scheduled for November 5, 2016. By my calculations, we still had a few months of trying before we had to take a little bit of a break and not be in the danger zone of being pregnant at the wedding. But at the same time, we couldn’t put our life on hold and our dreams of having a few more babies on the back burner, especially since we were at an age where getting pregnant gets harder and harder, and Mark didn’t want to have his last kid at 45. From September to January we did all of the right things to get pregnant and have the baby by October 2016. We used ovulation kits, paid attention to all of the physical signs of ovulation, counted and kept track of cycle days, and of course had lots of sex. However, even if everything is done correctly, there is still less than a 25% chance that it will actually work and the right sperm and the right egg will meet for the magic. (sorry I’m getting all sciencey on you). Month after month, the disappointment of the negative pregnancy tests cut like a knife. We knew we had to take a step back in February because the baby would be born too close to the wedding date. We pretty much stopped everything, and even paused on sex the week I thought I was ovulating. I did not want to risk missing my best friend’s wedding.
Babies were off our minds for the moment, and we spent February celebrating Jacek’s 1st birthday with friends and family. One day as I was getting ready for bed, I got an alert on my phone from my Glow app that I was supposed to take a pregnancy test that day. I hadn’t even thought about taking a test that month and ignored it. It’s funny because every month before then I was counting down the days past ovulation and took tests the moment it was in the window of a potential positive result. Every month before that I was SURE I was pregnant because every little thing my body did convinced me that I was knocked up. I felt a weird cramp = pregnant. I had a headache = pregnant. I peed one more time than usual = pregnant. But, each time was a false alarm and I was driving myself crazy taking tests until my cycle started again and proved that the negative tests were indeed correct. When I got up the next morning, I figured I might as well take a test since I had a million of the cheapies left that I got on Amazon. I didn’t feel any differently that month, and I took it just because my app alerted me to.
Two lines. Positive. WHAT!?!? How did this happen? We stopped trying this month. I quickly pulled out my phone and tried to calculate when this kid might be due. By my calculations, we were looking at November 5. My sister’s wedding date was November 5. My sister was going to kill me. I started to cry.
I walked downstairs and told Mark we might have a problem. No, that’s not usually how you give wonderful baby news to your husband, but the fact that this was happening at the same time as my sister’s wedding horrified me and I couldn’t think of anything else. Mark looked at the test and said, “your sister is going to kill you.” I cried more. It was so bittersweet because we wanted this beautiful news so badly, but it was overshadowed by the wedding. I had to suck it up, get ready for the day, and venture in to work. On our way in to work, we called my mom on speakerphone in the car. I was excited to tell someone our good news and get the reassurance that this was a happy thing and it would all work out! My mom answered and I said “hey, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.” She responded with “what.” There wasn’t really any emotion behind that, so I just decided to blurt it out. “We found out this morning that we’re pregnant!” My mom, the grandmother to this child only said, “Sarah’s going to kill you.” So, my hopes for reassurance that this was a happy event and everything was going to be ok went out the window. I told her we’d figure it all out and it would not interfere with the wedding. I was bound and determined to be there. I asked her not to tell Sarah because we wanted to wait until our first check up to make sure everything was ok with the baby before we told her the news.
Fast forward four weeks later. Our first doctor’s appointment was the next day. Over thepast four weeks my mom would text me every once in a while seeing how I was feeling, and calling me cute things like “lil mama”. She seemed excited and supportive and it made me feel good about our little blessing. We decided we were going to call Sarah after our appointment to tell her the news, but we actually thought it was a good idea to call Anthony the night before and tell him so he would have time for it to sink in and be supportive when Sarah found out. He was really cool about it, told us congratulations, and made us a little less stressed about telling her. We asked him to keep it a secret until we told her because we wanted to be the ones to tell her. In order for everything to go as smooth as possible, we thought up a bunch of different options that would make these two wonderful events possible to still happen without a hitch. I called the church and reception sites to explain my situation and asked what it would take to move the date. They said it was no problem and they still had dates left in 2016. They could move the date without any cost as long as they were still the vendors. Awesome. I was ready to pay whatever needed to be paid to move the date. I also knew there was an option of being induced early. Jacek was almost ten pounds, so there was a good chance this next kid would be large enough to have early. The honeymoon wasn’t booked and the two big vendors would be totally accommodating and flexible. Sarah and Anthony could easily move the date out a little bit if they wanted to make sure all six of us would be there and everything would be perfect.
We went to the doctor and the baby was perfectly healthy and beautiful! She told us the estimated due date was November 2nd. It seemed weird because if that were the case, I must’ve ovulated earlier than I had with every cycle before that. That meant that the “powers that be” must’ve meant for this to happen because we did what we needed to do to avoid getting pregnant during the time in my cycle that I was usually fertile. That threw me for a loop, but also gave us a few days of buffer to have the baby before the wedding. We left the doctor, got in the car, and like I have done with every single doctor’s appointment previously with my babies, I called my mom to tell her how it went. She answered, “yeah?”. I said, “Hey! We are just leaving our first doctor’s appointment!” She said, “I know. Sarah has been crying to me all morning.” I said, “What?!? Why is she crying?!?” My mom said, “Anthony told her your news and she cant stop crying. She cant believe you guys did this to her. She’s pissed that everyone is going to care more about the baby than her and that you are not going to be there for her on her big day.” I could not believe it. We didn’t even get a chance to talk to her. She already knew our news and had jumped to the worst conclusions. WE HAD A PLAN, but the plan had some interference. My heart sunk.
I decided to wait to call Sarah until later that day after work. Sarah sounded like she’d been crying when she answered. I told her our news, she said she knew, I told her how sorry I was (which is hard to do because I don’t want to take away from the joy of having another baby) and then I went all Positive Paula on her and told her all the great options we had to make sure it worked out for everyone. Since it would be easy to do, and they weren’t tied to the November 5th date for any reason, I thought the most logical thing to do would be to move the date out a little bit. It would even give them more time to save up for their dream wedding. She said she and Anthony had to talk about things. I respected that and we hung up. I cried and cried and cried again.
Four days later, I finally heard from Sarah. I got a text that said “we are keeping Nov. 5th.” I re-read it and realized that what it really said was a big “fuck you.” Ok, not really, but that’s what I took it as. Keeping it November 5th meant they did not really care if we were there or not. I cried again, but did not respond. I needed to let my emotions run their course and pull myself together. After the weekend, I called Sarah one more time to see why they didn’t want to move the date and explain why it was the best thing to do. She said the church and reception site had a date available that they could move it to, but not their photographer. I told her there were a lot of great photographers out there and she could find someone just as good. She did not want to. So, she wanted her photographer there more than she wanted me and my family there. Ok. I let it go, and then our relationship took a big downward slide.
I used to talk to my sister pretty much every day. We would send each other silly snap chats, video chat, and exchange funny texts throughout the day. I would call her when I was having a good day, a bad day, or an uneventful day. There was so much weird tension between us that those things didn’t happen anymore. I made up my mind that we were going to be at that wedding no matter what. We convinced our doctor to be ok with inducing us at 39 weeks if the baby isn’t here yet. We arranged for both our nanny and Mark’s dad to come with us to Michigan (an 11 hour drive) so we had enough hands on deck to take care of all three kids plus the newborn while we were busy with wedding festivities. I called the maker of our bridesmaid dresses to alter my dress with breastfeeding capabilities to make sure I could easily feed the baby as needed without causing a lot of fuss. I invested in a car cable to hook my pump up to the car so I could pump when needed and not take time away from the bride. I planned and attended the Bachelorette party in Nashville at 28 weeks pregnant. I planned and attended the Bridal shower in Michigan at 30 weeks pregnant. (I live in Minneapolis, by the way). I am flying in to Chicago for one day for another Bridal shower at 34 weeks pregnant. We ordered all of the kids wedding attire, Mark’s tux, and reserved three hotel rooms for wedding festivities the weekend of the wedding. We have every intention of being there.
In the meantime, once my mom found out how upset my sister was about the baby, it has felt like she has stopped caring about me and the baby, too. I have gotten zero texts or calls from my mom since we told my sister our news and she got so upset about it. It is so weird that such a happy life event feels like such a dark shadow. I actually called my brother when I was about 14 weeks pregnant to get his perspective because I was feeling down about the weirdness between me, my mom, and my sister. When I was telling him how much it sucked and I couldn’t believe that they weren’t happy that two great things were going on in our lives, he said this, “Do you want to know my honest opinion? You fucked up. You knew that this was Sarah’s day and you purposely went and got pregnant. She is our little sister and has always been in our shadows, and when she finally gets to be in the limelight, you are taking it away from her.” Ummm, what? I did not purposely get pregnant. Yes, we’ve been wanting another baby, but it was not our devious plan to ruin Sarah’s day and take the limelight. That’s the last thing we want to do and why I’ve been so upset about everything. I told Josh that. He wasn’t buying it. I told him that it just sucked that it’s been so hard to be joyful about this baby when no one else around us is. He said, “it’d be different if it were your first kid, but it’s your third so it isn’t as exciting.” That hurt. I knew I couldn’t really talk anymore so I told him I had to go.
Later that week, I finally started telling friends and co-workers our news. It was sooo nice to have people be excited and happy for us! I finally felt a little joy and it felt good to share in that joy with others. I felt like I couldn’t announce it to the world on Facebook like we had done with the previous two pregnancies because I did not want to flash it in the face of my mom and sister. I was trying to hold back our joy in order to not upset them more. I actually couldn’t understand why my mom was so mad at me. I felt like she should’ve been the one to play mediator and tell my sister and I that two wonderful things were happening and we should both be happy for each other. She should’ve been the one to bring us together, not make things worse. It’s actually so bad that I haven’t called her after any of our appointments like I used to, and she hasn’t even noticed.
Even while all of this was going on and we were at the peak of the tension, my family (me, Mark, Harlow, and Jacek…MK was with her mom), drove to Michigan for Mother’s Day weekend like we had already planned to do months ago. I will admit, the first few days were weird. It was like there was this HUGE elephant in the room, and not one person mentioned the baby. It was as if it wasn’t really happening. Mark let me know that when he was golfing with my brother and Anthony, he mentioned how it all sucked and how no one had even mentioned the baby. Later that night, Anthony broke the ice and was the first person to ask me how the baby was. Thank God! I give him major props for that because it really opened the doors to acknowledging that this was really happening. From then on, conversations got a little easier and we were starting to act like our old selves again. We even had a fun dinner out on my mom’s patio talking about the wedding and picking out the songs we were all going to walk into the reception to. From then on, it hasn’t really been a conversation about IF we are at the wedding. It’s more about all the fun stuff that will happen when we are at the wedding.
That conversation and time with Mark, Josh, Sarah, and Anthony on the patio at my mom’s house was just what we needed. Things have been getting better and I think everything is slowly getting back to normal with me and my sister. We are back to chatting every day and can talk about anything and everything. It’s nice having my best friend back. However, there still is a small dark cloud in the distance. It depends on if the baby arrives early enough to make it to the wedding if the dark cloud is going to dissipate or create a hurricane of destruction by us not being there.
The funny thing is I am 100% ready and willing to travel 11 hours one way in a van to make it to my sister’s wedding a few days after giving birth (and with 3 other kids in tow). Is it going to be fun? No. Am I going to feel glamorous? No. I am going to still be bleeding, wearing an adult diaper/gauze underpants, and most likely have fresh stitches in my hoo-haa. I am also going to be running on probably less than 3 hours of sleep a night, and my boobs will be in that giant and on fire stage of the first two weeks of breastfeeding. But that’s ok. I can handle it for a few days. The most important thing is making it to Sarah’s wedding and having a beautiful healthy baby. Because in the end, those really are two beautiful life events that we are lucky to get to experience. The timing may be imperfect, but even imperfect things happen for a reason.