Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Which Version of the Story?

On Saturday, I had lunch with my friend and Chiropractor (HL), and her family. After the meal (in which I successfully managed to eat many different kinds of salads), I helped her clear the table, and thought that we were alone in the house. We started speaking in certain detail about the pregnancy and my feelings and my concerns.

Turns out, her seven year old daughter had been sitting quietly on the couch, and she came over to us grown-ups and asked me, "Are you pregnant?" The following conversation ensued, an excellent test run to the more likely scenario with my Ultra-Orthodox nieces.

Doc: Yes, I am pregnant.
Zoe: But you don't have a husband.
Doc: That's true, it's better to have a Daddy and a Mommy. And some day I will have a husband, but I did not want to miss out on being a Mommy and having a baby inside my tummy. So I talked to a Rabbi and to some doctors, and they helped me.
Zoe: You don't look fat.
Doc: (laughing) That's because it has only been three months, and it is the first time I am pregnant. I am not supposed to look fat yet. [In actual fact, I lost close to eight kilo in the first trimester, due to the nausea and discomfort.]
Zoe: Well someday you will get married, and then you can have even more kids! (Pause, addressed to her mother) Mom, I don't want you to have any more babies, I want to always be the youngest.

This is more or less the version of the story that I had proposed to my sister, as a way of explaining the origin of their new cousin. My sister did not like it, and spent the entire weekend expressing her concerns to my parents, who had visited them in New York. The fact that my sister feels that she can speak freely to my parents encourages me, though I hope that at some point she and I can address these issues directly.

My mother has also expressed deep worry regarding my 90 year old grandfather, who judges the world solely on superficial standards, the Jewish King of "What Will the Neighbors Think." I had hoped to tell my grandfather that the father of the baby is an Israeli (true) whom he does not know (true) and that while we are not married (all true), the pregnancy came about naturally (as naturally as IUI can be). For years now my grandfather has called me a failure for being single at 40, and I would have thought that implying a relationship of sorts would cheer him up.

My mother feels that being "knocked up" represents an even worse picture than being old and single, and now she feels the responsibility to come up with a viable story for her father.

I told my mother that she can give him any story she likes, I am not ashamed of what I have done, I accept and love this child already. I will not tolerate negative attitudes nor judgemental behaviour toward either of us.

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