I call Todd. “Hi. I’m pregnant.”
“Honey! Are you kidding?! That’s great! But you should have told me in person!”
“I’m sorry,” I snap, “I didn’t know the protocol.”
“Well, that’s terrific….” his voice smiles on the other end.
Todd has wanted kids ever since he was five years old. At five he wanted to name his child Flash to rhyme with his last name Bash. Flash Bash. When we started dating three years ago we had our first big fight because I told him I might not want to have kids. And if I did, I would only want one. I work with kids, age four through 24, and I feel fulfilled in that department. I have 40 kids a year. I don’t seem to have that deep need for a child that other women have. I know what it takes to be a good parent: selflessness, unlimited patience and more selflessness.
“Is there anything I can do?” Todd joyously, adoringly offers.
“Just don’t tell anyone yet. And why are you so happy?” I hang up the phone.
I call my parents.
“Hello Deah,” my father answers. He calls everyone “Dear.” The 80-year-old janitor, his daughters, his wife, his dog. Everyone, for as long as I can remember, has been called “Dear.” But my father was born in England and raised in Queens so he drops his “R’s” and in his deep raspy voice says “Deah.” My high-school classmates used to tease me that he was in the Jewish Mafia because he carried a gun. He has a carry permit. At one of my high-school basketball games he had to go through a metal detector. It went off blaring and hence the Jewish Mafia reputation. But despite his sometimes gruff exterior, he’s a gentle man.
“Dad I’m pregnant,” I say tactlessly and perhaps a little for shock value. As the middle daughter I’ve sometimes felt the need to shock. Like the time I was 15 and ran away from home for 24 hours. (I ran to my grandparents’ house ten blocks south.) I had written a poem on the “egg shell white walls” that my mother so loved – a not so cryptic note about how awful my parents were, scribbled in bold strokes of bright red Wet n’ Wild lipstick all over the ten foot wall. When I returned the next morning my father greeted me with a smile and said, “I loved your poem. Now repaint my walls.” He handed me a roller two brushes and buckets of eggshell white.
“Oh Deah! That’s wonderful! I am so happy.” My father, in recent years, cries. Good news, bad news, any dramatic news tends to set him off.
“I’m just so happy.”
“I know,” I say sarcastically, “you and Todd.”
“Well, are you going to move up the wedding?” he asks.
“Dad! The wedding is three months away! No, we’re not going to move it up.”
“Deah!” My father shouts to my mother. “Gabby has something to tell you!”
“What is it?” I hear her in the background. “I’m busy!”
“Just pick up the phone!” he shouts back.
“Yes, Gabrielle?” my mother sighs impatiently into the phone.
“Mom, um, I’m pregnant.”
“Well don’t tell anybody! Why are you telling us?” she asks. “How far along?”
“I don’t know yet,” I say, annoyed at her reaction.
“Well, go find out and until then keep it a secret. You cannot tell anyone until after the third month.”
I hang up pissed.
It’s only later, when I google “first trimester,” that I realize her concerns. One in six pregnancies ends in spontaneous miscarriage. My mother always has to see the contract signed before the deal is done. Deep down she’s like a little girl, not wanting her balloon to burst as it rises higher, out of grasp and out of control.