About six months ago I told my mother, half-jokingly, that I wanted to go to a theme park for my 30th birthday. Immediately enthused about the possibility of a mother-daughter trip, she had started researching and making plans. Every week she would call me and ask if I had decided on the trip and I would deliberate, procrastinate, and promise to tell her the following week. Then January’s cycle failed and, convinced that my uterus was a barren wasteland, I told my mother that I wanted to go.
Six days before the IUI that worked, my mother booked our tickets as my 30th birthday present. Six weeks pregnant, I found myself sitting next to her on a plane as she asked about when grandchildren would be forthcoming.
You may have gathered that Sea and I have been deliberating about when to tell people. Sea is a lot more cautious than I am, and would rather wait until 12 weeks before telling anybody. I agree with her generally, but think that there are exceptions to every rule: doctors, a few close friends, the internet, my parents (Sea’s parents are a totally different story, for many reasons). After some discussion, Sea and I agreed that we would tell my parents. Though we decided that we would make the announcement jointly, she left me to decide whether the announcement would happen before or after the birthday trip.
On the plane, my mother took a break from telling me about the minutia of her daily life and asking about grandchildren in order to use the closet-sized airplane bathroom. The stranger sitting on the other side of me turned to me and said, “You’re such a good daughter, sitting and listening to your mother talk”. In that moment, I was so relieved that Sea and I had decided to wait until after the trip to tell my parents. Spending four days alone with my mother– several hours of those days sitting next to each other in the confined space of the plane’s cabin– is overwhelming enough without that reveal thrown into the mix.
My mother. My mother loves me intensely. She refers to me and her sister as her two favourite people in the world, ignoring the fact that she also has a husband and another child. She talks constantly and cries easily. She calls me every week and wants to know every detail of what I’ve been doing. When I came out, she sent me a pair of rainbow socks and a card saying, “You’re different.” She resents Sea, though pretends not to. She would, and does, give me everything. She wants more from me: more affection, more communication, more attention. She is incredibly giving and incredibly needy.
To summarize my relationship with my mother, let me tell you a story: a few years ago my mother asked her lesbian friend how said lesbian friend’s son had been conceived (I forgot to include, my mother is also nosy). The lesbian friend told my mother that she had gone to a feminist sperm bank in California– nowhere even near where we live. Telling me about this, my mother enthusiastically informed me that I should do the same when the time came for me to have children. She also told me that she would go with me, and that we would make a vacation of it. I had to explain to my mother that one’s partner, not one’s parent, is usually the one there at the moment of conception. She seemed disappointed.
And now I was on a plane, wedged between my mother and a sympathetic stranger, listening to my mother talk about how she wants a grandchild (complete with suggestions on how to procure said grandchild). I was also five and half weeks pregnant and headed to a theme park where every ride came complete with this warning:
Going to a theme park and foregoing all rollercoasters was fine: there were plenty of stationary attractions to enjoy and I get dizzy easily. More harrowing was travelling with my mother who still wanted more—more conversation, gratitude, openness, affection, just more. Also harrowing were my attempts to dodge the questions of grandchildren. We’re in no rush, I said. Before we’re 40, I said. We have two uteri and plenty of eggs, I said. There are lots of options in terms of how we’ll do it, I said. I evaded at points and lied through my teeth at others. One morning, flipping through channels on the hotel’s TV, I found myself watching a show about people who didn’t know they were pregnant until they went into labour. After, my mother asked me what I had learned from the show: “Did you learn that you might be pregnant?” Trying not to stammer, I told her that I would have a lot of explaining to do if I was.
That explaining will start soon. Tomorrow is our first ultrasound. Assuming everything goes well, we’ll be telling my parents this weekend: I can only imagine that my expectant mother will have a lot to say.