When I began my journey to motherhood I wanted twins desperately. I prayed for twins. It never occurred to me to have just one child, although the three-month colic episode that was my introduction to motherhood did give me pause for thought. After we got through it, I thanked God for ignoring the twin request. But still, I wanted a second child. And just when you think you’ve got everybody figured out, they start playing mind games with you. Mimi was on the fence during my first IVF while Papa was on the sidelines cheering. But when I mentioned having a second baby, Mimi started shopping, and Papa visibly shuddered.
“One baby in the Bean family is plenty of baby,” he said as he swallowed the rest of his martini.
Maybe he was still reeling from my last pregnancy. All of those hormones hadn’t exactly been pleasant. (Okay, I’d been a raving lunatic who managed to stay out of the funny farm by the hair of my chinny chin chin.) Maybe the idea of at least another year without a buddy at cocktail hour disturbed him. Or perhaps it was the postpartum hormones or maybe it was the baby proofing. (Papa is not exactly a neat freak and keeping pennies picked off the floor, laptops closed, screwdrivers in their place, cell phones out of reach and remote controls up on high was cramping his style.) Or maybe it was that three-month colic hell that did it.
Whatever the reason, I decided not to argue. Arguing with Papa is inadvisable. He’s opinionated as hell, and the more you disagree with him, the more passionate about it he becomes. And if it’s after 5 p.m. (sometimes before), he becomes even more bellicose, and sometimes he gets on the phone to recruit reinforcements, most of whom check their caller ID and don’t answer because if Papa’s calling during cocktail hour, you’re going to get an earful. He talks loud under normal circumstances, but if he’s had a cocktail, the decibels are hair-splitting.
The trick to defusing Papa is to cross your fingers and nod in ostensible agreement, then proceed clandestinely. He usually comes around. Besides, the chance of me getting pregnant at 41 was not exactly guaranteed or even likely.
And so it was that while Papa was off spending his summer in cooler climes on a bicycle, I was at home shooting up hormones, and he was none the wiser, except that the IVF had been a success and now I was six weeks pregnant and had to call him with the news before he came home.
It was cocktail hour when I called him, and he still had two weeks left on his trip. It was that point in the trip where he was slightly homesick, and he’d been gone long enough to forget the colic and the baby proofing and he was mellow enough from his vodka to decide that another baby was a good idea.
“I’ve got something serious to discuss with you,” I said. “I really didn’t think this could happen, and I know it’s going to throw a monkey wrench into our lives, and I know you’re not going to be happy about it, and I’ll understand if you want to move out.”
There was a heavy silence on the other end of the phone. Finally, I heard him take a drink, and he said, “For God’s sake, what is it? It can’t be all that bad.”
And so the whole story tumbled out in one big wave after another until finally there was nothing left to tell.
“Damn, Jenny,” he said, “you scared the hell out of me. I thought it was something bad.”
“Hell, no! The world could use more Beans.”
“What do you think about twins?”