Birds, Bees, & Babies

Gabriel Elijah on Mother's Day 2017

 

It was Mother’s Day morning, the morning I took the test. I knew it was too early, but I wanted to know just in case I was actually a mama on Mother’s Day. I set the test on the counter in our tiny studio apartment’s closet/bathroom. A quick glance told me negative. I sighed, steeling myself to the result, and started brushing my teeth. 

I spat the toothpaste into the sink, put the toothbrush back in the holder, and started to walk quickly out of the vicinity of the test. But it called to me, and I couldn’t stop myself looking at it quickly in passing, just in case I had missed something.

And there it was. A second line. Super faint, but there. I tried it in different lights, rotated it to different angles, and the line did not disappear.

I was pregnant. An inexpressible joy filled my heart. Somewhere deep inside of me was the baby that is now sleeping peacefully in our incredibly messy room as I sit in my rocking chair writing this post. Let me just say, it’s true that a baby changes everything. I’m just amazed that I’ve been able to write this much without interruption. I'm also loving the new IPad my parents got me. On a further side note, I can still taste the blackstrap molasses, bell pepper, and arugula smoothie I made for lunch. Unfortunately. And the healthy Immaculata chocolate chip cookies I made after. Haha. Solidarity folks. And postpartum figures... 😳

But back to Mother’s Day 2016. I walked into the main room of the studio, where James was snoring peacefully in bed in the dim morning light. He is an extremely heavy sleeper. It is nigh impossible to wake him up. So I sat down on the edge of the bed, smoothed his hair back, leaned in, and whispered, “Hey!” No response. I shake him vigorously and shout, “Guess what? I’m pregnant!”

It only took once. He was up. “Are you serious?” 

I show him the test.

“And it’s Mother’s Day,” I said. “Isn’t that crazy?”

“So when does that mean we got pregnant?”

“North Carolina according to the chart.” We’d played at St Michael the Archangel church a couple weeks earlier and I specifically remembered kneeling and praying for a baby. And also eating great amounts of delicious breakfast food at a local French bakery.

James laughs. “Nothing like good food and fun… So when is the due date?'

"January 17. Looking at the chart, it'll probably be a boy!"

"The DaSilva line lives on!" (James is the last male of his line.) He hugs me. “I can’t believe I’m a father!" Then a look comes over James’s face. “I don’t have a gift for you!”

And he never got one. Meanie. But it was short notice. 😘

Not being the secretive type, we told the family that day. Our baby existed and therefore would be celebrated. On my side of the family it was the sixth grandchild: we are pretty used to pregnancies, childbirths, and babies, and so we announced in a simple way over the breakfast brunch after church. Much joy! 

On James’s side of the family it was the first grandchild, so James wanted it to be a special kind of surprise. We discussed it as we navigated the maze of Home Depot looking for a cute birdhouse to give James’s mother.

There’s nowhere that will make me lose my temper faster than trying to find something specific in a supermarket.

“No wonder I’ve felt so bloated!” I said as we strolled calmly into the store.

“You look great, honey,” James said. 

“Even though I’m like only three-and-a-half weeks pregnant. Seriously. Oh man, I kind of feel nauseated.” I look at my iPhone. “Oh gosh, we are going to be late for dinner!” I see a Home Depot worker at the far end of the Miracle Gro. “Excuse me, sir, do you know where bird houses would be?”

A look of suppressed panic flits over his face. “Um, I think that would be outside somewhere. Like, by the garden hoes.” He points vaguely over my head.

“Oh okay, thanks!” I turn around and we start walking in that general direction. By the time we’ve actually found the doors leading outside I’m starting to feel exhausted. Then we get outside. It’s hot.

“He said they were by the garden hoes.”

“Oh, here we go,” James said. We scan the wall with squinted eyes, trying to make sense of the jumble of garden tools.

“I think I want to say it this way,” James says. “We’ll give her the birdhouse, and then say, ‘Mom, we have another gift for you, but it won’t be here for nine months.’ How do you like that?”

I laughed. “I love it! You do it, okay?” My eye alights on something that looks like it lives in the vicinity of bird feed.

“Oh man, these are birdhouse building kits! Ugh. We need one of these cute little bird houses that are all painted and stuff. Seriously!” Frustration broils inside of me. Who’d ever want to make a birdhouse when you could just buy one? … just kidding 🤐

James takes charge. “Excuse me, ma’am?” He accosts a young teenage girl who is working in the flowers behind us. “Do you know where the bird houses would be?”

The panic is genuine on her face and she doesn’t even pretend to know where they are. “I mean, maybe in the chicken wire or something?” She gesticulates vaguely to the left.

I wonder to myself how on earth a girl from the suburbs had the guts to get a job at a Home Depot? I’d probably lose my mind trying to pretend like I knew what I was doing in mulches and stuff…not to mention the heat of the outdoors…and wasps in the plants! (Says the girl who set up a beehive in her backyard… 🙈)

We walk a mile to the chicken wire section and look in vain through the barbed packages. Then I ooh and aah over the cute scarecrows. And then I feel my body melting to the floor as the Home Depot rises in horrific size around me and I say, “James, let’s just go. This is ridiculous.”

So we start making our way to the exit, I blindly trusting in James’s ability to navigate (I have an opposite sense of direction…for real). On the way out, we bump into the bird houses.

Who knew? No one. We get a cute little bird house, and since we don’t have time to get it wrapped correctly before we are supposed to be at James’s parent’s house for Mother’s Day dinner, we fill it with bird seed, coast down the driveway at the house, and sneakily hang it from a tree while James’s parents are grilling steak on the porch above.

And then, after dinner, James announces the news. Except it comes out like this: “Mom, we have another gift for you. It’ll be here in January.” Which of course doesn’t give quite the same impression as ‘nine months’… I nudge James to elaborate.

“Oh, that’s so sweet of you honey,” Kathy says. And then a look of confusion crosses Kathy and Mario’s face. “Wait, January?”

“We are pregnant!” James says, smiling.

Tears flow. Hugs circulate. Blessings abound.

And so that’s how we found out. I was pretty pleased with the idea that I’d be having the baby in January, when there is generally not a huge amount of touring for the Annie Moses Band and smack-dab two years from when we got married.

Little did I realize that that meant I’d be pregnant for one of the most busy touring seasons in our history, traveling all the way South to Disney Land, West to Colorado, North to Michigan, and East to New York City, with the baby kicking during my piano solos.

But more on that later 🙃