Come and Gone

Sorry I’ve been dark-ish; Mr. Book came to visit, and I was trying to spend all my time with him, and then he left and I was sad about it and didn’t feel like writing. But I have returned! I’m going to start out just talking about that visit and Kit’s birthday, though, because those are my favorite things.

Mr. Book was here Friday morning (June 7) and left Tuesday morning (the 11th); he arrived in the middle of Joey’s behavioral therapy, which abruptly took a break for Joey to say “Dada! Dada!” and run around the room, laughing and jumping for joy. The Mister and I got to go out by ourselves on two of those nights, and of course we threw Kit a birthday party on Sunday. The party was nice: bubble machine, pool, ice cream cake. Kit wasn’t feeling his best—he’s been teething, and going through a phase where he’s doing a lot of shrieking with rage and not a lot of sleeping—but overall it was a pretty nice time.

The first night that Mr. Book was gone again, I woke up about three a.m. (because I was being shouted for. Hiya, Kit) and was confused as to where he had gone. It took me a few minutes to realize that he was half the country away.

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How Mr. Book Is Doing

I was asked, and now I’m going to break it down: Not so hot.

It was only a week or so ago that I decided that no matter what happens, we’re moving to California when our lease is up in May. It feels pretty weird to me that I’m the one who decided this—we’ve talked about it for a long time, I’ve given input and waited to see what he wanted to do—but in the end, I made the decision. While I was in Illinois, the Mister was having a particularly bad time at work: the worst timing. And one night, I sent him an email that contained this:

You know what we’re going to be doing a year from now? We’re going to be shoving boxes into a truck, that’s what. And I will be sing-songing to Pete: Bye-bye, [Mr. Book’s work]! Bye-bye, customer service! The cat will be losing it, but getting enough treats and wet food that he’s just nervous and not a catastrophic poop monster; we will probably similarly be bribing Pete with (fruit-sweetened) popsicles. Maybe we’ll make plans to stop for the night halfway through so that Pete and Aztec both can get some rest. Maybe we’ll power through, pausing only to get Taco Bell that I can hand to you and then feed to Pete. It will be hot, but not too humid, and as we make our way south, it will get hotter and drier. Pete will be occasionally interested by our narration, but mostly (likely) bored and tired of the car—whenever we stop for gas, we’ll take a little extra time to let him run around and wear himself out. Maybe we’ll put the laptop on the dashboard in front of me and watch Yo Gabba Gabba together. When we finally arrive, we will be hot and sticky and tired, but there will be beer, juice, a/c, and a pool—and probably pizza from that place we went to with my parents. You will never speak to [your bosses] again, and while you’ll be looking ahead to a tough and schoolworky fall, you’ll be able to spend the summer finding part-time work and playing in the water with the baby, who will hardly be a baby at all.

And after he got that, he seemed to feel a little relieved. When I got home, after he’d had a bad night, I pushed it a little further: A year from now, I said, you will be done with that job forever, even if it means we sell all our stuff and buy plane tickets south (happily, that will not be necessary). I will drag you by your hair away from this place, and in a few years we will come back to a different life in this city we both love. And he seemed relieved again, and encouraged. A couple of days later, he told me that he’d been telling himself at work that he wouldn’t be there at the same time next year, and that it was hard to believe but still helped—and I confirmed that yes, a year from now we’ll be gone. And that’s how we decided.

On the one hand, since we’re moving to my family and my homeland in order to change his career, I have been pretty sure that Mr. Book needed to make the final decision about whether we actually go. On the other hand, I’ve been depressed the way that he is now, and I know how impossible it can be to believe that things will ever change. But things have to change; the function of his current job (as I said to him, hands on his shoulders, looking into his eyes) is to eat him. He is to be used up for the good of the corporation—and he is feeling pretty well chewed up these days. So I said that even if he doesn’t get into law school, we go south and spend the first year with him working part time and studying full time. Either way, though, I’ve got to get him away from his work—it is (of course) impacting every part of his life. Last night, when he got home from work, Joey kept staring at him without reaching out or smiling; Mr. Book wondered aloud whether it was because Joey could tell how upset his dad was. So I spent a little time coaxing my husband to play with the baby, and they both enjoyed it—but it’s not something the Mister can initiate these days. He just isn’t doing well enough.

My parents are delighted that we’re coming, and are remaking one of their guest rooms into a “kids’ room” (my mom is still ready for another grandchild, if anyone was wondering!). I know that there will be hard things about living with them, and Lord knows there will be hard things about law school and babies and a sudden lack of decent public transportation (fun fact: I can’t drive a car). But my sweetheart isn’t doing okay, and we’ve got to make a change.

Telling All

The fact that I couldn’t stop worrying about pregnancy was driving Mr. Book a bit crazy, so finally he just said “Why don’t you just go ahead and take a pregnancy test?” Somehow “I took one several days ago, and it was positive” didn’t seem like the right answer to that question—so I agreed that the next morning I’d test. And I did. It’s still strongly positive, which made my false positive/chemical pregnancy concerns less valid. Then I waited for the Mr. to wake up.

I’m not great at handling these moments, so it’s a good thing they don’t come along that often. I told him that I’d taken the test, he asked what the result was, and I handed it to him. He said that he didn’t know what it meant. (This threw me off my game slightly—it’s not as though it’s our first time to this rodeo, and I know I’ve explained it before.) So I said (and here we have a golden moment): “It’s positive, but it doesn’t matter, because I bet it’s going to die anyway.” I’m wincing a bit just typing this. So I told the Mr. that there’s no reason to take it seriously because, you know, the aforementioned, and that we shouldn’t worry about it.

Over the next couple of hours, I’m waiting for him to say something about how he feels, and he’s growing increasingly annoyed that I’m being twitchy and spooky. Finally I explain that the “It will probably die” thing isn’t science speaking, it’s me assuming that terrible things will happen, and that it’s actually more likely than not that the human bean will not die. He asks what that means. I say that I’m probably pregnant for real. Things are awkward, and then he goes to work. Before he leaves, though, he asks whether I’m going to tell my mom—I’m undecided, and he says that I should, with an unspoken “You really need to get it together on this issue, and I think she’s better equipped to help.”

So I called my mom, and she talked for a long time about how my Gramma is doing, and the trips they have planned, and I’m waiting for her to ask me “What’s new?” as she usually does, and finally I just blurt it out after an hour on the phone, and she is ecstatic. “Honey! Susie’s pregnant!” She wants to work out my due date, although I tell her that I’ve used a due date calculator already—she has an app on her iPhone, and wants to do it herself. She gets the same result that I did. I tell her that I worry that it’s going to die, and she says that she doesn’t think it will die, which makes me feel better. She asks whether she can tell people, and graciously agrees to hold off. She wants to know about names. She said “I’m finally going to be a grandma!” and I felt like I had a split second to decide whether to be hurt and opted not to. It’s just not worth it. She asked whether my husband and I had celebrated, and I suddenly wanted to cry. I mishandled that part pretty badly, and maybe telling him before work was the wrong thing to do. We both want a child, but he worries about money quite a bit, not unreasonably. After I hung up the phone, I put a bottle of sparkling apple juice in the fridge to drink out of champagne flutes when the Mr. Came home.

Suspense!

The other day, period still MIA, I ended up going to the adoption agency website and picking out what my top three picks would be if I had to place again today. I spent a couple of hours going through profiles and narrowing it down. Why in God’s name did I do this? I am absolutely never placing another kid. It felt like I was on some kind of weird autopilot: “Well, this is what happened last time, so. . . .” I chose pretty carefully when I picked out Cricket’s parents, but my criteria were slightly different this time—for example, I found myself strongly biased in favor of parents who had already adopted a child. NOT THAT THIS WILL BE RELEVANT.

Later that night, I told Mr. Book what I’d done (I so want to write “what had happened”; I don’t think I can really convey how much I didn’t feel like I had agency during that weird couple of hours, reading pleas and sifting through couples). I started an awkward “So, I mean, theoretically I could be pregnant” conversation. First he told me that he’s sure that I’m not pregnant. Then he said “No matter what happens, we’re not giving another one up. Even if we end up having quintuplets, we’re keeping all five.” I said “I don’t know; if there’s five, maybe we should give up two”—mostly joking, but also a little horrified at the idea of trying to breastfeed five babies—and he said “Nope, that’s not going to happen. Any kids we have, we keep.” I was both relieved that he’s determined to raise and love any even accidental futurekids and a little worried that he’s confident that I’m not pregnant now—that his comfort is based on that certainty. I ask why he’s so sure that I’m not pregnant, and he points out that I’m on birth control. I tell him that I sometimes take pills late, and that my sister got pregnant on birth control. He says that Tammy is a flake.

I tend to worry, and I tend to nag. These are not excellent qualities, and Mr. Book works around them with more graciousness than I really expected before we built this thing between us. But there are downsides to his approach; if we are running late, I worry, and I nag him, and he doesn’t take it seriously—and then we are late. Now I’m late, and I am worry, and I keep bugging him—and he’s completely unworried, because I would be doing almost exactly the same thing if it was one day before my period and I was cramping and not tired/sick/heartburny. I am the girl who cried wolf. There’s a pretty obvious solution, of course. But now I’m worried about what happens after that.

Two Peas

One of the stranger things about our visit last week was watching Ruth watch my husband and Cricket together. It feels like, for Ruth and Nora, there are a few things about Mr. Book that are hard: Cricket looks very like him; my husband is the only father, if you care about that sort of thing; I actually named Cricket after his birthdad, although of course they changed his name; and finally, Cricket seems very drawn to his birthdad. On Friday, Cricket ran to him over and over again—he would run to my husband and throw his arms around him. He did not do this with me. When we went out, he was holding Mr. Book’s hand and Nora’s for awhile, and he kept looking up at the Mr. with this look of unbelievable joy. I don’t by any means think that “every child needs a mother and a father,” or any such heterosexist thing, but it already seems as though my husband has something to offer Cricket that no one else can.

Mr. Book and I talked about this stuff on our walk that day—our visit intermission—and he seemed sort of surprised, but mentioned that he had noticed that Ruth seemed slightly disapproving as she watched him play with Cricket. Some of that might be that he’s playing with Cricket a bit more boisterously than they do; their favorite game on Friday involved tossing small plush toys into the air simultaneously and then laughing and laughing. Cricket is not allowed to throw things—he’s also not allowed to mash his food or chew his board books—Ruth is working hard to keep him well-mannered and thoughtful, albeit with a slightly different sense of priorities than we might. We’re more likely to allow noisy or messy experimentation. But I do think part of the odd look in her eye was about possibly seeing present and future Cricket sitting side by side on her living room floor, and not being part of that.

Ruth and Nora talk to us sometimes about what Cricket might have gotten from his biological parents, but they almost always compare him to me. It seems like the less obvious choice; he does look like both of us, but more like the Mr. He has one expression that is a copy of one of mine (my husband calls it the “What you do?!” look—it is deep skepticism and mild disapproval, and we got to see it on the visit), but his smile is my husband’s. He has moments of my shyness and uncertainty, but spends most of his time being outgoing and charming in the way that my husband is. He has my husband’s eyes and his sweaty feet. Ruth and Nora look more to me for an example because they know me better, and because we have baby pictures of me but not the Mr., but Cricket seems to me so like his biopop.

I don’t think of biology as a magical or overwhelming thing—I think Cricket will have many things in common with Ruth and Nora, that he’ll pick things up from them, follow their lead. But I’m more and more starting to think that I’ll see Mr. Book in Cricket forever, which I (perhaps stupidly) hadn’t expected as a pregnant lady.