I was going to start the story at the day I went into labor, but then I went to Bunny’s 21st birthday party. When the improv show ended and she was getting all the happy birthday wishes, she announced to anyone within earshot, “I was conceived in the back seat of a car when my parents were broken up” and that’s when I decided that maybe the story starts there, doesn’t it?
It’s true, what she said. I know, I probably shouldn’t have told her that, I should have left it where it was, which was that she was born while we were married. Bunny and I were talking about someone else we knew who was having a baby, and speculating that it must have been an accident, and for some reason- maybe because my mom has lately been telling us girls all her secrets because she “doesn’t want to tell us when she has dementia”, I decided to tell Bunny that she was also an accident.
I told her the story of how her dad and I had been separated for five months, officially. He’d been not coming home for days on end for long before that. Four treatments programs and drug related jail time more than once. So don’t ask me why, when he begged me to go on a date with him, I ever agreed to it in the first place. It was because he was so sweet, I think. It was the thing I had fallen in love with him for. He was good at being sweet and that made him what you might call a “sweet talker”. He wooed me with the idea of a picnic by a lake with a campfire, hotdogs and s’mores.
We’d been officially separated, living in separate places for five months, so it started out a little awkward. He was trying really hard. We had a campfire by the lake, talked and ate and watched the sun go down. Bunny already gave away how the rest went. I know the exact moment she was conceived because that was the only time we’d been together.
We talked, we fought, we tried, we didn’t. I was not convinced that anything had changed with him, and though he could be sweet and kind and thoughtful, that wasn’t his normal operating mode when he was using.
I realized I was late when I was late. I had stopped taking birth control two years before, shortly after I got married. (Because I was young and dumb and having a family was a way higher priority than say, backpacking across Europe. Ah, youth!) That month was the only one during those two years that I had prayed to NOT be pregnant. (Because that is how the world works)
It happened that when I realized I was late, my friend Kelly, who was married to my husband’s brother, invited both myself, and Bunny’s dad, over for dinner. They were pulling for us to get back together. I agreed to go to dinner, mostly because I wanted to talk to Kelly.
Bunny’s dad and uncle cooked dinner that night for their wives. I think it must have been unremarkable because I don’t recall what it was- or maybe I was a little pre-occupied by that whole LATE thing. Immediately after dinner, and after I cornered Kelly in the bathroom and explained the situation, we found an excuse to have to run to the grocery store.
We went to the one with a pharmacy.
“I bought a pregnancy test at the grocery store,” I told the girls who had heard Bunny announce her conception, “and went right into the bathroom to take the test. It was positive so I threw it in the trash and went back out and bought another one, and then went right back into the bathroom.”
I made Kelly swear she wouldn’t tell a soul. NOT. A. SOUL. She promised but I knew it was only a matter of time before she would tell her husband and then he would tell his brother, my husband. I just needed a minute to THINK. We went back to Kelly and Jeff’s and I spent the rest of the night being pleasant and acting like my whole entire world hadn’t just changed. I said nothing. Bunny’s dad and I left and went home to separate places, no closer to mending our relationship than we had been six months or even a month ago.
But when he found out I was pregnant, when I eventually went to his parents (which was where he was living at the time- or more, where his stuff was living ‘cause he was hardly there) to tell him, he begged and begged and begged for us to live together again and give it another try.
I really wanted it to work. I was having a baby, and he was the father. I wanted nothing more than happily ever after, and so I went back into it full of hope.
“My dad called me today to wish me a happy birthday,” Bunny told me at her party.
“Oh good, he’s not missing anymore?” I asked.
“He was missing?” my sister Megan asked.
“His girlfriend text me,” Bunny explained, “and asked if I knew where he was because he had taken her car and disappeared. I said, ‘Yeah, he does that’.”
Which brings me to the day, Bunny was born.
(To be continued…)