*About a month earlier*
“What’s wrong?” Tom asked, frowning.
“I…I just felt sick all of a sudden.” I set down my chip and sat back. My stomach flopped and I took a quick sip of water. Tom and I were out to lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Normally I love the place and chow down on chips and tortillas. But this time…something felt off.
“I didn’t get you pregnant again, did I?” Tom joked, popping a bite of tortilla in his mouth.
“Don’t be silly—” I began. Then the blood drained from my face. Wait. When was my last period? March, right? Yes. I had bled for two days. I remember being ecstatic because it meant I wouldn’t have my period when we went to Hawaii. Normally I keep better track of my period but well, after finding out Tom would have to deploy things had been crazy. It was the end of April now.
“I—” I started.
Tom set his food down, concerned. “Are you pulling my leg?”
I swallowed. Shook my head. “My period is late.”
No, we didn’t bolt out of the restaurant. We finished eating. Well, I mainly picked at my food. And then we eventually got a test, I peed on it, and told Tom to tell me how many lines it showed.
“What means what?” Tom asked, grabbing the box. “Two means no, right?”
“Two means pregnant,” I said softly.
Tom’s tongue practically fell out of his mouth as he stared down at the test.
I took the test from him and there it was, clear as day. Two dark blue lines.
“But how?” I said. “I’ve been taking my pill every day. I never forgot once.”
“These things happen,” Tom said in a faraway voice.
“But..” Well, I mean obviously these things happen. How many times have I heard the story of a surprise baby from birth control that failed? Birth control was only 99% effective. There’s that 1%.
“But..” I tried again. I did the math in my head. “But you’ll be deployed when it’s born.”
Tom hung his head. I could see that he had worked out the numbers in his head, too. “I’ll be deployed when it’s born.”
This is when the panic set it. “But I can’t…how can I…how can…we live in a 3 bedroom house. We don’t have room. We barely have enough room for us. I don’t know how to cook for 5 people. What are we going to—”
“What’s going on?” Tommy appeared in the kitchen and he was staring at Tom and I with confusion.
I suppose we could have lied to him. But really, he saw me panicked. What could I have said? That I was depressed that Dick Clark had died?
“We just found out that you’re going to have a little brother or sister,” Tom spoke up.
Tommy’s eyes went wide. “You promised that Natalie was going to be the only one,” he yelped. I could see tears forming in his eyes. “You PROMISED. You said she was it. I can’t take the crying. I can’t take it.” Tommy clapped his hands over his ears as though he could already hear the baby howling. Tommy has Aspergers and certain sounds upset him. Crying is one of them. When Natalie was a baby she cried a lot and he had to run upstairs screaming several times. It’s like crying cuts him like glass.
“Tommy,” I said, trying to pull him towards me.
He yanked away. “YOU PROMISED! YOU SAID NATALIE WAS IT!”
“Tommy, you won’t speak to us like that—” Tom warned.
“THIS IS ABOUT THE SEX ISN’T IT?” Tommy bellowed.
I almost fell over at that. What? How did he know about sex? He was still my baby. I mean, yes, he’s ten but…
“Go to your room until you can calm down,” Tom said. “You don’t speak to us like that.”
“YOU PROMISED!” Tommy shrieked, thundering up the stairs. I heard his door slam.
This is when I started to cry. “We’ve ruined his life. We did promise him.”
Tom pulled me to his chest. “We haven’t ruined his life. He can’t dictate what happens. He’ll get over it.”
“Mommy? What happened to Tommy?”
Oh no. Natalie. And she was clearly baffled.
“You’re going to have a new brother or sister,” Tom said, rubbing my back.
Natalie blinked at us. Then she said, “You mean a new baby?”
A smile began to form on Natalie’s face. I began to relax. Phew. She’d be easier. She’d be—
“But I won’t be the baby anymore?” Natalie asked softly. Her chin started to quiver.
No. No, no, no, not her too.
“You’ll always be OUR baby,” Tom promised.
A tear rolled down Natalie’s cheek as she walked out of the room.
“She’s going to be the middle child now. You know what they say about middle children,” I sniffled. I pulled a paper towel from the roll and dabbed at my cheeks.
“WHAT do they say about middle children?” Tom wanted to know.
“That they’re…unhappy. Starved for attention. Or something. Right?”
“I’ve never heard that. Natalie is strong. She’ll be fine. She’ll fight for her attention, you know she will.” Tom signed and stared at the pregnancy test. The lines were even darker. “Well, there goes our retirement plans.”
Great. Now HE was starting.
“There goes my SLEEP!” I joined in because everyone else was being all sad-like. “There goes my freedom. Natalie starts Kindergarten this fall. Do you know how ready I was for some peace? Do you know how mortifying it is to be pregnant at the same time as SNOOKI?”
Tom looked taken aback. “What does Snooki have to do with anything?”
“Nothing. I’m just saying. If everyone else is so upset, well, misery loves company, right?”
Tom was silent for a few seconds. Then his fingers reached out and touched my stomach. “You know,” he began. “I had noticed you were starting to get rounder.”
I stared at him, eyes blazing. Was he calling me FAT?
“Of course I didn’t SAY anything because I didn’t want to get slapped,” Tom finished quickly. “But..” He rubbed my stomach. “This isn’t a bad thing. It really isn’t.”
I sighed. “I know.”
“We only have three bedrooms.”
I bit my lower lip. “I mean, on Little House on the Prairie there really weren’t any rooms. All the kids basically slept in one area.”
“Tommy was so upset.”
“He’ll get over it. If he doesn’t, he can move out in 8 years.”
“What if he resents us forever and has to see a therapist and will say that he had a great life up until his mom got knocked up for the third time?”
“It’ll be ridiculous. He’ll get over it,” Tom repeated.
“How am I supposed to go through this with you deployed?” I wondered. A tear slipped down my cheek.
Tom wiped the tear away. “We’ll manage.”