I was about 4-years-old when my parents started to tell me about a baby. They were expecting a little sister for me around the beginning of August of 1980. Though I didn't really understand what a sibling might mean, I looked forward to that day. It just took a very long time to get here and not just because my perspective was very young.
It seems that near the culmination of mom's pregnancy, there were a lot of outings and overnights at one of my aunts' house or my grandparents' house. There were about 4 or 5 false starts, where they told me excitedly...
We are going to go to the hospital and have your little sister.
When we come home, you will have a baby sister. But then later, they'd be back and they would not always be smiling and there was no baby. I'd learn later that my mother had a lot of false starts and contractions that backed off as the day wore on. Since she was not bedridden, her water had not broken and the doctors were not sure how long it might be... they sent her home. Although I didn't recognize it until much later, this was very frustrating for my parents.
The baby was originally and ostensibly due in early August. But on the morning of August 26th, we were still waiting impatiently. Then once again a trip was made to the hospital while I waited with a family member or neighbor.
This time, for sure, we are going to go have your little sister. The smart kid that I was had begun to have his doubts. I'd learn later that the original due date was over three weeks earlier than what came to pass.
But that day was the right one and I was later brought to the hospital to see my parents and the new addition. What was the first thing my parents said to me about the little sister when I was brought into their room?
Here's Your Little Brother!
This was obviously one of the first moments where I began to get a small inkling that my parents did not really know everything in the world. They were not all-knowing like I'd come to believe. Because they had already had a boy, they just magically assumed that their next child would be a girl. They understood mentally that the gender determination is a random coin toss, but their minds played a trick on them and they didn't even know it until much later.
But no matter! I had my sibling and I was young enough to not really miss being an only child up until that point. Furthermore, although Jon was a boy and not the Jeanine they had prepping me for, he was really just a baby and not as interesting as I had pictured at the age of four.
I loved him instantly. But he wasn't practical. He couldn't play or jump or run or ride big wheels with me. I think that was what I had pictured since I'd never spent that much time around babies. They had told me that there would be a lot of changes and responsibilities with a new baby in the house, but all I thought was that I would soon have a best friend to tool around with. I think this is an issue for just about all older children, as I saw the same limited reaction from my oldest daughter when her sister was born. She thought of the baby as just a very animated doll for her to play with and got confused at first when that turned out not to be true.
Despite this, having a sibling is one of the greatest things on Earth. Who else but a child from the same parents can understand you in quite the same way? Frankly, I feel sorry for only children. It's not natural.
Jon's pre-birth gender surprise was not the only surprise he had in store for my folks. Even though I'd been around for a few years, my parents were still rookies. He's had an interesting and adventurous life so far --especially in his teen years-- and I can't help sometimes feeling jealous of him for it. I look at him occasionally and wish I'd been that cool.
Maybe some day...
2007/11/17: One of the pitfalls of your Mom reading your blog when you are writing about your life story is that she WILL correct you when you're wrong --and rightly so she should! A major detail in this story that I forgot was that my parents did in fact have an ultrasound early in the pregnancy and the expert's opinion was that the baby would likely be a girl. Leave it Mom to set me straight in comments below.
We did not just assume that the new baby was going to be a girl. An ultrasound indicated that it would be a girl. However in 1980 ultrasound was unreliable, especially as early in the pregnancy as it was. Oh well, we love Jon just like his big bro.
Thanks Mom for keeping me accurate. I do appreciate it. Although, you know, that doesn't say anything very nice about Jon that a medical expert was looking for male genitalia and missed them, ... but let's not bring that up, okay?