It hit me last night, quite unexpectedly. I jolted upright from my chair, upsetting the meticulously woven quilt of crumpled up Kleenexes under which I had buried myself, and let my mouth swing open in outright shock.
"Oh by God, Laureg," I drooled. "Do you dow what's habbenick dis weeg?"
Lauren blinked and stared at me, and began the long, dreary process of translating Head Cold. I saved her the trouble by gracefully blowing my nose in a ladylike manner and repeating the question, then answering it.
"Alison's having the babies," I said, "On THURSDAY."
This shouldn't have been quite such a surprise to us, given that my eldest sister's C-section has been scheduled for quite some time -- certainly a month or two. But the twins have been figments of my imagination for most of this time.
It's hard being so far away from something so monumental to our family. We used to be spread out all over the place -- Julie in Oxford, me in Texas, and my parents and Alison in different parts of Florida. But now, Julie's delightedly tucked into her new apartment in Washington, D.C., a quick car trip from Maryland, where her godchild and niece is grasping the power of speech. Mom and Dad are staying out there to help Alison relax pre-birth and cope after it's over. And I'm all the way over here. They're as close to London as they are to me.
I saw Alison in January, when she was showing but still not even far enough along to know the genders; other than that this pregnancy has progressed and passed me by via the telephone and e-mails and reports from my mother, concluded by occasional digital photographs taken on the other side of the country as proof of her near-planetary girth. When she was pregnant with Leah, it was much the same way.
The time just flew. Late June felt so far away, and then all of a sudden, we're about to round the corner into July and our family will swell by two as my sister's belly begins to shrink. Because I?m a wonderful aunt-to-be, I'm handling the arrival of two little bundles of joy by leaving the country for a month. Alison, being a great sister, never complained, partly because she may be secretly hoping for snooty Parisian baby clothes from the Champs Elysees.
There was a time when I prided our family on its geographic sprawl, mostly because it proved that our bonds are tighter than proximity. Distance wasn't something we sought, but something we defeated -- all the usual smug trappings of long-distance relationships, but without the worry of cheating and imminent breakup. It just felt freeing to know we could go anywhere and do anything, no matter how far away it was, and we'd all still be close. But it gets wearing at times like these, especially now that the rest of my family is in the same area and I'm the far-flung one. Once nieces come into the picture, once the family spreads beyond the traditional boundaries of parents and siblings, it's harder and harder to be the one who misses out.
One effect of my separation from the process, though, is that the arrival of the twins feels to me like it's been blazing fast, whereas for someone like my mother, it's going to be a relief because she's seen Alison struggle with swollen ankles and a demanding three-year old and a highly specialized diet for one with gestational diabetes. She's been there only for the last month of it and it's felt like a comparative eternity when you consider that I'm sitting here thinking that the last time I blinked, it was mid-May.
It's so exciting, though. Thrilling to think that two little lives are two days away from enriching ours.
Someone got here by searching for: schnitzel baby Reading: Two from the buffet of magazines on our living room floor Thanking: Dan, for sending us a mini-care package that included the issue of Anonymous Magazine That Pays His Salary to which we contributed an item. He also sent us a carefully crafted mix CD for Drunky But Funky that may be thoroughly reviewed on that site once Lauren's relinquished it from her selfish grasp. Just because it was a joint present, she thinks she can use it. She's so selfish. I heard her say a bad word yesterday.