Sister Act

Last weekend the Ryan ladies descended on Berkeley for my latest (and final) baby shower. It had been months since I last saw either of my sisters, and plenty had changed. I know you can’t be “a little” or “sort of” pregnant, but that’s what I’d felt like the last time we’d been together. Now the only appropriate modifiers of my pregnancy are along the lines of “hugely,” “very” and “extremely.”

My older sister, Beth, knew we were pregnant as soon as we did. Beth was visiting us in Portland from Brooklyn around Halloween last year.

David Bowie and Sir Crafts-a-lot: Our Halloweenie costumes on the holiday I found out I was pregnant
David Bowie and Sir Crafts-a-lot: Our Halloweenie costumes on the holiday I found out I was pregnant

My period was a few days late. Eric and I had started trying for a family, and my friend Erin had supplied me with a few pregnancy tests. The first strip I peed on came back with a faint “positive” line.

Was it positive? I couldn’t tell.

I was shaking and felt somewhat ill. I showed Eric, who was washing dishes in the kitchen. It felt obscene to carry around a peed-on piece of plastic, but there I was with the test in my hand. He agreed that it looked more “yes” than “no.”

Eric and I approached Beth in the living room, where she was sitting on the couch. I probably said something like, “Um, so…” and showed her the empty pregnancy test box. I’m guessing the news was not what Beth was expecting.

I took another test, which showed somewhat more definitive results. A flurry of nervous energy set me to folding laundry. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Beth launched into practical mode. She suggested we run to the store to get another, more reliable test.

“You shouldn’t leave something this important to a pee test from the Dollar Store,” she said. Wise words.

The rest, of course, is history.

Amy, my younger sister, “met” the Peeper a bit later, in January. She got to see me in full-fledged first trimester craziness. I sported anti-nausea wrist bands (so hawt right now) and had to take lots of rests.

The first and littlest evidence of my bump!
The first and littlest evidence of my bump!

She and my mom suggested we stop in a Motherhood outlet store. I was running out of outfits that fit and, with a new job starting soon, I wanted to look presentable.

Amy and my mom pounced on the store’s offerings. They handed me sweaters, skirts and even a swimming suit to try on. In the dressing room, I found a round pillow with a Velcro strap you could wear under your clothes to simulate a growing bump. I tried it on and modeled it for them. We were doubled over laughing when Amy tried it on and struck a pose.

That’s when I started sobbing uncontrollably.

At first Amy and my mom thought I was laughing. But as I stood immobile except for my heaving shoulders, crying inconsolably like a two-year-old, they suddenly understood.

Well, sort of. Because I didn’t really understand. I wasn’t sad. It was just a visceral and immediate reaction to the idea of Amy becoming pregnant. That intensity of emotion short-circuited my brain, and the only release was through tears. Many of them.

All this is to say that it had been a long time since the Peeper and I saw my sisters, and we were both much bigger. They got to feel Peeper’s twisting, turning and judo chopping. It was incredible to share something so intimate and important with them.

Sister reunion in Berkeley
Sister reunion in Berkeley

In what felt like coming full circle, Amy and Beth made me cry multiple times throughout my visit. The waterworks started again when it was time to leave.

As I hugged Amy, Peeper gave a big kick, one that she could feel on her own (very flat) belly. “Oh!” she exclaimed. It seemed like Peeper was saying goodbye, too.

I was sad to leave my sisters, whom I likely wouldn’t see until after Peeper comes. My feelings were more complex than just sorrow, though. I was grateful to spend the time with them, happy to share Peeper’s growth, frustrated at long-distance sisterhood and who knows what else in that tangle of the heart. Most of all, I was glad Peeper will have such amazing aunties.

Is it any wonder they bring me to tears?

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