Monday, March 20, 2006

Baby Story Chapter Three

The first month that we arrived back in Germany was a tough one. We had made our decisions, let others know about it, and pretty much agreed that there was no turning back now. We knew that there were a few issues to deal with once we got back, but the question was more along the lines of what to do. We knew that we wanted to be a family, we just didn't exactly know how to do it. We made lots of plans before coming home to face up to it, it was just a question of what it was going to be like and how we were going to do it.

Now that we had told our parents and other relatives about the impending marriage, and my family about the baby-to-be, we embarked back on the plane to our home, in Germany. Now things in Germany are never easy. The culture was definitely one that took some getting used to for us, but eventually we got the hang of doing everything in the most difficult way possible. This was little to no comfort to us when we surveyed the road ahead.

So we quickly became adept at making priorities. And then making them based on the time it was going to take us to reach those priorities. For example—we knew we had to get married, and married quickly. I was due to move to my next assignment in February. And the way the Air Force works, they will do nothing for you as a couple unless you have the coveted marriage certificate. So, though we had other priorities down the road (the church wedding, my assignment processes, having a baby—small things like that) getting married instantly became our most pressing issue. In the States, this is not really a big deal. You get a marriage license, maybe a blood test, sometimes wait a couple of days and boom!—you’re a family. Well, in Germany it’s a different story.

First we went to the legal office on base, thinking the whole thing could be done there. They instead gave us a form and told us to go to the economy and have them do it. They, in turn, asked for many forms from us (a birth certificate, for one, that Grace had at her mother’s house in the States) and declared a minimum processing time of two weeks before the ceremony could take place. So, right off the bat we were behind the power curve. But we got that ball rolling, and then turned to the other priorities, primarily this little clump of cells that was growing in Grace’s tummy.

Next was the pregnancy test. Like I said before, Grace was pretty popular at the hospital. When we went in we quickly started to realize that this was going to be a little difficult to keep quiet. For starters, Grace knew just about everyone in the hallway going to the doctor’s office. And with the diamond on her finger, and me behind her, it wasn’t much to put two and two together to get three. Still, noone asked and by that afternoon we had official word that we had a little baby on the way. In retrospect it was kind of childish, I guess, but for me up until that point I had this little voice in the back of my head telling me that this was some big Mission: Impossible type of scenario, and that somehow Grace wasn’t pregnant, she had just eaten something that was sticking with her for a few months. So, for me, it was a big deal for the doc to call us up and say "congratulations!" I was so excited that I immediately called my parents to tell them the good news. Everyone seemed a little confused, but for me it was pretty amazing.

On the list next was the church wedding. Life in a military community sometimes means that we’re going to have to make some sacrifices, and this was one that smacked us in the head. There was only one priest available (for a community of many thousands of soldiers) in the entire Kaiserslautern area. "No prob," I thought, mistakenly assuming that my fiancĂ© and I were suddenly everyone’s first priority. We began the whole pre-cana process, where we each took an excruciating 156-question test to show our compatibility. The Catholic Church also demands other birth certificates and proof that you are, in fact, a Catholic that we simply didn’t have. On top of that, the priest that was counselling us was late quite a bit and perturbed when we couldn’t match his schedule. Eventually, much to everyone’s disappointment, we canned the church wedding idea, hoping that we’d have it sometime after the baby was born. And so from the start, things began to take a few turns that we didn’t expect.

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