Sunday, March 19, 2006

Baby Story Chapter Two

When I arrived in Atlanta it quickly became apparent to me the condition that Grace was in. We (at the father's persistent request) took another EPT. This one, as if to slap me in the face and yell "SHE'S PREGNANT YOU STUPID FOOL!!" came out with two VERY strong lines this time. So the decision was made. No more waiting. We wanted to be together. We loved each other. And to make it better, we were having a baby...

Grace grew up in Waco, Texas, and that’s where her family lives now. I had never been there, and had never met her Mom (I had met her Dad, who lived in Bilbao, Spain….another story) so we agreed that we would announce our wedding plans but that was it. So once we got there, we went shopping and bought a ring. I tend to be a bit more romantic (cheesy-romantic) than Grace, so I wanted her to wait so that I could propose to her. But we went ahead and told her family anyway. Her brother Yogi was the easiest. When we went in to pick up the ring, he walked in ahead of her and behind me. Unbeknownst to myself, she told him that I had a gift for him. When we got to the counter I asked to see the ring, turned around and showed him. To others it appeared that I was proposing to Yogi, and not Grace. I, of course, didn’t know this, which played right into Grace’s plans. Much fun had by all, ha ha ha…whatever.

Grace’s Mom was a different story. She wanted to tell her alone, which was fine by me, and sat down and explained to her that we loved each other and were getting married. She trusts Grace a lot, and trusts that she wouldn’t get herself into something she shouldn’t, and almost immediately blessed the relationship. Her main concern was that we get married in the Catholic church—I was Catholic, so that was fine by me. We then went out to meet her Dad at an Outback Steakhouse, and the whole family sat around the table. I had had many visions of how to propose to Grace gone over in my head, each ending with me dropping on a knee and proposing to her, resulting in her laughing hysterically. So I figured that I may as well do it now. While we sat fidgeting in our chairs, I leaned over and whispered into Grace’s ear.

“Marry me.”

She smiled and shrugged her shoulders.

“Ok!” And went back to eating.

I slid the ring under the table to her and had to practically force it onto her finger. So I surprised her a bit. She later told me that she thought I was kidding, that I was joking about proposing to her in an Outback Steakhouse.

When we went to my family’s home in Rochester, Minnesota, we had to take separate flights because the one she was on was booked. As luck would have it, my flight was delayed and she got out on time, so she ended up sitting in the Minneapolis Airport with my parents for two hours. Like I said, she had met my parents before, so they went to Chili’s and waited. Noone seemed to ask why she wasn’t drinking, why she looked like she was not feeling too well, or why the ring on her left hand was turned around. Now my parents are a unique type. When I got off the plane, they each (Grace as well) had funny Christmas hats on and were making an interesting scene. My first concern was if she had told them or not, and I quickly figured out that she hadn’t. May as well get it overwith, I thought, so I stopped them before we left.

“I need to introduce you guys to someone,” I said. Confused, they looked at us. “This is Grace, my fiancĂ©e. Many hugs abound, and everyone was thrilled. We did the same thing to my sister Katie a few days later. But the best was yet to come.

We all went shopping at the Mall of America in Minneapolis the day before Christmas Eve. We did all of our last minute (well, ok, all of it at once) shopping and bought two Christmas ornaments. One was a Santa Claus that could be opened up and something placed inside. The other was a “Baby’s First Christmas” which I scratched out the “1998” and wrote “1999.” My mother had been badgering both my sister and I for grandchildren for a long time, and my standard response was “be careful what you wish for….you may get it.” So I wrote a note with that quote on it and stuck it in the Santa, wrapped them both up and sat the whole family down on Christmas Day, 1998.

My Mom and Dad sat down by the tree and Katie showed a lack of interest as we gave them the gifts, the Santa first. Mom opened it up and read the note. Immediately she began to cry out of happiness, and she was so speechless that she couldn’t tell Dad. Katie, suddenly interested, began to jump up and run around the room trying to figure out what was making Mom act like that, and Dad read the note. Of course, he wasn’t there for the “Be Careful What You Wish For” conversations, so he had no idea what it meant. So I had him open the other ornament. Eventually we just told him, because for the first time in his life, my Dad was speechless as well.

Everyone was happy, and I immediately dropped to the lowest priority in the family. Grace was now first, and the baby second. I was somewhere in there near the bottom, but I didn’t care. The way I figured it, the hardest part was over. Little did I know.

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