Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Best Wedding Present Ever (Part 1)

If you've read my other wedding posts, you already know that my sister is pregnant, but how I found out deserves its own story.

First, you need to know two things about my sister.

1) She has always been tiny. I don't mean just skinny, I mean teeny tiny. Although she's only two and a half years younger than me, my friends and I used to carry her around the house as if she were a baby. I actually used to call her Baby. Probably until she was in college. She has always looked younger than she is and now at 28, she could still pass for a teenager. In fact, last year when she was at the synagogue planning for her wedding, someone thought she was there prepping for her Bat Mitzvah.

2) Stacey absolutely does not keep secrets. My mom always says that if she wants to know something, she just asks Stacey. When Stacey was in high school, my mom would ask where she had been and what she was doing, and like no other teenager on the planet, Stacey would answer honestly. Weirdo.

So, the sum up, my sister is a skinny-minny, attention-seeking, blabbermouth (but I write that in love. So much love!)

Let's get on with this story. In July, nearly our entire, extended family celebrated my Bubbie’s 90th birthday. Three of Bubbie’s four children planned the party and nine of her ten grandchildren, plus a whole mess of great-grandchildren, gathered at a restaurant in Kansas City for her party. Stacey had gained some weight since I had seen her last, in May, and I wasn’t the only one who noticed she wasn’t so slim. Everyone started asking if she was pregnant. Everyone. First, Stacey answered their teasing and raised eyebrows by laughing. But the next day at my bridal shower, she insisted indignantly to one of my aunts that no, she didn’t have any announcements.

I felt really bad for her. After all, I could see how people might think she looked pregnant—her boobs looked bigger and she had definitely gained weight in her tummy. I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon, so I didn’t say anything to her, but my mom and I definitely started gossiping.

“I don’t know what to do,” my mom would say to me, worried, “she knows she’s gained weight, but she’s dipping her bread in the olive oil or spreading on tons of butter and eating away!”

“Well, it’s not like you can say anything to her about it,” I sighed, frustrated, “she knows how to lose weight. If she wanted to lose weight, she’d eat less and exercise more.”

Why was Stacey gaining so much weight? Before her wedding, I lost a few pounds because I wanted to make sure that I looked the best I could in her pictures. Was she going to be a fatty for my pictures? Oh no—I didn’t want her to hate the pictures of herself at my wedding. I have tons of her wedding pictures in my apartment and expected her to have pictures of my wedding in her house. But if she was fat, she’d hate all of her pictures.

And I truly believed that she wasn’t pregnant. After the flurry of questions in July, she told me that they were particularly hurtful since she had tried to get pregnant and hadn’t. She had gotten a negative result just a week or so before the party. “Oh my God,” I exclaimed, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want to tell you or mom—I wanted you to have your wedding and didn’t want to make things about me.”

“But this is a big deal. You wouldn’t have ruined anything by telling us about it.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter because I’m not pregnant,” she said, “and don’t tell mom ‘cause I don’t want her to get excited about us trying.”

So what did I do? You guessed it—I immediately called my mom and swore her to secrecy.

I got to Kansas City on the Wednesday before my wedding and sure enough, Stacey looked like she’d been eating all the butter and olive oil in sight. No wonder people thought she looked pregnant—her boobs were huge and she definitely had a belly. What was going on? Not only did she look heavy, but she felt different too. At one point I placed my hand on her back to get her to move faster and Jesus, she was SOLID.

“I think you look a better than you did in July,” I lied as she tried on some clothes I’d brought in from New York.

“Really? I’ve gained about ten pounds since then.”

“You’ve gained ten pounds in six weeks? Maybe you should see a doctor,” I said, trying to sound non-judgmental. How on earth did she gain ten pounds? That’s insanity.

“Well, I mean, I’m not sure it was ten—it probably wasn’t that much.”

“Mmmm,” I replied, unsure of what to say.

She had gained so much weight that my mom and I actively started trying to cut people off before they asked her questions. When Matt and I met with the Rabbi on Saturday for our final meeting before the wedding the next day, I warned him not to ask if Stacey was expecting. And, my mom told all of her friends not to say anything to her. We were both in protective mama bear mode.

Not that it did any good, of course. On the day of the wedding, my mom and I exchanged worried glances as we poured Stacey into her dress. It took both of us to fasten it. In fact, it was so tight that if the wedding was a week later, I don’t think it would have fit. After the ceremony, everyone wanted to congratulate me, tell me how beautiful I looked, and ask if Stacey was expecting. I kept smiling, thanking people, and waving off their questions. Even the caterer said something to my mom about seeing her at a bris.

At one point during the party, I really looked at her for the first time and saw how others must have seen her. Glowy, she was sitting with her little round belly outlined in her dress. She’ll tell me tomorrow, I thought, and dismissed it.

And sure enough, she did. My mom picked Matt and me up from the hotel the day after the wedding to join Stacey, her Matt and my dad at my parents’ house. Stacey and I were sitting on the couch together when she said, “You know, that dress didn’t hide my pregnancy very well.”

“Oh, I thought it looked cute on you,” I said, trying to dismiss her fears.

“No, I mean, it really showed off my pregnancy. I’m pregnant. ”

“Oh my God!” I exclaimed, my eyes filling with tears as I leaned over the embrace her.

She revealed that yes, she was pregnant. But only ten weeks, contrary to how much she was showing. And how did she keep such a huge secret? Her best friend knew and so did both our grandmothers. In fact, Bubbie had been lying to on Stacey’s behalf for an entire month. Our aunts, uncles, and cousins kept pressing Bubbie for information and she held them at bay, saying “No, she’d tell me if she was pregnant; it’s not true.”

I’m beyond excited that Stacey’s having a baby, but the fact that she kept a secret, and such an important secret, in order to help make my wedding weekend about me, was the best present she could have gotten me.

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