I’ve taken a roundabout way to telling a lot of these stories. It’s probably just as confusing to you, dear reader, as it is to me. Keeping track of what I’ve written already is painful and when I go back and look at these first drafts, I think about all the details I’ve missed and how I could have said things more clearly/better/whatever.
When Rhondi and I found out that she was pregnant with the person who would become Teresa, I was overjoyed. I was in love with Rhondi and adjusting to the instantly large family and the idea of having a baby was amazing to me. We had also both concluded that we were going to get married pretty quickly in our time together.
I think it was about three months into us getting to know each other that she popped the question one morning after a very fun night. I think she is right when she reminds me that I popped it again soon after but either way, when the thought came to us, I’m sure we both knew we were on to something good.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that we were not being careful with our physical manifestations of our love and that was very different for me. I was always super careful about that sort of thing. My mom lectured me as a teenager about wearing condoms and I had no problem with it. I also saw a few people I loved die of AIDS, so I was also deathly afraid of catching HIV. For some reason I thought it was going to get me after seeing what AIDS could do to a person.
Rational or irrational fears aside, I’m convinced that both Teresa and Liam had to be born. Call it fate or whatever, but they helped complete our family (at least until Skylar arrived and hopefully a bunch more grandkids before it is all said and done…but no rush!!!). I was so excited to meet my new child.
Telling my family about Rhondi’s pregnancy was not quite as easy.
As I have mentioned, after moving out of Shannon’s house, I moved into my grandparent’s old house on 15th Street that my mom had bought from them after they decided to downsize a bit. It needed a lot of work, and I was helping my mom and stepdad with it. When things started to get really serious between Rhondi and I, the shit hit the fan at Shannon’s house, and I moved into the 15th street house a bit early.
I was there for about five months before we found out about Teresa. Prior to this, Rhondi and I had discussed getting married on St. Patrick’s Day 2007, but a baby pushed our timeline up a bit. It also meant having a tough conversation with my mom about the house. I offered to buy it from them and make a few adjustments to it to make it fit for all of us.
That didn’t fly, so we moved out into a place on Bethany Home at 10th street. It was also too small for us, but it did the trick. Rhondi got bigger and bigger and in June of 2006, Teresa was born. Her birth ended some of the tension that had developed between my mom and I regarding my decisions and for a while, everything was hunky dory.
I could have cared less about anything, though, other than my little bean. As I have mentioned, I spent a ton of time with her early on and she was just the apple of my eye. She was super cute, too. A very photogenic baby, for sure, and we used to jokingly call her a “Gerber” baby because of much she looked like a baby that could have been on their baby food jars.
I had no idea how much I liked babies as I had limited experience with them as an adult. Come to think of it, I had limited experience with them as a kid, too. Being an only child until I was 25 or 26, I didn’t have that experience growing up. I’d never lived with a baby until Teresa. I didn’t even mind that she woke me up a lot those first few months. I liked getting up with her and getting her bottle and letting her get her fill.
With no sense of smell, changing diapers was a breeze. I have mentioned her stomach issues, so there was a lot of changing of onesies and such but even that was a snap. Sure, I hit the wall about every third or fourth day from the crazy sleep schedule, but it allowed Rhondi to get herself into a good situation at work and that has really paid off over the last 16 years she has worked for her company.
It was a joy seeing how much the families all loved her, too. My grandfather, Tom, was still alive and he just delighted in getting to see and hold her in the last seven months of his life. During our very last conversation, which was just hours before he died, we talked about what she was doing and how she was growing and learning. The twinkle in his eye for her was something I will always cherish.
She was the first female baby on that side of our family since my mom was born, so she got a little spoiled. I think my mom was the fondest of her. She wanted as much baby time as she could get and Teresa loved her “Nanny,” as she eventually started calling her. She still does, but when you’re 16, spending time with gramma is not as big on your agenda as it once might have been.
I can still see the bedroom Rhondi and I shared in our first house together. It was not very big at all. Just enough room for the queen-sized bed we had, a crib that Teresa rarely slept in, and Scarlet, my dog. Teresa slept way better in a little reclining bouncy chair that could be set up on the side of the bed. If she fussed a little, we could just reach over and bounce her a little bit and she’d go back to sleep until she got too hungry.
It's weird the things you remember. A memory of being half asleep, reaching out to give a few little bounces to your restless little one is not something you might think would make you almost cry sixteen years later, but it does.
See you tomorrow.
Teresa at about four months. I had forgotten how early she got her ears pierced. If I remember correctly, I was not a fan of this.