Dee and I decide who we are going to tell. Jay is only 7 weeks and my mom always told me that a woman should wait until the first trimester is over before telling anyone. Being one who likes to share pain in my life, I never quite understand the reasoning behind this. We decide that we are only going to tell family until the three month mark. I will tell my side of the family, he will tell his.
I try to anticipate the various responses of the family. I know my dad is going to say “I knew it,” and he doesn’t disappoint. “I expected this,” he says. I am immediately annoyed. I feel judged, like I haven’t brought her up correctly. I also feel protective of Jay. She may have made mistakes in the past, but it isn’t necessary to use the tar brush for the rest of her life. “Is her boyfriend going to support her?”
“Yes, dad, he is.”
“What about where they are living? What about money? You are supporting her, aren’t you?” Jay is the first grandchild and has always had a special spot in my parents’ hearts. Despite his apparent expectation of her pregnancy, he still wants to make sure she is okay.
“Yes, dad, we are of course supporting her. We are helping them move into better accommodation. Don’t worry, Jay will be fine.”
“Why don’t they move in with you? You have the space.”
“We offered, dad, they don’t want to. They want to be independent.”
“Well, that makes no sense.” I sigh.
“They will be fine, dad. They need their space. They just want to do the best they can. Can you let Peter know please?” Peter is my brother.
He suddenly chokes up. “I wish your mother was here. Oh, Sarah, she would have loved this. You know she would have been on the first plane out there supporting you both.” God, I missed my mom.
I change the subject. “Are you still coming out here for christmas?”
“Yes, my flight is booked. I arrive on the 7th December.” That’s 3 days before Jay’s Young Women’s Clinic appointment.
“Great, we will see you then.”
Next, I phone my sister in South Africa. As soon as I hear her voice, I burst into tears. The first tears I have shed since I found out. “Sarah, what is it? What is it?” She sounds frightened and I think I must sound like someone has died.
“It’s Jay. She’s pregnant. Oh Gee, my baby is having a baby!” I can barely catch my breath.
“Oh Sarah, I am so sorry.” It feels strange to hear condolences for something that is meant to be such a happy occasion. “How far along is she?” I tell her the due date. “Sarah, this is a blessing. Mom will have died almost 2 years to the day when that baby is born. We will have something positive to keep us going, something to celebrate. Mom would have loved that.” I know she is right. “And Jay will make a wonderful mom. You know how good she is with kids. They stick to her like glue.” Gee is right, of course.
Dee has in the meantime let his brother and sister know. He tells them in a jovial, can-you-believe-I’m-going-to-be-a-grandad, kind of way. The responses are positive, but I can’t help myself thinking, “I know what you are thinking.” I don’t, of course, know what they are thinking, but I am still feeling judged as a mom of a teenage pregnant daughter. Our society does not value young mums, placing them on the drop kick pile of losers. My daughter, on the other hand and with no bias whatsoever, is intelligent, eloquent and very happy to have a baby. She does lack education, but in this day and age, this is not insurmountable.
The next person we tell is Dee’s dad. He is not Jays’ biological grandfather. Dee adopted Jay when she was three. He had met us after Jays’ biological father had died in a scuba diving accident when she was 16 months old. We fell in love and he did not hesitate to adopt Jay. Dee’s parents had fallen in love with Jay and were very fond of her. They treated her 100% like she was their own. I was so very very grateful.
Jay wants to tell them herself. We go around to their house for coffee. Jay stands next to her grandad and says, “I have something to tell you.” J-A looks at Jay.
“Oh yeah, what’s that?”
“I’m going to have a baby, you’re going to be a great grandad?”
J-A looks at me almost confused. I smile and nod. He looks down at Jay’s tummy. “Wooohooo! I’m going to be a greatgrandad. Jo! Jo! we’re going to be great grandparents.” He is doing the dance of joy around the kitchen and we are all laughing. It is the most positive I have felt in three weeks. At this moment, I realise just what a wonderful gift this baby really is. I am so happy.
The next day, I phone Jay’s biological grandmother. I am nervous about this phone call. Our relationship was never really good when Jay’s biological dad was alive, but it had really declined after his death and my subsequent decision not to bring my child up in South Africa. She had never forgiven me.
“Hi Ellie, it’s Sarah.”
“Oh hello, my baby. How are you?” I can feel my heart thumping in my chest.
“Jay is pregnant.” I just blurt it out.
There is a slight pause. “Yes, of course. Is she going to keep it?” I say she is and that we are supporting her in that decision. She is not happy. “Do you want me to talk to her about having an abortion. I mean, it really isn’t very good to bring a child into the world if you can’t support it, is it.” This is Ellie through and through. Judgemental, practical, never mind the cost.
“No, don’t talk to her. Jay will phone you, but please don’t mention anything like that. She is adamant she wants to keep the baby. She will be very upset if you mention that.”
Two days later I get a phone call from Jay. She is in tears. “I’ve just spoken to Nanna.” Damn that woman! “She said that I should consider not keeping it because it isn’t fair to Em who will have to support us, and to you and dad. Why would she suggest that, Mum, why?” I am furious. I consider phoning Ellie and giving her a piece of my mind, but think better of it. She has had so much loss of her own in her life and I know she is just thinking practically. I say this to Jay and to not take too much notice. “Mum, she told me to think about it and to give her my decision in a few days!”
“Jay, this is your body, and your life. You are answerable to no-one. You only have to be responsible for your own actions.”
“Well, I’m keeping this baby no matter what.”
Three weeks later, Jay sends Ellie a text. Dear Nanna, I have decided to keep the baby.