Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Sister Chronicles. Ahoy! - Part 1

I have had a few stories milling around in my head for awhile now. Here is one of the more interesting ones. Surprisingly, it does not involve horses.

I have an older sister. She is fifteen months older than me. Here's how that happened.

My parents got married and wanted kids as soon as possible. My mom failed to get pregnant right away, and so she went to see her doctor. It was the early 60's, so her doctor gave his best infertility advice, which was "You're trying too hard. Just relax and it will happen."

Finally, six years later it did happen. My mom was pregnant. Unfortunately she miscarried in her first trimester. That finally spurred the doctors into actually doing something to help the process along. They found that my mom had a cyst on one of her ovaries, and the other fallopian tube was blocked. They cleared out the blocked tube and removed the cyst, and told my parents to get busy. They did, and my sister Tracy was born within a year.

Now, you have to understand just how excited they were for this child. My father spent two hours at the hospital filming my sister in the nursery. She was sleeping. We still have the footage, all 120 boring minutes of it. Apparently that was the only time she did sleep, because when they got her home she would not sleep for more than an hour. Tracy would wake up hungry, and they would try to give her a bottle. She would take three or four sucks on the bottle and then fall asleep. They tried like crazy to wake the kid up, but she stayed asleep. They tried flicking her feet, taking her clothes off, dipping her hand in cold water, all that stuff, because they knew she would sleep longer if she could just get some food into her.

However Tracy refused to cooperate and was getting my poor mom up every hour all night (and day) long. Just when she thought it couldn't get any worse, it did. My mom found out she was pregnant with me. How had this happened?

Well, my parents never considered that the blocked tube and possibly the cyst were preventing the pregnancies, and that once those were fixed then all systems were go. They figured that it took seven years to have the first baby, so they wouldn't worry about birth control. That's how I came to be. Blissful ignorance about the reproductive system. Ironic, no?

My poor mother had a bad fifteen months. She was already exhausted from lack of sleep, and then she had pregnancy fatigue on top of that. Tracy wasn't sleeping through the night and my mother was starting to worry if she was going to survive. But my dear sister took pity on my mother and started sleeping through the night weeks before I was born.

My mom steeled herself for another year or more of no sleep. However, three days after getting home from the hospital my parents woke at 6 am. Their first thought - "The baby! Something's wrong!" They ran into my room and there I was, asleep. With my thumb in my mouth. I slept through the night after that. Such an angel, I know.

Even thought you wouldn't know it, this story doesn't have to do with Tracy and I when we were babies. This story was when we were probably around 8 years old.

First let me explain the dynamic between Tracy and I. While she was a booger and didn't sleep through the night she was precocious in other ways. She talked very early. In fact she could hardly stand on her own but could say the entire Pledge of Allegiance. My mother would take her to the grocery store and hold her on the checkout counter and let people hear my tiny sister pledge her little heart out, hand over her heart. So Tracy was talking (and walking too) very early, and I had a lot of catching up to do.

At 15 months difference we really aren't that far apart in age. That didn't stop Tracy from being the dominating sibling in the relationship. When we got old enough to play together (meaning I was walking and talking) we got along well. That's because Tracy called the shots. Any game that didn't come with rules (and even sometimes then) Tracy made up the rules. If we played Barbies, I had to be Ken or Skipper, never Barbie. If we played stuffed animals she got to pick who she wanted to play with first, and I got the leftovers. Same with the Breyer horses, and she even got to pick which swing she wanted to use. We also played this bizarre game called "Sister and Mom", where I was the sister and Tracy was the mom. In this game she basically just bossed me around, telling me to go to bed or wash her clothes. And like a good little sister I allowed it and did exactly as I was told.

But every now and then I had an independent thought and rebelled against her tyranny. And we finally get to the story now...

My Great Aunt and Uncle used to have what we called the River House. It was their vacation home in Virginia, and was on the banks of some big river. Our family would get invited to spend a week or so each summer at the River House with their family. It was a lot of sitting around, playing in the huge yard, and swinging in the hammock. Plus eating tons of food. It was a great time. (On a side note I'm pretty sure I heard a story that Tracy was conceived at the River House. Or my younger brother Chris was.)

My Great aunt and Uncle were avid boaters and had a motor boat and a smaller row boat at their pier, which was at the end of the long back lawn of the house. Tracy and I used to get chicken necks from Dad and tie them to strings and go down to the pier and try and catch crabs. I don't know if that ever worked, but it occupied us for hours.

I'm pretty sure that's what we were doing that day. We got bored with crab catching and someone got the bright idea of getting into the boats.

To be continued...

Part 2


craig said...

I started laughing as soon as I read "River House." Then again, I know how this story ends.

Anonymous said...

More, please! C

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr