Well, I did it. I didn’t do it in two hours flat like my sister, but I had my shit pretty much together in a week. I gave notice at the cleaners, I saw the people who were good to me and gave mad hugs. I bought a ticket to LA.

The flight was surprisingly not bad. Jaime was happy with her bottle. I’m really glad she’s back to the breast milk. I know how much healthier it is.

Sondra picked me up at Los Angeles airport. First thing we did was go straight to the best burger in the universe. Yep. You guessed it. In n Out. I’ve been hearing about this place from my west coast friends like its freakin heroine without the side effects and addiction and poverty and disease. You get the picture.

Well, turns out, they were right. I’m gonna be very happy here.

In other news: Sondra’s homie is letting her stay there. There isn’t room for me too, but there’s an apartment in the same complex. It’s pretty nice. There’s a pool. a POOL, man! Ah. Yes. And she also said they need a cleaning guy at this dental implant place where she’s a secretary. So bam. The set up is complete and I’m gonna be making pretty good money here compared to my last cleaning gig. It’s in Beverly Hills, so they have a decent budget.

That’s all for now, I’m too excited. Gonna go swim. And my friends back home are in a blizzard!

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Ok so I promised you a plot twist. Then I got all caught up slinging you knowledge on parenting. Which, I have to say was very good advice. Jaime and I are straight up chilling.

So San Antonio didn’t go so hot. The job I thought I was supposed to get fell through. At the same time, Sondra called me from Los Angeles when I thought she was going back to New Orleans! I mean wtf. I was glad she was ok but my sister take spontaneous to a whole new level, and that’s putting it nicely.

Apparently, she’s had a life-long secret dream of being in movies. Um yeah. What? Like i’m  your brother and I’ve known you all your life and you made to college without ever admitting to it. But “yeah, its true.” she said. ” i was so scared of even admitting it to myself because I was embarrassed by what might happen if I failed.” I had to say, I admired her honestly.

“so why now?” i asked her.

“because i just realized it. i mean i realized that not doing it is what has been making me so sad. i’ve been imagining jaime growing up and wondering what she’s gonna tell her friends, what she’s gonna think about me, how she’s going to remember her mother. and then i had this beautiful picture of her saying to her friends, ‘my name is Jaime —— and my mom’s name is Sondra—–. She is an actress.’ and I imagined her thinking, if my mom can do that then I can do anything. so suddenly i knew it was what i had to do and i couldn’t wait. i couldn’t wait another second. i asked you know who (the baby daddy) for money and then i got on the first plane to Hollywood. bob hope airport, to be exact. and now i’m staying in a hotel, but i know a girl from summer camp that lives here and we’re having coffee. I have a feeling she might put me up.”

and then i knew what was coming….

“Will you move here?” she asked me. “will you move to LA? with Jaime?”

I mean how could I say no.

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Just when you think you have it all worked out.

Let me start by saying this: I am so happy with being alive. However crazy my story seems, however many twists and turns along the road, I know that its all worth it. I know that family matters to me, and being around Jaime has made me face the facts-

I was nowhere near fatherhood before this happened to me. I mean sure, in a vague sense I figured it would happen, but I never imagined myself with a baby. I didn’t prepare for it at all financially. Sorta figured that if thats what fate wanted to happen, then thats how it would happen.

A few tips for new dads:

  • Don’t overthink it. 
    • Babies are people, men are people. although it may FEEL like it, a baby is not an alien or a hairless gerbils. There will be mutual understanding. It’ll he hard sometimes but mostly it will feel positive, so just be in the moment.
  • Remember how fast time goes.
    • Ok, so this is one thing you don’t want to under think. When I’m questioning my masculinity as I rock Jaime to soothing music, I remember how fast the past five years have gone. What have I really done for the past five years? I ran a successful website, I formed some friendships… but it really went by like a blur.

The next five years will be the same.

  • Your baby will be a kid in five years. FIVE YEARS. How old are you, guy who’s reading this? 25? 40? 50? Now think of five years. What I’m getting at is, your baby will only be a baby a very short time. Then they’ll be a regular-type human being who doesn’t look like ripe little peach or a squishy little bear. They’ll talk and go to school and have playdates and jobs. Knowing this helps even the most tired, poop-smelling moments just a little bit sweeter.
  • Ask for help. People feel good when they help you, so by asking for friends to step up and do you a solid, you’re actually doing them one, too. People especially like helping when cute little babies are involved. Added perk: Babies, including Jaime, instinctually are extra cute with new people. Somewhere deep in their baby brain, they know that they need to live and they do that by being effing adorable. This means less crying and squirming when they’re fed, clean, held and otherwise have no reason to be crying except to exercise their little larynxes (lari?)  So you get help and have time to pay your bills and read and go for a run, baby is happy, friend feels like part of the family. ALL GOOD FEELS.

 

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Anyway, long story short, Sondra came back with me to live in San Antonio. I got a place, and it was walking distance from my job so I was able to come back and help.

One day, in the midst of my cleaning gig, I got a weird feeling. I called my boss and he is a decent guy. He said he’d fill in for me.

When I got home, Sondra was sitting on the floor and crying. First thing I did was check on the baby and luckily she was fine, just sleeping in her crib.

“What’s wrong, sistuh?” I brought her a box of tissues.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “I’m so sad.”

I didn’t know at the time that postpartum depression is a thing. But now I do.

She admitted a lot to me over hot cocoa with little marshmallows (thats what happens when siblings live together for the first time since childhood- they re-buy all the special snacks they used to have over Saturday morning cartoons). It turns out she’s been crying almost every day. She would wait til Jaime was taking a nap, or at least tried to. Then she would wonder why she felt that way, when she had a beautiful, healthy daughter. And an awesome brother (hint hint that’s me) helping.

I tried to lay it out for her why its normal:

  • You just had a baby! THat’s a major life change.
  • You are planning on giving your baby to me to take care of while you study.
  • You’re living to a new city. That means not a huge group of friends yet.

So we made up a plan. First, she would not go back to school in the fall. She would stay in San Antonio with me for a few more months. I offered to move back with her to New Orleans, but she said it didn’t make sense since neither one of us wanted to live there in the long run, and it would be easier to raise a kid here. I think a lot of the fear was that she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed for a whole year.

Also we signed her up, right there on the spot, for some Mommy and Me music classes. And she promised me she would tell me about how she is feeling.

 

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Where did I leave you?

Oh yes.

I was with Sondra in her off-campus apartment while we ate beignets and discussed parenthood. I didn’t mean to say it! It just happened: “I’ll raise it, then.”

I didn’t know til I said it and saw the look on my sister’s face that that was what she had been waiting for during the whole conversations. She looked so relieved, so happy, I didn’t have the heart to add, “Maybe… let me think about it.” “CHRIS!!!!!” she sighed. “I don’t know how to say how happy I am.”

We agreed that I would come back to New Orleans in time for the baby’s birth. I would save up as much money as I could before then, and then head out west.

So I did. I showed up a week before her due date, and the very next day, as if she’d been waiting for me, Jaime arrived.

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Wondering if people actually do that La Maz breathing? Well, they do. I know. I was there.

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I promised you a story of my journey, and now you’re gonna get it.

I used to be know-it-all about all things gaming. I spend all my time playing games, talking about games, and watching videos about games. I read everything I could about coding, and even started my own little code-generation business.

Then, things changed. My sister got pregnant.

You would think this would be a source of great joy. It is, now! And how. Not so much back then.

Sondra went to Tulane for school, but dropped out to party. She got pretty deep into drugs and we didn’t hear from her for a while. One year, she missed Christmas. It wasn’t just that she chose not to come home. That wouldn’t be a big deal. What happened was that I paid for her ticket using the money I was making in my coding biz, and then she just didn’t show. She didn’t use the ticket, she didn’t call or anything.

I was freaked. We were very close growing up, even if we’d grown apart, I still wanted her to be safe.

“Why don’t you take it?”

I went out to New Orleans and tracked her down. She was fine, and actually sober! But she was pregnant. She didn’t know know how to tell us, because she knew she wasn’t ready to be a mother. She also wasn’t ready to let the child go.

We talked about it for hours and hours. I thought the best plan would be to ask our mother to raise the child, but she wouldn’t have it. “Not after what I went through,” she said, meaning a rocky relationship between them. “Why don’t you take it?”

Amazingly enough, during all those hours of talking, weighing open adoption or closed adoption, and ways she could pay for childcare while going to school, it hadn’t occurred to me that I could take that on. Me! A dude! Someone who knew ask much about mothering as about brain surgery. Which is to say, nothing at all.

And yet.

 

to be continued…

 

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