Jan 16:

Sandra and I have been skipping a lot of our Friday night trips to the bar. I've been with Jim a lot and she keeps saying she's tired. I kind of miss hanging out with Sandra, but when I'm with her, I miss Jim. Especially since he's practically all we talk about when we're out anyway.

Sandra and I decided we were definitely going to go out tonight, and Jim made plans to play poker with some of his friends. We got to the bar by around 6 and it was fairly empty, so we got our usual table. I ordered a Guinness and Sandra ordered a Coke.

Sometimes Sandra said she didn't want to have a drink, but it occurred to me that the last couple of times we'd been here, she'd ordered a Coke. I had a bad feeling I knew what this meant.

"Are you pregnant?" I asked her.

"What?" Sandra looked at me, startled.

"Why did you order a Coke?"

She didn't even have to tell me. I felt completely sure. Finally, she said, "Okay, I'm pregnant."

I feel bad saying so, but I was bummed. I'd been dreading Sandra getting pregnant for a long time. She's a year older than me though, so I knew it was coming sooner or later. I mean, I want her to have a happy healthy baby. I just know that once she gets into the whole pregnancy thing, we're not going to be able to be friends like we used to be.

"I'm sorry," she said.

I felt kind of like a loser, that she felt like she had to apologize to me for being pregnant. "Why are you apologizing? It's great news. Congratulations."

"Thank you," Sandra said. She looked miserable.

"How far along are you?"

"Eight weeks only."

Okay, eight weeks. So there would be seven or so months of normal Sandra before she had the baby and that was all she could think about anymore. "Great," I said.

"I didn't want to tell you because I knew you were upset that your sister was pregnant," Sandra said.

I forgot about how I had whined to Sandra about Tina's pregnancy. That's more annoying though because now I have to hear about how wonderful it is every time I talk to my mother. Sandra being pregnant... well, I could be happy for her. I could work on it, at least.

"I'm sure you and Jim will have kids soon," Sandra said.

"Sandra, we're not even engaged," I said. Although I have to admit, I was glad that I have Jim. I think if she got pregnant and I was single, it would have practically killed me.

"Yes, but you know you will be soon," she said. "I bet by this time next year, you'll be pregnant."

I was cheered by the thought of that. Of course, something I try not to think about is the fact that I'm not even sure Jim can have kids. I mean, even if I wasn't using birth control, there's nothing Jim and I have done so far that could potentially make a baby. The guy has to ejaculate in order to make a baby and Jim doesn't do that. So I'm thinking getting knocked up might be a problem.

I'm afraid to ask Jim about it because what if he tells me he can't have kids? Then what? I mean, I love him but I really want kids. Of my own, not adopted. I think I'd still stay with him, but it would definitely be a blow. Maybe I should just ask.

Jan 17:

I feel really guilty saying so, but I feel bad about Sandra being pregnant. I've been bummed about it all day.

I haven't written about having kids before, because it's kind of a sore subject for me. Now that Tina is pregnant, my mother has been calling with daily updates on the baby kicking or having womb hiccups or whatever. I act cavalier about it, but I desperately want to be a mom. When I see a newborn baby, it's almost unbearable.

I never wanted to be one of those women who got impregnated from a sperm bank, so back when I was single, I felt like I was probably never going to be able to have a child. I acted all cheerful over the idea of being an aunt, but that was all a lie. I want to have a baby. I don't need to have a zillion kids, but I want one. Of my own. Is that too much to ask for?

I guess the fact that I want it so bad is one of the reasons I never brought it up to Jim. That and the fact that he's a man so I figure it will scare him. I don't see how it's possible for me to ever get pregnant though if he isn't able to ejaculate. Unless he knows some secret I don't know about, which I guess is possible.

I know Jim loves kids. I saw how he was with his nephews. And he'd make such a great dad. He's patient, he never yells, and he's very affectionate. Don't laugh, but I've fantasized a bunch of times about having a baby with him. I had a dream about being pregnant and him lovingly hugging my big belly. Yes, I am weird.

All right, I'm being ridiculous. I just need to ask Jim about this. We're supposed to be open with each other, so I'll just ask. That's all. Simple.

Jan 18:

I wasn't sure how to ask Jim if he thought he could have kids. I mean, it's kind of an odd thing to say. We were lying in bed after we went to dinner tonight and we were talking about the movie we rented and there was no natural lead-in. I mean, how do you go from talking about a movie with pirates to asking your boyfriend if he's infertile?

When there was a pause in the conversation, I said, "By the way, my friend Sandra is pregnant."

"Hey, that's great," Jim said. "Tell her congratulations from me. Unless she doesn't want anyone to know yet?"

"Um," I said. "Jim, can you have kids?"

He looked surprised. "What?"

I kind of wished I could take back the question, but it was too late. "I mean, you can't... ejaculate. So..."

Jim raised his eyebrows at me. "I don't ejaculate, but that doesn't mean I can't."

"You can?" What the hell?

"In a doctor's office, yeah," he said. "With electrical stimulation. I got myself checked out a little while ago, to see if I could ever have kids. My sperm count is still in the normal range."

"Oh," I said.

"So in answer to your question," he said. "Yes, I could get a woman pregnant. Maybe not the traditional way, but I could do it."

"Oh," I said again. I was embarrassed, but also relieved and glad that I asked.

"Why do you ask?" he said playfully. He rolled over to face me.

"Um, well," I said. "I think it's good that you can have children with... you know, whoever you..." Ugh, I'm so not smooth. Jim was looking at me like he was about to burst out laughing. "Anyway," I summed up. "You know."

Jim laughed but then wiped the smile off his face and got very serious all of a sudden. "Tessie," he said. "You know I want to marry you, right?" I started to say something and he wouldn't let me. "I'm not proposing, I'm just making sure you're aware of that fact."

I nodded.

"I don't want to rush you though," he said. "If you say yes to me, I don't want there to be a doubt in your mind. Because there isn't a doubt in mine."

I wanted to tell him there wasn't a doubt in my mind either, but I couldn't. I love him, but getting married is a big deal and Jim is... well, there are issues. In the back of my mind, maybe I’m not 100% sure. And I know the last time Jim bought a ring for a woman, he had to return it. So I don't blame him for wanting to be sure I'm sure. It must have been awful for him to put himself out there like that and then get shot down. I guess he doesn't want to go through that again.

"Come here," Jim said to me and I rolled over to face him and he kissed me. "I love you," he said. I told him I loved him too and we kissed until we both fell asleep.

Jan 20:

I just got off the phone with my sister Tina.

Tina and I have kind of a weird relationship. Unfortunately, we don’t really talk much anymore. I am three years older than she is and we used to be friends when we were kids, but sometime when we were teenagers we started to grow apart. Actually, I should be honest: I know the exact moment when my relationship with Tina fell apart.

I was 17, a senior in high school, and she was 14 and a freshman. I was feeling pretty depressed because I desperately wanted a boyfriend, yet no boy would even look at me. It was something I thought about constantly and was extremely frustrated. I feel kind of bad whining about it now, considering that at the same time I was 17, Jim (who is two years older than me) was 19 and just getting used to living the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. Makes my problems feel a little small, in retrospect.

Anyway, my aunt Athena was visiting us, and the second she saw Tina, she made a huge big fuss over her. She started talking about how Tina had blossomed and how beautiful she looked… and I started to realize she was right. And as ugly as I had felt, I felt a million times uglier at that moment. Athena didn’t even give me a cursory, “Nice socks,” or whatever.

Then Athena started teasing Tina about boys and how they must have been going crazy over her. Tina initially was shy about it and didn’t say anything, but then she finally admitted, to my horror, that she had a boyfriend at school. My baby sister had a boyfriend before I did! I wanted to die.

Of course, since my mom didn’t want us to actually date, Tina’s relationship was pretty limited. But we went to the same high school and I had to watch Tina staring lovingly into her cute boyfriend’s eyes in the hallway all year. It was miserable.

And then when Tina started dating the wonderful, perfect Theo, it just got worse. My mother used to constantly gush about him. By that point, I pretty much expected Tina to get married before I did. But that didn’t mean it sucked any less.

Her wedding was probably the last straw for me. I feel like Tina must have chosen bridesmaids dresses specifically based on what would flatter me the least. Of course, I know Tina didn’t actually want me to be one of her bridesmaids and Ma just forced her. After sitting at a table alone through Tina’s whole wedding while relatives came up to me and made comments about how funny it was that my little sister was getting married before I was and how I better hurry up before I’m too old, I basically never called Tina again. And she never called me.

That’s why I was kind of surprised when I picked up the phone just now and it was her. I had been waiting for Jim to call and I didn’t have Tina’s number even programmed into my cell phone, so I thought it might have been him calling from a phone at work or something, even though the area code was wrong. When I heard Tina’s voice on the other line, I was completely surprised.

“Hi, Tessie,” Tina said. She sounded very quiet and reserved on the other line. She’s actually very shy, even though she’s so pretty. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” I said. “How are you doing?”

“I found out I’m having a boy,” she said.

“Oh,” I said. A boy. My mother was going to be so happy. I bit my lip and forced myself to sound happy. “That’s wonderful, Tina.”

“Theo wanted a boy,” Tina said thoughtfully. “I sort of wanted a girl, but… well, I just want the baby to be healthy.”

“Right,” I said. I didn’t want to talk about the baby. I didn’t even want to talk to my best friend Sandra about her baby so I certainly didn’t want to talk to Tina about it.

“Um, so… my friend Gloria is making me a baby shower and I was wondering if you’d like to come?”

I wondered if my mother had told Tina to invite me. “Uh, sure,” I said. I definitely did NOT want to come, but I figured I was stuck. How could I say no to my own sister’s baby shower?

“Also,” she said, “we’re inviting couples, not just women, so you should invite Jim too.”

That was not what I expected Tina to say. I was a little speechless.

“Theo and I really liked him,” she went on. “Daddy liked him too. He seems wonderful.”

She didn’t sound patronizing at all. It sounded like she meant it. The thing is, Tina is a really nice person. She doesn’t rub my nose in how great her life is, but that still didn’t make it any easier for me to swallow. I wonder if maybe now that things are better for me, we could restart our relationship. For a moment, I allowed myself to fantasize about my sister and I being friends again like Jim is with his brothers. I mean, Tina is my sister. I only have one sister.

“Also,” she added. “He’s really cute.”

That got me to laugh. Tina and I talked for about twenty minutes after that and the whole thing really made me happy. I’m actually in a wonderful mood right now. Which is good because my phone is ringing now and it’s probably Jim, and we’re going to have a great night together.

To be continued...