How to Have a Shotgun Wedding, Part 2.1 of 3: Get Geared Up

Get Sister, Get Best Friend (6 Days to Wedding)

Call your Mom. But before doing that, you Google the word “pregnant” in Korean so that there are no issues of translation.

Call Mom and tell her you’re pregnant. Ohmona. Say that fast three times. Ohmona, ohmona, ohmona! This is the Korean equivalent of oh my God. Happiness and confusion and worry are on rotation in this conversation. A baby! A baby? A baby…. A baby! A baby? A baby…. You get the idea.

Call your Sister. She’s in bed, probably answering the phone with her eyes closed. Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod! She starts to cry with delight at the prospect of becoming an aunt to a niece. She’s fairly certain about that, the sex of the baby that is. So when are you going to get married? You have no idea. Have you told mom? You called her first. Wow, she must be going crazy at home. Yeah. Okay, I’m going to go over there.I’m so excited about the baby! Oh my God!

Email reverends. Tell them that you’re pregnant and that you need to get married right away. Help us. You don’t use the words “shotgun wedding” out of tact and you used the words “with child” instead of “pregnant” or “prego” or “preggers” or “bun in the oven” or “knocked up” or “up the duff.”

Sister lives four doors up the street from Mom, an arrangement made possible in no small part because of Mom’s planning. Mom is the mother of all planners so her reaction is neither a surprise nor a disappointment. You’ve got some of that planner-ness in you too (although your heart belongs predominantly to spontaneity) and the pregnancy was not part of the plan.

You imagine Sister throwing a parka over her pajamas, slipping on Sorels without socks (there’s no time for socks) and marching over Mom’s. Ohmona, ohmona, ohmona! OhmyGod, ohmyGod, ohmyGod! Can you believe it? I can’t believe it! When is she going to get married? I don’t know!

Later when you speak to Sister again, she tells you that the moment she walked in, Mother danced like leprechaun with a pot of gold. She’s feeling good, she’s feeling lucky. But like me, she’ll swing between anxiety/fear and joy in the coming days.

Email reverends. Tell them that you’re pregnant and that you need to get married right away. Help us. You don’t use the words “shotgun wedding” out of tact and you used the words “with child” instead of “pregnant” or “prego” or “preggers” or “bun in the oven” or “knocked up” or “up the duff.”

You don’t know it yet, but one of the two most important parts of the wedding planning is already at work. Sister, you’ll discover, is a master MOH (Maid of Honor). Without her, pulling off the shotgun wedding will be more shotgun and less wedding. But, Hairee, I don’t have a Sister, you say to me. I would tell you, All is not lost. Get yourself a Best Friend, aka Master Bridesmaid. And if you don’t have one of those either then read on and live vicariously through me.

You need a drink. And that’s when you realize you can’t drink for another eight months. That dries up the tears. This is not a drill.

Go for a run to clear your head. Into mile two, it suddenly occurs to you that you have only been engaged for a week and that you and Squeezable Companion will never be married just the two of you. As you pass the Harvard footbridge, recall a friend of the family, who has a fabulous three year old boy. The first four years, she said over the holidays, you sacrifice your whole life for the baby.

Essentially, your 30’s are over. While crossing JFK bridge you start to cry. You feel sorry for yourself. The arrhythmic contractions of your diaphragm throw off your breathing, essential to a smooth run. The embryo is ruining your run and now multiplying in size this very minute to ruin your life.

You need a drink. And that’s when you realize you can’t drink for another eight months. That dries up the tears. This is not a drill.

Later at a Superbowl party you tell your Best Friend about the embryo. Your face must not be delighted, because she carefully asks if you are okay. The face promptly crumble into tears. You recount for her your thoughts during your run. And I can’t drink! Best Friend will tell you that everything will be all right. Everything will be all right. And besides, you’re having a baby! That is true. Beneath all the hubbub of rearranging plans and non-alcoholic busy-ness, that is true. Ambivalence ensues.

* * *

Get Dress, Get Shoes, Get Minister, Get Licence (5 Days to Wedding)

America doesn’t have universal healthcare. Because you’re Canadian, this state of affairs is a particular nuisance to you. And as a prego, it’s exasperating.

You don’t have health insurance in this country and a shotgun wedding will furnish you with marriage certificate needed for Squeezable Companion to place you under his health insurance and get you on your way with an ob-gyn. There’s a lot to do and think about because of this embryo.

You meet with SC at Cambridge City Hall to apply for a marriage license and realize that you need to decide if you’re going to change your name. The last time you thought about it was the day you got engaged. Oh yeah. That was only a week ago.

One of the reverends reply to your email to say that he understands your situation and would be willing to perform the ceremony at his church. You get a pair of shoes from Macy’s while out shopping for a dress with Best Friend. While trying on one pair that you end up purchasing, you tell her what SC said to you on Sunday morning before he left work. You order a dress online for a mere $79.99. It helps that you’re a confessed online shopaholic.

You meet with SC at Cambridge City Hall to apply for a marriage license and realize that you need to decide if you’re going to change your name. The last time you thought about it was the day you got engaged. Oh yeah. That was only a week ago. You look at your name and you look at his name. You think about the baby and how it’ll be called Hayden and you think you want as little confusion as possible about the maternity of that kid. So you write Hayden on the Surname Upon Marriage.

On Sunday morning, just before going to work at 5am, this is what SC said: I’m happy and I’m scared.

That’s how you feel about the dress (looks great on screen but will it fit?), about the shoes (nice but what if it doesn’t go with the dress?), about the minister (accommodating but SC thinks he looks ancient, like a golem), about signing marriage licenses (Look what I’m doing! and Wtfaid?), about changing your name (good last name but what about mine, about me? What does this mean? Who am I?), about this baby (Look what’s in the oven! and Wtfaid?).

* * *

Get Flowers, Get Reception Reservation (4 Days to Wedding)

Sister calls. She’s been in touch with a florist for a bouquet and boutineer and puts together something that she knows you’ll like. You hadn’t thought of having any flowers at all. She called the restaurant you and SC like and booked the private dining room and put together the menu. She’s made arrangements with your Dad and he’s booked his flight. She’s called the hotel and booked rooms for everyone at the hotel SC wanted to stay at. She’s found a dress. It’s forest green chiffon. Lovely. She’s created a seating plan based on the guests list and your input on the guests. This seating plan which will change tomorrow when the guest list gets unexpectedly inflated and she will create a new seating plan. By the way, Sister lives in Toronto and has a full time job. Somehow she’s managing to plan your shotgun wedding and go about her daily business. You knew she was incredibly organized and quick. But her ability to juggle your life and hers and all her employees at the same time is blowing your mind. Little do you know that behind the scenes, Sister has also been in contact with Best Friend, who has acquired the services of a photographer for the ceremony. She’s also baking a wedding cake, which you don’t know about, finding a hair stylist who can do your hair, picking up wedding gifts, going to an engraver to get one of said gifts engraved, working out the gift bags for the guests with Sister.

Photo courtesy of Laura Wilson

What are you doing? You finally have a bowel movement after three days of being constipated. Nausea is still an issue, but you’re not vomiting. This morning, after Sister gets you up to speed on what she’s been busy with on her end, she asks how you’re doing. You burst into tears over the phone, blubbering about how scared you are. You don’t have a job, no money, SC works eighty-five to ninety hours a week so you’re going to be taking care of this kid pretty much by yourself, you won’t have a life beyond the baby for at least three years, you’ve already gained weight and going to get fatter, you woke up this morning because your breasts were aching so much (who the hell gets woken up by their breasts?), you can’t drink and it turns out from a conversation with Best Friend that you can’t drink for at least another six months up to a year(!) once the bugger pops out if you plan to breast feed (and by “if” she means “since” since no mother worth her salt doesn’t breast feed), what about your Friday Cocktail series and replace it with what?, Sister and Mom are so far away, you’re mourning your 30’s, you’re mourning your writing career, you’re mourning your vagina that’s about to become the birth canal.

And she says, “Don’t worry about anything. Mom and I are here and we will take care of you no matter what. You and the baby have nothing to worry about. Everything will be all right.”

* * *

Get Happy (3 Days to Wedding)

Fran calls. She’s coming to the wedding with her husband and her infant daughter. You give her a more succinct and less teary version of your concerns about the baby and the shotgun wedding and missing out on your 30’s.

[W]hen have you ever done things the way people normally do things?… [T]his is normal for you.

“Okay, Miss Lee,” she says with her very matter-of-fact, listen-up voice, “you have had a pretty carefree life so far. Going to grad school, doing what you want to do, living on your own. You’ve have a damn good run. So stop whining about your 30’s. And as for getting pregnant by accident and maybe not doing things in the order you wanted, when have you ever done things the way people normally do things? Right? So this is normal for you. You’re having a baby! This is fantastic news! By the way, the first year S-U-C-K-S.” (Her 2 year old was near by. You’re thinking “sucks” is a bad word? Should you know this?)

Mom calls. She’s spoken to Aunt Kyunghee, her younger sister and my favorite aunt. Aunt Kyunghee has had a hysterectomy and runs several marathons a year. She’s soft spoken and super laidback and I’m her favorite niece. When Mom broke the news, she says, your aunt said, “Ohmona, ohmona, ohmona! So you get a son-in-law and a grandchild just like that. You must be so happy! What a lucky girl she is! No it’s not too soon! Do you know how hard it is for some women especially her age to get pregnant? This is a blessing! That girl has got a horseshoe up her ass! Oh, I wish I could be there to see her get married! You are a lucky, lucky woman, sister.”

You burst in to tears.

Mom says she isn’t worried anymore. This is the best thing to happen to you, to her, to your family. She can’t wait to see her granddaughter. She’s fairly certain about that, the sex of the baby that is.

* * *

Coming up this afternoon Part 2.2: Get Geared Up. Up tomorrow, the final post Part 3: Get Hitched.

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