No Kids for Me. Nope. No Way. No How.
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By Shawn Blackhawk
Growing up in America's Heartland, Shawn Blackhawk used her poetry from an early age to express herself. Her philosophy has always been: "I'll try anything once." She uses her words like a brush, painting vivid pictures, evoking as much emotion from her readers as she can. She appreciates struggles, as they pave the road to triumph, and firmly believes that the darkest parts of the human mind and soul are the only way to eventually celebrate the light. She has been recognized for Illuminating Digital Publishing Excellence by Jenkins Group (eLit Awards) and was the 2011 Silver Medal Finalist for the Electronically Published Internet Collation (EPIC Awards). Shawn's poetry book can be purchased at L-Book.com.
Eons ago, when dinosaurs ruled the world, I was in high school. I wasn’t like my other friends, drooling over boys in class, talking about the newest hunk in the movies. No, I was staring at my friends, developing crushes on them. I knew I was different and even knew the word for it: “Gay.” *gasp* The collective inhalation of air amongst my friends when I finally brought it up was hilarious to me. I never tried to hide it at school, at work, or the mall – just at home around my family. Eventually, the rumors made it back home (thanks, big brother); and I finally admitted it to them. They railed against the idea, thought it was a phase or that I could change my very nature. When they realized that wasn’t going to happen, they settled down and asked the important questions – their main one being, “But what about having children?” I managed to hold my tongue and not give the smart ass remark about a turkey baster and sperm banks. It was hard, but I managed. I then also had to inform them that had I been born straight, I wouldn’t have had children anyway. The entire concept of pregnancy made me shudder.
As I got older, my opinions didn’t change. Three and a half years ago, my partner and I got stationed in Oahu – away from our families and for me, my nephews and nieces. Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved every call home, every video chat and Hallmark card with photos. It’s just not the same when you aren’t there for them in person. So, we found a way to cope, Hawaiian style.
There is a tradition in Hawaii of calling your elders whom you respect, “Auntie or Uncle.” (Hi, Auntie Yvonne and Uncle Bert!) It doesn’t matter that you aren’t blood related or that your skin color is different. It’s given to anyone who is an elder that you trust like someone from your own family. It’s a neat tradition, and I haven’t found it anywhere else that I have traveled.
When we realized that some of our younger enlisted kids weren’t blending in at the base very well, my partner and I decided to set one night a week out and made these kids attend dinner. They were a motley crew of youngsters in all different branches of the armed services. We picked a local chain where food was cheap and the kids, short of being with medics or on watch, were expected to be there. After a while, they all started calling us, “Auntie.” It was a pretty cool feeling knowing these kids looked up to us and felt like they could come to us with any problems. And come to us they did – for everything from help with paying for plane tickets home to food, a place to crash, or a designated driver. Relationship problems, holidays… We were there. We thought we could handle anything they threw at us. And then one day, while my partner and I were enjoying our usual Sunday brunch at Koa Pancake House, this happened.
Not Me: Hey, Auntie… Guess what?
Me: You’re pregnant.
Me: Oh, my God, you’re pregnant.
Not me: *sobbing* *mumbled words* *sobbing*
Me: We’ll be there in ten.
My partner and I had a parAuntal moment on the way to Half Pint’s house. How could she? She’s so young! Who’s the father? What are we going to do? What do we say? In that ten minute drive, we went through every emotion possible and came to the conclusion that no matter what, we loved her and would be there every step of the way.
Half Pint moved in with us not long after that meeting. The father, having decided that he wasn’t ready to be a dad, and her, wanting that baby more than anything. There was never any doubt that our adopted niece was going to go through the pregnancy with all the support we could give. It was somewhat miraculous how fast all those notions my partner and I had had about pregnancy and babies flew out the window the moment one of our “kids” needed us. There was never a doubt that what we were doing was the right thing. I’ll admit to moments of freaking out. I’m not a vomit person. Not when it’s myself doing it, on TV, or in the movies. I can’t stand it. Half Pint of course had the WORST morning sickness ever, and it lasted seven of the nine months. Picture a big, tough butch, heavily tattooed and pierced, standing outside a closed bathroom door, alternating gagging with, “Are you okay?” I made runs to Safeway at 3 a.m. on a weekly basis for dill pickles and cream cheese. Fast food burgers with lettuce and tomatoes became the only way Half Pint could get veggies down. It was almost like the baby knew when she was trying for healthy food and would cause her to get sick anytime she tried to eat salads or fruit. We learned to hide the good things under the guise of junk – applesauce in brownies, carrots and carrot juice in cake. It became a running joke about what we thought the three of us could sneak into prisons with how well we learned to cover things up with food. And through it all, we kept our weekly meetings with all our kids. We made our family. And with the first ultrasound, I was smitten. I had heard of love at first sight but hadn’t ever experienced it myself. When I saw the heart beat and the blob encasing it, I was a goner. The child to be went from an alien to a jelly bean and stayed “Jelly Bean” until we learned he was going to be a “he.” And then he became Atticus. I read stories, sang, and made up tales about how his mother was kidnapped by an evil king but how he was going to be a great Prince who saved the world and freed his mother. Had anyone told me all those years ago that I would be talking to a young woman’s stomach, looking at my partner across a large expanse of belly belonging to one of our “kids,” I would have laughed.
As the due date grew closer, Half Pint asked if we would be her birth coaches. She wanted her two Aunties there with her, since her mom couldn’t be. How could I have turned that down? What she didn’t know was that my partner and I had a plane ticket bought for her mom to come to Hawaii the week after Atti was born. As the date came closer, we started a betting pool. Half Pint went into labor, and it was suddenly no sleep, no appetite, no rest for any of us. It’s time. No, it’s not. It’s time. No, it’s not. After about 50 hours of labor, the army hospital finally admitted her; and it was show time.
I will never forget that experience. I’ll never forget holding Half Pint’s knee on one side, my life partner on the other, our closest friends – no, our family – all in the room, waiting for Atticus to make his appearance. How proud I was to hear Half Pint tell all the nurses and doctor’s that her two Aunties were there for her at this most important moment in her young life, watching that little head start crowning and busting out laughing – then having to explain that each time he came out and went back in, I had an urge to go find a “Whack-a-Mole” game. Hearing Half Pint laugh, cry, grunt and groan, her tiny hands covering mine as she’d sit up to push, watching that 24 inch, 6 pound little man, push his way into the world, deciding right then and there that I would be there for him and his mom anytime they needed me, that being an Auntie, whether by blood or by choice, was the coolest job I’ve ever had… Yeah.
No kids for me. Nope. No way. No how. For once in my life, I’m glad I told a lie.
Published: June 11, 2012