Write A Story With a “Cinderella Story Structure”
Our Journey by Sojourner McConnell
Today makes three years since this journey began. My story is simple but in order to explain why I am where I am today, I need to start at the beginning.
Four years ago, I married my Prince Charming. Daniel McGregor was a man that I met at the university and we had so much in common it only made sense that we get together. We knew it was love.
When I introduced him to my parents they were concerned that he was Catholic. My parents had been very adamant about raising me agnostic. They never tried to convert me to any one God or religion. They also did not try to convince me that he did not exist. God simply was never mentioned one way or another. We hoped and wished, but did not pray. Now I had found this lovely man that was a practicing Catholic. My parents were afraid that I would be brainwashed. They tried to talk me into finding another man. They tried to talk him into accepting me as agnostic without converting me. The pressure was intense. His parents always were inviting me to go to mass with them and my parents insisting that I not blindly follow them into a decision about religion.
Daniel and I played the game with our collective parents until it became a point that looked to break our relationship. I took a few weeks away from Daniel in the summer months to get my head together. I went to a friend that was studying psychology and was planning on opening her own office in town. I spoke with her and poured out my heart to her. She had me look inside myself and see if I was so set on making my parents happy that I would push away the man that I said I loved.
I took that and examined myself for weeks. The pain was real and being away from Daniel was what made my decision for me. He wasn’t forcing me to convert he was willing to love me just as I was.
One week after I returned to Daniel at the college we decided on a civil ceremony, invited both sets of parents and had a simple wedding. It became a day of love, without the pressure of a religious ceremony. It was perfect for us. Or so we thought. Our parents became unruly and rude to each other at the small reception and said terrible things to each other. Things were said that could never be unsaid, or forgotten. Both sides had alienated the other. Our own parents had effectively placed Daniel and I right in the center of the conflict.
Daniel and I faced this problem together as a solid, united front. We became estranged from our parents. They refused to see that they had caused this by being stubborn and opinionated in something that was not their battle.
From that moment we kept our own company. We spent holidays at our own apartment sending cards to both parents but not agreeing to choose one set of parents over the other. That has worked for the past two years. Our marriage is strong but we miss having our extended families in our lives. The years apart were painful, but it felt like the only decision to make.
One year after we were married Daniel and I made the decision to start a family. It was an exciting time for us. We had a small house with the perfect little room that we planned to use as the nursery. Each month we felt the disappointment that was growing each and every month. After almost one year, we went to another doctor, a specialist. He ran several tests and came to the conclusion that with fertility drugs we could probably conceive in a matter of months.
15 months after the wedding we began the fertility treatments. They were not overly complicated, but it did involve medicines, calculations, charts and timed responses. It was a stressful time for both of us.
For me it became a time that I wanted my mother to confide in and to lament the losses, the sadness and the hopelessness that I occasionally felt. They had caused a breech that I couldn’t in fairness to Daniel cross. So I went through this struggle without the support of my mother.
She had not reached out to me in this time either. Both sides of this awful predicament stayed firmly ensconced on their own side of the battle. Never once did anyone contact us offering to a meeting of the minds. Daniel felt the same pain about the distance with his family. We only had each other and we hurt.
The month that we did conceive we were elated. That joy only lasted for nine weeks before we dealt with the loss of our baby.
Daniel and I grieved in silence for six more months before the specialist, Dr. Wilson, offered a procedure that would hopefully allow me to conceive and carry a baby to term. We had been traveling back and forth to the hospital for almost five months when the first signs for hope emerged.
I was sick quite sick for days. At first I didn’t even bother to talk about it. Then I had this little thought in the very back of my head. As the days went by, that tiny little thought turned into a hope. I shared that hope with Daniel.
Daniel did not know what to think, he was afraid to believe I was pregnant. We had been so disappointed in the past, more times than I care to mention. Days when we had prematurely thought we might be expecting had only led to disappointment and extreme sadness. Daniel and I rarely even spoke about children now.
We took a trip to the drug store in town and picked up the self test kit. No way could we wait until later. We had to know, now. Daniel and I agreed that we would not be upset if we were not expecting this time. We promised that we would hold it together. The doctor would not keep treating us much longer. We were running out of money and insurance was no longer an option.
With test in hand I went into the bathroom and Daniel waited right outside. No way was he leaving me now he said. He was as invested as I was. With the five minute wait ticking slowly by, we sat on the side of the tub, little tester in hand. Finally there it was a vivid strip showed up in the center.
“No freaking way!” One of us said it; I am not sure who it was. It might have even been both of us at the same time. We often did that anyway.
I accidently dropped the tester and it clacked to the floor. I didn’t even care. I was so excited. This meant s much. Now my work was just beginning. I had to safely carry this baby to term.
Dr. Wilson had been giving me injections that would assist my body in carrying a baby to term, so we felt a little glimmer of confidence this time. For weeks, I ate well, resisted anything to drink other than milk and spring water. I was feeling more confident, more hopeful.
At Dr. Wilson’s office the day of the ultrasound, I was nervous and Daniel held my hand. He was always there, supporting and encouraging me. Daniel was always allowing me to lean on him when I felt breakable. Today, I felt very breakable, and he could tell. He held my hand as they lubed up my stomach with the cold gel before sliding the wand over the tight skin.
The grey screen began to contort and change then the technician said there is the heart. I could see the little fluttery thing on the screen. It was difficult to make out, but as she pointed out more and more parts of this tiny life that was growing inside, I could recognize my baby. Head, legs, fingers, nose. One by one they came into view and I was overwhelmed. I suddenly missed my mother. I missed that she was missing this. I missed Daniels mother was missing this.
I realized I would reach out one more time to them both. I would make it my responsibility to stop this war.
With pictures of each little part labeled, I told Daniel my plan. I told him what I was compelled to do. He once again said that he would accompany me and support me. I expected no less of him. That is who he is.
Once I reached my parents house, I walked slowly up the stairs holding tightly onto Daniels warm comforting hand. My heart was beating so erratically in my chest; I worried about my health and that of the baby. I knocked on the door. I knew that my parents would be home. They were creatures of habit and this was always when they were home watching the news together.
I was not disappointed when my Mother opened the door. She looked shocked to see me. But there was a light in her eyes. A glimmer of something I hoped was happiness to see us. I knew she did not know I was pregnant. We had not shared any news until we were sure that I was far enough along to safely deliver.
I could see the moment she recognized my belly. Her eyes widened and tears formed instantly. She called out to my father and he walked into view. We still stood on the stoop. She had not invited us in. I was unsure of my reception at this point. Yet, I was still determined. Daniel continued to hold my hand and had not said a word. He simply had a polite and friendly smile on his face. He wanted this to work out as much as I did.
My mother stepped out and pulled me into her arms. The tears fell unchecked down her cheek now and mine mixed with hers as we hugged cheek to cheek. She kept crying “My baby, my baby.”
Daniel was watching, I could see him through my tears as he stood to one side waiting, wondering how this was going to end. It was only at that moment that my father slapped Daniel on the back and said “come in, son. Let’s go in where it is warm.”
The next three hours went in such a rush of memories, hopes, fears and apologies, that I was shocked to find it had grown so late. We left with the promise from them that they would make right what they had said on our wedding day. They wanted to be a part of this baby’s life. They apologized for being so hard headed and hard hearted. We accepted them at their word.
Daniel talked all the way home about the change of heart with my parents and we agreed to confront his the following day. He wanted to have reconciliation also. He wanted his parents to be as happy as we were about the baby.
The next morning we went about our regular daily schedules and met after work. On the trip to his parents house we again discussed how important it was for them to be willing to apologize and forgive my parents.
When we pulled up in the driveway at Daniel’s parent’s house, there was a familiar car in the drive. I was puzzled as was Daniel. We got out of our own little sedan and walked together to the door. Again Daniel was supporting me and comforting me with his reassuring hand in mine.
As Daniel reached up to knock the door swung open and there his parents stood. They were both looking at us strangely with eyes red and damp but a wide smile on their faces. My own parents were standing behind them. My first reaction was that they had told Daniel’s parents the news about the baby, until Ramona, Daniel’s mother screamed and reached out to my stomach. She cupped my belly with both hands and stood there screaming for several seconds. It was pretty obvious that she had no clue there was a baby on the way.
Daniel was grabbed up by his father and surrounded by his big beefy arms. It almost took Daniels breath away to be squeezed in such a manner.
“Forgive us Daniel, Forgive us Lisa. We have been fools. Stubborn opinionated fools.”
Mr. McGregor stopped speaking and Mrs. McGregor took over. “Lisa your parents came here tonight to tell us they were sorry. We are the ones that are sorry. We were unforgiving and wrong. Now we see there is a baby. Can we please be part of your lives again?”
Daniel and I stood there, crying for a second day on a row happy delighted tears. We cried for the missed opportunities and for the future. We cried mostly for the family that this baby boy we had decided to name Ethan was going to have four very loving devoted grandparents in his life.
Today, I am lying in the hospital maternity wing. Ethan is in my arms and Daniel is sitting beside us on my bed. Standing around the bed are four very exhausted grandparents that have been here all night waiting to greet the little angel.
Ethan waited until the day before his due date to arrive and he is a healthy seven pounds. Today I feel like we are the happiest people on the planet. Through all the bad, the pain and the heartache we all now have Ethan to brighten the rest of our days, together as a family.