Susan Lafferty Laidlaw
Saturday, one o’clock-ish, mid April: a surprise visit from my eldest daughter. She and I sat across from each other at a small table in the shabby, not so chic dining room of the Inn. Sun streamed through the windows, warming our shoulders. It was hard to read the dingy plastic laminated menus in its glare. Our waitress took forever to swoop by with water and a “be right with you girls”. In her wake, an awkward silence arrived unannounced on the table, instead of rolls.
Why did I pick this spot for lunch? Oh right, for a taste of the quintessential New England country atmosphere I now live in. We should have gone somewhere else, less shabby chic, less old lady. I sensed my daughter was merely politely acquiescing to my choice without comment. I felt so distant. Why I wondered? My ladylike mother-daughter moment wasn’t falling into place, as it should.
“So mom…I wanted to tell you…we have been trying to get pregnant since last August.”
I did some mental math…since August… that meant ten months, almost a year. Oh no, oh dear, oh why?
“Oh?” I took a sip of my water, creating space for a pregnant pause. When did that process become a “we”? My feminist side raced right to the top of my reactions but only for a split second. I switched gears and channeled happy nurturing mom. “How wonderful. I was curious when you would begin to think about starting a family. Did you know when you went to Martha’s Vineyard this past Labor Day, Will teased me and said he wouldn’t be surprised if you announced little “Aquinnah” was on her way at Christmas.” Little did she know Will and I had adopted Aquinnah as our pet name for my some day grandchild.
“Well” she hesitated, “we went through all this testing and I finally found out that I am not ovulating.” She pressed her napkin to her lips.
Oh dear. This sounded grave. How could she not ovulate? This didn’t seem possible. Stomach twinging, another sip of water, my heart skipped a beat.
“So we have been going to a specialist. They are really great- the practice is one of the top in the country. Umm… I really like them.” She gracefully continued on, spoon-feeding me bits of information describing the complex scientific process she and her husband had been enduring for almost a year.
Stay calm. Be reassuring. Don’t start to shoot off the thousands of questions pouring into my head. Don’t burst into tears. Hiding my emotions in plain sight, I took another sip of water. “Oh. Well that’s good. You are so lucky to be in an area with top notch medical care.”
“Yeah and so we have tried for a while, and I just had another procedure done a couple of weeks ago and it is possible I might be pregnant now…. but I won’t know for a week or so. And if not, then we are going to start IVF when we come back from California in May. So yeah- I just wanted you to know.”
My heart ached for her…this shouldn’t be so hard…
Wednesday, early evening in mid August, oppressively humid, and overcast. Standing on the curb, Metro North station, Norwalk CT. My daughter and her husband are nowhere in sight.
I text “Here- where are you?”
“Be there soon” she texts back.
They arrive ten minutes later. I am irritated. What took them so long? They knew when my train was due. I climb into the backseat of their Volvo.
“Hi Mom…Where do you want to go for dinner?”
No apologies for being late. I was exhausted and almost done in by my day in NYC. Their tardiness rubbed me the wrong way. I was Hangry- that nasty combination of angry emanating from hunger and fatigue.
“I don’t know. Whatever you want to do is fine with me. Is there someplace you would like to go?”
They conferred and arrived at a decision. Back on 95 towards Westport. Traffic. Ugh. We pulled into the parking lot.
“So mom, I have something for you.”
She reached into the back seat and handed me a small package. It looked like a tiny white tee shirt rolled up in brown wrapper.
“Honey, what is this? Is it a camisole?”
“Go ahead Mom.. Just open it.”
We rarely exchange little tokens, unless it’s one of those- hey I bought this shirt at J Crew but I never wear it- do you want it?
Curiosity and intrigue traded places with hangry and exhausted. I lifted the scotch tape that secured the wrapper and unrolled a tiny white cotton onesie. The “Entering Aquinnah” sign was silk screened on the front and a picture of her sonogram fell onto my lap.
What a rush of love. What a joy of motherhood.
Susan Laidlaw was an executive in the fashion industry in New York City when she met her husband to be, Will, completely by chance. Two years later they married and Susan relocated to the Berkshires to begin a whole new chapter in her life, leaving career, friends and family behind.
While Susan continues to keep a hand in the fashion world and consults for several clients in the U.S. and abroad, she has added “writer” to her list of interests and accomplishments.
Last November Susan participated in the internet- based creative writing project, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and wrote the first draft of her novel, “Finding Will”, a romantic story of a young widow’s journey through grief and self-discovery that transforms her life.
Susan’s fashion and design sensibilities are still hard at work and are now focused on a complete transformation of two antique houses in the Berkshires. Susan has also stated a blog, redhousewhitecottage.com to capture the process.