The Scars of an “Oops” Baby
Trauma is a bitter taste…
No one wants to know that their parents had sex — ever. My adopted friend routinely said to me that he has no actual proof that his parents ever had sex. This, he told me, allowed him to sleep at night. For me, not so much.
I was the oops baby.
I distinctly remember my brothers making damn sure to tell me that I was the oops baby. They took every opportunity to remind me of that unseemly fact. This, of course, made me feel different and separate from my siblings.
The oops baby, for those not familiar with the term, is the unplanned pregnancy. A baby that was a product of the parent’s drunken carnal pleasures. In other words, ewww.
To me, there is significant comfort knowing that parents plan pregnancies. While I refuse to believe my parents enjoyed sex, I accept planned pregnancies a part of some contract with the human race in order to continue the species. Planned pregnancies are part of a much bigger plan.
Unplanned pregnancies are different. They are lustful. They are messy, sloppy, and usually break some piece of furniture in the process. And that’s only if you are doing it right. Unplanned pregnancies represent everything that you don’t want to picture about your parents.
But, according to my brothers, I was an oops baby, I was unplanned. My brothers and sister (I am one of 5) can all claim that they were planned. To them, it all made perfect sense. In my parents’ generation, planned pregnancies were the norm. My parents got married. Two years later, my brother was born. Two years later, my sister was born. A year after my sister was born, another brother. And three years after him, another brother.
But me? I was probably the result of a night of drunken debauchery because my parents had too much sherry at the neighbor’s barbecue.
I was born almost 6 years after my brother was born.
Even without the constant reminding from my siblings, I sort of knew that I was the oops baby.
I’m sure it helped my brothers to know that they were conceived as some sort of contract with the world order. That they were part of some grand plan to replenish the species. And the fact that they were alive and well was more a product of planning and engineering than of love making. I am absolutely certain that they slept well knowing that their parents weren’t getting freaky because they wanted to, but more because they had to.
But when I came along, it proved that my parents had sex, not to advance the herd, but rather for fun.
So for many years I grew up with the knowledge that my parents were sex fanatics. That whenever they had a chance, they were doing the deed at a moment’s notice. I didn’t have shame about my parents’ affliction. I just never offered it up as a conversation starter. I didn’t want to advertise my parents’ virility. And since I was told that I was the oops baby, I would have to just accept it and deal in therapy like the rest of the world.
But all of that changed one family dinner.
I was in my early 30s, attending a family gathering. My brothers and I were talking before dinner. We have a large, extended family, and so the noise was quite loud and seating was at a premium. My brothers and I were talking about a golf outing that my brother and I had completed the week prior. During that golf round, my one brother Gerry brought up my oops baby status. And at the dinner, in the biggest grin, he began ribbing me again.
“Johnny is the oops baby,” my brother Gerry said with a big grin, nudging my other brother Warren in the ribs with his elbow. Warren laughed out loud as my other brother Robbie walked by.
“Ha. . . . Yup. . . .” Robbie replies. “We all know that.”
The three smile big. Cue the canned laughter. And why not? They’ve only been saying that for the past 25+ years.
“What’s that?” my mom chimes in. She is seated next to Warren. “What are you saying?”
They all turn their heads to my mother.
“You know. That I am the oops baby,” I reply, rolling my eyes. “Gerry just was joking about how I was the oops baby.”
“What?!?” my mom bursts in. “YOU?!?” She throws her hand up in a dismissive motion. “You weren’t the oops baby. You were planned. Your father and I wanted one more child.”
“Really?!” I sit bolt upright.
“Yes. You weren’t the oops baby,” my mom repeats. “GERRY was the oops baby.”
You could hear a pin drop. The collective jaws of my brothers hit the floor faster than a speeding locomotive.
“WHAT!?” Gerry sputters in disgust amidst the laughter.
“Oh Gerry. You’re ridiculous. Why would you think that Johnny was the oops baby?”
“Well, there’s like 6 years between him and Warren.” Gerry whimpers and curls into a fetal position under the table.
“You’re not thinking,” my mother continues. “First Robbie, then two years later, your sister Denise, then YOU! Only a year later! Then 3 years between you and Warren. YOU were the oops baby,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. You could tell she wanted to add ‘Duh!’ because it was obvious to her.
BWHAHAHAHA! The entire room erupts in laughter.
No need for additional therapy. My fears have been allayed. I still know that my parents were getting freaky, but knowing that I was planned makes it feel slightly better. I can rest easy, knowing that I wasn’t the product of a lustful date night for my parents.
That’s my brother’s problem now.