As I write this I'm sitting in my mother's living room. My sisters, my mother, a couple of husbands, forty-three children (well, four, but the two who are not babies managed to open enough cans of seltzer to hydrate thirty-nine small people). Right now I'm wishing I had a 23andMe spit kit for every single one of them, so that we could discern once and for all whether what's genetic and what's just...Jo being Jo. I'm the dark horse when it comes to eye color, so I guess I could have been the genetic loser when it comes to Guitar Hero. Sure. Genetics. That's why I suck at Guitar Hero. Moving on.
So: back to those kids. I have two, each sister has one, and they sort of stairstep in age: four, three, one, four months. We've never been the kind of sisters who look like different-sized copies of each other; we have different coloring, different builds, different personalities. Seen in a photograph, we resemble each other very little -- but in motion, we're obviously related. It's all in the expressions, the way we move our faces and bodies when we talk, the sound of our voices. There's been a similar effect in our pregnancies. Bridget and I put on weight in the same places and at approximately the same rate -- if you held up pictures of us at 38 weeks, heads cropped out, you wouldn't be able to tell who was who. Well, as long as we weren't standing by anything by which to compare size -- she was starting from a size Very Small and I was starting from a, well, kind of an Extra Medium. The end product was similarly disparate in size, although in overall shape very much the same.
My second pregnancy was pretty different from my first -- I won't say radically because both were by and large uneventful, but the second time I only gained about thirty pounds and had that coveted "all-belly" look...exactly like my sister Gretchen's pregnancy. I have no earthly idea how that would relate to genetics -- since I had two totally different pregnancies -- but both matched up with a sisterly pregnancy. In every case, we all had some mild to moderate nausea, maybe some sciatica, but no other real problems. No preeclampsia, no blood pressure problems, no gestational diabetes (well, assuming I didn't have it last time. Which I do. Assume, I mean).
More striking is the similarity between the children. Of course there's that little matter of fatherly DNA contributed -- credit where credit is due -- but our babies were all on the big side, fattened up quickly, and were(are!) strong little truck-babies to boot. Each one was holding up his or her head by about day two, hitting the physical milestones ahead of schedule, easy to handle thanks to good muscle tone from the beginning. Half our sample has yet to walk or talk much, so it's too soon to make inferences on that count, but it seems that babies are a certain way in our family, and that's solid and chunky.
Kind of like one of the mamas. Ahem. And now that particular mama has to return to the crushing defeat of Guitar Hero, and pine for the simpler days of the Nineties, when there was time for Klax. Sigh