It was very difficult for me to make friends after I had Deanna because 1) I was depressed and 2) because I was in a brand new environment (the southern reg) and things are wayyyy different down here. I was still trying to find my comfort zone and figure out what the south was all about.
Eventually, I made some absolutely amazing friends at Meredith College and I came to fit into the southern lifestyle just fine, but the difficult part was actually finding people who I was not only compatible with, but who would also accept me for what I have been through. That's tricky. I struggled with a delicate balance of wanting to share everything about Deanna and what I had just gone through, but not at the expense of scaring potential friends off. I didn't want to be "the girl who had the baby" at first meet, you know? I just wanted to be Amy Hutton for once...or at least until these potential friends got to know me better.
When I first started college, I remember trying to decide whether or not to put Deanna's picture around my dorm room. When new visitors would drop by my room to introduce themselves, they would often exclaim, "Aww that's such a cute baby! Who is it?" Uh-oh. She's my....dauuuuuu.... uhhh...niece! She's my niece." The story changed a few times. That's when I became a really good recreational liar. I didn't want to lie, I really didn't...but I didn't want to have to explain everything a million times and have people judge me. I avoided the scrutiny at all costs, so I came up with a different story every time. The recreational lie thing became a great defense mechanism. Sometimes it was fun. "She's my second cousin, twice removed." "She's my friend's baby." (which was true...De was a friend and Deanna was actually De's baby.) I was satisfied with that story because it was more of a recreational lie than a blatant lie and I didn't feel quite so guilty. As you can probably gather, I was not in my right mind. Come to think of it, I was probably even a little crazy.
During the first two weeks of school at Meredith College, the Leonards invited me to a big family dinner at their house. Don, De, and Deanna were also going to be there. Deanna was less than a month old. Mrs. Leonard (MB) asked me to bring a few of my friends for a nice home-cooked meal. I sort of laughed, "what friends?" But I did have a few people in mind. I didn't know these girls well at all, but I took a leap of faith and asked three of them to accompany me to the Leonards house for dinner. I was a little nervous since the baby was going to be there, and I didn't know how my potential friends would react to all these random people. I never told them my relationship to the Dollars except that they were just "family friends." My potential friends absolutely adored the newborn babe, and it's funny looking back to think that they never knew that she was the fruit of my loins! Of course, they all know about little babe now, but they never suspected anything at the time and that's somewhat amusing to me.
I can't remember which friend I confided in first about little babe, but I do know that each of my friends are sooooo incredibly accepting and they absolutely love little babe. I remember about a year ago, after a night on the town with my friends, we stood outside of the bar waiting for a cab. It was raining, and I looked to my left and saw a magazine stand with free copies. I grabbed a copy of whatever publication happened to be inside the case to shield my luscious locks from the rain. Carolina Parent. A random drunk guy looked at me, looked at the magazine, and asked, "Are you a Carolina Parent?" He was obviously joking and had no idea about what I had gone through. I thought about it. Then I replied, "Why, yes, I am." He didn't believe me, and the baffled look on his face was priceless. He didn't understand why my friends and I could not stop laughing.
The fact that I'm a baby mama is not something that I immediately disclose to new people, but it's not something that I try to hide anymore either. I think part of growing up is being comfortable with who you are and what you've gone through. As a freshman in college, I was neither of those two things, hence the reason for the recreational lies. Today, however, I am both comfortable with who I am and what I've gone through. Cliche, yes, but I'm a stronger and better person because of it. I'm so thankful that my former "potential friends" have now become some of my best friends, and it's so nice to be able to share such an important part of my life with them.
And now some pictures of Deanna's amazing gymnastics debut!