Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pieces Of Me, Part III

When I was 23 I found out that I was pregnant for the third time. We had lost our son Steve to SIDS and had decided to never, ever have another child. We doubled and tripled birth control when I was feeling especially fecund. We watched the calendar like hawks always knowing exactly where in my cycle we were so that we wouldn’t have any unexpected ‘incidents’. Who knew that a quart of moonshine, terrible weather and a good night with new friends would undo 5 years of caution?

We had moved to Georgia and were living in an apartment with single pane windows and no air conditioning that had been old when I was born. A mountain man that hunted with my husband had given him the moonshine and several of the men he worked with came over with their wives for cards and corn likker. The evening was wonderful, full of laughter and amity. My daughter had been charming and well behaved. The food we had prepared had been well received. Everything had been wonderful and we were feeling relaxed, happy, and as people left, more and more amorous. The weather outside was frigid so when we realized that we had no more condoms we decided to just trust my cycle. This is called the rhythm method and explains why so many Catholics have huge families. I woke a couple of hours after our tumultuous meeting in the throes of a horrific hot flash and feeling a bit queasy. I wanted to blame it on the moonshine, the corn likker wreaking havoc with my system, but I knew as surely as I was laying there sweating and shaking that I was pregnant.

I couldn’t tell my husband for a while. This was so huge, and so scary I just worried it in my own head until I was certain that I was expecting. When I told him he turned a bit green, said okay, grabbed his motorcycle helmet and shot out the door like a bullet through a barrel. That was our only discussion about the baby for 8 months. He simply refused to acknowledge it at all.

I had learned something the last two times I had delivered. I knew that I could expect to feel vaguely uncomfortable for some period of time and then deliver the kid in roughly five minutes. The baby was due the Monday my daughter was supposed to start kindergarten and all signs pointed to this one being on time. I made plans with my mother for us to sleep at her house the night before and for her to baby-sit just in case this delivery actually progressed like it was supposed to.  The official due date dawned hot and sunny and I felt pretty sore. When I stood up I felt a tremendous shift in my pelvis and yelled out excitedly, This is it! This is it! My husband who had successfully pretended for the entire pregnancy that I was just getting really fat in a weird way leapt up and took charge

We got to the hospital at 7:30 AM and were in a delivery room within five minutes. My favorite midwife was in attendance along with my husband and my mother. My mom had had eight children and six grandchildren by this point and had not seen a single birth. She had been sedated for hers for no other reason than that is how they did it way back when.  

This baby, our son, was delivered in less than 30 minutes, though not with the fanfare of his older brother. This was my third delivery using only curse words and jokes as a means to mask the pain of it and it went off without a hitch. They asked my mom to cut the cord, and, while she looked a bit green in the gills (caused by both my language and the birth), she did and with a purpose that surprised me. She kissed me good bye and left to take my 5 year old to her first day of kindergarten just an hour late.

I, who had carried this child, this beautiful boy for 9 months not knowing if my marriage or he would survive his coming was suddenly terrified. When the nurse handed him to me I started shaking like a leaf and my terror was so palpable that it made him wail and shake as well. His father, who had not talked about him, or gone to the doctor with me, or looked at little clothing or painted walls or bought toys, took him gently and he quieted instantly. My husband touched his little face with a work worn hand and turned his head so that his tears would not fall on the milky new skin.