Twenty eight years and a half a day ago I remember the instant my life changed, as I held my 9lb 5oz son for the second time (the first time covered in blood and gook he was placed on my abdomen and I looked at him in wonder), the second time though, the second time he looked at me and made some noises like he was talking to me, a few hours old, and I felt my life transform, felt a connection like none I had ever felt before.
It seems like such a very long time ago, and yet at the same time as the memories of his birth and my life at the time come flooding back it doesn't seem that long ago at all!
Nineteen, I was a senior in high school again - making up credits in gym, psych and business law. I worked 35 - 40 hours a week at Friendly's lived at home with my parents and my brother, who had found out only a few months before at the dinner table that I was pregnant, only after my stepfather asked me, with my Mom and brother present, when I was going to let them know I was going to have a baby. My brother's jaw fell to the table and my Mother got up and walked into her bedroom.
How they did not know was beyond me. My brother worked at Friendly's with me, and everyone there knew, I was as big as a house and no one would let me lift a thing! My parents were regulars there as well! I guess the eye sees what the brain allows it to see.
I had been going for counseling at Right To Life, where I had gotten the wonderful news that I was going to have a baby a couple of years after I was told I could not have children. Go figure! No one was more surprised than me. My boyfriend broke up with me when he found out, which was disappointing as he was my first love whom I met at roller skating when I was in junior high and whom I had recently reunited with after so many years of being out of touch. Not my Knight in White Armour after all!
I was getting counsel and information from a lovely woman. That is where I learned the true meaning of being a parent and the lifetime of commitment which it required to be a parent. Since my mother's "husband" Joe - who I refer to as my stepfather, was the closest thing to a true parent I have ever had I really didn't understand "parent's" and "life time commitment" as a normal thing. Sure I had seen examples of it in my neighbor with her children and my friends and their families (thank you all!) I hadn't felt it in so long personally.
I put a lot of thought into what to do. Being Catholic and opposed to abortion that was not an option. My mother had had me when she was much younger, so I figured my family would survive the idea, but I wasn't sure. I went and had meetings about adoption. Up until December when I decided to write my baby a letter explaining why I gave him up. I wrote, and I wrote and I wrote. In the end I went downstairs and braved the dragon and told my Mother I could not give the baby up for adoption that I was going to keep it.
That was scary and hard. So very difficult. I love my Mother, but she is intimidating and I would not want to cross her in an alley on a bad day. I think it is the French German or something, because her father and his Mother both put off that same vibe. I think she said something like, "fine, we will have to see what we have for clothes and things in Lanesborough." (where my grandparents lived.)
I continued to work and go to school, hang out with my friends, buying baby things and walking all of the time, my step-father was an awesome cook and he fed me well - he used to brag that Jeffrey was so big and healthy because he was a garlic fed baby! Nothing really changed, there was no discussion really, which was really odd. I went to childbirth classes, made the honor roll and got bigger!
I remember waking up with a huge lower back ache at 6 a.m, I never got up at 6 a.m. unless I had to work early, not even for school. I stayed home and didn't really realize I was in labor. It got really crazy, being unable to sit, or stand or lie down, so my Mom brought me to the hospital, stopping by to pick up my Coach Stella on the way, by now I think it was 11:30 at night on Thursday, maybe midnight.
I remember them hooking up monitors and checking how far dilated I was. At one point pointing out to my coach Stella what they were waiting for, she looked, stepped back and my water broke - flying at such a force that if she had been there still, it would not have been a pretty sight and she probably would never have been a birth coach ever again! We all had a good laugh instead!
The fun began, and ended in a blur. I have no real recollection of the rest of it, only almost breaking my mother's hand from squeezing it so hard that she said something. Until they put him on my tummy and I was so amazed and awed and overcome! They put him on the scales, cleaned him up and whisked him to the nursery. They never warn you about the afterbirth, or if they did - I missed that part! OMG!!! It was worse than having a 9 lb baby! That is all I am going to say except for to say - they should let you know ahead of time!
When they brought Jeffrey in my room later, he was so big! He could lift himself up he was so strong! It was magical for me when he talked the other mothers in the room who each had three or four children commented on how they had never witnessed that before, and they had 9 - 12 children of experience. He was my little man right from the start! My Jeffrey Beaner!
When I got home from the hospital with Jeffrey there was a huge surprise waiting. My room was the attic room and it was insulated and had sheet rock on the ceiling and cool woven cloth on the down walls when I had left, when I returned home my stepfather had finished my room with sheet rock and paint and a brand new crib, in place of the old yellow crib my mother had gotten from my grandmothers.
If you recall, when I ran away to Florida, Joe stopped talking to me, and that was very difficult to handle, he being a very stubborn Italian, and me having been trained by him, since I was 8 was also very stubborn! I always expect the worst, so when I walked into my bedroom - which had been my room for many years mind you - was completely finished and painted and beautiful for me and my baby I was shocked and overwhelmed, knowing by actions that he still loved me and accepted me and my sweet little baby! Nothing in my life has ever compared to this ever!
Joe was the most supportive man ever! I continued to go to school and he watched Jeffrey, got him up, bathed him, fed him and brought him to Friendly's for breakfast and he was his sidekick. I continued to work and get the support from Joe and my family, I was lucky that I had that support and ability to finish school and work and even tried to go to college. I still got to have a social life and Jeffrey has grown into a fine young man.
He is kind and interesting and it has been a delight watching him develop with the love and support of his family, growing and teaching his brother's to be super cool TMNT moves, who still tries to get them to play every video game possible, being a great Son who really did change the direction of my life, as I was already being mislead by others.
I don't think he realizes what a gift he has been to me. The love and learning and growing that we did together. The experiences that he has been through have not always been ideal to say the least. Watching through his eyes life and growth and laughter!
He used to do different voices and characters when he was little, it used to crack us up! He was so smart, at 4 not only naming, but spelling the dinosaurs names and knowing what they ate, drawing and writing stories in kindergarten and first grade when he finished his work. Being such a fine brother and teacher! He is an awesome natural musician with some great talent he has put aside sadly, as I miss his bass guitar so much!
Watching him grow, missing too many years in between, while he was doing his growing and having his life experiences, it is nice to watch him with his wife and his daughter, and with his brothers as well, now that they are all grown up!
I am grateful and thankful that I made the wise decision I did. Although life is not easy as a single parent, it was easier and more rewarding than the other road! I have loved and will continue to love and appreciate this day always to celebrate the life that his life gave both of us.
There is no greater love than the love between child and parent and every parent should remember that a child is a gift - the gift of unconditional love - it is the most precious and lasting bond that there is. Love grows love, neglect grow weeds.