Friday, June 11, 2010
June 11, 1969
Forty-one years ago today, I gave birth to a baby boy. I’d entered the hospital in the middle of the night and labored until the early evening. Doctors examined me once an hour and were accompanied by students since I was in a teaching hospital, where I was giving my baby up for adoption. I was nineteen years old, turning twenty in a couple months and my parents, mainly my mother, had persuaded me to not keep my baby. During that day three friends visited me while I was still in a hospital room, before being transferred to labor and delivery. Although I was drugged, I was aware of their presence and have not forgotten their kindness and thoughtful words. Other than that, I was alone.
The doctors discussed several times taking this baby by cesarean section but the heartbeat remained strong so surgery was delayed. Shortly after 7 in the evening, I was wheeled from the labor and delivery room to the birthing room, where a tiny baby boy was taken from me with forceps and suction. He was strong and healthy and gave a vigorous cry. I fell asleep soon after.
When I awoke, I was in a lot of pain. It was morning of the next day. I had been given an episiotomy and also had lacerations. I will never forget lifting the sheets and having a peek at my deformed stomach and pubic area. It was a shock that I just as soon would forget about. The nurses kept trying to give me drugs for the pain but I’ve never been a big fan of semi-consciousness, so I refused.
They fed me a breakfast of hot cereal and a grapefruit with half a maraschino cherry decorating its middle like a big red belly-button. I didn’t have much of an appetite but I did eat the cherry. After they took the tray away, a young girl opened the door and brought a blue bundle to my bedside. When I told her that I was surprised and had been told I wasn’t meant to see the baby, she left him with me and went to ask someone what the proper procedure was.
I placed this little baby boy in my lap and sat up as well as I could. His little pink face peered back at me with rosy lips, shaped just like a cupid’s bow. Stork bites covered his eyelids, just like all the babies in our family who came before and after him. I unraveled the blanket and found the prettiest little body, dressed in a diaper and tiny t-shirt, blue booties on the feet. I pulled off the booties, inspected the toes and counted fingers, too. Peter Anthony, I whispered to him, having picked a name for a boy months before; I’d never thought of a girl’s name. I’d been convinced the baby growing in me was a strong male, who deserved a name with power and clout. I chose two names that historically belonged to men who were peacemakers, conquerors and leaders.
As this little boy-child lay between my sore and aching thighs, the door burst open and a matronly nurse with the face of a sow appeared, followed by the remorseful and apologetic aide who had mistakenly brought the bundle to my bedside. The superior nurse chastised the girl and me, even though I was of total innocence. The die was cast. Though my baby was returned to the nursery and with a whole week in the hospital, I never saw him again, I began my scheme to get him back. After all, he was mine.
Thanks for reading.