For nearly my entire adolescent life I never once thought about having kids of my own. Being the oldest of five kids and nearly eight years older than my sister after me, kids were nothing but messy, loud, and very annoying things. My step-father immediately favored my sister so that only added to my feelings of animosity towards having kids. And the more my mother had, the more I disliked them.
When I was old enough to babysit, that’s exactly what I did. Frequently. When my mother became pregnant with her fourth child we had to look for a new place to live. It was already much to crowded in our little three bedroom house in the city and very financially impractical with the in-ground pool in our backyard, so we found a place way out in the desert. We left our home, the place I had lived in for have my life at that point, before the end of my seventh grade year. The only friends I had really known, the school I was comfortable at, everything I was used to, we left it all.
The new house was much bigger with a backyard that looked as though it could fit our old house in it. Still only three bedrooms, but they were much bigger. By the grace of God I still managed to get my own room. The adjustment was difficult for me. I was used to being in a green environment. Trees, grass, and sidewalks everywhere and we traded those in for Joshua trees, tumbleweeds, and dirt. The school system was way ahead of the one I came from so I started my eighth grade year almost two years behind. Not exactly the way you’d want to start at a new school. Without getting into all the woes of middle school, needless to say it was a very tough year.
High school had a promising start for me. I was finding my comfort zone, gaining new friends and mild popularity, and boys were starting to take an interest in me. No one knew of my troubled past so I was able to really start with a clean slate. Then I fell in love. I was a flag girl and he was a trombonist in the marching band. We spent a lot of time together (and with the rest of the squad and band members) for practice. We spent a lot of time together both in and out of school, but I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere alone with him yet. It had to be in a group setting. I was only 14 nearly 15 after all. Unfortunately that first love was short lived and I was introduced to the harsh world of heartache. The end of my Freshman year was dark and held little hope for the next year.
My Sophomore year was a crazy roller coaster ride of love, lust, and loss. I lost my virginity just three months after my 16th birthday and that summer her and I broke up for the third and final time.
The first half of my Junior year was the roughest time in my high school career. I shared a class with my ex and his new girlfriend and he had no problems flaunting their relationship. My school work suffered greatly so my parents pulled me out of school and put me in a home-school program. I went to their office three days out of the week and took tests on the subject materials. I had to turn in anywhere from 2-5 essays and book reports as well. I didn’t mind it too much, but contact with my friends was minimal. It felt like everyone had forgotten about me except my new boyfriend and yet another adolescent love, but he wasn’t able to come see me or I him as often as we would have liked. I was also home while my mother went to work. My step-father was unemployed at this time (he stayed that way for about two years) so my mother often worked overtime and eventually picked up a second job and I basically turned into a second mommy. My step-father would “work out” in the mornings while I made my siblings their lunches and got them ready for school. He would drive them to school and he and I would be stuck in the house. Alone. Together. We didn’t get along too well so I usually stayed in my room to avoid him or I’d put on my headphones while I did some minimal chores.
When the kids got out of school I usually walked to go get them (it wasn’t very far away) or sometimes we’d drive and get them. Once home I made them a snack and often had to help them with their homework. Even when my mother came home I still needed to help with them since I had so much extra time. It was even more apparent to me, at this point, that motherhood was not for me.
My mother was a great mother. She still is. She’s not perfect, she has made her fair share of mistakes, but she did her absolute best with what she had. It was hard for me to see that at the time. All I could think of was how much I wanted out of that house. Well, I eventually got my wish.
I left the summer after I turned 18. I joined the Navy and was barely in a year before I became a victim of rape multiple times. I cracked under the stress of it and was kicked out with an “Honorable under Medical Conditions” because I had cut myself as a way to cope. Something I had done all through high school. I fell into a depression and was taken advantage of by a pimp and became a stripper. I stripped for three months before I ran away from him and lived with a random man who frequented the strip club I worked at. I managed to keep him from taking advantage of me by letting him watch me while I showered and dressed, but I knew that soon the peep shows would not be enough and he would try to take more.
It took about two months before I was finally able to get out of there. Some of my Navy buddies had moved to San Diego, just a couple of hours away from where I was, and told me I could stay with them as long as I needed to. I had planned on it just being them (a married couple) and myself, but I had started dating someone whom I had met on the same boat and we used to hang out in a group together. Well, he had a paycheck and I did not so he invited himself in to come live with us. We had barely been dating a month and we were moving in together.
We moved our relationship along much too fast and within a year of getting together I got pregnant. We eloped which, to be honest, broke my heart, but I was 14 weeks pregnant and had yet to see a doctor because I was uninsured. I was barely entertaining the idea of maybe one day having kids, so when I got pregnant I was rather devastated. I am firmly against abortion so that “option” never crossed my mind. I knew I had gotten myself into this and it was my responsibility to deal with it.
Throughout the course of my pregnancy there were plenty of the expected ups and downs. My emotions were all over the map. I had a lot of time to myself and so I obsessed over all my bad decisions in life. Every wrong turn, every sexual partner, every cross word to escape my lips. For hours every day I punished myself. When I found out we were having a girl I wept and wept and apologized to her ever day for bringing her into this horrible world. By time my husband came home from work I was beyond frustrated with the world and I often took it out on him. I had no other outlet.
As my due date drew near, I told him I wanted my mother to join us in the delivery room. He didn’t seem to mind the idea, but a few days later he said he wanted his mother in the delivery room as well. I was opposed to it immediately. I barely had the chance to get to know my in-laws so I was not comfortable with the thought of having my legs spread in front of even one of them. This became a huge argument between my husband and myself. He eventually told me if his mother couldn’t be there, neither could mine. Now if he tried to tell me that today, I am much more confident in myself, much stronger, but back then I was weak. I was much more easily intimidated.
He flew his mother out about a week before my due date and she and I went all over town together. This made me a little more comfortable with her being in the delivery room since I had now had a chance to get to know her a bit better, but I was still not completely comfortable with it. Despite trying over and over to explain to my husband why I didn’t want her to be in there and why it was unfair of him to fight me so hard on it, he won and she was in my delivery room.
The day finally came. I had a doctor appointment that morning and they performed a membrane swipe which is supposed to induce the labor process. It did, but it was very slow going. Mild contractions came about every hour and progressively got a little more painful and a little closer together. We went around Downtown San Diego and just did some sight seeing and walking around to pass the time and try and get this baby to come out of me. By early evening I was in a lot of pain and felt it was time to got to the hospital. We had to call my husband’s submarine and tell them they needed to release him because I was in labor and he needed to take me to the hospital. If memory serves correct, 45 minutes later they allowed him to leave.
Later that evening I was admitted into the hospital and we played the waiting game. This particular hospital was a military hospital, thus it was a learning hospital. I had more people in my room, looking up my gown than I can remember. I felt like Grand Central Station. Every three hours or so someone new offered to give me an epidural. I refused each time. My mother gave birth each and every time with no drugs. I wanted to do the same. So I got to walk the cold halls in the hopes that would speed up this very long process.
We waited a while to call my mother to come down. I didn’t want to call her too soon, but I was tired of being comforted by my mother-in-law, who at this time was still little more than a stranger, while my husband slept. Shortly after my mother arrived the pain increased ten-fold. I was exhausted, I had been in labor for almost 20 hours. The doctors continued to offer me an epidural which I continued, foolishly, to refuse. I was determined to go without it. The problem was, I wasn’t relaxing enough during the breaks between contractions to allow any real progress. My mother soothed me and told me there was no shame in receiving additional help. His mother tried telling me the same before, but, again, she was little more than a stranger to me. I caved and got the epidural.
Throughout this entire time I continuously reminded everyone within earshot, no pictures and absolutely NO video while I’m delivering the baby. Once she was out and away from being cleaned and examined they were allowed to take all the pictures and video they wanted, but I did not want to have my legs spread in front of any cameras. I repeated this until I was sick of saying it. I figured everyone got the hint and I wouldn’t have to worry about it.
Finally, the epidural had allowed me to relax (I was informed I dozed off for about a half hour… I have no memory of this) and once I felt the urge to push, my beautiful, baby girl was brought into the world within 30 minutes. 22 hours of hard labor. I fell in love with her instantly and felt I had finally done something good. I was exhausted, I was starving, and I desperately wanted to take a shower, but because of the epidural I couldn’t get up to do anything until it had some time to get out of my system. That is an amazing drug. I could still feel a great amount of pain, but not from the actual contractions. I felt much happier while I was on it though, that and very thankful to an empty abdominal cavity. While I sat there waiting for the drug to wear off, my mother-in-law came in and showed me a video she had taken…
When I looked at the little screen on her digital camera, I was mortified. There I was, spread eagle, pushing out my little girl. I was raised to respect my elders. I was taught to never yell at them, they were older and wiser and so long as I showed them respect, I would be respected in return. I was never taught what to do in a situation like this. I was so overwhelmed with what I was being faced with, the only thing I could bring myself to do was smile and nod. When she finally left I was too shocked and angry to cry, but I felt myself dying on the inside from the blatant disrespect I had been shown. She was supposed to be my family.
She was only there for a few days after my daughter was born. I tried so many times to bring it up to her, but my heart would start racing, my extremities became numb and felt like cooked spaghetti every time I tried to come up with the words. My husband never helped me through this. He told me later he had said something to her, but to this day the situation remains unresolved. However, he has never asked me to allow her into another delivery room. We now have three beautiful children.
My husband and I have made our fair share of mistakes. My first pregnancy was trying and difficult, but was still the easiest pregnancy I’ve had. I have done a lot of growing since my first pregnancy. I’ve gone to therapy to overcome my past so I can enjoy the present and see a brighter future. I do not regret the road I traveled. It brought me to where I am today. My road to motherhood was not an easy one. It did not happen when I wanted it to and I had to deal with a third pregnancy I never wanted, but I have learned that some of the best things in life rarely happen when you want them to and can often be unwelcome at first, but if you push through the hard times with faith that tomorrow will be better, you will be greatly rewarded.