Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Baby

In April of 1991 I found out I was pregnant. I know this seems sick, but I was excited. I was too stupid to be afraid. I was going to have the family that I had never had before. I was going to love my baby and my baby would love me no matter what. I would be sixteen in August and my baby would be born in December. I didn't have a job, neither did her father. I wasn't in school, and up until that point had pretty much been on a path to destruction. So my older brother was in town and took me to one of those planned parenthood centers. Sure enough, a positive pregnancy test. My cousin had become pregnant prior to that, and had elected not to keep her baby. She was 14 at the time.

First of all, it never even crossed my mind not to have or keep the baby. I wanted it so much. I thought of how cute and sweet babies are. How fun it would be to buy baby clothes. Where the money was going to come from I had no idea. I wasn't even worried about it I don't think. I told my mother I was pregnant. She asked me if I was sure. I told her about my visit to the clinic. She seemed neither angry or upset. I just don't understand how a fifteen year old child can come home and tell her mother she is pregnant and not get any reaction.

To this day it still floors me. I think of Sissy a lot when I remember those days. She is now about the age I was when I got pregnant with her. To my surprise and delight, she has eluded a lot of the pitfalls that I fell into at her age. I know she is growing up, but when I look at her I recognize that she is not there yet. She is still my little girl. OK, getting sidetracked here. So I was pregnant with no means of supporting a child. I would at least be eligible for WIC and free prenatal care. (For those who don't know, WIC is a program that provides milk, juice, peanut butter, eggs, and cereal to pregnant women. After the baby is born they also provide formula.)

Once I found out I was pregnant, all of the bad things I had been doing stopped. I didn't want to do anything to hurt my baby. No more drinking or drugs for me. That is what saved me from either killing myself or becoming an alcoholic. I can honestly say had I not gotten pregnant I don't know what would have happened to me. Probably not anything good, that is for sure.

Although prenatal care was available to me, I was still too young to drive, and my mother would not take me. I guess she didn't want to miss work, I really don't know. Maybe it embarrassed her. I did not start getting proper care until I was about seven months pregnant. We moved twice during this time. The last move put us out in the sticks. Which meant I was even more trapped. Sissy's father and I decided to stay at his parents house some. That way I could go to my appointments. One of his family members usually took me.

I have avoided talking much about Sissy's father. This is to protect her. I will say that this was not a healthy or good relationship. Of course I had no idea what that even meant. We were basically two very young people from similar backgrounds that ended up together.

After a relatively normal pregnancy I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She was the most beautiful baby I had ever laid eyes on. Despite my lack of prenatal care, she had all of her fingers and toes. She weighed in at 7 lbs 3oz. After she was born we went back to stay at my mother's house. Neither one of us had any income and really no where else to go. Now we had to figure out how we were going to support this new life we had brought into the world.

For the first few months my mother helped us support Sissy. I don't have very many good memories of her, but at least she helped us with baby as much as she could. I had worked a little side job before Sissy was born and used the money to purchase baby gowns, blankets, bottles etc. The WIC vouchers I received took care of the formula. Thank God I had been around kids and babies my whole life. I knew how to change a diaper, make formula, and even give her a bath. I got my first job when Sissy was about four months old. Her father still didn't work so he stayed home with her. To keep this from dragging out, over the next couple of years we would move a few more times with my mother. She would have several men in and out of her life. None of them stuck around for very long after getting a taste of the kids from hell.

My mother was really starting to go off the deep end even more than before. She would disappear for a couple of days at a time. My brothers and sisters had started to steal food so we could eat. They would take empty grocery bags into the store and put food in them and walk out. This was before it became common to have security cameras. One of the running jokes in our family is that even though we stole to eat, we didn't have the sense to steal steaks, we took what we were used to eating. Things like canned beef stew or Ramen noodles, Spaghettios. We didn't even attempt to steal bigger ticket items.

My little brother had pretty much turned into a thug and there were all kinds of people in and out of the house at all hours of the night. It became unsafe for me to stay there with my baby. I moved to another town. A family friend had agreed to let Sissy and I stay with her. Sissy's dad was pretty much on his own at this point. I had to look after my daughter.

After I left, my mother had some kind of nervous breakdown or something. Later after I found out how bad things had gotten after I moved out, I felt so guilty. Like I should have been there going through what everyone else was. What right did I have to get away? Around the time mom was hitting the lowest point she had ever been at(I know it sounds like she hit rock bottom on more than one occasion) my dad was released from prison in Tennessee. My brothers and sisters would be saved, they just wouldn't like it.


paintergirl said...

I think you were very brave. I love reading your stories. I am going to keep writting not necessarily in chronological order, just what ever I feel at the time. I love you keep up the good work. We might just have a book after all.

Susiewearsthepants said...

Thanks little sis! I love you..sue

MAT said...

can't wait to hear how Dad come home and cracked the whip.