...nine years ago.
On "Blog for Choice" Day, I told the story of how he came into existence.
It's a decision I've never regretted, despite the drama with his daddy. And was there ever drama. I kept a diary during my pregnancy, because I knew that at some point I was going to have to explain things to my Sun. It's painful to read now... but despite all the drama I enjoyed being pregnant very much. My Sun was great company, and for a long time afterwards I missed him being in my belly, an ever-present friend.
My Sun had a very distinct personality right from the beginning. He was active, especially once I lay down at night, but he didn't like drama. I would feel him fluttering when ever TF would piss me off, so I learned to let a lot of stuff go. I spent a lot of time by myself, with my belly. I had family behind me, and I had great friends (Shoefly being one of them) but I still spent a great deal of time by myself, especially at night. I bought one of those monitor thingies that lets you hear your baby en utero, and I'd lay in the dark with the headphones on, listening to the little heartbeat or the sounds of him squirming around. When I found out that the Sun was going to be a boy, I was alone. When I got really big and had to sit up to turn over, I was alone. When I had mad cravings for gallons of orange juice or watercress salad with oil and vinegar and cherry tomatoes, I was alone.
I would see TF pretty regularly, but we fought as often as every other week, and for days after the fight, I'd be alone.
When I was 7 months pregnant, Poppy went 24 hours without being able to pee, so Bigbear rushed him to the ER. They discovered he had a lump the size of a grapefruit in his bladder, and so they took the whole thing out. He spent New Years Eve in a drug-induced coma. TF chose that night to act like a complete asshole and so I was alone. While the rest of the world celebrated, I hung on the phone with the Professor, in tears, praying for Poppy. I'd wanted to go down there and sit, but it was cold and there was nothing I could have done and the Professor talked me into staying home.
I think I was due on the 14th of March, and my baby shower was on February 22nd. Right after the shower, I put the crib together. It was still early, but I knew I needed to do it. I started the project alone, but TF showed up to help me finish. Then we got into a huge fight, because his sister--who he wasn't speaking to cuz she'd told him he needed to tell his parents about the baby-- got me a highchair (which reminds me that his sister made no contact for the Sun's birthday. Not even a card). He wanted to return the gift; didn't want anything from his sister. I told him the gift wasn't his to give back... it belonged to the Sun, and besides, it was something I needed and wouldn't be able to afford otherwise so leave it be. He had a fit. Did his usual temper tantrum, and stormed out of my apartment. I didn't see him again for two weeks. By then, I had gotten really good at shutting down my feelings, so I did and got the rest of the babystuff together, by myself.
My water broke two weeks early, the morning of March 1, a Monday. I had spent the previous weekend washing all of the Sun's little clothes and putting them away. I finished putting together baby furniture. I cleaned my apartment. I fixed my sister's computer. That nesting "burst of energy" they say Mamas have right before labor, is true. The funny thing is you really don't notice it while it's happening.
TF was the last person I called that morning. I had an OB appointment anyway that day, and since labor hadn't really kicked in, the doc said for me to meet him at his office. I finally called TF about 8A, and he came over and drove me into the City.
I had lost a lot of amniotic fluid, but labor had stopped. The OB looked at me: "Are you ready to have this baby?" Thinking it was a genuine question, I said "No, not really, I could wait a bit". The Doc laughed. "I don't think you have a choice" he said in his clipped Serbian accent, " I mean you are going to have this baby now." He sent me on to the hospital, where he sent instructions to have the labor induced.
To his credit, once TF realized the Sun was on his way, he was great; fetched me snacks, and juice (despite the nurses admonition that I shouldn't drink anything. And so I downed a can of cranberry juice, which promptly came back up. Your digestive system shuts down during labor... duh!) made sure I was comfortable. Labor was slow, but at 4:33A, my Littleman made his appearance. I remember looking in to his dark, steady eyes and saying "Oh my goodness! There you are!"
He developed jaundice soon after birth, a condition which is often caused by a blood incompatibility between mother and baby (my blood type is O+, but his is A-), but will pass the more you nurse your baby. Only, at the time, I didn't know that and accepted the doctor's decision to put him in an ICU under lights, and allowed them to feed him formula. They would let me nurse, but on that Thursday they wouldn't even allow me to hold him, saying his bili counts kept rising. I called Poppy, crying. It was one of the worst moments of my life. I was furious when I found out later that the doctors weren't really paying attention, and so their advice was wrong.
They let me out before they let him out, but no sooner had I gotten home on Friday morning, the hospital called and said I could bring baby home that night. Again, I cried. TF asked if I wanted to bring baby home on Saturday, so that I could sleep. Afraid he wouldn't take me I said "If you don't take me down there, I'll walk if I have to, but that baby is coming home tonight". So baby came home. I was mildly annoyed that TF had volunteered my place for his cousin (female) to crash in that night as well, but it ended up being OK because I didn't mind the female energy.
After that, my milk came in, folks came in to visit, the Professor cooked and taught me how to breastfeed. It was a whirlwind of folks and activity. But about two weeks later, everyone left, including TF, and I was alone again.
It was frightening at first, to be home alone in the middle of the night with a small baby, but we figured it out, he and I. And we ended up getting along quite well. In a few months I figured out that life was much easier for me if he just slept in the bed with me, and I'd nurse him while I slept.
I went back to work. I pumped milk so he could have milk from me while I was at work and he was with Nana. TF wasn't working then, and was pretty good about caring for him on his good days. On his darkdays he'd call me up at like 7A and tell me he wasn't coming, and I'd have to call Bigbear and beg her to rearrange her day so she could take him. That first year was rough. I went from being single and being able to go out every night, to being a parent who was single and couldn't go ANYWHERE--not even to the store to get half-and-half or OJ--without major thought. Whatever little there was that was good between me and TF got difficult, and whatever was bad between us got so bad that eventually I'd have to grit my teeth to keep from screaming.
By the time the Sun was two, I wanted out, but didn't think TF would ever let me out. I got to understand the meaning of "emotional abuse" and I take issue now with people who blame women for staying in abusive relationships. It's not that easy to get out... even if he's not beating your ass. Because usually, there is the threat that he WILL beat your ass at some point, and sometimes the fear of that is far worse than the actual reality. I once described being in a relationship with TF like walking through a minefield. You know where the landmines are. You know they have the potential to be triggered with the slightest tremor and can blow off a limb. And sometimes they go off. But sometimes they don't. You trip over one and cower, waiting for the blast you know will come. But it doesn't. So you get up and move on. And the next one blows up right in front of you but only blows off a toe. And so on.
But that's a whole other topic that I'll get to someday.
In the meantime, the Sun and I went through life together. We moved when the Sun was 6 months into our present apartment. He got to be an expert Subway rider. And then 9/11 happened, and I realized I had one final shot to pursue a longtime dream and so I went to Pratt. I knew I was crazy for doing so, and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. TF bitched about it, bitched about all the time I was spending developing my own needs and not paying any attention to him. He officially broke up with me, because I was selfish. (Later when he tried to come back I told him no, he was right... I was selfish and would never change and he needed to be with someone more caring.) But the Sun, the one most affected, never complained. In Pratt's old home in the Puck building in SoHo, I was allowed to bring him to my drawing class sometimes. He'd sit there, with his own pencils, trying to copy what I did. Once, we were drawing a male model. During one of the breaks, the model partially dressed, but didn't put shoes on. The Sun was disturbed: "Mom, is he going to go outside without any shoes???" he asked in consternation. I found it so amusing that the man's nakedness didn't phase him in the least, but the thought of someone going outside without shoes really bothered him. When I graduated from Pratt, my Sun was so very proud, and I told him that my diploma belonged to him, too. I would never have been able to make it without his help.
I was worried about his birthday this year cuz I have NO money. He'd tell me the things he wanted but I wasn't sure I'd be able to do anything for him. We don't keep Christmas but we do big birthdays in our family. Last week I managed to clear Amex up, so that I could charge a few gifts for him. Nothing big, but stuff he wanted; Naruto trading cards, and Bakugan marbles. And I promised him sushi (I think the kid must have had some affiliation with Japan in his previous life.) His dad gave him a shuffle and some more trading cards.
Today, he seems to have enjoyed his day. He woke up to presents, after having to follow a trail of chocolate into the living room. I made him beef bacon, his favorite. And then we went downtown with the Moon to our new favorite place Planet Sushi. The Fat Lady and Sugar, LilacBlue and Ladybug and the clan all met us. The Sun ate as much sushi as he could hold. LilacBlue brought these delicious cupcakes and the waitstaff at the restaurant brought them out on a bamboo boat, with a candle stuck in one of them. My littleman was thrilled.
He spoke to his dad several times, and his dad had all sorts of friends call the house to wish him Happy Birthday.
He said it was the best birthday he ever had...