Monday, July 5, 2010
Happy 12th Birthday, Bucket!
My third baby. The one who, initially, I didn't want. I found out on Thanksgiving night, 1997, that he'd be joining our family. I had just finished a terrible night shift waitressing at the IHOP. One of my waitress friends noticed that my hair was extremely oily, which is one of my weird "OHMYGOODNESSIMPREGNANT" signs. (I tend to have dry, coarse hair.) I used my meager tip money to buy a cheapie Walgreens pregnancy test. Ran home, didn't say hello to Mr. R, sat down, peed on the stick, and saw the Plus sign come up immediately. I sobbed. We were soooo poor. Missy was two years old, and Tiger was only 7 months old. I was waitressing at night just to make ends meet, in order to afford diapers and the occassional pack of crayons. I waited the requisite three months to tell anyone; people did not congratulate me. I was offered money by people who I won't mention by name, to abort him. A coworker, whose wife suffered from infertility, offered to adopt him. I was 22 years old, expecting my third baby, married only three years, with only a high school diploma and one year of college under my belt.
I never had one bout of morning sickness with him. We were so poor that I didn't gain any weight with him. I only ate once, maybe twice a day. All of my tip money went to feeding Missy and Tiger. My breast milk dried up (another sign that I was pregnant) and so I had to switch Tiger to formula, which was pricey. Sometimes the only food I had was IHOP food on my late shift, because I had 50% off. I'd eat the fattiest stuff I could find because I was terrified that my baby would be underweight. I would scarf down a double cheeseburger and fries and wish I could afford another one, but knew that I had to buy at least two cans of formula for Tiger to last until Mr. R got paid on Tuesdays.
We had medical insurance while I was pregnant. We had to pay $15 for my first check up, and then the rest had no copays. I had to pay $100 per day for the hospital stay. I was there for two days; I only had $50 to give them. I had nightmares that they'd take the baby away from me because I couldn't afford the other $150.
It was a long, hot summer. It was during the firestorms of 1998. Anyone who lived in Florida during 1998 may remember that the droughts were so bad that year, that is would rain ash in the afternoons. I couldn't bring Missy and Tiger out to play very much, because the heat was brutal. We'd get up at 6am to play at the park before it hit 90 degrees, and the ash would come down. We did a lot of coloring, painting, and watching Sleeping Beauty that summer.
He was, supposedly, nine days late. Originally due on June 26th, I was induced on July 4th. My parents lived in New York at the time, and Mr. R's parents chose this week to go on vacation to South Carolina (knowing that I'd probably be late, considering my last two children were also late. I begged them not to go, and they went anyway.) My friend Christina offered to watch Missy and Tiger for me so Mr. R could be by my side during labor and delivery. I was so grateful. It was my longest labor. So much for each labor getting shorter. It was 17 hours long. Bucket was the only child which I didn't know the sex beforehand, although Mr. R and I were pretty sure he'd be a boy; another pregnancy quirk of mine is that when I'm pregnant with a boy, I grow facial hair. I wish I was kidding; I was sporting a beard for the last half of the pregnancy. It wasn't a full black beard, but very fine blonde hair that immediately fell out, but it's still unnerving for a girl to be sprouting that much facial hair.
He arrived at 3:23 am, at Florida Hospital Orlando, on July 5, 1998. Yes, the hospital I work for now. My aunt Fran happened to be on duty that night, and was the nurse who helped to deliver him. Because of her employee status, I got the cushy room with the double bed that the celebrities in Orlando get.
I regret to say, that when he arrived, I didn't hold him. Mr. R. did. I was exhausted from the drawn out labor, and while I was happy to be a mama again, all I could think about was that I had to be back at IHOP in two weeks. I felt detached, depressed. Mr. R was delighted. Here he was, 25 years old, with a dead end job, three little kids, and he was IN LOVE. Bucket immediately drank 3 ounces of formula and a different nurse declared that he was the hungriest little guy she'd ever seen. I felt guilt because I knew I hadn't been eating right. I'd had Tiger at the same hospital 14 months before, and she noticed that I'd dropped 50 lbs since Tiger had been born. She asked me if I had eaten lately. I looked down, embarrassed, and said I hadn't. The cafeteria was closed at 3:30, wouldn't be open until 6, and meals wouldn't be around until 7 or 8. That nurse went and got my aunt Fran, who managed to round up a feast for me. Juice, sandwiches, cookies, a granola bar, a banana. I ate all of it. Then I held my new little boy, who was, to me, scary skinny. 7 lb 12oz, my smallest baby yet, and supposedly nearly two weeks late? Nothing but chicken legs and a bloated belly. I nursed him. He ate again. He looked up at me, and I tell you, I fell head over heels in love with him. I couldn't get enough of him. I feel that way about him to this very day, 12 years later. He's still small for his age, with chicken legs. He still eats a lot.
I recently went over old paperwork. In 1998, Mr. R and I made a grand total of $23000 for the year. That was with both of us working. With three kids. And we didn't qualify for food stamps or WIC at that time. Sometimes I'm not sure how we made it. Yeah, I do. The grace of God was on us. There is no real reason how we could have made it.
Happy Birthday, Bucket. I'm sorry you had an icky start, but I hope I've made it up to you since then. I love you so much.
at 12:52:00 PM