Tuesday, August 19, 2008

August 19, 1970

She made sure that her 7 year old daughter was on vacation with her sister for a couple of weeks. Luckily the timing worked out for this yearly trip. Her father drove her to the hospital that morning, after she told him that she was having surgery and he would need to pick her up in a couple of days. Even though they lived together, they were not a close family and he didn't question what the surgery was for. And then she was alone. I don't know if a nurse stayed with her or held her hand, or if they knew that she was planning on "giving away the baby" did they make things harder on her? Netting out their own punishment for her transgression? At 3:15 that afternoon it was over. I was born. I don't know if she saw me, or held me. She did write on a slip of paper the time I was born and my weight. She kept that slip of paper in her hope chest for 30 years, knowing that some day I might come looking for it.

Most kids love to hear the story of their birth. Or whether their mother craved pickles when she was pregnant with them, but ice cream when she was pregnant with their little brother. How did they get to the hospital? Was it a slow orderly procession or a mad dash in a cab? And then they get to hear about the first time they were held, how their mother gazed down at them in awe, counted fingers and toes and they bonded in the moonlight. Retelling the story helps the bonds grow deeper, the connections to stay strong. You are reminded of your very beginning, how you came into existence.

I don't have any of that. I didn't even know what time of day I was born until I was 30 and Iris wrote me a letter about the slip of paper in her hope chest. I still don't have many details about her pregnancy or my birth simply because it is too hard for her to talk about. It was not a joyous time, or a time to celebrate and capture the memories in everlasting photographs. It was a time of being alone (for both of us - her in a hospital room, maybe hearing the babies crying, dealing with her post-partum body and all of the reminders of what had just occurred and me in an bassinet, being held only to be fed a bottle or changed, having no one to coo over me or hold me when I cried.)

For the next 6 weeks I lived with a foster family. Again, I have scant information from that time. When they knew that I was to be placed with my adoptive parents the foster mother filled out a form that told them what brand of formula I ate, when my last dirty diaper was, that I had a bath in the mornings and napped outside in the afternoons. Not a lot of info for 6 weeks of life. There are no pictures of me until the day my parents brought me home. October 7, 1970. Another Wednesday.

Wednesday's child is full of Woe.

Really, is it any wonder?
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