"Take another look."
I did, and, although it didn't show a negative, it certainly didn't show what the positive photo did on the pamphlet enclosed with the new fangled pregnancy test I had purchased. The Ex and I peered closely at the test tube I had weed into hours before... nope, the little blue circle at the bottom didn't match either photo... we were still not sure what I was. What we did know was I had tender parts, I was late and I was grumpy
Well, the grumpy part is somewhat part of my nature... let's say I was more grumpy than normal.
A trip to the doctor confirmed the almost full blue circle... I was indeed with child.
My first. My first that I'd actually give birth to, that is... I already had TheSlumlord forevermore known as Zenmaster, as he requested I find another moniker for him, more fitting his personality...and not based on the fact he is building a housing empire. and MissH. This, this was to be the first child I'd grow large with, the first one I'd buy maternity clothes for... the first one I'd travel to the doctor for, find myself unable to sleep comfortably over, the one I'd eventually be unable to walk beyond a waddle, unable to eat anything with garlic because of, the one we called JJ, because said Slumlord announced it would be Joe if a boy and Jenny if a girl... names I wasn't too wild about.
We, the parents, had decided on Justin. A good name. A solid name. A name liked by 2 out of every 3 boy parents of 1982. We'll get to that in a minute.
Time passed, my stomach grew, I found myself in increasingly ugly maternity fashions. Clothing was not cute then... it was mostly ducks, and cute items. I was fortunate to have a few classic clothes, and I wore them out. I was not big from the back, but, I turned around for days.
By October 19, the doctor said the baby was engaged... in position, would be born any day. It was due November 19, but, he felt it would be okay if I had it a month early... they'd keep an eye on me.
A month passed.
Thanksgiving came and went.
Grumpy became something the Ex wished I was, it was such a nice emotion.
We bought a house in the interim, something to pass the time. I sat on the sofa and packed boxes, grumbling. I made a quilt for the baby who felt as if it hung between my legs. I didn't want to discuss names. I did want to do things like take long rides at high altitudes.
We signed the papers on the house, and the next day, the Ex puttered around the apartment, missing his bus to Denver. "I may stay home." he said. "I mean, we need to clean the new place so we can move in this weekend." I snarled something from the bathroom, causing him to change his mind. He left, and I had my first contraction.
No cell phone. No way to reach him. I called his office and left a message.. "As soon as you get there, come home."
I waddled out to the truck, and wedged myself in... and drove to a friend's house... feeling myself becoming giddy with excitement, this was it. I was in a cute outfit, I had on makeup... the contractions weren't bad. Hell, this was going to be a snap.
NN was my friend and my boss at the Big Bell I worked for. She was a dear, sweet woman who succeed in a man's world. She took charge when I came in the door, making another call, sending her husband ahead to get things going in the office, and, as she walked behind me in her darkened living room, she tried to grab me as I did a Dick vanDyke and tripped on her ottoman, falling flat on my face.
I hit so hard, you couldn't tell I was preggers.
Well, wasn't that fun.
We rushed to the hospital, me hee hee hooing, her telling me not to panic (noooo, of course not... just because you CAN'T SEE MY BELLY ANYMORE) and we screeched into the hospital in record time. They threw me into a wheelchair, careening upstairs to maternity where I was attached to a unit to monitor the baby's heartbeat... and then I heard it...
....Jarhead's heartbeat... strong, and steady.
I did cry then, knowing he was okay. He was shoved into my spine, but, he was okay.
The Ex showed up... concerned, worried...and happy to hear the heartbeat. We were a team, and we were going to do this.
Cut to hours later, I'm not pretty anymore, my makeup is gone, I'm in labour for 14 hours by now. I. Want. Drugs. A lot of them. Whomever invented Lamaze is a sick bastard. Whatever man insists on a wife using it to deliver should have to pass a kidney stone at the same time, using Lamaze.
The Ex tried to get me to HeeHeeHoo... I told him to Fuck Off. He's a smart man sometimes. He backed off.
In the middle of my labour, in which I thought I was passing a bowling ball, The Godmother poked her head in, carrying roses. She told the nurses she was my sister. I threw her out, too. My mother called 47 times.
I had a hard time, didn't dilate... but, I kept trying. We kept HeeHeeHooing.
Finally, they decided on a C section.... I turned to the nurse, and said, "Find drugs. Put them in my back. I will give you money."
She was kind, and did it gratis.
At 9.11P, a 22 3/4, 7lb 6oz baby boy was born. He wasn't Justin. We weren't sure who he was. He had blonde hair and eyes the colour of the sky.... He was alert and snappy from the beginning.
He was my Jarhead... six weeks after they told me he'd be born any moment. He had been in position for so long, he had a conehead... seriously, a conehead.
After I was sewn up, and he was cleaned up, they brought him to me, and later, the nurse said, "Don't you want to unwrap him, count his fingers and toes?"
I looked at him, asleep in that tight wrapping that keeps them safe and happy, and said, "Why? If he was missing something, or had an extra appendage, you'd have told me by now."
It was days before we finally named him, days of them telling me I had to name him, days of being told I had to come up with something... and, eventually, we did.
You were my first, the one I practiced on, the one I learned how to love from the beginning. The one Dad dropped in the hotel out of the Moses basket, and we didn't notice until the lady said, "Excuse me, you've dropped your baby." and you didn't hold it against us. The one that sucked on Zenmaster's filthy fingers, the one MissH pulled around like a puppy. Our personal toy.
We moved into that house with the multicoloured carpet, the stuff that was so bad, we had to pull it up, with me in stitches, and 8470 boxes the weekend after you were born. We stayed there, with our great neighbors, the ones you sold the Gold C books to for double the price, because "If you had to go sell them, you were going to make a profit."
You did Cub Scouts, and wore your white suit to your First Communion, you went camping with your PaPaw, and went to California with your uncle to learn about the film business. You've learned how to strike out on your own, finished college, become a chef... joined the Marines because that is what you needed to do. You've done things I've not been pleased about, however, I've always been proud of you, as a boy, as a man.
You are home in 17 days, home from that place where I worry, home where I can call you and hear your voice, where I know I can see you if I want to, home from your duty, and you are this man... who is always my boy.
Happy Birthday, Son... I love you forever, I like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.