This story is about Middle Son. We named him Lucas (after quite a list of cast-off and never-to-be names) and his birthday was last Friday.
However, my memory goes back to a summer evening almost nine months before. Husband and I lived in married student housing and it was the Fourth of July. We were a bunch of folks where any extra money after rent and food and gasoline went towards supplies and books for classes.
We usually made our own entertainment. Someone had gone over the state line and got some fireworks, and we did a potluck picnic, and our oldest son and a little girl were all over the place, being cute and excited and fawned over because they were the only small ones there. I remember one of the co-eds told me she wanted about six children, especially if they all were as adorable and smart as these two.
It was well after dark when the last of the cups were cleaned up and we went to our apartments. Son and I took a shower, then while I was reading his bedtime story, Husband had a shower, too. The little guy fell asleep before the end of the book. It had been a big day for all of us.
When we grown-ups finally got horizontal, I was quite ready to do some serious zzzzs. Husband had other plans. What is it about being socialable with like-minded people and sending up bottle rockets that would get the guy turned on?
He mentioned what the other girl had said about having six kids. He said we would have fun with another, there would be a good age span between our babies. It’s really difficult to be reasonable while my neck is being nuzzled and my tummy caressed. Lack of clear thinking is what got me knocked up.
About two weeks later, I had a meltdown. Crying, screaming, throwing a pan into the sink. Husband got a knowing little lift to the corner of his lip.
About a week later, I had to take oldest son to the drop-in nursery at a church while I had an appointment at the clinic. Yep, Pregnant. Before going back to pick-up child, I stopped by the place where Husband worked. He was out in the kiosk of a photo store. I walked up to the window. He was on the phone. When he was finished, neither of us said anything for a full minute, just looking at each other.
The lift at the corner of his lip went even higher. “I knew that.”
Husband had earned his BA degree that Spring, so the manager said we were no longer eligible for married student housing by the end of the summer. The next week, an apartment opened up closer to where Husband worked. With the help of buddies from college and church, we moved our belongings to a place with 14 steps. We would certainly be getting exercise.
I was working as a waitress back then. Morning sickness waited until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, as I was getting ready to go to the job. Seafood was especially nauseating, with all three babies. Serving the shrimp gumbo special, I could barely get the plates to the table, then I went trotting to the restroom. My boss actually came into the ladies room and asked if I thought I had something contagious or if it might be food poisoning. That was when I had to tell him I was pregnant.
Shock crossed his face. The pathways of a thousand thoughts collided into a vocal burst of Congratulations! He gave me a nice brotherly hug.
A regular customer came into the Ladies Room, and there stood the owner and the head waitress in an embrace. I can imagine in a TV show how much of an awkward moment this would be, but I was not in touch with my surroundings very well. There are no words accurate enough to describe what a pregnant woman does and feels.
At Halloween, when I was beginning to get the “great with child” look, I wore an all-black dress, and put on dark eye shadow and tears on my cheeks. I was such a depressed widow. Unfortunately, I cannot find the picture. I made so much in tips that evening.
The day I went into Labor was a Friday. Just a little pain, not at all like the hours and hours of backache which came with the first. I sent Husband off to his job just a few blocks away, and promised to call if I needed him.
Thank goodness the TV kept first son amused, and these pains were not so bad, really.
There were a couple phone calls each way during the day, but the working man put in his full shift.
About 6:30 in the evening, we had to take firstborn to the people who would be babysitting, then I said we should go to the hospital.
The nurses had to call the doctor in from a softball practice. He came trotting down the hall still a bit dusty, and I met him in the waiting room and apologized for bothering him on a Friday night. I wasn’t due for nine more days, but I was sure this was labor. He walked with me to an exam room, and took measurements. He said he would have to break the water, then he went off in search of something to drink. The nurse began preparations for delivery. Less than ten minutes later, I said I felt the need to push. She said, No No, and said to wait, the doctor would be right back. She paged him, and when he came in he said the baby was already crowning and give him gloves. He had to do a small episiotomy, which was much better than the tear that came with the first baby.
He was still in his softball shirt. I told the doctor he was dressed for a good catch. Lucas was born at 9:07pm on March 18. Husband was watching KNIGHT RIDER in the waiting room. He said no one had called him or told him what was going on until later.
We took the baby home Sunday evening. My mom drove down to be with us for a few days. She took oldest son to the store and bought groceries, including a huge bag of navel oranges. I ate three in one sitting. I thought it would be good for breastfeeding the baby, all the vitamins and fiber. I didn’t think about the acid of orange pulp once it reached the other end. Oh, the stitches were not happy. To this day, whenever I hold a navel orange, even one that has come in a holiday treat basket, I remember Lucas and his homecoming.
This was taken about a month after the baby was born. Maybe a week before we packed the moving van and came to Illinois.
For the big day this year, Husband and youngest son Chris and I went over to Urbana and took Lucas out to dinner at a nice place of his choosing.
Then we went to SAM’s and filled a grocery cart for his apartment, then to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream.
When we were going from the van to the restaurant, the three guys were walking a bit ahead of me, Dad in the middle. The set of the shoulders, the swing of the hips, quickness of the pace absolutely shouted that these guys are family related and glad to be in each other’s company. I wanted to be holding a video camera and trailing them, trying to catch just a speck of the enthusiasm I was feeling.
All this and more is what makes being a mom worthwhile.
I still cannot believe that 22 years have passed since a hot summer night meant our family would grow in love.
~~love and Huggs, Diane
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