It all started with a simple request from my little girl. “Can I have a brother?” We looked at each other and decided it might be nice to have another baby. Practice makes perfect or so they say. Right?
Friday, December 6, 1985 was an uneventful day. I was hugely pregnant with my son, but still able to move, bend AND see my toes! However, my back really hurt that day. But I did weigh 152 lbs. and was more than 9 months pregnant. I think that was to be expected.
My son was supposed to have been born on Thanksgiving, but like my daughter, he was late. I guess he decided that sharing his birthday with the populous of the world who were stuffing their faces to overload then parking it in front of the television and watching football while simultaneously slipping into a turkey induced coma was not to his liking.
I couldn’t wait to have my son. Not only because he made me pee every half hour or if I laughed too hard, and gave me heartburn no matter what I ate because there was NO room left in my belly, but because I just wanted to get back down to my normal 120 lbs. and not feel like “The Whale who walked Logan Square.”
We already picked out his name; Michael. However Ricardo was still wanting his middle name to be Adam. I told him no, adamantly, because his initials would be MAR. Michael Adam Rodriguez = MAR = VERY unhappy mommy.
I didn’t want my son being called “Mar” which is defined by Merriam Websters standard dictionary as meaning:
mar – verb (used with object), marred, mar·ring.
1. to damage or spoil to a certain extent; render less perfect, attractive, useful, etc.; impair or spoil:
2. to disfigure, deface, or scar
The origins of said word weren’t very likable either:
Middle English: Merren, Old English: Merran – to hinder, waste; cognate with
Old Saxon: Merrian, Old High German: Merren – to hinder
Old Norse: Merja – to bruise
Gothic: Marzjan – to offend
NOPE!! Ricardo may have been big and liked to get his way, but this is ONE area where he wouldn’t! I would NOT have my soon-to-be-born (like any damned minute!) son referred to as ugly in anyway, since I just knew he would be beautiful. I mean, come on, his sister was a cutie patootie – he had to be adorable too. I don’t bake bad babies!!
I spent the whole day cleaning. I felt this frenzy to make the house sparkling and fresh, not sure why but I did. I mean I normally did that on Saturday anyway, but this was overdrive cleaning. Nesting I would suppose. I swept, I dusted, I did laundry, I scrubbed the sinks and toilet and bathtub, I washed the floors and dusted and vacuumed. The house looked great and smelled better. Cristal was being a good girl that day and just played and stayed out of my way for the most part as I recall.
After work Ricardo came home and took me out to dinner at Abril on Logan Square. It’s not there now, but that place had THE best Carne Asada. We left Cristal at home with her Abuela and Abuelo. We walked up there. It wasn’t too far. I was tired, and it was a really cold, clear night, but it was pretty out. I had my favorite, Carne Asada and had a pina colada. Just one. Yum. Followed by flan. Can’t forget the flan. We walked back home, got Cristal from upstairs and I gave her a bath and put her to bed. We watched a bit of telly and went to bed. This is where things get weird. It was my personal version of deja-vu.
Mind you, my daughter is two and a half years older than her brother. She was born in Summer in 1983 at Rush Presbyterian St. Lukes Hospital. Her father and I went to dinner at Abril the night I went into labor with her. I ate Carne Asada and had one pina colada and flan. The same EXACT dinner. The similarities don’t stop there, which to me makes for an interesting tale.
I was asleep and my water broke while I was in bed. I did my kegel exercises to check. Water was still gushing out. I was not peeing. Oh crap! I looked at the clock on the dresser; 1:30 am. Oh my…NOT again! It’s the same damned time! WTF? How weird is that? I got up, and unlike last time was hit almost immediately with a really strong contraction. Owch! Cristal took a little while. I got hit with my first contraction with her while trying (unsucessfully, I might add) to iron a shirt (much to my mothers amusement) with a cold iron. I had my bloody show and that is when I knew we needed to go. I woke up Ricardo.
This time he woke up easily. This time he wasn’t confused. This time he didn’t get us lost on the way to the hospital and require a police escort. We got to the ER, and I was sat down in a wheelchair and I was taken promptly to a labor room. Strange, it’s the same labor room as last time. In walked the nurse. Same nurse as last time. “Hi Carolyn, back for baby number two I see. How is Cristal?” She remembered NOT only me, but also my daughter. From two and a half years ago. I was taken aback, but it was nice. Her name was Cathy. She was sweet and very patient and helpful.
Enter another painful contraction. I had an overwhelming urge to shit. She wanted me to go in a bedpan. Um, no, that’s not going to happen. I struggled to get up. I was in a lot of pain but managed and went to the bathroom against her advice and better judgement, but got things taken care of. My son didn’t want to wait however and continued his assault on my uterus.
Let me tell you a little something about my daughter here. She was predictable. Determined, but predictable. You could set a watch to her. In labor my contractions were EVERY ten minutes, then EVERY five minutes, etc. You get the idea. When she came home she needed to be fed EVERY two hours. You could set an alarm. NOT my boy. He wanted to come out, and he wanted out NOW!! He didn’t wait. Once the contractions started, they didn’t stop. No breaks, no trying to figure out how many minutes apart. There were NO minutes apart. It was one big contraction. I take that back, I had ONE ten minute break. ONE. That was it! I have the fetal monitor tape to prove it.
I sweated, I swore, I was hot and so I took off my hospital gown. Ricardo tried to put it back on me. I threw it across the room. He was worried about people seeing me naked, pregnant, sweaty and cranky, I didn’t give a shit – I was in a hospital, I am sure they were used to that. Not that I cared, I was hot and I was in pain and I was in transition and I just wanted the baby OUT!! Now!! It was Ricardo’s fault I was like this and I was miserable and would NEVER, EVER have sex with him EVER again!! EVER!! I squeezed his hand so hard his fingers were white. Hard to do on a Creole Cuban man, but I did. I thought he would cry.
Four hours and fifty-nine minutes later, at 6:29 am, after one last really hard push, my son was forced, slightly blue and very tired into the world. He was 21.25 inches long and weighed 8 lbs. 13.5 oz. He didn’t cry right away like Cristal did. I was worried, but he was very tired because the labor was so hard. All his fault I say. He is the one who battled a war to get out into the world. Seems that was the first of his battles and certainly not the last. He was wrinkly, slimy and bloody, with a headful of dark hair and dark blue, almost black eyes. They turned brown in about two days. His father looked at him like he was an alien, but to me he was so cute. He fell asleep almost instantly.
Later that day the nurse came into my room with my breakfast. Scrambled eggs, canadian bacon, toast with jelly, and OJ. I was starving and asked for seconds. After I ate, I had to go to the bathroom, but they wanted to massage my uterus first to help things heal. Owchie, owchie. It hurt. They brought in Michael. I breast feed him. He was still tired, so didn’t eat a lot. They told me he was jaundiced and that was normal because he was a large baby. He was taken back to the nursery and put under special fluorescent lights to help him heal.
Ricardo went home to go to bed for a while and then he had to get to work. They came in and asked me what my son’s name was. Well, Ricardo’s middle name was Celestino – from one of his uncles, and so I named him Michael Celestino Rodriguez. Cristal had my middle name, I figured giving him Ricardo’s middle name was suiting. And I liked it. It was a beautiful name for my beautiful boy.
The day we brought him home, it was a freezing cold, blustery day. He was all bundled up in his blue and white striped fuzzy suit and wrapped in a blanket. His abuela and abuelo were very happy to meet him and they loved him. His sister asked to hold him and give him a baba. I sat her down on the couch and put him gently in her lap and she was giving him a bottle. I took a photo, because I knew she would never remember or admit doing that. Because of having a baby in the house, she wanted to go back to wearing a diaper and drinking from a bottle. I relented on the bottle.
She was very helpful to me, even though she was really young. She tried to share her stuffed toys. She liked to make him smile. Luckily for me, he would eat dinner, have his bath and sleep though the night. Then one day she said something I will never forget, which to this day, makes me smile. She walked up to me one day and said “I don’t want him anymore, send him back.” I told her that was not possible. She said “He cries too loud and he’s smelly. I don’t want him anymore.” Well, unfortunately for her, she was stuck with him and all in all, I don’t think she always minded too much.
However, there is still much more to be written and I will finish it, but today I just can’t. I can however, wish my boy love and light on the other side. He deserved that. He was not an easy boy to raise and he put me through hell sometimes, but other times he made me smile or laugh til it hurt. He was very sensitive and things touched and hurt him deeply and he didn’t always let on. He could, however, talk to me about pretty much everything and anything, and for the most part he did, but there are still things about him I never did know and will now, never know. I do know one thing however. Having my son was one of the best things I ever did and raising him and knowing him for the time he was here on Earth was priceless and even though it was not easy and he put me through more trials than I ever dreamt possible, he brought me much joy and happiness too. I loved you Michael with all I had. I hope you knew that.