This story is by Mary Pryor and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
In the movies you see the new father standing holding the mother’s hand while the doctor and nurses are all checking the mother’s vital signs and monitoring how frequently the labor pains are coming. The doctor in attendance is giving directions to the nurses to give an epidermal now that the pains are becoming more and more intense.
“Is my husband here yet?” What was I thinking wanting to be married at 15 years old at a time when girls were not allowed to attend High School while pregnant?
“No, dear we called and left a message that you were in labor, breathe and push,” the nurse replied.
Liza’s eyes became watery as she remembered her delivery, a young, 16-year-old mother, who was reliving the experience of child bearing while being a baby herself. Liza was a young girl with a curvaceous body weighing about 100 lbs. soaking wet. Her seductive large brown eyes made you focus on them. The dimples in both her cheeks when she smiled was warm and self-conscious. Her skin was mocha and the mahogany brown hair which curled to frame her face accentuated her eyes even more as two large French braids hung to her shoulders making her look as though she was even younger, maybe 12 or 13 years old. Although young the compassion and sensitivity with which she told her story was compelling
She continued by saying, “it felt as if her whole body was tight and there was nothing that could be done to alleviate the pressure unless she could have a bowel movement but knew it wouldn’t happen until she delivered”.
Talking to the volunteer at the Pregnancy Support Center gave a sense of relief from all the drama going on in her life because she sure didn’t want her mother to know.
“Since my husband wasn’t there,” she continued, “I asked if they could call my mother?”
“Mama’s voice was soft and calming”.
“Hi, Honey, I love you are they taking good care of you”? Mama asked.
“Yes,” I responded trying not to cry. “Everyone is taking good care of me”.
My mother recited a verse from the Bible, (Psa. 27:1) so this would make me feel better. She asked if DT was there with me. I wanted to lie and say yes, but I told her the truth, he wasn’t there. DT, Jr. was born on Easter Sunday and the nurses had a fun time dressing him up like a bunny, when they brought him to me after the delivery. His hair was pulled up on each side like ears and they had a little onesy on him that had a rabbit motif.
Little DT by now was two months old and someone had told her about the Pregnancy Support Center. After talking to Colleen, Liza wanted to learn how PSC could help in her journey to take care of her baby boy. As the conversation continued Colleen, the volunteer counselor, realized clearly that Liza was in an abusive relationship. Colleen took Liza on a tour of the PSC giving her baby clothes and information on the programs available to women who were pregnant and those who had young children
As she pushed the stroller toward home she reminisced on her last month of pregnancy when she was so large she practically waddled when she walked. One day after DT came home from work when still living with his mom he said he was going skating. How great is this to go somewhere she could watch others roller skate since she couldn’t any more. She had not been anywhere with him outside of going to her mother’s and walking to downtown with her mom since they had been married seven months ago.
“Oh, that’s great that will be fun,” we haven’t been anywhere since we got married, I can’t wait”.
DT just looked at me and didn’t say anything. After dinner I started cleaning up the kitchen, since I had cooked for the family, his mother, little brother, sister, sister’s boyfriend.
Dt took a shower and changed clothes. He got dressed and came down stairs and started out the door.
“Hey, wait a few minutes while I get my shoes on”.
He looked at me and said, “you’re not going, I have to pick up some other people and there’s no room for you to sit as big as you are.”
“Yes, I am going,” as I put on my jacket and grabbed my purse. As I waddled out the door I could see DT was already in the car. I walked over to the passenger side and attempted to open the door then realizing it was locked. I just didn’t believe that he could leave without me knowing I wanted to go watch the skating since I couldn’t skate.
DT put the window down on the driver side of the car and yelled, “get out of the way before you get ran over.”
This was serious he really meant I wasn’t getting in the car and going with him. I wasn’t going to hurt my unborn child or get hurt myself. He backed out of the drive and drove away.
I went back and sat on the porch crying to myself. It was unbelievable to me that my husband, the father of my child could be so mean and cruel. We were supposed to be a family who loved and cared about each other. Wow is this what married life is all about.
Walking to my mother’s I thought about how he did come back that day and dropped off his sister’s boyfriend. Thinking he was coming back for me I got up and waddled off the porch to get in the car. As I neared the car I could see there was another girl sitting in the front seat and another one in the back. When I was almost by the passenger side he gunned the motor took off and I heard him yell out “you’re not going anywhere with your fat ass.” As they drove away I could hear all of them laughing. In that instant I remember thinking, I’m not going to be pregnant forever.
Well, here I am pushing my baby down the street and getting ready to change this scenario maybe not today but in the foreseeable future.
When Liza arrived at her mama’s she saw her and Gramma sitting on the porch talking. Picking DT up from the stroller she walked over and placed him in Gramma’s lap. She told them where she had been and showed them the baby clothes.
While showcasing the clothes her mama casually said, “school starts back September 8th.
“I can’t start school I’ve got a baby to take care of now”. “Plus, I don’t have any clothes to wear to school, DT gave all my clothes to his mom and sister while I was pregnant.”
Gramma looked at Li za over the top of her glasses, “do you want to go back to school?”
“Yes, but I have to wait until next year after I get my self together, I just had DT,Jr. in April.”
In unison, Mama and Gramma said, “do you want to go back to school?”
“Of course,” she replied but, in her head, were questions of how this would go over with DT. He had already told Liza that she didn’t need to go back to school because she was a mother and a wife.
Liza responded, “I don’t have time to go to school, take care of DT, Jr. and our apartment.” “I have already lost a year all my friends are juniors I would go back as a sophomore”.
While all these thoughts were going through her mind she could faintly hear Mama say something and then Gramma, but too many of her own thoughts were crowding her head to hear clearly what they were saying.
Gramma said, “are you listening can you do that?”
“Do what? Liza asked.
“Go buy some clothes for school with the money I’m going to give you?” Gramma said.
“Bring DT, Jr. over each morning and pick him up when you get out of school,” Mamma responded.
It was too much too soon to think about. “I’ll think about it and let you know,” Liza replied.
“When are you planning on letting us know,” Mama pushed for an answer.
“Before the week is over,” she said smiling and putting DT, Jr. in his stroller so she could leave hurriedly.
The struggle was real but three years later through the abuse physically, mentally and emotionally Liza graduated with a diploma from high school. DT,Jr. who was 2 ½ year old saw his mother graduate and although he didn’t understand it all he was the reason she needed to complete this task, so she could raise him with or without a father or husband and prepare for the future.