Warning: Contains content not suitable for all ages or readers.
The new life in college was not what I was expecting. I wasn’t a fan of my roommate, and I had chosen the “boring” upperclassman dorm, without realizing it. It seems I made every possible wrong decision after that, too. I went in doing my Gen Ed’s, while getting my feet wet with introductory classes to Anthropology, something I thought I wanted to get into as a career. Most of the class sizes were insanely large, so the Professor’s had no idea who was there or not…that to me meant I didn’t have to always go. I thought I could cruise through like I had in the past. I was going out to parties every night, and hanging out at The Hub every day, as if I didn’t have a care in the world. There wasn’t anyone to ask how my grades were, or see how I was doing. And I had zero concept of my own responsibility in the world.
I had not developed that part of the brain beyond survival. Growing up was spent on eggshells and having no sense of stability. Living with my Aunt came too late. I honestly did not put two and two together…that in order for her to afford her house, car, and all things she bought, she had to go to work every day. My mom never worked, and when she was out of the house, it was for a welfare program, or her short stint in school. So I didn’t have a clue what other people did. I mean, of course I knew my Aunt worked, but I didn’t really know what that meant. Also, my Aunt had graduated college. The only one in our family to do so. She even went back for her Master’s. I just didn’t realize she had her job because she had those degrees. I wasn’t connecting the dots. And because I always did so well in school, and came across as mature in certain areas of life, no one realized how very immature I was in other areas.
The year and a half I spent at Penn State gave me a lot of stories including alcohol. It gave me a lot of stories including men. But there are only a few stories including friends, school activities, and learning…I was told my scholarships were being taken away because of my poor grades, and that I could pull up my grades elsewhere to get the scholarships reinstated, or I could pay out of pocket to stay. So I packed up, and crawled back to my Aunt’s. I applied to The Art Institute, and was accepted but couldn’t pay for it. I went to the Community College, and signed up for classes, but I couldn’t pay for that either. My Aunt said to work and save, then try again. I was also filling my time by going back and forth to New York, dating a boy who was going to one of the S.U.N.Y campuses at the time. At first, I was visiting him on campus, but then summer came and I was visiting him at his mother’s Brooklyn apartment. Her place reminded me of my childhood, and I thought I was going to be with her son forever.
I started working at a warehouse that I had worked during the summer the past few years, and eventually met my son’s father. We had just been friends while I was dating the guy in Brooklyn, then it turned into something more almost a year later. We moved in together after six months of dating, to the smallest efficiency ever in the Frankford section of Philly. It was like a dorm, but in a much crappier setting, and we were sharing a bathroom with people twice our age. We both left the warehouse, with me going into retail and him into security, both at the same mall. About a year later, we moved into a one bedroom apartment a few blocks away. We broke up and got back together a lot through this time. He was never relationship material, but I loved him so much, and really didn’t know how a relationship should be, so I kept holding on.
Almost two years after being together, I got pregnant. When I found out, we weren’t even together…but a month later we were moving in together down the Olney section of Philly. A small one bedroom in a pretty rough area off of Broad and Lindley. I was taking the long bus ride to our old neighborhood for my check ups, and had stopped working by the time I was 6 months pregnant. It wasn’t close to a super market, but there was this small place across the street that sold $2 cheesesteaks, so I think we ate that for dinner almost every night. During the day I mostly ate cereal or cheap chicken nuggets. There was one day that we had no money, and no food in the house, so I was sitting there scooping out dry hot chocolate powder with a spoon, and beyond happy I had found an old bag of sunflower seeds. My son’s father was at work, and I kept my fingers crossed he would be able to borrow money from a friend until he got paid.
My baby boy was ready to come out on a very early, chilly October morning. Since we had no car, I called my Aunt, all the way in the far Northeast, for a ride to the hospital that was also in the Northeast. That was the longest 3 hours of my life, with contractions that seemed to be splitting me apart. When we got to the hospital, the anesthesiologist had about 4 women ahead of me, so I was in pain for another 2 hours after that. Once the epidural kicked in, it was a smoother ride. But not for long. 12 hours after my contractions started I was finally able to push. Nothing happened for close to an hour. I was losing blood and energy, and the doctor was pretty much yelling at me that if I didn’t push my baby out, we would have to do an emergency c-section. I was trying, they even used a suction device on my poor baby boy, but he wasn’t budging. I wasn’t wide enough to let him pass.
They rushed me in for an emergency c-section, I could barely stay awake, but I had to so that I could see my baby. I just wanted him next to me, and I didn’t want to let him out of my sight. Finally, they placed him on my chest, but it wasn’t for long. They had to put me back together and clean me up before transporting me to a room. Afterward, I thought I was never going to be able to sit up again. It is crazy how much you use your stomach muscles for even basic mobility. They said I couldn’t leave until I was able to walk around and pass a bowel movement. Well, I was there for about 4 days before that was even thought of. I also was unable to breast feed, or change his diaper those first few days. His father actually stepped up for a lot of it. Or maybe he was made to.
After finally being able to go home, the novelty wore off on my son’s father. He couldn’t understand why I couldn’t hold the baby while I made his bottle, instead of letting him cry in the crib, which didn’t let him sleep for work. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t care about getting dressed, or making sure my hair was done when he got home from work. He couldn’t understand why I needed even just a half hour away from my baby boy, even though I wasn’t the one working all day. Him working all day was also the reason he couldn’t put together the crib, bouncer, or playpen when I was pregnant, so guess what I was doing a few weeks before. Don’t get me wrong, he had some moments bonding with his son. But only because I was still the only one to clean, or attempt to make food, or had to take a shower. I didn’t realize how much both of our childhoods hindered our ability to be parents. We had no idea what we were doing.