22 years ago today I woke up at the early hour of 3am feeling sick to my stomach. This was not unusual for me because I spent the better part of nine months puking my guts up, while pregnant with JoDee. At the time Daddy-O and I, unmarried, young and preggers, were living with his grandparents. As I padded across the cold hardwood floor that February morning, two days past my due date, I thought about how we had not even decided on a name yet. She couldn’t come now even though we had the crib all ready. Decorated with the traditional Winnie the Pooh in primary colors with the crib sheets, bumper pads (this was before we realized it could kill a kid) and baby blankets freshly washed and ready to go. A mobile was lovingly attached to the crib, centered so a tiny baby girl could lie underneath while watching the Pooh characters twirl around to a soothing song. A changing table was set up downstairs with tiny little diapers, baby wipes, freshly sterilized bottles, and a changing pad also with a Pooh sheet fitted to it. There was a pale green and pink swing with a bassinet attachment waiting patiently to be used. But we had no name. We couldn’t agree on anything. I won’t tell you the names we each separately wanted but the other didn’t like so as not to insult anyone with said name.
After I was done heaving my guts up, I sat on the bathroom floor thinking that I didn’t feel right. While the puking itself wasn’t abnormal, waking up out of a sound sleep to puke was not common. Waking up because my back hurt, my hips were falling asleep, to pee, all normal but not to throw up. After a few minutes I went back to the room we were sharing which ironically had a set of twin beds, so we were sleeping separately then. The irony being the damage was done, a little late to be sleeping apart, but I digress. I waddled over to his bed and woke him in the way only a pregnant woman past her due date is allowed too, I kicked his bed violently. He opened one eye and asked if it was time. I told him I didn’t know, I just didn’t feel good. He rolled over and told me to wake him up when I had more information. Sure thing let me just dial up 411 and see what I can find out. Since he was no help, I laid in my bed watching the clock. At some point I fell back to sleep. At 5am I woke up to something jumping on my abdomen. No, something burning my abdomen. No an alien trying to come out of my abdomen via my belly button. No, contractions. Shit. Contractions!
I didn’t bother to wake up Daddy-O this time. I made my way downstairs and did what any woman in labor would do. I called my mother. She told me to call the doctor. So I called my sister whom had just had a baby 16-day before me. She concurred- call the doctor. When the doctor called me back he told me that first time mothers take a long time to labor and since my contractions were only 6 minutes apart that I had plenty of time. He told me to shower, and head to the hospital but don’t rush. That seemed reasonable. I woke Daddy-O, we both got ready, let his grandparents know we were leaving, grabbed the hospital bag I had packed and headed to the hospital. That sounds all good but let me tell you, though the frequency of the contractions did not increase the strength of them did. At one point I was 90% sure I was going to deliver that baby in the front seat of his dad’s chevy Silverado, aka the only thing in the world Daddy-O loves more than life itself. That revelation was met with lots of don’t you dare and your water better not break (he made me sit on a trash back, ok? Yes, that happened!).
By the time I reached the hospital admission desk (which was so way-back-when it was just checking in the through the ER) I could barely stand, did not want to sit, and hated breathing. It was 6am. We made our way up to Labor and Delivery and were quickly settled in a room, my being hooked up to a fetal monitor promptly did nothing to lessen my hatred of breathing. The doctor confirmed that I was just barely progressing. He was going to do a procedure and would be back around noon. That was at 630am. Around 7am I told Daddy-O this kid is coming out right now. He looked at me like I was a lunatic, and stayed sitting in his chair. About 5 minutes later, I said get a nurse, get a janitor, for god sakes get someone this kid is coming now. That was 7:10am. At 7:22am with no one present but Daddy-O, me and a nurse, JoDee Elizabeth Joyce, made her grand entrance. She was squirmy, and screamy, and otherwise shocked by the sudden appearance in our world. The shock didn’t stop there. It happened so fast, and honestly so viciously I felt like I missed it. Not that anyone really wants to remember the pain but I watched The Baby Story. All those moms were happy and crying and everyone in the room was cheering. There was chaos and confusion and disbelief galore. More than one nurse or doctor said that first time mothers don’t deliver that fast, and that this baby had a mind of her own already. Little. Did. We. Know. The story of her birth is sort of the story of her life.
Since that morning in 1994 JoDee has not followed the norm. She has done what she wanted, when she wanted, with little regard for anything, including herself. In a lot of ways that helped her be a good gymnast and a hard-worker but when applied to drug addiction it made her the worst kind of addict. Headstrong and fearless became wreck less and self-sabotaging. One might wonder where I am going with all this. Would I change things if I could?
And not have this:
How could anyone look at this face and say they would do it differently?
From the first moment JoDee and I came face to face I knew I was destine to be her mother until my last breath and I wouldn’t change one thing about that. What I would change is that hair? What in the world was I thinking!!!!
One this day, her 22nd birthday, I wish my daughter a very Happy Birthday. I won’t see her, because she is in detox trying to become the best JoDee she can be. And that’s ok because I have 21 other birthday memories to reflect on with joy and love and happiness. Here is to about 60 more!