When I was 25 years-old, I lived in Southwest Louisiana. I had given birth to my third child a few short months before. 25 was a hard year.
At 25, a friend of mine called me in a desperate place. She was pregnant. She did not feel as though she was in a good place to keep the child and the timing of pregnancy ruled out other options.
You see, I grew up in a small town where vision is sometimes clouded and people love to talk. I knew this would be challenging for her. You could not give a baby up for adoption back in the ‘90’s without a lot of flak; especially in a small town.
Small towns haven’t changed much. They hold high expectations (theirs) and rarely see behind their own eyes. Then again, maybe it’s not the small towns.. Maybe it’s just people. Individuals. To a degree, people only know what they know.
I did what any friend would do. I offered her a place to stay.
I called adoption agencies. She flew across the country. She moved in with us; myself, my husband and our three small children.
Around this time, my husband also brought home a stripper. She had one hell of a story. He told me she needed a place to live. “She was dating a friend of his.” I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
I opened my home to my pregnant friend and the young stripper with a bad story.
The young stripper with a bad story didn’t last long. I gave my husband an ultimatum.
Having someone take advantage of your heart, especially the one person who is supposed to have your back, hurts like hell.
I told the young stripper with a bad story to pack her bags. I drove her to her family’s house.
It was not close.
I helped her unload. I chatted with her parents. I gave her some words of wisdom as I made my way out the door.
I never heard from her again, but truly I hope that today she has left her bad story behind her. And why not? Her name was ‘Hope’.
I resumed life.
When the time came, I was the birthing coach for my friend. I met the adoptive parents she chose. When it was finished, I drove her home.
When we returned from the hospital, I found myself in an emotional place. I remember crying. I shed a lot of tears.
I was pregnant – again.
Not a lot of people were happy about this.
I heard words. Some cried. One made unspoken suggestions.
You know what was toughest; out of all of it?
My husband and my friend sitting at the table with the telephone pages open to clinics.
I remember the raised voices. I remember the words.
I struggled hard with this one.
You ever had to put your money where your mouth is? You ever feel the odds stacked against you so hard? Everyone staring at you to see what your next move was going to be? Throw in a lot of opinions and a shitload of pressure. A place where you find yourself at an ethical crossroads; a moment that can define what you believe in. There are no do-overs. That about sums up where I was at that moment in time.
In an instant it poured over me…. I felt like I was drowning in the noise…
“I just don’t know what you’re going to do.”
“Nobody in their right mind has four children, except black people and those on welfare.”
“We are NOT having another baby”
I slammed the yellow pages shut. I threw the phone book.
“I am having this baby – with or without you!” I said a few more words that were required in that moment.
To be honest, I was scared shitless.
I drove to work the next morning feeling lost and alone. I couldn’t stop my tears.
It was raining that day and as I looked up from the road, I witnessed a rainbow; from end to end. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen rainbows before, but this was the first and only time that I’ve ever seen both ends of one. I remember the awe. I pulled my car over. I wiped my own tears and I took a deep breath. I knew in that moment that I was going to have a girl. I don’t know how to explain how I knew. Some feelings are difficult to put to words, but in that instant I knew. I also knew that I would make it through this.
Nine months later, I gave birth to my daughter…..
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