I am child number four in a family of five children. As the only girl, you'd think I'd have a leg up on my competition...but it wasn't that way at all.
I was not a planned addition to the family. When I was in my 40s, my mom told me that she never wanted me, but my dad did. Like I needed that verbal confirmation - her actions over the decades spoke louder than any words that came from her mouth that day. And I always knew my dad loved me, no matter how hideous I was at my birth.
NOTE: Based on comments I'm receiving, I'm afraid that nobody is seeing the goodness and humor in my story. Trust me - writing about my less-than-ideal launch made me smile - it was all kinds of ridiculous, and resulted in zero difficulties in my physical development.
Anyway, back to my debut:
My mom went into labor when she was almost eight months' pregnant with me. She went to the hospital and was admitted. Back in the olden days, childbirth took place in labor wards. There was no private room, and no escape from the moans and screams of other laboring women, a flimsy curtain around each bed was the one semblance of privacy and method of maintaining one's dignity while the lady bits are open to the air.
As she was settled into her bed, labor stopped. She was moved to a regular room (semi-private, at best). For the next week, she was shuttled back and forth between the labor ward and her room, as labor started and subsequently stopped. Premature babies didn't fare well back when I was born, and everyone was hopeful that she could continue the pregnancy as long as possible.
On the seventh day, Dr. Newman, her OB, told her "You have a tumor. There are no signs of life."
On her eighth day of confinement, labor started again. But Mom had had enough of this nonsense. She endured the pain until she was nearly ready to deliver. In the rush to get her to the delivery room, I was almost born in the elevator on that April day.
As was the practice, she was drugged into near unconsciousness and I was born.
At birth, I weighed four pounds, I.don't.know.how.many.ounces. My arrival into the world was not without its setbacks. My head was misshapen; my mom always said that part of the back of my head was attached to adhesions she had.
Apparently, my appearance was so horrifying that they threw a blanket over me and whisked me away in an incubator. My mom didn't see me for the first two days of my life.
During this time in history, fathers were not welcome in labor and delivery. My dad was at home with my three older brothers when I was born - they baked cookies. My dad called the hospital to find out if he had another mouth to feed. The nurse who took the call told my mom, "If I had thought about it, I'd have told him that the baby was not like all the rest, so he'd know he had a daughter."
My dad and brothers all came to the hospital. My mom waved to the boys from her window (since children were not allowed to visit). My ten-year old brother Terry, wanting to be helpful, yelled, "Mom, we brought your girdle!"
When my dad went to the nursery to see me, another dad who got a look at me asked, "Is she retarded?"
That new dad got a bit of sensitivity training from a nearby nurse.
And thanks to the wonders of not-so-modern medicine, I have only a small bump and scar on the back of my head from the repairs that were made to help me approximate the appearance of a human. I spent an extra 10 days in the hospital until I gained enough weight to be discharged.
From this inauspicious beginning, I went on to give birth to three
And in the end? Arnold was right.