Called Mom today to wish her happy birthday. I was born sixty-three years ago, today, if the records and Mom’s memory are accepted. I accept both, especially Mom’s memory. I wished her a happy birthday because she did all the work. I’m not lyin’, I don’t remember any of it. It was barely like I was there.
“Wasn’t I overdue?”
“Yes, eight days,” she answered.
“Oh, eight days. That’s nothing.”
“After nine months, it feel likes eight years.”
I woke up with pain. I knew it was time and woke your father up. “The baby’s coming. We need to go to the hospital now.”
I was already dressing. He got up slowly. While he dressed, I went down to the car. Our apartment was on the third floor. There wasn’t an elevator. I knew it would take me time to get down those three flights of stairs.
I was down in the car, and hard labor had begun. I wasn’t surprised. You sister took just three hours. I was in enormous pain because it was all happening so fast. I was wondering, what’s taking your father so long and kept blowing the horn, shouting, “Come on.”
He finally came down. I said, “What were you doing?”
He said, “I was combing my hair.” I could’ve killed him. No jury would have convicted me, if there was a woman on it.
He started driving, came up to a stop sign and started to stop. I said, “Do not stop.”
A motorcycle cop pulled us over right after that. Your father told him that I was in hard labor. The cop said, “Follow me.” He turned on his sirens. We blew through every red light and stop sign.
When we arrived at the Fort Belvoir hospital, the nurse came out to meet us. She said, “Oh my God, you’re in labor. You should have come in as soon as it started.”
I said, “I did. I got here as soon as I could.”
She said, “Let me get a wheel chair.”
I started labor right at six in the morning. You were born at seven twenty-four.
After giving birth, I was taken to the maternity ward. There were seventeen beds, all with women who’d just given birth. A major came in. She said, “All you ladies who gave birth yesterday need to do your exercises.” This was a military hospital, remember. They didn’t coddle you. They were military, and they treated you like you were in the military. Visitors and flowers, candy, all that wasn’t allowed, because they worried about germs and infections, and they began exercising you right away.
Well, I’d just given birth, so I didn’t exercise. The major said to me, “You. Why aren’t you exercising?”
I said, “I just gave birth four hours ago.”
“Do your exercises. Now.” So I did.
The next day, we dragged our iron beds down the hall to another ward, where we were discharged. You were thirty-two hours old when I took you home.