“Mom, are you pregnant?,” I asked her one night as I was getting ready to drift off to sleep. I was nine years old. She was walking by my bedroom door in what seemed to be a maternity top. She had been wearing such tops for a few weeks; the reason why I didn’t question it earlier was because about a year before, when I told her I wanted a baby brother or sister she all but stated it was out of the question, as at 34, she was “too old.” “Look at Loretta and her mom, Kelly; I don’t want to be 50 years old and have a teenager.” I left it at that, and a year later, when she started wearing the maternity-looking tops, I figured at first that she just liked the style.
She came into my room and leaned down next to my bed and said, “Yes, I am.” She didn’t seem too excited about it, but her tone was warm, just the same. I was excited enough for the both of us. I sat up in bed and joyfully peppered her with questions: When was it due? Did we care if it was a boy or a girl? Where will it sleep? Am I old enough to babysit?
The funny thing is, at the time, my folks didn’t sleep in the same bed. Complaining that their bed caused her backaches, Mom slept on the foldout couch most of the time, while Dad stayed in their bedroom. But miraculously Mom turned up pregnant in spite of the arrangement. Life could be very puzzling for this nine-year-old; regardless, I was looking at the addition of a new baby in the household as a good thing. Never did it cross my mind that to some, it wasn’t considered good news.
Many years later my mother told me that when she found out she was pregnant back then, she immediately made an appointment with her doctor to arrange for an abortion. He told her he would not recommend it, as she was “too old.” Mom then thought seriously about jumping off the Antioch Bridge. She did not want to bring a child into that household. In admitting this to me, Mom also mentioned that, once she realized she was “stuck,” she told my dad there would be no more drinking, or at least no more drunkenness. If he pulled any of his antics from the past, she would throw him out for good.
I could hardly contain myself in the months leading up to Mom’s delivery date. The household seemed somewhat excited. Dad seemed to take it with a grain of salt; besides, he was away from home quite a bit, driving a truck, which at the time was a blessing as it brought in decent money and kept him more responsible (or so we thought at the time).
So, on an October afternoon in 1970, my little brother was born. Our lives would be forever changed.