On May 6th, 1979 my dad and I took Mom to the hospital. We went to the IU Med Center in Indianapolis to check her in for the night. The next morning we were going to have a baby. I remember them checking her in, doing her vitals.
I remember them listening for the baby's heartbeat and not hearing anything. I remember the look on my parent's faces, and the nurse saying it was ok, the baby was probably turned. I remember the dread, thinking we had another baby that had died and my dad becoming gruff and declaring that we'd leave and let them take care of Mom.
Dad took me and dropped me off at Grandmas, and I remember we didn't even get any clothes for school that next day. He just dropped me off and went wherever he went. The rest of my evening was with my Grandma and my Uncle George.
Grandma and I went to the IGA and I always affirm that you didn't really grow up in a small town in the midwest if you haven't shopped at the IGA. She let me pick out whatever I wanted for dinner, from the frozen food section because she wasn't in a cooking mood. This was an amazing treat in my world - and I chose french fries and fish sticks. We also picked up a half gallon of ice milk.
Grandma said it "hafe" instead of HALF. I have no idea what part of the Hoosier accent that was.
I didn't know that my choice of french fries and fish sticks would be my dinner for the next two weeks, but when I was ten I thought it was pretty fun.
We watched 60 Minutes after dinner and then I had to let Grandma wash my feet before I was allowed to slip into the crisply starched white sheets of her bed. I tried not to think about being worried, and Grandma read me "Betsy Ross Girl of Old Philadelphia" which was full of thee's and thy's and I thought it was funny.
I woke up the next day and before noon I had gained a brother.
I was singular in all those years before that day. There had been the girl baby that died, but even she never drew a breath. I was always singular, alone in our family. The oldest grandchild on both sides, I felt doomed to be the ONLY child in our little family. I wanted a boy, and I got my fondest wish.
Mom often told me that, as a child, when she said her prayers at night she'd pray for one of her dolls to become a baby so she could have a sibling. She said she asked her Daddy again and again if they could get another baby. But they were old when they adopted her, plus - it was the war. Babies were plenty during the war. I suppose they didn't think they could get another baby, or perhaps they truly didn't want one.
I just know that it was so important to my mother to give me what she didn't have - a sibling.
I told the story of the baby to my therapist the last time I was there and her response shocked me. She said "Your mother loved you amazingly to go through all that and try again. She really didn't want you to be alone, did she?" I hadn't told her about how Mom had been an only child, nor how she had longed not to be. But she got it, maybe as a woman, maybe from the things I said, about how important it was to my mother for Matt to be in my life.
The days I had in my family up until May 6th 1979 were good. We were three and it was a good, happy life for the most part. But on May 7th it was better. And it was better every day after.