I would love to write about the many trinkets filling up the empty spaces in my apartment. The dark blue glass bottles reflecting the rays of the sun in my windowsills, the elephants I wrote about in an earlier assignment, the things I’ve inherited from relatives that have since passed on, my pen collection (!), but… there is only one “thing” that comes to mind when I read this assignment, so sit back, throw your feet up and get ready read…
In 1995, I was in a typical teenage relationship. I was in the process of breaking up with one boyfriend and starting anew with someone completely opposite from whom I’d been dating. I became pregnant and my ex wasn’t happy about it one bit. One swift, hard, deliberate kick to my lower abdomen caused me to have a miscarriage days later. I didn’t want to admit to my parents that I was having sex at such a young age, so the follow up DNC was never done, causing scar tissue to build up, take over and spread like wild fire.
Later on in life, (5-6 years) both before and after I got married, I had 2 more miscarriages with my husband. This is when the doctor finally spelled it out for us. Because I never had the proper treatment after my first miscarriage, I was now unable to have a child (now that I was older, and ready). There was too much tissue damage and no place for the egg to attach itself. We tried fertility drugs, but it just wasn’t happening. I just could not get pregnant. This is when my severe depressive disorder kicked itself into high gear. Was this my karma for having sex at such a young age, knowing it was wrong? I was going to be deprived of conceiving a child as my punishment?
Nearing the end of January, 2002, something wasn’t right. I would drive to work and forget how I’d gotten there. The chicken salad sub I’d have for lunch everyday suddenly made me violently ill. I became extra sensitive to smells, and all I wanted to do was SLEEP!!! I went to the doctor, thinking maybe there was some kind of bug going around. We went through the standard series of questions, had blood drawn (maybe I had an iron deficiency?), I peed in the classic plastic cup with the blue lid and returned to my room. Moments later, the doctor came in, but he looked perplexed. I (already suffering from anxiety issues) started to run every horrible scenario possible through my head when he said… “Congratulations! You’re pregnant.” There are no words to express what I felt in that moment. I went through every emotion one could possibly have. How could this be? You said pregnancy wasn’t in the cards for me. I was angry! I should have been taking better care of my health. I was extatic! I wanted to hop of the table and hug the man. I couldn’t wait to get home to call my husband (we didn’t have cell phones back then). I was scared. How do I make this one stick? Should I stay in bed? Should I spend some time doing headstands so that gravity didn’t dislodge this egg?
February 14th (despite being Valentine’s Day) holds great significance for me. So many things happened on this day over the course of the years to come. But this February 14th, 2002, happens to be a happy memory; one I hope to never forget. My doctor pulled me out of work to ensure this pregnancy was coddled, and at the same time, Ryan August attached himself to me with all his might. He was born on October 26th, 2002, weighing a healthy 7lbs. 14 oz. and was 21 and 1/2 inches tall. I was in labor for 2 days and pushed for 4 hours straight, but after a series of mishaps, (his head was turned sideways, while he was sucking his thumb and the umbilical cord had become wrapped around his neck) his heart rate dropped and I was rushed in for an emergency C-section. The numbing medication didn’t take effect until after he was delivered, so I felt everything. From the initial slice to him being pulled out of me. I remember it all as if it were yesterday. Knowing all of this, I’d do it again without hesitation.
He had minor breathing complications which is common in C-section births. I was supposed to stay in the hospital for 4 days so the doctors could observe both of us, but my husband didn’t feel like hanging around. When I said I wanted to stay the 4 days, he became angry, and we started fighting. Needless to say, I went home early and I’d never been so scared in my life. Couldn’t a nurse come home with me for a day or two to make sure I was doing everything right?
And this is where our journey begins. From the moment we walked in our front door with our new baby, my relationship with my husband began to decline. He had no interest in our son, but he played the part when relatives came to visit. Once they left, I was alone to take care of Ryan. I should have been angry, and I think I actually was, but hind sight… I’m so glad that he kept his distance. Ryan was MY child. For the first 6 months of his life he slept in my arm on the couch. Everywhere I went, he went. We were literally inseperable. It was around this 6 month time frame when my Monster in law said that I’d better put him in his crib, otherwise he’d want to sleep with me for the rest of his life. After listening to my husband bitch on his mother’s behalf, I caved. I put Ryan in his crib and to my surprise, he slept through the night. I on the other hand didn’t sleep at all. I was pacing back and forth outside his room, constantly checking in on him. This went on for quite some time, but I will be forever grateful for those first 6 months. We formed such a bond that to this day is unbreakable. When he started to talk, as I tucked him in, I would always tell him “It’s you and me against the world, kiddo.” We still say this.
Maybe it’s because of the (Mohegan) Indian blood running through my veins, but when I think of Ryan in a dangerous situation or see him being reckless, my animal instincts kick in immediately. If you come at my child, like a snake, I will strike a course of venom to your ears that you’ll never forget. I watch over him like a hawk. Not because I don’t trust him, but rather I don’t trust anyone else. And at the end of the day, I AM the mama bear. I will kill for my cub. If you so much as mess with my child, I go for the jugular. Let this be fair warning.
Until I looked into his eyes for the first time, I wasn’t aware that a love like this existed. There isn’t a single thing I wouldn’t do for my child, and anyone who knows me, knows how true this is. HE comes first, above and beyond even my own happiness. Mind you, he’s still a child (11), and as he begins to age, I know we have to distance ourselves so that he can mature into a gentleman and start a life of his own. From now until then, the road is bound to be rough, with teenage hormones raging, and peer pressure, anxiety disorders, and every other obstacle in our path, but, being the one and only “thing” I treasure most, I will never turn my back on this little boy.
As you may have guessed, my husband and I are no longer married. Our divorce was finalized on February 14th, 2012. On February 14th of 2014 the judge granted me primary custody of Ryan, and allowed his father parenting time. His father has since voluntarily removed himself from Ryan’s life, recently emailing me to say move out of state; I’m done trying. Angry? Not at all. In fact, I’m surprised that he hung on as long as he did. As I mentioned, he never showed an interest in Ryan. Yet, he now has 2 more biological children and a step son 2 months younger than Ryan. It sucks for Ryan because all he wants is a strong male role model to follow. His father is NOT that man. While Ryan struggles with anxiety and being bullied at school, his father would rather place blame (it’s all my fault because these anxiety disorders are hereditary) making the situation worse. So, the more distance between the two, the better. Ryan is in therapy once a week, and his therapist is helping him to understand that he is an individual and doesn’t have to model himself after anyone. He can march to the beat of his own drum. And that’s exactly what he’s doing.
For all that this child has witnessed in his short 11 years, it doesn’t surprise me that he’s at or below grade level in some things. He hasn’t quite matured as much as his friends have, and therefore has become a target for the bullies at school. It’s been the toughest school year yet, but he did it, and he passed with an overall average of 73.1. You may not see this as rewarding, but this is HUGE for Ryan, who not so long ago had a letter sent home saying he was in jeopardy of failing.
He is my heartbeat; my reason for living; the motivation that’s driving me to find my own purpose for this lifetime. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that I met Ryan’s father for the sole purpose of having Ryan. I have absolutely no use for the man, but I am forever grateful to him for giving me my son. MY son… Ryan August… is without a doubt, the ONLY thing I treasure with such intensity. No material object or possession could mean more to me than this little boy. He’s an amazing little man. You just wait and see. You’ll hear his name again someday. He was born to do great things; to soar!! And I can’t wait to witness it for myself. Not to say “I told you so” but because I know it in my gut. This little boy right here is going to change the world as we know it. Some how, some way, HE is going to make a difference. A HUGE difference. And I am merely the vessel he picked to get here. Until he gets to where he needs to be in life, please know that if you attempt to hurt, degrade, manipulate or befriend him with bad intentions, I am the mama bear. It is my duty as his mother to make sure he gets to where he’s supposed to in life, and I have every intention of doing so.
Kate and Ryan against the world…