This is the fifth post in a series which starts here
I was 20 years old and eight months pregnant with my second child, which I planned to place for adoption. This plan included avoiding my family and friends so that it could be kept a secret.
But in early April I ran into my aunt and cousin Mary, who was 14, at the grocery. My aunt chatted about the weather, not dropping her gaze below my neck. Mary gawped at my belly but didn’t ask any questions.
The pains came early in the morning. I woke up and tears came, silently, so as not to wake Vince. I had been able to freeze my emotions for six months but now, on the precipice of saying good-bye, they came.
I flung myself out of bed and called my mother, who dropped my sister off to stay with Vince and drove me to the hospital. The pains continued, fast and strong. As I laid writhing on a gurney a doctor I’d never seen loomed over me and said, “Good morning, I’m doctor G___, and I’ll be with you during your labor and delivery.”
The labor went fast. My mother sat by the bed while I panted. They wheeled me into the delivery room and Dr. G appeared again. “You don’t mind if a couple of residents observe, do you?” she asked—more of a statement than a question. I consented with a grunt, not really caring or understanding.
A line of residents in gowns and masks filed into the room and stood against the wall—there must have been eight or 10 of them. “Do you want a girl or a boy?” asked Dr. G, obviously trying to show off her people skills to the residents. “I don’t care!” I groaned, “I’m giving it up for adoption!” She recoiled. A nurse leaned in and whispered something to her, maybe my instructions that I didn’t want the baby handed to me. I couldn’t hold it or I might change my mind.
“It’s a boy!” Dr. G exclaimed, holding him up for the residents to see. She stepped forward and held him up to show me. I saw that he had all his fingers and toes and was plump and healthy. She handed him to the nurse, who took him out of the room.
They wheeled me down to the geriatric ward. It was for my own good, the orderly said. This way I wouldn’t be surrounded by happy mothers and fathers with their babies, or tempted to go find him in the nursery.
My roommate was an old woman who was moaning in agony. “The pain!” she kept shouting.
It couldn’t have been more than an hour after the birth that Judy, the Catholic Charities social worker, showed up. Had they called her? She didn’t ask how I felt or if I had any second thoughts, but thrust a clipboard toward me and started flipping forms and pointing to where I should sign.
Just then my sister walked in, carrying the baby. “He’s so beautiful!” she said. “Just hold him once!”
Judy looked horrified.
“Take him away,” I pleaded. She moved forward an inch, hesitated, then turned and walked out of the room.
Judy laughed when she saw the name I had put on the form. “Isaac?”
I tried to explain that, in the bible, Isaac was sacrificed, and that was how I saw what I was doing. I thought it was odd I had to explain this to someone from Catholic Charities.
“I should have told you not to give him a name. His parents will change it. You have to admit that Isaac is kind of a weird name”
I said I’d be happy to write and explain why I’d chosen the name, how meaningful it was.
“That wouldn’t be a good idea. They want to know as little about you as possible. A clean start, you know. It’s for the best.”
I signed the forms. I watched my hand moving across the paper like a mannequin hand.
After Judy left I got dressed, walked out, and caught the bus home.