A Reason to Live
The next few years of my life were blurred, and the memories I have during this period aren’t genuinely happy or wholesome. I was constantly partying, and the less I had to sit with myself, the better. Don’t get me wrong, knowing how to party brought on a whole “fun” side of life; however, it was all a mask to cover up the internal sadness and heartache I felt.
I still thought of my birth mother, but at this stage of my life, living states away, DNA wasn’t a thing, nor was the internet, so I had no clues to go on when it came to finding her. Was she looking for me? If she “loved me so much,” I hoped she would be. But instead, internal sadness loomed as a dark cloud hung over my head, following me everywhere I went.
I dreamed my whole life that she was a beautiful woman with long ash blonde hair and possibly a movie star in Los Angeles. Maybe she was someone famous? It’s strange, but I never obsessed about my birth father as I did about my birth mother. Now I know that’s because my birth mother and I were connected on a primal level which was very different than being connected with my birth father.
After a lifetime of heartache, in November of 1993, my whole world changed. It was a cold fall morning, and I remembered I was supposed to start my period earlier in the week, but it didn’t come. So I waited a few days and decided to take a pregnancy test.
At 20 years old, I learned I was pregnant, and my life would change forever. So naturally, I became excited about the new baby that would come. Although I still had fears due to the miscarriage, I had high hopes that I was in a somewhat better space at this time than I was at 15 years old. I chose to change many things in my life due to the new idea of bringing a baby into the world.
I stopped drinking alcohol and using drugs, and I stopped partying. I made a doctor’s appointment and started to attend regular OBGYN appointments monthly throughout the entire pregnancy. I started buying baby items and filling a space with baby things. I learned my due date was June 21, 1994, and I was having a baby girl.
As my baby belly grew, I couldn’t help but think more of my birth mother. I would ponder thoughts about her during my pregnancy, wondering if she experienced the same or similar things during her pregnancy with me. How did she feel when she felt me move when she was pregnant with me? How turbulent was her pregnancy and delivery with me? Was she happy or sad? Even with new things happening in my life, she was never far from my mind.
Then, about five months into the pregnancy, I felt my baby girl move for the first time, which I described as more like a flutter. It was a magical experience. It was no secret that I loved my daughter and would do whatever I had to raise her to the best of my abilities as a single mother.
I broke the news to Patricia; at first, she cried, and then she got excited. Our relationship was still rocky, and I wasn’t close to her, but I tolerated her only because I had no choice. Patricia became consumed with my pregnancy, which is better than the alternative; however, it was a tricky dynamic to navigate. Part of me felt like she was viewing my pregnancy as her pregnancy, giving me creepy vibes, but there was nothing I could do about it. I still lived with Patricia, and because I had no family in Kentucky, it seemed like I depended on her more and more. I was not too fond of it, but I had no choice as a single mother with no other family, exactly how Patricia wanted it.
This dynamic created a co-dependent relationship between the two of us, and it was one I didn’t ask for. But, I was convinced I needed her in my life to help because I had no other options available, so I took it. She had me right where she wanted me, in a city all alone, all to herself.
As my pregnancy and belly grew, so did my independence. My need to want to do better increased, and I knew I had to change my old ways to create a happier childhood for my daughter than I had. At all costs, I wanted to keep her safe, away from anyone that could ever hurt her.
I wish I could say I worked on all the previous traumas I had experienced before becoming a mother, but instead, I put them all on the shelf and put my “mom” hat on by putting my daughter first. I had no idea how these traumas would revisit throughout my lifetime, but one thing is for sure – we can run, but we can’t hide forever. They would catch up to me eventually.
The crib and baby room were all set up with Lion King, filled with baby girl things, and a white rocking chair so we could rock our days and nights together. I was never more ready to take on the responsibility of being a mother. Of course, the world might have said differently; after all, I wasn’t married, and I was having a bi-racial baby out of wedlock as a white woman. I didn’t have a job, and I didn’t have a high school diploma or even a car. But I had me to give to her, and in my eyes, that was the most important thing. I knew the rest would all work itself out.
On June 18, 1994, I brought a beautiful baby girl, Keila, into the world. She weighed 7lbs 4 oz, and she was 21 inches long. She was perfect! She had all her fingers and toes and a head of brown hair. But unfortunately, I remember she was born with a touch of jaundice, and they had to keep her in the hospital two extra days after I was released to go home.
I remember going home without her, and I had a total meltdown. I went into her bedroom, shut the door, and collapsed on her bedroom floor. I will never forget this feeling as long as I live. I sobbed harder than I ever had in my entire life. I wanted my baby to be with me, but they wouldn’t let me bring her home for a few more days. I was heartbroken.
This triggered some powerful feelings about my birth mother. Did she feel like this when she left the hospital without me? How did she overcome that sadness that seemed to take my breath away? How did she cope or manage life with losing her baby? Did she block it all out? She “loved me so much,” so she must be distraught at my loss?
Thoughts plagued my mind about her pregnancy with me. I wished I could find her to ask her all about it. I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby at the hospital to never returning for her. The pain I experienced for the two days we were apart would kill me if it lasted a lifetime. This experience showed me a glimmer of what birth mothers must feel when choosing adoption when they depart without their baby. If they feel this way, imagine what the baby feels at no choice of their own?
A few days passed, and I could pick Keila up from the hospital. Finally, I had something to live for because she needed me, and I needed her. She loved me, and I loved her. I can, without a doubt, share that June 18, 1994, was the best day of my life. It was the first time I looked into the eyes of someone’s DNA connected to me in my whole life. I was amazed at the beautiful baby girl looking back at me.
We got into the swing of things, and I made one of the best choices of my life. First, I returned to school to graduate and get my high school diploma. Then, I started applying for based on your income apartments in the hope of getting approved for a two-bedroom for Keila and me. I was on public assistance and donated plasma every week, sometimes several times, to afford to pay for diapers and wet wipes.
While I embraced being a mother, the alcohol component picked up shortly after giving birth. Still, I managed it better than before, limiting my drinking to the evenings when Keila was already in bed. It was still hard for me to sit with myself sober, and that is when my past problems would try to come to visit. A drink or two or three would settle my mind from wandering back and overthinking my past by helping me fall asleep each night.
I started attending Family Care Center, a high school for young single mothers. There were many great things about this school, but one of them was that all the mothers could take their babies to school with them. In addition, they had social workers, a daycare, a dentist, and doctors’ offices on-site with the school. The bus picked us up each day and dropped us back off. I loved attending Family Care Center because Keila could come with me, and I could check on her throughout the day.
I was 21 years old, and Keila was around nine months old when I asked Patricia again, “Are you sure you don’t have any information on my birth mother? I want to find her!”
I was expecting the same answer she gave me my entire life; however, I got another one this time that would change my entire life’s trajectory.
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