And I Wasn’t Even Pregnant!
Whenever I tell the story about my marriage at sixteen, I always feel the need to say, “…and I wasn’t even pregnant!” It still seems as crazy to me that my parents allowed me to get married at sixteen-years-old as it does to those I tell. I get a lot of wide-eyed looks of disbelief. I always try to stave off that familiar sense of embarrassment by being flippant. “Yep…crazy, huh?” I picture people thinking, “what, were you stupid?”
But, within two months of our walk down the aisle, I did become pregnant. I’m not sure I even understood how to prevent it. At that time, my husband and I had rented a beautiful apartment with hardwood floors and two large bedrooms. Our only piece of furniture was a king-sized bed, purchased through the newspaper by my mother-in-law. Maybe that’s how it happened.
My husband worked during the day (for a very short time) selling cookware door-to-door. The training program suggested taking off his wedding ring and flirting with housewives who were stuck home all day with nothing else to do. So, while he was out “soliciting,” I sat on the king-sized bed during the day and played with my Barbie dolls. Barbie and Ken became the couple I wished we could be, and they lived out the fantasies I had of married life.
Squeamish Warning….Stop Right Here
One night I awoke with a sharp pain, deep and low. I went to the bathroom and found blood in the toilet and then on the bed. I tried to wake my husband but he would not wake up so I went across the complex to my sister-in-law’s apartment and woke her. She drove me to my in-law’s house a few blocks away. Soon I was writhing on the floor of their bathroom while straining to hear their whispers and phone calls through the closed door. My mother-in-law came to check on me, and told me she and my sister-in-law were going to the apartment to try to wake up my husband, and more importantly, clean the bed she had just bought. I was left alone on that bathroom floor, pain searing though me like a knife, the cold floor against my face the only comfort. I was so frightened I wanted to scream.
A couple of hours later, a trip to the toilet produced a tiny little baby. For a moment I stared in awe at the tiny arms and legs, the over-sized head. Then a hot, sharp knife seemed to tear through my insides. Soon I was out of my head with it and heard myself moaning as if from somewhere else, in some other place.
I barely heard my mother-in-law came trooping back into the house with my husband in tow. I tried to call out to him, but he didn’t come into the bathroom. More whispered phone calls, and finally in order to save money on a visit to the emergency room, I was whisked up and taken to a doctor’s office across town. He removed the placenta while I grabbed his wrists in agony. My head was spinning like a top. Then everything went black.
To be continued…