I wasn’t sure if I was even going to keep Tommy at first.
I was only 19 when I found out I was pregnant with him. I was an only child, had never babysat children growing up because honestly, children bugged me. Oh, sure, they were cute to look at....until they opened their mouths. Plus, I was in college, in a college DORM, no less...how could I take care of a baby?
Tom was in basic training, beginning his career in the Air Force. I felt he needed to focus on his career, not a baby. I mean, we had planned on getting married all along. I was just going to finish college first.
I told Tom I was pregnant when I went to see him at his basic training graduation. He wasn’t upset and reminded me that we were going to get married anyhow, so what was the big deal if it was sooner than expected?
“The big deal is I don’t like babies!” I admitted. “They’re loud, they stink, and oh my God, I like my sleep. It’s why I signed up for college classes in the afternoon.”
I brought up the adoption suggestion to Tom, and at first he said he’d support whatever I decided. But then he changed his mind. “It’s my baby, we can support the baby since I’ll have a steady job, it seems silly to give him or her up.”
“But our sleep!” I wailed.
In the end, obviously, we decided to keep Tommy. I informed my college that I would not be returning the following semester. It was bittersweet. I knew I was giving up my freedom, that I’d never get to experience going out and getting drunk in my early twenties but after I felt Tommy kick? I didn’t care.
We moved into a home together in December, at Tom’s first base in Nebraska.
“I don’t know how to put cribs together!” I panicked again. I panicked a lot. I worried that I’d ruin Tommy’s life being so inexperienced. Tom didn’t know a lot about babies either. He had an older sister and that was it. Basically, I felt that Tommy was screwed.
“I can put the crib together,” Tom assured me, and he did.
“But our sleep!”
“It will be disturbed,” Tom admitted.
“Maybe we can train the baby to only wake up once during the night,” said my naïve nineteen-year-old self.
The labor pains started early on March 1st. I was two days overdue and was annoyed when the pains interrupted my sleep.
“Not now. I’m sleeping,” I think I told my gigantic stomach.
The pains got worse. Tom was at work and I had to call him home. I remember he said something like, “Are you sure it’s time?”
I probably swore at him and said, “It f*cking hurts, I’m pretty sure it’s time.” I covered my stomach as though I were covering Tommy’s ears. “Sorry. Don’t repeat that, baby. Your mother has a foul mouth. I’ll work on it.”
At the hospital it was discovered I was pretty far along. 5 centimeters, I think.
“Can I have the epidural thingy?” I asked. I wasn’t even going to attempt to be a hero and go without pain meds. (And the funny thing was, I had just learned what an epidural was two weeks earlier. I wasn’t kidding when I said I knew NOTHING about babies.)
I had to wait an hour for an epidural and Tom did not help. He would look at the monitor and go, “Wow, look how high that number went, I bet that was a painful contraction, huh?” I wanted to slap him. But he was also a naïve nineteen-year-old so he didn’t know any better.
“Will you still love me?” I asked Tom, when I got my epidural and was much happier. “If my vagina gets all messed up?”
Tom nearly fell out of his chair. “What kind of question is that?”
“I read that it can mess you up. Down there. Will you still love me?”
“Yes. Of course.”
When it came time to push, I was scared. I mean, this was it. No turning back. I pushed for a bit and then I heard the first cry.
Tommy. Born at a little after midnight on March 2nd, 2002.
It would have been an incredibly joyous moment, but then Tom had to lean down and go, “You totally pooped when you were pushing him out.”
Like I said. We were nineteen.
After Tommy was cleaned (he had peed all over the nurse moments before and this had struck me as hilarious—until I got peed on) he was handed over to me. I was hesitant, because he was the first baby I ever held. He just seemed so small and breakable.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” I admitted to the nurse.
“Most first time parents don’t,” she assured me and placed the bundle in my arms.
I stared down at Tommy.
He stared up at me.
And then I knew.
He was the best decision I ever made.
Happy Birthday, Tommy.