Monday, April 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Babies

These are true stories. They happened many years ago in my own family.

The Buddha

My mother had gotten pregnant for the third time. She wasn’t planning on it and had even been considering taking The Pill, which was very new and experimental at the time. She already had two children under five, and believe me, we were a handful. Money was tight. She was considering separating from our dad. Another baby was the last thing she needed, and, abortion being out of the question, she was stuck. She went into the bathroom where my brother and I couldn’t hear her, locked the door, held a thick towel over her mouth and screamed her head off.

In between screams she heard a knock on the door. She went to answer it and there stood a detective, holding a photo of a man. He asked my mom if she knew the man or had ever seen him. She didn’t and hadn’t, and the detective noticed that she seemed distraught. “Is everything all right?” he asked. My mom spilled the entire story, about how she was afraid she was pregnant, how was she going to support three kids when we barely had enough money to feed and clothe two, how she and my dad were contemplating divorce. Somehow the detective calmed her down and convinced her to wash her face, dress the kids and take them for a walk. It’s my belief that the spirit of her unborn child guided a kindly officer to our house to assure her that everything would work out in the end.

Months later, the baby was born. Mom called us from the hospital to say we had a new brother. “You could name him Juan,” I ventured helpfully. (We lived in a Puerto Rican neighborhood.) One day, while Mom was waiting for the diaper service the doorbell rang. She answered it, expecting to see the diaper truck, but there stood the detective from months ago. “You weren’t really pregnant, were you?” That kind man had tracked my mom down just to make sure she was OK.

My brother John and I loved the new baby, especially at first. My parents patched up their marriage and things got normal. “I want to sit next to the baby,” I would announce at dinner. “No, I want to sit next to the baby,” argued John. “It’s my turn, you sat next to the baby yesterday.” The baby was like a toy, only more fun. It squirmed. It had a tongue and cheeks and fingers and hair. I called it The Buddha. After a while “it” became “him”, a whiny, bratty but curious, interesting and cute little kid. “Here’s a nickel,” I would say to John, “now hold him down so I can kiss him.” How I ever made it through eighth grade without The Buddha murdering me is one of the mysteries of the Universe.

What the Heck...

A relative’s birth control failed and she got pregnant right as Roe v. Wade was enacted. She and her husband already had had four children between themselves and weren’t exactly jonesing for more. My relative, let’s call her Mary Beth, and her husband, let’s call him Franko, decided that they would drive to the abortion clinic in a neighboring state, since abortion was not yet legal in the state in which they lived. More than halfway there, they heard on the radio that “the police had raided the clinic the night before and all operations had been shut down,” a casualty of the squeamishness of 1970’s America.

Mary Beth and Franko pulled into a gas station to discuss the matter between themselves and a hitchhiker they’d picked up. He proved to be an objective listener, as Mary Beth wanted to keep the baby and Franko didn’t. With the hitchhiker there, they were able to keep the argument civil. “The heck with it,” Franko capitulated. “Let’s just have the baby.”

They had a sweet, cute, intelligent little boy and both parents adored him. I was his main babysitter. I was “young and irresponsible” and I taught him his first swear word. I took him to Chinatown and to the beach and to art fairs. We went trick or treating together with a gang of neighborhood children. It sounds pathetic, but for a few years that little boy was my best friend.

The writer of this blog happens to be pro-choice, so you won’t read, “I’m so glad that abortion clinic was shuttered,” or “If abortion had been legal I might never have had my little brother!” Pro-choice means the woman makes her own decision to have the baby or not, and it’s a choice she makes, not the government, not her family, not her boyfriend or husband. That the decisions to have the babies described above were imposed from without in no way alters my stance, because I believe our spirits guide us to make choices or accept circumstances that our egos are not always aware of.

Humor me for just a paragraph and entertain the concept that we are not just flesh, but spirit. When a spirit wants to come to earth to experience a certain environment, it will find a way, one that resonates with the mother-to-be, the parents or the situation. Both babies described above are now upstanding, kind, conscientious adults contributing to their families, to society and to the good vibes that are pulsating around the planet. I believe that they are angels sent by the I Am, All-That-Is, God, or whatever you choose to call the One Great Spirit. That the circumstances prior to birth were not particularly supportive is a testament to my strong belief that their souls found a way to overcome the obstacles and join us among the living.

No comments: