This story, is more than just a story of the birth of my first child, but it is a story of the great change in my life. His birth was the shift in my life that I needed. I spent a long time thinking whether I should go this in depth on the internet about my life and where I came from, but decided it is more than just a story of the beginning on my first son’s life, but rather, the true beginning of MY new life. It may not have been pretty or what everyone thought it would be…but this was the beginning of my new journey with my husband and our children.
I met Joe after skipping out on one of my college classes one hot day. My mother was friends with his parents and they encouraged us to meet each other while he was in town, since he lived 4 hours away. Joe was a different sort of character, skinny death metal loving hippy while I was a blonde cheerleader type at the time. He and I hit it off right away, I loved that bad boy image but good boy charm that he had about him. For nearly a year we emailed each other back and forth, I fought my mother’s insistence on dating him. At the time I was into the actual bad boys. We started dating shortly after Christmas time. My boyfriend at the time and I had traveled to spend the holiday with my parents, and Joe was there. We laughed and talked about out emails back and forth, giggling endlessly about our inside jokes. My boyfriend broke up with me that night after Joe left. I remember the look in his eyes when he told me I loved Joe. Such a sincere longing for me to pursue him. Naturally, I thought he was crazy, but I can never truly thank him for the blessing he gave me that day. Joe and I started long distance dating weeks later and moved in with each other shortly after. Our life was pretty perfect, albeit a simple and poor life. I worked as a waitress and he as an insulation installer, but we were happy. One day I asked him to marry me, and he said yes.
We were together for nearly two years before we had a separation, only a month or so after I proposed. He had cold feet. He insisted he was to go to California and become a monk. He always was a wanderer but it was traumatizing to me. It was a cold exchange of words from an otherwise warm man. My bipolar disorder was in full swing when he dropped me off to my apartment to say goodbye. I was alone, in a city, with nothing. Having spent 2 years with him, I was frightened. I had no job, no money and had never been on my own before. I hated him.
It was 2009, the economy was on the decline. Living outside of Detroit was scary for a single woman living alone. But, I didn’t have a car, so I took the bus and walked to look for work. Michigan was still in the midst of a horrendous unemployment problem and I looked tirelessly for a job. Even McDonalds wasn’t hiring. I was broke and living on cottage cheese and cheap beer my friends would leave after they would come to visit. One day I picked up a newspaper and noticed a wanted ad…for a job I never thought I would take. “Wanted: Adult Entertainers! Big Money. Pay Daily”. Anyone who says that people have a choice to not do certain work have never been unemployed, starving and fearing eviction in one of the murder capitols of the world.
I got to the shady looking establishment with the only lingerie I had and shoes I got from the Salvation Army. I was told to get on stage and dance for my “interview”. I was never more afraid. They asked me what music to play…and in my rage I wanted heavy metal. I danced freely and I became their “niche”. The metal maiden, they called me. I started working there 4 days a week and made on average $4,000. Was it demeaning? Yes. Was the money great? Yes. Did I feel empowered that I was taking care of myself? You bet your ass I was. My life, financially at least, was doing much better.
About 2 months later while I was at a party I called Joe. I was drunk and it was 3 am and I screamed at him like I had never screamed. He didn’t say anything, just listened (or slept). I got off the phone and passed out. The next day I got a text from him, I was reluctant to look. He wanted to meet me. I was still very much in love with him, but felt betrayed on a level that I cannot even say. I agreed. To celebrate a possible restraining order or relationship makeup session, my friend Ashley and I promptly got our nipples pierced. At about 8 pm we pulled up to a local IHOP and saw Joe standing there. The sight still haunts me. He looked like Charles Manson with a long scraggly beard and looked as if he hadn’t seen sunlight in years.
We went in to the IHOP, ordered and ate. The bill came and I insisted on paying. Joe, naturally, insisted he pay (he after all always worked and I didn’t often do so). Flipping out my wallet of 100’s was a very intense and exciting experience for me. He was shocked. But I was self-sufficient now. After I paid, we talked for a while until he looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said “I’ve missed you so much”. I promptly told him he couldn’t cry in the IHOP and we should go to the car to finish talking. After much talking and negotiation we decided to give love another try…to give trust another try. It was about a month later that I fell pregnant with my son.
I was petrified. We had just gotten back together after a separation…I was stripping…I just found independence. What was I going to do? I went through a bad phase and even contemplated abortion several times. Finally, I decided regardless of what would happen I would have the child. I stopped stripping and we became broke pretty fast. Joe started working nights stocking shelves at Meijer. I was about 7 months pregnant when we got a knock on our door from the county with an eviction notice. Our landlord foreclosed on the house for nonpayment and had been pocketing my rent for nearly a year. We had 30 days to get out. We had no idea what we were going to do. After a few days we found an ad for a house for sale in the area up north where our parents lived. The price couldn’t be beat and it had low payments. We promptly moved north and settled down. I didn’t have much time before the baby would come. A move while pregnant is torture.
Knowing we had very little time before little Gabriel would come, Joe and I eloped in a private ceremony at the county building. We never thought it would be the way we got married, but we planned to make up for the lack of festivities later. My feet were swollen, my back hurt, and I felt I’d never looked so beautiful in my life. I told Joe to dress up, which meant his favorite Pantera tee and his hair slick back. Our wedding picture still makes us smile, and we look back at how goofy we looked. The red dress seemed awfully fitting for the circumstances then.
On August 25th I went to my OB appointment. I was 39 weeks 5 days. I had some back pain but I was otherwise in good spirits. I peed in the cup, had my blood pressure checked and waited for the doctor. I was eager to find out how much I was dilated. I feared I’d not have progressed any and I was trying like hell to not have a c-section. My doctor came in and asked me if I was well and if I felt any pain. I said I felt great and had some mild back pain and some contractions. He said great and checked me. He looked up at me pale as a ghost and walked out of the room saying nothing. I was worried. What was wrong? Did my baby pass away? He came back moments later with a wheelchair and a nurse. “Mrs. Foster, you are 6 ½ cm and about to go into transition, you need to get to the hospital immediately”. WHAT! I felt nothing. I felt fine! I couldn’t be having a baby! I refused the wheelchair and said I would go on my own. The hospital was right next door. Joe called our family and off we went.
I was in disbelief I that I was having a baby. Isn’t it supposed to hurt? I got there and the doctor checked me. He said I felt nothing because my water was still intact and he popped it. THEN came the pain. It was nauseating. I was 8 cm when I insisted on an epidural. Somehow I was lucky to get one in that late stage. By time it was in, I was ready to push and the epidural had only worked on one side of my body. I could feel everything on the side that wasn’t numb. After 3 pushes my miracle Gabriel Jhonen-Benjamin Foster was born at 7lbs 1oz and 20” long. I held him for a moment and they took him away for APGAR testing. I was mortified that I couldn’t see him. I wanted to feed him right away, but I was a first time Mom and had no idea how this was supposed to work.
An hour later he came back to me and I tried to breastfeed him. The nurse insisted I not do it for a few hours because he wasn’t going to be “hungry”. In hindsight, I wish I would have slapped that bitch, because we never achieved a successful latch and 2 months into breastfeeding and supplementation I had to stop trying because he wasn’t gaining weight properly.
I remember this day, it was the day our lives changed. Through everything, we never thought we would be where we are today. 10 years together, remarried in a proper ceremony and now with 2 other children in the mix. Gabriel is now a healthy and spry little boy and will be turning 6 in August. Becoming pregnant with him changed my life and changed Joe’s life in a way we never knew was possible. His birth gave us the drive to be better people, to love stronger, and to fight harder. He is our miracle baby.