For being a teen mom, I got one of the easiest babies in the world. (I was 18 when I had Matt. I turned 19 nineteen days later.) Matt was so content. He fussed a little when he was dirty. He cried when he was hungry. And that was it. Except that he was always hungry. We would later learn that his suck was not developed properly due to the fragile x. In those early days he wasn’t getting much nutrition. The milk was either spilling out of his mouth, or he wasn’t getting any milk at all.
Matt’s dad and I were still touch and go in our relationship. So when I left the hospital with my adorable baby boy, I went home with my adopted parents. I was on the waiting list for an apartment that based the rent on the renter’s income. I had worked part-time in the records department of our local police station. They were seeing if the budget would allow me to come back full-time after I was healed up. If I could come back, I could bring my baby with me. Wow, I didn’t realize until now how many balls I had up in the air: my relationship, my job, my home, my life with baby.
Going home with my parents wasn’t as easy as many would expect. Before I had my baby, my Grandma W got meningitis. She didn’t know it and attempted to drive her car to the store. She didn’t know how to drive. Shortly after she left her house she was in a bad car accident that broke her hip. After she was released from the hospital she came to live with my parents and I until she could function at home alone. I wound up being her #1 caregiver because my adopted mom was having issues of her own, and my father had to work.
My adopted mom came from a hideously violent and grotesque childhood. She never got proper help to deal with those issues. A lot of issues I had when she received me, mirrored her issues. It brought back many painful memories for her. By the time I was an adult it manifested into a severe gambling addiction. Around the time Matt was born she had gambled away all of my dad’s savings. She had maxed out a lot of his credit cards. She had pawned family heirlooms of my fathers and she had no way of getting them out. She was taking out payday loans and gambling more to try to fix the things that she had done. On top of that she was caught on tape stealing $100 worth of scratch off tickets from the convenience store she worked at. So the cops were looking for her.
Now my mom is not the type of person to steal. My dad got her into counseling when she finally told him about all the money she had lost. Shortly after she started therapy was when the cops found her for the theft. She had no recollection of stealing those tickets but she couldn’t deny that it was her on the tape. She cried all the way home when she learned what she had done. The police let her go with a warning since she was receiving treatment for her addiction.
So I’m sitting there with this brand new life in my arms and all this drama going on around me and somehow I was in complete and total bliss. It may have been God. It may have been hormone changes. It may have been unconditional love.
I was always one to do everything in my power to do the best I absolutely could do. That carried over into raising my son. I read all the books. I talked to other new moms. I was prepared. I nursed my son from day one. Because I was doing everything “right” I got pretty upset when he developed indirect jaundice. I was already screwing up my kid! But the doctor eased my fears and told me not to worry. It happened a lot. He didn’t want me to stop breastfeeding or change anything. All I had to do was lay Matty outside in the sun, butt naked, for five minutes every single hour. I can’t remember for how many days or times per day. I just remember that I worked that egg timer more than it probably had ever been worked since it was bought. He got over the jaundice pretty quickly. But that should have been an early sign of something being wrong. Indirect jaundice “occurs when an infant is learning to breastfeed and the volume of milk they’re getting is low.” Hindsight is 20/20.
My adopted mom is not able to have children. The doctors thought that it was because of all the severe abuse she endured as a child. It caused a lot of scar tissue inside her and basically “stopped her up.” She tried for years to have a child. Then she tried to adopt a baby and the birth mother backed out 2 weeks before the baby was born. She had been married to my biological father from the time I was 2 until I was 14. When she heard I was in state protective custody, when I was 15, she did everything in her power to get me. They let her since none of my biological family would take me and she was the next best thing. Later that year they stripped my biological mother and father of all their rights and I became 100% hers and her new husbands.
So having Matty in her house was hard on her. She unintentionally tried raising my son. But he was my baby and what I did with him was my decision. It started causing some friction between us. We had always had a rough relationship and fighting with her was not something I wanted to put on my plate.
Therefore, I called the landlord at the apartment complex and basically begged her to find me anything. I explained the situation. She was totally understanding. She had me an apartment ready for Matthew and I on my 19th birthday. I was sooo excited to be able to be my own little family with my baby. I could already tell things were not going to go well with his father and it would be just Matt and I. And I was perfectly okay with that. I was a strong young woman and I had my faith. I knew that things would work out.
For my 19th birthday, my adopted dad found me an orange living room set for $150 at a yard sale. It had a couch, chair, rocking chair/recliner, two end tables and a coffee table. It was a deal even if it was ugly. And it was in perfect shape. I felt so grown up. I had a lot of other household items in storage. When I turned 18 the state gave me quite a few things as a type of “going away” present. Matt’s dad gave me all the stuff from our engagement party. The rest of the stuff I needed I found at yard sales. That May was a great yard saling month for me .
A couple of weeks after we moved out, my mother called me. She apologized for trying to take over my son. She told me that I would be an incredible mother. She thanked me for moving before she got negatively attached to her grandson. I know that was the hardest phone call she had probably ever made.
And I was so incredibly happy in my little apartment, with my newborn son, beginning my adult life.