Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Diamond Jones dot com

a birthmother's blog

O Mellow Night
November 22 / by The Diamond Jones
My uncle can play the trumpet and he ain’t half bad. I sat up in the kitchen with Mama Dee and listened to him toot out a few Christmas tunes and it was really nice. Mama Dee had brewed what she called Christmas tea and made her tea cookies (heaven on earth; I tell no lie) and we had sat up there listening to Uncle Ed’s concert. It was real nice. I love these old people. This little bambino growing inside me is mellowing me out.

I've been working all day down at The Spread, our little weekly on the east side of Vine Street, on the wrong side of the tracks. The editor, a crazy bald ex-con I'll call Gee, and I have been working on a special Christmas edition. Gee gave me a wad of money and said, 'Merry Christmas.' So I’m going to take the bus to the mall tomorrow and shop a little for Mama Dee and Uncle Ed. I think I’ll get Mr. Carl (my favorite neighborhood drunk) and Gee something too.

Bad News
November 29 / by The Diamond Jones
My ex, Cedric, called me on my cell today. I answered it without checking the number. When I heard his voice after all this time, I thought I was going to lose my crazy mind. It was almost too much. I had to sit down. So much for being in the Thanksgiving Day afterglow.

Glad you doing good, Di?” he kept saying.

He had his voice all low and ‘sexy’ I guess trying to make me want him back or something but that was the old me. I’m not trying to go there again. Falling all over a man just because he looks my way.

I cut him off and said, “Bye, Cedric.” Then I hung up.

Nothing more to say; nothing more to do. I’m changing my cell number tomorrow.

I can’t sit up any longer. The baby is moving so much and my back is killing me. I’m ready for a change in so many ways. And here we are in the last days of November. In a few days it’ll be December and then the 20th will be here before I know it. Uncle Ed joked the other day that I was going to have a Christmas baby. Man, I hope he’s not getting too attached.

It’s not my baby anymore.

It's Time
November 30 / by The Diamond Jones
I must be crazy for really real, y’all. My water broke and I’m up here typing. Mama Dee is flipping out downstairs. Cooking everything in sight; fussing at the ceiling (at me up here blogging). We all should have paid attention to the signs I guess since it was all I could do last night to stop cleaning. Like when do I ever clean? Right about the time I was wiping down the kitchen counters (with Uncle Ed saying, ‘it’s gonna snow; Diamond’s cleaning.’) it hit me. It was just like Mrs. P, the counselor at the Pregnancy Care Center, said. She’s given birth six times and I figure she should know about the quirky things pregnant women do when their time is near.

Yesterday all I could think about was how ready I was. I kept saying, 'I’m ready. I’m ready.' Now I don’t know if I am but I guess this baby doesn’t care about me. It’s time!

I just left a message on my friend Sara. She usually answers her cell, so I'm not sure what's up today. Course I suppose she's got her own demons to wrestle with, having had a miscarriage herself last year.

And so I’ve got my bag by the front door. I’m just waiting for my contractions to get closer together before I call the doctor. Uncle Ed’s good leg is still kinda weak so our neighbor, Thora, is gonna drive us to the hospital.

I feel funny inside (and I’m not talking about these false contractions). I feel like something good is going to happen but there's a bad feeling looming in me too.

I won’t be coming home with a little bundle. I won’t be having a real shower (although the little party we had at the Center was nice). I won’t be having a little stroller to push around and everybody cooing over my baby.

But I won’t be getting up in the middle of the night, losing all kinds of sleep. And I won’t be working myself to a nub, working all kinds of jobs I don’t want just to put a little something on the table. I might be able to leave Vine Street and go back to school for real.

However it pans out; it’s time. It’s time to face reality. It’s time to go through the pain (and I’m not just talking about the labor).

It’s time to grow up.

It's a Girl
December 5 / by The Diamond Jones
My little Nadia Jones was born four days ago at 5:33 in the morning. She weighed 9 lbs 6 oz and was 22 inches long. Perfectly healthy. Perfectly beautiful.

But let me not rush this. I’m going give you all the details. As least as much as I can remember. I know it was just four days ago but it’s like I’ve been in a hole for the past little while. I’ve been climbing out, though, but it’s been slow going. I’ve been home since day before yesterday but today is the first time I’ve felt like writing about Nadia and how she came into this world.

Well, a couple hours after my water broke on the 30th the pain really kicked in. It was like somebody was really kicking me. HARD. And believe me, I’ve been kicked hard before (point fingers at Cedric right here). The pains were coming every 8 or 9 minutes apart at first. Called the doctor and he said to give him a call in an hour. That was around 5:30 in the evening.

By 6:45 they were about 5 minutes apart. I called and he told me to meet him at the hospital. By this time, Uncle Ed and Thora had paced a hole in the kitchen floor (it’s raggedy enough as it is). Mama Dee had been sitting on my bed with me, rubbing my back and praying to herself. Every now and then she’s let out a little sigh and say ‘Have Mercy’ under her breath.

At the hospital, there was a little drama about not having a bed but I finally got checked in and 'checked out.' I was 3 cm by that time. Mama Dee and I walked the halls while Uncle Ed stayed in the waiting room watching CNN like he’s never seen it in his life.

After four hours of MISERY and being poked in every place possible by those crazy nurses, I started asking anything that moved when I could have some meds.

Darin and Kay (the couple I picked for Nadia. I made up their names for this blog) and our counselors were there by then so I didn’t want to act up but I was HURTING. They finally gave me something to ‘calm me down’ as Uncle Ed said. I was being kinda ugly so I apologized. The drugs started kicking in and I was groggy but only about 5 cm.

It was around 2:30 in the morning by this time. They said they weren’t going to give me the intrathecal (a shot in the spine kind of thing). I cried.

Everybody kind of abandoned me at this point. Or at least it seemed that way. They all kind of trickled out of my room. I hobbled to the bathroom (between contractions) and sat there for a bit, my head in my hands, hair everywhere, tired of being whooped. Then I heard the door open a little but I don’t see anybody. I just heard her voice. My Sara, calling my name. I could have done a back flip if I hadn’t been in such pain.

Diamond, it’s me, Sara. I came as soon as I could.”

I just cried some more. She came in and hugged me. Here I was sitting on the toilet big as a cow with a beanpole of woman wrapped around me crying too. It was precious.

From then on, things were better. I was still in a lot of pain but I had my Sara there holding my hand (she has a grip, I tell you. She says it’s from playing a lot of tennis). In my mind, I see her at the tennis club, flipping that yellow bob cut and smashing balls over the net like old Anna Kournikova or somebody. Except I don't think Anna ever set foot in the 'hood like my crazy Sara.

Crazy enough to come into my neighborhood to teach Gee and me to start and run a paper. She'd put more time into The Spread than her boss would have allowed, but 'what they didn't know wasn't going to hurt 'em.' That's what she said all the time.

So Sara stayed in my hospital room the rest of time. Chatting about this and that while I squeezed her hand off.

I finally got my shot in the spine around 4:45. I was in heaven after that. They let me start pushing about 10 minutes later. It took a while to get the hang of pushing since I couldn’t feel a thing. Push what, you know.

But then about half hour later, Kay was crying and squealing, talking about ‘I can see the head.’ Mama Dee was crouched down, taking pictures behind the medical staff working on me. (Thank goodness everyone else had left by this time although it really didn’t matter since my sweet aunt was going to make sure they saw all the pictures).

We were all beside ourselves happy to hear our little Nadia come out at 5:33 screaming and flailing those little chubby arms around.

Ten fingers and ten toes,” was all Mama Dee said, wiping the corners of her eyes. “Bless the Lord.” She kissed my forehead and told me she was proud of me then she went out to tell everyone else the news.

I got to hold Nadia for about four hours right after they cleaned her up. Darin and Kay were out in the waiting room with everyone else but they gave me time. My special time to say goodbye to my sweet Nadia. Time to kiss her little head, so full of black curls. Time to feed her. She wouldn’t take that bottle and I don’t blame her. She wanted the real thing, if you know what I mean. And time to sing to her, foolish little lullabies I made up. I’ll never forget that four hours for as long as I live. Four hours that the world stopped flipping around and let my heart and head come back together, focus on just one thing.

The next day my counselor Mrs. P. led everyone in an adoption dedication service. Uncle Ed played a little something soft on his horn. Not a dry eye in the room. In a strange way, he helped me to know I was doing the right thing.

You see, the night before, I had sat up all night crying and telling myself that I couldn’t go through with the adoption. I couldn't sign all the final papers. I just couldn't do it, I was thinking. Pretty soon I was walking the floors talking to God, arguing with Him in my head. The day before if you had told me that I would be talking to God I would have called you CRAZY. But it felt good to get all my frustrations out and I realized something. Something that convinced me that I had to go through with the adoption. This whole thing had been about me up until that moment when I realized it was about Nadia. What was best for her? Surely not the hopeless drifting pointless life I was leading. Not Cedric as a daddy. Not life on the lower east side of Vine Street.

So the dedication service was right on time. It was a special moment to connect one last time with Darin and Kay and release my Nadia to them as her forever parents.

Then something else hit me after they all left. How that little sweet curly-headed child was helping me. She was my focus starter. Looking back I have to say, although it’s hard to say without a little sadness, that I’m glad she’s with Darin and Kay now. I would have used her as a crutch and later she would have been the one to take the tailend of all my regrets. I would have blamed her for not having left ‘the hole’ I was in. But now I feel like I can come out, like I can feel again, for real. Take chances on me and a future.

Merry Christmas
December 24 / by The Diamond Jones
Tonight I went to church. Christmas Eve service down at Vine Street AMEZ. It wasn’t my plan to go at first. I saw a little snow falling and I wandered out to watch it. Mama Dee and Uncle Ed had gone to church early to help with decorating and fixing up the fellowship hall for the Christmas Eve dinner so I was all by myself.

The street was quiet or so I thought. I set out walking toward the church. The lights shining through the stained glass looked so cool in the dark I didn’t even notice the chill. Pretty soon, Mr. Carl came up behind me. He spoke to me and kept on stepping up.

He was walking straight like he was sober. Odd, I thought. I called after him to wait up for me.

Where you going in such a hurry, Mr. Carl?”

To church,” he said.

I bout fell out. In all my memory on Vine Street I’d never known the man to go to church not even when his best drinking buddy was buried year before last.

And then like I was talking for someone else, I asked him, “Can I come too?”

He nodded and said I’d be needing a coat. Before I could turn around he had his coat off and was draping it over my shoulders. It must have been something he’d bummed off of somebody cause it didn’t smell of liquor. I thanked him and stood there looking at the man. He was standing a little straighter and, in the streetlight, I could tell he had cleaned his whiskers up a bit but there was no mistaking this was still old Mr. Carl.

But there was something in the way he looked back, with a half smile that made me think something was different. So I asked him what he’d gone and done to himself.

What he said blew me away. As we walked to church with little snowflakes floating around our heads, he told me about his life (the short version, at least). He’d been born on Poplar Street in a little house behind Vine Street AMEZ. His daddy had worked for AMTRAK, had been a deacon at Vine Street AMEZ and had been a drunk. Mr. Carl had grown up and done the same thing, except he said, “I came to the Lord.”

He was 27 and had gone to a revival in some dusty Georgia town one night. His conversion had lasted all of one night. As soon as he got back on that train he’d turned back to his friends and their drinking. He lost his job soon after that and he’s been stumbling the streets ever since.

The other night, he told me, he heard the Lord speaking to him. Except it wasn’t in a voice; it was in a horn. Uncle Ed’s horn. Uncle Ed has been practicing at the church the past few nights for the Christmas Eve service. Mr. Carl said that my uncle's playing drove him to his knees. Made him realize that Jesus was still there for him. Still wanted to be his friend, after all these years of ‘shameful living.’

He still has hopes and dreams for me,” Mr. Carl said with a quick nod as he opened the church door for me. He took his ratty looking cap off his head and leaned into me, “And He still has dreams for you, Diamond.”

December 31 / by The Diamond Jones
I’m sitting here under my window with the sun shooting a rare warm ray across my room, wondering what dreams I have.

A few minutes ago, I came from church where I sat with Mr. Carl. We two are like the black sheep twins so if he stops going I don’t know if I could take it. We've been going pretty regular since Christmas Eve, and people don’t know what to make of either one of us. And it’s almost kind of funny until I realize I don’t know how to do church.

But I guess I shouldn’t worry about that much 'cause I like the way I feel now. I’ve been trying to keep up with my walking even on chilly days and I’m still trying to eat right (gotta drop 20 more pounds; big laugh). But the good feeling is not about my body, if you know what I mean. I feel better deep down.

I was talking to Sara just a while ago about that deep down feeling and she gave me a word for it: FREEDOM. I’d been trying to put my finger on that word since Christmas Eve.

I had come home before Mama Dee and Uncle Ed that night with Mr. Carl’s words ringing in my head. Jesus dreaming for me? So I just fell down on my floor that night, the house all quiet and cold, and asked Him to show me those dreams. I told Him that I would wait until He told me. I kind of just waited there, balled up on the rug, listening and waiting. I ended up falling asleep in a not-so-little ball. It was the best sleep I’d had in more than a year, even before I got pregnant.

I don’t know if I asked Him in my heart or whatever the catchy phrase is but I feel free now. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, ‘I’d feel free too if I just gave up a baby. No dirty diapers, no formula to mix, no responsibility. I’d feel mighty free.’ So if you’ve never gone through what I just did you couldn’t relate so I don’t blame you I guess.

It’s like I don’t have to sit around under a cloud anymore wondering which end is up, what I'm here for. I can see things now that I didn’t see before. I can think. Really really think. I'm here for God and He's here for me. It's simple but it's so strong.

I've been trying to listen to our minister down at Vine Street AMEZ, Rev. Thornton but he's still on another planet but Uncle Ed is starting to make good sense. I’ve decided to start reading the Bible. (yeah, that’s right me reading the Bible. Me, Mr. Carl, and Uncle Ed). And I talk to God a lot though I don't know if many so-called Christians would call it praying. I don't even say amen at the end. It's just like I'm talking to Somebody who really knows me and still loves me so much that He'll show me the right way to go at the right time. I'm willing to wait. I've got a lot of wait in me right now.

I feel like I know what to do now. I may not know where my next paycheck is coming from but I know that I can move on with my life for real now. I don't need to keep changing my name or my hair or anything else to just feel something. I know I who I am now.

It's weird. And it’s amazing. This freedom. I don't have to stay locked up anymore. It's crazy, really. The answers were right here all along. Deep inside me there’s a something pure and clean that’s closer to the surface each day. The real me. The free me. The me that’s tired of being a slave to self-hate, self-denial, self-elimination.

I still get sad when I think of never holding my little Nadia again, only seeing her in pictures. But I know she’s in a better place because of the decision I made. And you know what, so am I.

Linda Leigh Hargrove blends suspense, humor, and faith into compelling stories about race and class in America. Her writings include two novels: The Making of Isaac Hunt (June 2007) and Loving Cee Cee Johnson (September 2008). The former environmental engineer currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and three sons where she designs Web sites when she’s not writing. She blogs at 17seeds.com and UrbanFaith.com.--
Linda Leigh Hargrove, author/designer/reconciler
http://LLHargrove.com | http://17seeds.com