We arrived in his hometown and he was ready to make his mark at the newspaper so he hit the ground running. Rita had found us a little house to rent through one of her dancing buddies, who worked in real estate.
She and his daddy were there when we drove up. She had been inside sweeping and cleaning. I was looking around inside the house while she, Jay and his daddy went to look around the yard. I heard her tell Jay that there were three pecan trees in the yard. He asked her if she told me and she said yes. He asked her if I was impressed and she said no. He said “don’t worry about it mama. I am.” She said “well, that’s all that matters.”
They came back in and unfortunately, I had made the mistake of knocking over one of my potted plants. There was dirt everywhere. I thought Rita was going to have a stroke. She reminded me that she had spent all day cleaning that house because she knew that I didn’t know how to clean and now I had thrown dirt all over it.
Listening to her rant and rave, you would have thought I had committed a capital offense. Jay of course, stood there like a dead tree, while she went on and on. At least it was a good way to get her to leave because she was so mad, she could hardly see straight.
I had been worried about living in such close proximity to his parents and all of my fears would materialize over time. My life was going to be a living nightmare.
I focused on getting the house in order and getting ready for a new baby. I hadn’t miscarried and was breezing through my pregnancy. I never had morning sickness, never got any stretch marks and was healthier than I had ever been, although I bled through the entire pregnancy.
Jay worked all day and came home late every night. The only time we had to spend together was the week-end and just as before, every single week-end was spent with his folks. We were either at their house or they were at ours.
I had met his middle brother, Joe and his future wife, Jill but our interaction had been sparse. The three brothers had similar characteristics and the most prominent, unfortunately, was their shared sense of superiority.
Rita continued her quest for dominance and the tension between us had reached the point of fracture. Even though her mistreatment of me was witnessed by everyone, it ultimately became much easier for them to just label me a petulant bitch rather than admit that she was an abusive drunk.
She was omnipresent and I was becoming invisible.
I finally made it clear that her drunken, abusive comments were no longer welcome. Alienation was looming like an imminent assault and I had a target on my back.
One night, we were at home and there was a knock at the door. Jay opened it and there stood his brother, Joe. I was surprised but Jay wasn’t.
He came in and sat down in the living room with me. I noticed that Jay “disappeared.” Joe proceeded to tell me how I was “breaking up the family nucleus.” The conversation lasted for several hours.
I just sat there like a deer caught in the headlights, listening to him chastise me with his condescending attitude and persecutory accusations. I was wondering…”where is Jay? Why isn’t he sitting beside me, defending me? Why is he allowing his brother to talk to me this way? Why isn’t he telling his brother to get the hell out of our house? Why wasn’t I telling his brother to get the hell out of our house?”
Jay wasn’t there. He was hiding down the hall. He had set the whole thing up and left me to my own devices, or at the time, lack of devices. He was willing to sacrifice me to that supercilious asshole’s annihilation for the sake of his fucking mama…and it wouldn’t be the last time I would be a sacrificial lamb.
After Joe left, Jay acted like nothing had happened and never said one word about it. He left me sitting in the living room, in the dark, wondering who had just shot me in the back.
It was almost my due date and it was time to decide on names. Of course, everybody expected it to be a boy and I had already been told what it HAD to be named. I was pretty sure that it was going to be a girl so I started trying to come up with a girls’ name.
I had decided on the name Nikki but Rita wasn’t going to stand for it. She said that she knew a whore named Nikki. When I told her I didn’t care, she asked me if I really wanted to name my child after a whore.
I decided on the name of my high school sweethearts’ best friend. It was elegant (as was he), succinct and suitable for either a girl or a boy. We would later shorten it to initials.
Early Tuesday morning, my water broke. I woke Jay up and we made a dash to the hospital. It took a few hours for the labor pains to start and when they started, they really started. After about four hours, they were so close together, it was almost impossible to tell when the new one began and the last one ended but I hadn’t dilated at all.
The doctor decided to put me on medication to slow down the labor. After five or six hours, I still hadn’t dilated so he stopped the medication. The labor pains came back with a vengeance. There was some concern because it was going to be a dry birth, which is not ideal but I wasn’t worried.
In those days, they didn’t allow mothers in labor to have anything to eat or drink. I was hungry and thirsty and absolutely miserable. I wasn’t a screamer or an “oh, God” person. I just moaned and did exactly what you aren’t supposed to do…..held my breath.
After twenty-six hours of hard labor, I started begging Jay to ask the nurse if I could have some water. He was reading a book and ignored me. I asked him again to please ask the nurse if I could have some water. “Please. Would you just ask her if I could have just a tiny sip?”
He threw down his book and said “JUST SHUT UP AND HAVE THE FUCKING KID!”