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Baby Number Two

We continued our lives in our new house and were getting ready for our second baby.
There were good times when it was just us.  We had gotten cable television for the first time and we would sometimes watch a movie together late at night.  J*** would hold my hand and squeeze it.  I would squeeze his back.  He asked me to promise him that every time he squeezed my hand, I would squeeze his.  I promised and then we decided that it would be our secret code, should either one of us ever be in a coma.  One would squeeze the other one’s hand and if the other one squeezed back, we would know that they were still there.
There were also the times when he would rub my arm or my hand with one finger.  He would do it almost to the point of Chinese water torture, but I didn’t say a word.  I was just happy that we were together.
J*** had gotten an old Ford pickup truck when we moved to his hometown but he drove the Volkswagen to work most of the time.  It had a sun roof and it had started to leak.  When it rained, I would put on my bathrobe, back the car up the driveway and then fly down and stop real quick so that all the water would pour out on me instead of him.  He would stand there and smile while I got drenched and I would laugh and say something like “give us a hug.”
We were still having our regular card games and the animosity I felt toward R*** was escalating.
She would get drunk and call me to say that she wanted us to come to their house once a week so she could be sure that J*** got at least one decent meal.  Then she would say “don’t you ever turn J*** down” unless you want to end up like his aunt F******.  F****** was divorced but only because her husband had a wandering eye.
I would call J*** and tell him and he would say “I’m at work.  What do you want me to fucking do about it?”  I understood that he was in an almost impossible situation but I guess I wanted him to call her and tell her to stop.
We were playing cards one night and during one of her attacks, I remember J*** getting mad and screaming at both of us….”I just want my wife and my mama to get along.”  She laughed when he said it, like it was some kind of joke.  It seemed to me that what he really wanted, was to allow her to continue to get drunk and treat me like garbage and have me just capitulate and say and feel nothing.  That way, he didn’t have to deal with any tension.
R***s’ unwelcome advice continued and now included how to raise my child.
K**** had not been able to tolerate any of the formula that I had tried and I remembered one of the stories that I had heard a thousand times about how J*** couldn’t tolerate formula.  He had been raised on Pet milk straight out of the carton.  I got some Pet evaporated milk in the can, mixed it half and half with water and started feeding it to her.  It worked.
R*** couldn’t criticize my choice of milk to feed K****, but she criticized everything else.  I was changing her diaper once and of course, I wasn’t doing it right.  I was putting some powder on her and R*** thought I was putting too much and in the wrong places.  That morphed into a comment about how all three of her little boys “had the cutest little things when they were babies.”  She closed her eyes and started slowly moving her head from side like she was reliving some sort of sexual fantasy and repeated, “mm, mm, they all had the cutest little things.”
I told J*** what she said and he said “that’s just mama being mama.”  I asked him what he would think if my daddy started talking about what cute little things my sisters and I had when we were babies.  He said “probably not much.”  I told him he would be thinking that my daddy was a pervert.  He just looked annoyed and didn’t say anything else.  After all, I was complaining about his precious mama…..again.
J*** wasn’t the type to come home and immediately go to the baby’s room but he helped with the diaper changing and he would take his turn getting up in the middle of the night to fix a bottle.
My second pregnancy was going as well as the first one.  J*** still didn’t go to any appointments with me but I didn’t mind.
It was once again, time for a name choice.  Once again, if it was indeed a girl, I wanted to name her N****.  Once again, the whore statement resurfaced and the ridicule began.
J*** and I were tossing around names and I blurted out B*****, which was my daddy’s middle name.  He thought it was a great name so we decided that’s what it would be, if it was a girl.
I was a little over a month away from my due date and I was ready.  The day finally arrived and we were on the way to the hospital.  R*** met us there and took K****.
I had decided that it was too hard to have natural childbirth again, so I opted for an epidural.. The intern came in and started putting the needle into my spine.  I never flinched.  He said “you must have and incredibly high tolerance for pain.”  There were about four other mothers in the labor room and they were all screaming and calling on God.  J*** was kinder to me this time.  He didn’t yell or scream at me.
The epidural never worked so I had another natural childbirth.
Apparently the baby wasn’t ready to meet the world, so the doctor had to use forceps.  He gave a yank and then J*** laughed and said “it’s another girl.”
They handed her to me and she had the same little stork bites in the corners of her eyes that her sister had and red half moons on her cheeks from the forceps.  Her little hands were clenched tightly around her face.  She had almost white hair and was fair complected.  I asked J*** what he thought and he said “what’s wrong with her mouth?’
She was off to the nursery and I was off to my room.  J*** left with the promise that he would be back shortly.  It was Saturday and he didn’t have to work.  After I got settled into my room, I had the nurses leave B***** with me so she would be there when J*** got back.  I waited until midnight and then called the nurses to come get her.  J*** never came back.
The next day, I asked him what happened to him and he said he had been out “celebrating” which meant he had been drinking at a bar all night instead of coming to see his wife and new daughter.  I guess I still thought it was normal behavior.
Again, there was no party.  There had been no baby shower, no gifts, no cards and no calls.
J*** was still working long hours but he would help with the girls when he could.  Sometimes he would feed K**** before he went to work and he would make these funny expressions when he did.  He would open his mouth while he held the spoon up to her mouth and then close his mouth when she closed hers.  I used to tease him about it.
Then one day J*** came home and told me that he had heard about some fellowship that was awarded to journalists and he thought he might try to get it.  It was a year-long free tuition stint at one of the elite Ivy league colleges.  I was all for it, although I didn’t really understand what it was about or what it would entail.
A few months later, the phone rang and I answered it.  It was somebody for J***.  He was still in the bed so I woke him up and handed him the phone.  It was the foundation, telling him that he had gotten the fellowship.  He threw up one of his hands and said “that’s fantastic.”
Getting that fellowship meant that we would have to relocate up north, which meant that we needed to sell our house.  We were lucky and sold it back to the person we had bought if from but it happened too quickly.  Now it was going to be necessary to put our furniture in storage and move in with his mama and daddy for a month.

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