From despair to joy

I’m Barbara, Born in 1939. I live in Queens. I’m going to tell a story about possibly one of the worst times of my life and one of the best times of my life, and so here goes. When I was married, I was not in a very happy marriage. It was an awful person I was married to. And eventually, I became pregnant and was expecting my first baby. My husband decided to leave me, pregnant. And so I went through my pregnancy by myself in tears, crying, wanting to commit suicide some days, and all kinds of horrible thoughts because I was alone and pregnant. I couldn’t tell anybody that my husband had left me. Anyway, I went through those nine months or whatever in absolute misery. I think I cried every night. 

Finally, it was time for the baby to come, and I went into the hospital and went into labor. And I was just miserable during all of my labor. Finally, they knocked me out, and whatever happened happened. I just know the baby was out of me. I didn’t have one of those “push mother”  kind of deliveries. They had to put me out, and then the baby came. I don’t know how it happened because I was out. And the next day, and strangely enough, it was Christmas Day because I went in on Christmas Eve. I went in, like, 12:30 a.m. Christmas day, and he was born at 1:00 a.m., the day after Christmas. 

He was born on the 26th and the following day, and they woke us all up. I was in the ward with four other ladies who had babies, too. They were all white ladies, and I was a black lady. And they brought the babies in together at the same time, bought this most beautiful brown baby in the room, and put it at the foot of my bed. And I looked at the baby, and I said, “Whose baby is that?” And they said, “It’s yours, mother.” That’s what they used to call you then, used to address you that way. And I remember getting up to look at him, and I looked at him, and I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my entire life. 

And I looked, and I said to the nurse, “Can I keep him, please?” And the nurse said, “Mother, you can’t leave him here. You can keep him.” And I remember thinking he was the most beautiful thing in the world. I had this beautiful baby, and I was so happy and excited. And that was the happiest moment of my life after the worst moments of my life. 

I had a baby boy, and I wanted to name him; it sounds so funny, but I wanted to name him Christopher Robbins. I just love that name. My husband appeared on the scene after the baby was born. He was nine and a half pounds, big for a newborn baby. He didn’t look like a newborn. He was just so pretty. And everybody would come into the nursery and look at him and say, oh, what a beautiful baby. And that’s why I wanted to name him. But my husband decided to claim him then, so he insisted he be named Carmel Paul Collins the Third. And we argued over it, didn’t make a decision. 

When I got released from the hospital and got his birth certificate, I still have the original one, which said “Baby Boy Collins.”  So, I agreed to name my baby Carmel Paul Collins III.

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