Unedited Draft

~ Marriage to Separation ~


1964 to Nov. 1968  ~  Married Life with Joe & babies


My first day back I pick Joe up at his house after work for our first date. He has his drug syringe with him and asks me to drive him to the river nearby his house, so he can throw it in. I can see he is serious about quitting drug use. We continue getting to know each other in person now. What I didn’t know then, was that he felt like he was turning a new page in his life and needed a distraction from his habit, ie. a relationship. I was thrilled to be that distraction, but I failed to realize how significant a role that would be for him, let alone for me.

After a few days, Aunt Mae lets Joe move in with me to my upstairs bedroom of her new house. We talk more deeply and I explain how afraid I was of boys and now men. In addition I shared my gayness with him, explaining that I now believed I wasn’t really gay. I honestly felt my mother had inadvertently taught me to dislike and fear boys by telling me not to let them take me "parking," because they only wanted one thing, to have sex. I had a date once and he did just that. It all seems to fit and make sense, since I felt genuinely afraid of them.

Joe can't give up drugs right away, like he wanted to, but I am firmly convinced he will stop. I love the deep down Essence of him and feel completely at ease, so we see each other daily. But when he asks me if I want to watch him shoot up one day, I decline in a manner that lets him know I strongly disapprove, but I still believe in him, love him and want his children.

I admire his intelligence, his kindness and generosity. He has the same qualities, characteristics and traits that I fell in love with in my female “lovers,” May and Ursula. But this time society approves of my relationship and because I believe in his desire to stop using, I am soon pregnant. My mother told me the only reason she got married was to have a home and babies. I felt justified in marrying to have babies too, but I also really loved Joe.

I began working in Boston at a department store, riding the subway back and forth from Lynn. My job was working with figures in a large office space with six or so other workers. I am extremely happy to be pregnant especially after the first three months of being nauseous. I had actually committed a sin by getting pregnant before marrying so I was very afraid to let anyone see any happiness I felt. I imagined that if everyone in the office knew, they would only condemn me. It was a horrible feeling. 

One day Joe and I spent an afternoon at an amusement park and as we are lying quietly on the grass he asks, 

“Have you thought about us getting married?” 

I reply, “I have, I think it’s a good idea.” 

We set the date for August first. One weekend, we travel the four hours to Maine so my parents can meet my future husband. As we sit in the kitchen talking, I see Joe nodding out from drugs and I hope Ma won’t figure out he is drugged. I feel so disappointed, embarrassed and afraid. 

The knowledge that I am pregnant, unmarried and with a drug addict, brings shame to my very soul. Later on when I go shopping for a suit to get married in, I have to ask the sales clerk to help me because I have no idea how to pick out a suit.

My Mother comes on a three hour bus trip to be at my marriage ceremony which is at a Protestant church I made sure she approved of. My future Mother-in-Law was Catholic and kept her disappointment in her heart, that I wasn't Catholic. Only my ex-lover, Ursula attended. I spoke my marriage vows in a voice barely above a whisper. I was so self-conscious, fearful and embarrassed being up in front of these people who were focusing on me, as I hid my baby under my blue dress suit, feeling guilty and ashamed. So began my married life.

I could hardly believe I was actually married. I consciously soaked in the feeling of “being married” for several days and weeks after the wedding. It seemed like some sort of validation for who I really was. It didn’t matter that he was a recovering drug addict and had just gotten out of prison for breaking and entering to steal drugs. It felt so terrific to be married. It meant that I was truly okay in someone else’s eyes and that felt so good, I was bubbling over with happiness. Ma had never approved of me like Joe did.

I was still afraid, but now I felt like “Joe had my back" and being three months pregnant, I was looking forward to a fun life with a child. When the top of my stomach area begins to bulge I feel so pleased to be creating a live baby inside. 

At work when I began wearing maternity tops, my coworkers said it was too early to wear them. I was too ashamed to tell them I got pregnant before getting married. I quit work at the end of the year, three weeks before Sherry was born.

When I began buying baby clothes to take to the hospital, my face turned red when someone in the store asked me it was if it was my first baby. When I say yes, I feel the embarrassment of the sin I committed by getting pregnant outside of marriage. I cannot bring myself to ask a sales person a question about infant clothes, or to help me in any way. I had only Dr. Spock’s baby and child care book for guidance, however I did manage to buy a crib and a dressing table.

I began to have contractions during the night, but I wait until morning to tell Joe that we have to go to the hospital. It is Presidents Day and Joe drops me off at the hospital on his way to work. Soon I am on the table just pushing and pushing. Just about when it feels like I am having a bowel movement, a mask is put over my face and I am given Ether to breathe in, which puts me to sleep. My first baby is born around four that afternoon with a bald head that sprouts red hair several months later. 

I wake up feeling the pain of stitches and was told they had to cut me a little to let the baby come out. Joe comes into the room and sits down on a chair near me and we hold hands. 

“I’d like to name her Pamela.” I volunteered.

“I kinda like the name Sherry,” Joe says. 

I agree it is a nice name. I am so pleased he actually wants a particular name for his daughter, so I agree with his name. Usually I am the one that says what I want and he agrees. We look deeply into each others eyes for about five seconds as a feeling of loving euphoria fills my body. 

That was the one and only truly intimate connection I ever had with my husband. An overwhelming feeling of joy began surging throughout my body at the full realization that we together, had brought forth a miracle of life in our baby daughter. 

At that moment his Mom suddenly walks into the room and Joe pulls his hand away from mine acknowledging his Mom’s presence, ending the most beautiful moments I ever experienced with my children’s Dad.

I like doing things the natural way when possible, so I choose to nurse Sherry which was against the norm in 1965. Someone from the La Leche league of nursing mothers, came to see me. They are supportive of  breast feeding and they talk briefly and advise me on how to do it, leaving me literature. When I begin to nurse Sherry, headaches came and I didn’t know why. Eating a balanced diet for myself and Sherry was more than I knew how to do. 

After a few weeks of trying to nurse, the headaches kept happening. I didn’t bother to contact the La Leche league for help, I just stopped nursing. I never knew if Sherry missed the closeness or not. I didn't. I didn't care. I wanted what was easiest; to eat whatever and whenever I wanted and to fill a bottle to feed Sherry instead of nursing. I had nobody to talk with and without friends or family support, plus not eating healthy, so my milk soon dried up. Joe's Mom was single so worked all week.

I have a very sensitive nose and Sherry's head smelled strange, obviously a different human than I and I am acutely aware of this. It didn't take long though for everything physical about her became very familiar. But how to get to know your child? I had no idea.

There is just me and baby Sherry together every day while Joe goes off to work. Weeks turned into months. Some days I do not even get dressed. When I put Sherry down for naps, or for the night she always cries and Dr. Spock’s book said to let a baby cry itself to sleep, so that is just what I did, every night and every nap time, not knowing what else to do. At this time in my life, I have no idea there is such a thing as love and bonding between a mother and baby. Poor Sherry cries herself to sleep just about every night, but by around two weeks she finds her thumb to suck which helps soothe her infant self to sleep. 

One night I deliberately did not put her down when she was crying. Instead I put her on my lap facing me with her feet almost touching my belly. We stay this way until daylight while she fusses and cries most of the night. I feel stymied, not knowing what to do and with no thoughts even of asking anyone for help. I only had Dr. Spock’s book and trusted he knew best, which now I know he definitely did not.

 In retrospect, I know she wanted and needed nurturing; some stroking, hugging, kissing, soft cooing, cuddling and maybe a song or two. I never sang, I didn’t know how. I didn’t know how to comfort anyone, let alone a baby. Why, I don’t know.

I never felt bonded in love to my Mother, so maybe that’s why I have no clue about bonding emotionally with my own infant. I had heard women, especially mothers are supposed to naturally bond with their baby, but I’ve never felt like a real girl or a real woman, even though I have a female body, so maybe that’s why it doesn’t come to me naturally.

In my prior relationships with females and now with Joe we didn’t discuss personal feelings or emotions, nor did my family growing up. All I ever experienced growing up was ongoing fear and anxiety, instead of love, safety, comfort, cuddling and hugs. 

I did have loving, feelings inside for my sweet baby, but I lacked emotions that matched the feelings, so I couldn’t show my feeling to Sherry. I did everything possible for her physically, but it was not enough for her brain to develop naturally and fully.

When Joe sent me to the drugstore for some "toothache medicine" one afternoon, I sensed he was going to boil Paregoric down and shoot it up. This was his drug of choice at the time. I packed Sherry up and hurried to the store and back. Sure enough when I enter the back door I smelled that sickening smell. My heart sinks. I so wanted to believe he had stopped using, but this time he tricked me into leaving the house so he could shoot up. I tell him very angrily and emphatically, 

“Okay, that's it, I am going to tell your parole officer on his next visit that you are still using.” 

He knew I meant it. He is still on probation and his parole officer comes to the house to visit him every month. That night Sherry would not stop crying, but Joe never woke up all night. Why won't she stop? I shook her. Tried nervously to cuddle her. I cried. I was patient and the sun came up before I could go to bed. 

For some reason Joe’s parole officer did not show up this month, which was quite unusual. In the meantime and shortly after my ultimatum, Joe asks me if I’d call his pharmacist friend, who was his drug connection and tell him not to give him any more drugs under any circumstances. He gave me his name and phone number and I did call. I stated in no uncertain terms; practically ordering him to stop selling Joe drugs. I'll never forget that day when Joe came home from work, he was smiling from ear to ear so happy and excited.

“It worked,” he shouted, “Len wouldn't give me any drugs. Thanks.” 

He was as happy as a child who was just given his favorite candy. In effect his drug connection was cut off and he cannot get drugs anywhere else because he had previously disconnected from all his drug buddies. He wasn’t motivated to search for anyone to buy drugs from so that's a plus. He was still very serious about quitting, ever since I came back from California a year ago. I had a lot of faith in him that he would quit and needless to say I am elated. 

After he stops taking drugs he becomes interested in photography and then miniature trains. He enjoys taking photos of Sherry and playing with his miniature trains running on tracks.

Joe’s buddy at work, Manny, wants to sell us his three family house in Lynn, with a vacant second floor for us, while allowing his family to continue living on the first floor. We end up buying it and moving in by Sherry’s first birthday. After we are all settled, I tell Joe I’d like to conceive another baby and he agrees. I am elated because even though it is quite stressful, I love making babies. But, then I discovered I was already pregnant.

My contractions for Pamela begin during the night and again, I wait until morning to tell Joe. He drops me off at Union hospital in Lynn on his way to work, but there is a problem, I am bleeding on the table. So Joe is called at work and told he needs to give permission for me to have a C-section which is major surgery. The placenta was in front of the baby and the contractions were pushing the baby’s head against the soft placenta causing it to break and bleed. 

I was rolled into surgery, cut vertically about eight inches from my navel down and my second baby was lifted out of me. I had hoped for a son but I was so happy to see my second baby daughter with dark hair. I stay in the hospital ten more days and nurse Pamie, but I get headaches again each time I nurse. After I got home I stop nursing. Now I had two babies and double the diapers and no dryer. They hung on a clothes line off of my back porch for all to see. I am somewhat embarrassed by that, but only Linda next door notices.

One day Manny tells me Joe told him I am not a good cook and I don't  keep the house clean. He wants to know why, but I don't know why. I take the babies out in the stroller and visit friends, neighbors, or to the park. At home I am usually cleaning and cooking, but mostly playing with the babies. I have a very large den with a bunch of toys to play with, so rarely use the playpen. I cannot ever go to the bathroom alone though, when the babies are awake. Toys and babies must always accompany me to the bathroom, lest one gets hurt somehow unattended.

On Joe’s vacation during the next summer, when Sherry is two and Pam is one, we take a trip in our new Vista Cruiser station wagon, to Nova Scotia Canada to visit my Aunt and Uncle on their farm. It is a happy fun event except for the hard job of entertaining two babies on such a long trip. I discover Joe isn’t really very interested in interacting with babies. He believes it is a mothers job. He seems upset and disturbed by their fussing and crying. It was fun overall though for me, to show my family off to my Aunt and Uncle.

One morning in bed while still there, I say to Joe, 

“I want to have another baby. I really do, maybe it will be a boy. What do you think?”

Joe is silent for a bit and lets me know he isn’t readily in agreement.

“Aren’t two enough? Why have another one?”

“Mostly I’d really like a son and I do most of the work taking care of them.”

I seem to have won the “argument” and he agrees we can make another baby. Sherry enjoys the cows and watches my cousin, Lloyd milk them. I love the farm atmosphere and Joe sort of goes along with whatever. We don’t talk about our feelings or emotions much at all.

It takes two or three months before I became pregnant, which for me is a long time. I find out my third baby is scheduled to arrive by Cesarean section on Joe’s next birthday, June 16th. The surgery was mandatory because I had already had a C-Section. The 16th is on a Sunday in 1968, so she will be surgically removed on Monday the 17th.

My first thoughts of suicide came when I thought I saw Joe, nodding out on drugs the month before our third baby's birth. My heart plummets as suspicions slowly become confirmed over the next few days. 



















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