30 Stories in 30 Days: Day 3By Darci Ratliff
November 03, 2011
For an explanation of the 30 Stories in 30 Days, start at Day 1.
Today I thought I’d go back to the beginning. The VERY beginning. It’s the story of the day I was born, which I love, because it seems like it was a difficult and ridiculous day for everyone involved. I obviously have no memory of it, but I’ve been told it went something like this:
Origin of the Me-cies
Sacramento, CA, 1972: My parents have recently moved across town to a new house. As far as I know, they don’t really know many people in Sacramento—they moved there when my Dad got some sort of construction job at the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant (home of “the third most serious safety-related occurrence in the United States!”).
My brother, Todd, is almost five and our cousin Bridgette (also five) is visiting, along with her mother and grandmother. Between my dad’s job and his as-yet-unchecked alcoholism, he’s keeping pretty busy, so his mother and sister have flown in from Texas to help take care of things whenever my mom goes into labor.
That was the plan, anyway. I am more than a week overdue (“Never too early to start being late for stuff!” –me) and my grandmother and aunt are getting impatient. They spend each day asking my mom “When is that kid gonna come?!” and entertaining two five-year-olds with trips to local attractions. My cousin tells me that she and my brother were promised a trip to Disneyland the day before I arrived, and that my being born ruined it. (“Never too early to start ruining stuff!” –also me)
Losing patience, my grandmother makes my mom drink a glass of Castor oil to induce labor (the seventies!). Late that same evening, her contractions begin. It’s after midnight. My dad is out drinking beer and playing poker somewhere and has our (only) car. Wherever he is, he can’t be reached by phone. And he doesn’t have one of those “Daddy Beepers” because beepers don’t exist because they haven’t been invented yet because it isn’t the future. (Help us, TIME CAT!)
My mom knows that calling an ambulance will be too expensive, and apparently taxicabs won’t pick up a woman in labor, for insurance reasons. So, out of desperation, my mom calls her former neighbors from across town—a couple in their 50s that she barely knows. She wakes them up, explains her predicament and they rush over to take her and my aunt to the hospital. My grandmother stays home with the kids and waits for my Dad (her son), with whom she (and everyone) is now furious. I mean, have you ever had to call a casual acquaintance in the middle of the night to ask for a hugely inconvenient favor because you are out of options? I can imagine my mom spent every non-contraction moment feeling either mortified or livid or both.
WHAT A JOYOUS DAY TO BE BORN!
Hours later, my Dad arrives home. My grandmother hears him come in, and doesn’t confront him right away. She is waiting for him to realize that my mom is missing (in the middle of the night), panic, and come to her, looking for answers.
Instead, he passes out in the bed, completely unaware that anything is out of the ordinary. My grandmother waits a few minutes, then bursts into his bedroom and yells, “JUST WHERE THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOUR WIFE IS?” To which my dad replies, “Guh?” and then slowly gets it together and leaves for the hospital.
For the next 30-some-odd hours, my mom is in labor, and after a day and a half she is craving sleep, food and cigarettes (the seventies!), which she is not allowed to have. When my dad, grandmother and aunt are not busy eating and smoking in front of her, they complain about how long this birth is taking. If my mother hadn’t been exhausted, in constant pain and living on nothing but ice chips, she might have punched all of them in their smoking, eating faces. Instead, she kept quiet and carried on forcing a human being out of her vagina.
THE MOST SPECIAL DAY, AM I RIGHT?
Finally, I am born, and I am pretty awesome (so I’m told). I am named after the daughter of one of my Dad’s Navy buddies. My Dad just liked the name Darci, and he won the coin toss that determined which of my parents got to choose the name. A quarter landing on “heads” instead of “tails” is the only reason you aren’t currently reading the story of the day Chrissy Ratliff was born.
Almost four decades later, my cousin and my brother have still never been to Disneyland. You know who has been to Disneyland? Me. (YA BURNT!)