Mom always wanted a little girl.
Someone to dress in homemade dresses. Someone to teach to bake and sew, to take to Brownies and slumber parties. Someone to share secrets and laugh and cry with.
Though my parents' marriage was never easy, I think the first few years were some of the toughest. My Mom and Dad spent much of it just getting by, working morning to night, and living squeezed into a trailer with several co-workers. Mom had to live in a small space with five men including Dad, and she talks about how horrible it was living in a filthy, roach-infested place. Always having to be the only one to clean up after the messes they made in the kitchen and bathroom.
I'm not sure that my parents ever were really "in love". I think my Mom was a green card for Dad, an immigrant. For Mom, Dad was a way out of a poor, rural town where her father beat her and her teachers told her she'd never amount to anything. Dad was probably the first man who was ever kind to her at all. And for those reasons she stuck with him, and hoped that if they had children, she'd have at least one little girl.
In July of 1979, she got one.
After an exhausting 36-hour labor, there I was - a healthy and fit 7-pound, 2-ounce, baby girl. Totally healthy. Totally normal it seemed.
I was a normal baby, though I hear I cried for Mom more often than most kids and was very precocious (showing signs of reading at the age of two!). Strangely though, instead of learning to crawl like other babies, I took to "scooting" myself around on my butt on the wood floor of the house. Pushing myself from toy to toy using only my legs and feet.
Mom didn't think this was a problem until I developed a hernia in my groin on one side, which she assumed of course was due to this strange mode of transportation.
She took me to the doctors where the did an exam and scheduled an operation for shortly after. I'm told the doctors "explained" the surgery to me by sewing up a hole on the stomach of my favorite stuffed bear. To this day, that crudely stitched toy is my only recollection of the surgery. My Mom was told they fixed the hernias on both sides, but that they had discovered I would need "an additional surgery in the future." The details were unclear and shrouded in medical jargon she didn't understand. She was told though, not to worry...