SCHENECTADY, NY—The near-indescribable pain of a 30-hour labor and the passing of an eight-pound infant through her birth canal will, over time, prove to be the least agonizing part of Virginia Quigley's relationship with her daughter, the 23-year-old first-time mother failed to realize Monday.
"Labor was horrible," says a weakened Quigley, who doesn't know the half of it, as she lies in her bed at Divine Savior Hospital cradling her tiny future nemesis, Caitlyn Rose.
"This is the happiest day of my life," she adds, unaware of how true that observation will prove to be.
Over the next two decades, the young mother will endure a worsening avalanche of agonies. Unceasingly shrill fits for the first 18 months, followed by a sustained campaign of migraine-inducing petulant disobedience and gratuitous defiance, will typify Quigley's relationship with her daughter.
While the shrieking arguments over persistent truancy from school, harrowing episodes of self-mutilation, and pointless stints in rehab are still safely in the future, Quigley lovingly rocks her newborn, enjoying their last small window of peaceful interaction before it forever slams shut.
"Look at her little face—isn't she the most precious thing?" says father Douglas Quigley, 31, who, in addition to being spared the physical pain of labor, will also largely be spared the psychological pain of raising Caitlyn after abandoning his family in May 2009.
Other horrors that await mother and daughter include: a March 2010 ordeal demonstrating how insignificant postpartum hemorrhaging really is when compared to the deep pain of a hysterical 3-year-old Caitlyn repeatedly screaming, "I hate you! I wish you would die!" before a dozen onlookers in the cereal aisle of a local supermarket; the September 2014 scalding death of a pet gerbil, in which Caitlyn's amoral tendencies will first surface, dwarfing the discomfort of torn vaginal tissue; and, in an incident that will easily trump the intense nausea that tortured Quigley throughout labor, the night in July 2017 when the unsupervised 11-year-old, embittered by her single working mother's inability to provide adequate attention, will steal a bottle of Wild Turkey from a neighbor's liquor cabinet and vomit its contents on the living-room couch.
Also slated to occur is a June 2021 incident in which the father-figure-deprived teenager will have underage sex with a 45-year-old ex-convict named Wheeler, then call crying from a motel room at 4 a.m. A sleepless Quigley will drive 70 miles to pick up her daughter, only to fight bitterly with her all the way home and be two hours late for work, causing her to lose her low-paying job.
Quigley geared up for motherhood by reading child-care guides and sincerely hopes to be closely involved in Caitlyn's upbringing. However, Caitlyn's hyperactivity and intense flashes of temper will cause her frightened and intimidated mother to retreat into apathetic numbness, which will only accelerate Caitlyn's feelings of neglect and lay the groundwork for a life of destructive behavior.
As the Quigleys prepare to check out of the hospital and take Caitlyn back to their small two-bedroom home, they remain oblivious to their tragic future, including the unexpected arrival of police and child protective authorities alerted by concerned neighbors who will overhear a fight in which Quigley's then-boyfriend, Glenn, will beat and rape 13-year-old Caitlyn while Quigley lies passed out in the kitchen from a punch to the face.
In perhaps the most morbidly poetic chapter of the troubled relationship, a cancer-ridden Quigley will die alone, burdened on her deathbed with the worst pain of her life, after her repeated pleas for aid and comfort go unanswered by Caitlyn, who, though longing for reconciliation with her mother, will refuse to return the calls, saying she is "done" with her.