Every story has to start somewhere, so let’s go all the way back to the beginning.
I was 16 and I was in a very new relationship. I remember waking up that morning feeling ill, for the last few days before that I had been feeling off and had made the assumption I was just getting sick. So I woke up and decided not to go to school and I should just rest, and that’s what I did. I was laying in bed watching tv when a first response commercial came on. Do you remember those ones?
“Imagine knowing you’re pregnant the moment it happens.”
The commercial ended and that line stuck with me for a minute and I thought, “I haven’t gotten my period in a while.”
“Shit,” I thought, it’s probably nothing but I might as well go get a pregnancy test. So I headed out to our local women’s clinic and told them I wanted to take a pregnancy test. I will never forget sitting in that waiting room, surrounded by young parents and screaming babies. There was one family there, the parents couldn’t have been much older than 20. With their kid sitting on the floor ripping everything out of his moms purse but mom was too busy yelling at dad to notice. Right there I decided that wasn’t going to be my life, whatever happened, whatever came of this test, I would do better than that. Not that there was anything wrong with how these parents were acting. I am the last person who can judge someone else parenting. That just wasn’t what I wanted for myself and for my maybe baby. I knew I wanted to do better than dollar store strollers, but really what struck me was that I didn’t want to get stuck with someone who I couldn’t help but scream at in public, just because we had a child together.
I was led down a long hallway full of rooms with generic sexual health posters and diagrams of fetal development. I was given a cup and told to go pee in it, then I was left in an empty room to sit and wait. I curled up in a chair and waited, staring at my little cup of pee and wondering what it meant. After what felt like hours, (was probably like 5 minutes) a woman came in and asked me how I was doing to which I mumbled something incoherent. I watched as she took a small strip of paper and dipped it into the cup. She tried to make small talk but I honestly can’t remember any of what she said except for the one sentence I don’t think I could ever forget. She placed the strip on a paper towel and set a timer for 2 minutes. Before the timer ever went off she looked at me and she said “you are really pregnant!”
I remember thinking, “what does that mean? Really pregnant? Like I could be less pregnant?” I stewed on that for a moment before it actually hit me that she just told me I was pregnant. And then she said, “take as long as you need” and she left. She didn’t ask me if I was okay or if I needed someone to talk to, didn’t offer me any advice or information. She just left. Which is fine really, I wouldn’t have wanted to talk to her anyway, but still.
I left the clinic in a daze, as I walked to the bus stop to go back home I pulled out my pack of cigarettes, looked at them for a moment, considered it, and then threw the pack in the garbage. It wouldn’t be until about a year from then that I would smoke again.
As I waited for the bus I thought I should call the father, (we’re just going to refer to him as John. Now that I am thinking about it I don’t know if he even knew I was getting tested that day.) So I called him at work and I said, “well, I’m fucking pregnant.” I don’t remember how the rest of that phone call went, or the bus ride home for that matter. The next thing I remember is being in the shower and John walking into the bathroom and hugging me. While I was showering, he was still dressed, he got soaked, I guess he just thought I needed a hug.
After that we sat on my bed for a long while, talking probably, I don’t know. It must have been early afternoon at this point, I went to go pee and I saw blood. I panicked and went to tell John about it so he called his mom to take us to the hospital, because we were kids who couldn’t drive.
His mom was the first person we told, it just kind of worked out that way. I can’t remember her being specifically happy or upset, she just took the information like we were giving her the time. She drove us to the hospital together, she prayed for us in the car, and then she went to Tim Hortons across the street so we could have our privacy. After we checked in at emergency I realized it was finally time, I had to call my dad. I really didn’t want to tell him over the phone, it had already been hours since I found out but I was specifically waiting until he got home so we could talk face to face. I still wish it didn’t have to happen like that, maybe he would have been more accepting of the whole situation if I could have had a real conversation with him. As apposed to the awkward phone call that went something like, “hey dad, I’m at the emergency room right now, also I’m pregnant.” Yeah, that could have been handled a lot better.
It wasn’t until the next day that we were able to get in for an ultrasound. I went in hopeful though, hopeful that they wouldn’t find a heartbeat. I know it’s awful to say, but I just a kid and I was scared. Plus I’ve always had this ill-conceived notion that everything will always work out for me, even though it rarely does. So I thought this problem was just going to take care of itself.
If you’ve never had an ultrasound before let me tell you, they’re terrible. Especially if you’re not super pregnant yet. You have to drink so much water you feel like you’re going to burst and then they push down on your bladder for 10 minutes. Really not very fun.
I went in for the ultrasound alone, I don’t know why but they told John to wait outside. When I came back out I said to him, “the little fucker held on.”
He hugged me and asked where the pictures were. I guess he thought that was when you got the ultrasound pictures but I was only a couple weeks along at that point. It was then that I realized we might have a problem. He was excited, he wanted to see pictures, he wasn’t dreading this as much as I was. I knew we had some tough decisions ahead of us, but at that moment all I wanted was some fried chicken.