I was just your average teenager. Then I got pregnant.
"I love you too, it's just ... " He opened the car door. "I have to go now." The door slammed shut.
My head drooped toward the steering wheel, and my hands met it on the way down. I exhaled deeply, unsure of whether the conversation went better or worse than expected. I didn't expect him to take it well, but then again, I didn't expect him to be so gung-ho for abortion. We had discussed the issue before and seemed to be on the same page. I guess it's different when it's actually you. But it'll never actually be him. It's me.
I don't remember getting home. I suppose my unconscious took on the role of automatic pilot. The nausea I had been dealing with all month seemed especially strong. "Stomach virus my ass," I thought, as I recalled two different doctors' previous diagnoses of my queasiness. My mind was still racing as I thought about the day ahead. My emotions were already drained, and it was still early.
My mom was waiting near the door when I returned home. She hugged me tight and inquired about Spencer's reaction. I broke down and cried. My expression was proof that the conversation had gone worse than expected. But did I even have expectations? How do you prepare for a conversation like that? I wiped the combination of tears and snot that had accumulated on my face. I didn't have time for that; I needed to get ready for a dermatologist appointment.
I didn't feel like being out in public at all, but I didn't have a choice. Once inside Dr. Barton's examination room, I threw up the turkey sandwich my mother had made me. I sat there slumped over the sink in a pathetic ball. When Dr. Barton finally made his way to see me, I explained that I had gotten sick in his sink, and even though I had washed it all down, I figured they should disinfect it.
"Are you okay?" he inquired.
"Yeah. It's just this ... uh ... stomach virus." I figured I'd stick with the original diagnosis.
"Wow, that's one intense stomach virus," he replied as he began to poke at my face and inquire about my adolescent pimples. Dermatology suddenly seemed deathly trivial.
Once I was home again, my mom and I discussed the next step. As we sat there, we both felt helpless. We needed to do something about it, so we opened up the phone book and started searching. In less than an hour, we had an appointment at Life Choices Clinic.
We were both anxious and overwhelmed, but the relaxing atmosphere of the waiting room helped calm us. We first met with two counselors who listened intently and scribbled some notes as I told my story. One of them handed us a few pamphlets on topics ranging from abortion to adoption to parenting to basic decision making to "How to Really Love Your Pregnant Teen." The most moving of all was a booklet that chronicled--through words and pictures--the 40 weeks a child spends inside the womb. As she opened it to week six, the approximate date given to me by the nurse at Partners in Women's Healthcare, I was struck hard by the image accompanying it.
It wasn't a picture of a cell or a speck. It was clearly the beginning stages of a human being. My mother gently shut the pamphlet and grabbed my hand as tears streamed down my face. Then a nurse--who my mother happened to know--joined us. She listened to my concerns before kindly reassuring me that it would all be okay and suggesting an ultrasound. We had to see if the baby was even alive and check up on how everything was beginning to form.
Next thing I knew I was covered in one of those cheap patient's gowns and reclined in an examination chair. She explained exactly what was going to happen--first up was your traditional goo-on-the-stomach ultrasound, but that would be followed by a transvaginal ultrasound. "A trans-what?" I thought. As the first picture began to take form on the screen beside me, she began pointing out my different internal lady parts as well as the amniotic sac.
"And there," she said as she pointed to a blob that was floating amid a lima bean of darkness, "is your baby."
She pointed to a little speck that was flashing at lightning speed. "And that's the heart," she explained.
I broke down and turned away to face my mom. Since she didn't have her glasses with her, she couldn't see a thing, but I'd certainly seen enough for both of us. There it was, its little heart pounding away. There are so many fertilized eggs that don't make it, yet here was my baby fighting to live. My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all had numerous miscarriages, but my baby was still there, floating in my stomach. It was just too much for me to handle.
After the transvaginal ultrasound, we discovered I was seven weeks and five days along, and that my estimated due date was April 1, 2009. Yes, I'm due to give birth to my unplanned child on April Fool's Day. Everyone in the room was able to find a little humor in that.
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Dinner with Luke Palladino