I was puking on the roof of Motor City Casino. The cheese bread I had eaten hours before now decorated my shoes, my boyfriend’s shirt, and most of the parking space his car had been occupying. Couples and casino workers rushed by and shook their heads, a lone man offered to call a paramedic. My boyfriend smiled and told him I would be fine.
“Just a rough night,” he said, and the man nodded, as he himself had been the victim of a 21st birthday once too, and walked away mumbling something about binge drinking.
But I hadn’t taken shots or shotgunned anything, as our audience assumed. The reason my cheese bread made its reappearance had nothing to do with my alcohol tolerance.
I was 13 weeks pregnant.
As I stood puking onto the faded concrete, (thinking I would never, EVER silently judge the occasional splatter of vomit one occasionally comes across in parking lots again) my boyfriend gently rubbed my back and gave me his shirt to clean my face. I thought about what my life had come to, what people were thinking, and how I had ended up in such a mess.
Two months earlier, in my last month of my senior year of college, I was working at a reception desk in the dorm that I lived in, barely awake. The weeks had flown by; I had ordered my cap and gown, received my Honors cords for graduating with a Top 40 GPA, and had lined up some stellar recommendations for my internship teaching in low-income schools the upcoming fall. I had planned and hosted an event for Sexual Assault Awareness, worked two jobs, mentored an entire floor of freshmen, and ran a half marathon. My senior year had been amazing. Strangely, all throughout March I had no energy. I couldn’t wake up in the mornings until the last minute, I couldn’t run at my usual pace, and I had had a nervous breakdown right before an exam- something that had never happened in my entire academic career. I had chalked this up to the thyroid problems that had been known to run in my family, and as I sat through my shift at the reception desk, I decided it was time for me to take a blood test. I texted my boyfriend to see if he would pick me up and take me to the doctor, which was when he dropped the bomb.
“Babe, what if you’re pregnant?”
I rolled my eyes. Yeah right, I thought. “Thanks for being concerned but I think I’m clear on that one,” I texted back. “I think of all people, I would know!”
We argued about it all the way to the doctor’s office, and when they wouldn’t take my insurance, all the way back. Finally, I agreed that if he wanted to pay for a test, I would take it. We stopped at a Rite Aid near our dorm and I glared at his back as he walked in, furious. The day was gloomy from the start, and it had started to rain as I sat alone in Ethan’s little Honda. Why would he be putting me through all this? I didn’t need any more stress than what I had as a 21 year old with the world ahead of her.
As the drops began falling on the windshield, I entertained the thought. What would I do if it was positive? It was like imagining the ending of a book when you’re only halfway done- something out of someone else’s world- nothing real. Ethan came back with the test and placed it on my lap, and it was then that I started to freak out
By the time we got back to my tiny, dull dorm room, I was refusing to take it. “I’m not pregnant! There’s no way!” I insisted. “This is stupid, we’re getting worked up for nothing!” Ethan quietly insisted that he thought it would be the right thing to do, just to see, and that he would be there no matter what it said-
“STOP IT! I’ll do it if that’s what you want, but it’s not going to be positive!” I’m not sure if I was pleading with him or with myself, but I stomped into my bathroom and took the test, certain it would be a no and that my life would continue as normal. I placed the cap on, waited a couple seconds, and one line appeared.
“SEE?!” I bellowed hysterically as I stomped out of the bathroom. “One line!” My boyfriend pulled me in and hugged me, glad it was over, glad we could continue our carefree pursuit of our futures.
“Now, wha-“ As he spoke, his eyes were fixed on the small wand in my hand, fixed upon the faint second line that had formed in the seconds of our embrace.
“What’s that?” I whispered, certain there has been a mistake. I looked up at Ethan and saw something gray in his bright green eyes- it wasn’t sadness, or worry, or concern, or happiness, or maybe it was all of them- but at that point, I lost it.
“No. No. It’s wrong. No. NO.” I was hyperventilating, feeling around my room for the “Bonus Test” the pack had come with. I had no senses. I was completely numb. I stumbled into my bathroom and summoned pee from nowhere and prayed that the second test would be more reasonable. It was.
This time, the two lines showed up right away.
I screamed. I threw myself on my bed and sobbed and screamed more while Ethan tried to hold me. We had only been together 5 months, Ethan had another year of school, I had five digit student loans… and we had created a life. I couldn’t handle my emotions at all. Ethan was quiet, rubbing my back and telling me that it was going to be okay, that we would be a family and that everything would work out.
When you are a borderline obsessive perfectionist and you have just watched your life plans deteriorate in minutes, this is not something you want to hear. I thrashed and stood up only to throw my neatly stacked books around the room and scream again. When I look back at it now, I can imagine my disheveled hair and red eyes and screaming, and it makes me cringe. All my life I had been trying to plan, to reach goals, and to most importantly, be someone my family was proud of. In that moment, when I discovered I was blessed with a child, I felt as far from my image of perfection as I ever had. My mind swam with images of my friends and family yelling at me, judging me, refusing to offer me support. I could not move. I could not think of my child.
I could only mourn the loss of my old self, the person I had been just this morning, because from the moment I saw that gray in Ethan’s eyes, I knew my life would never be the same.
Photo credit: Flickr/Doyle J. Smith