this post has no words of wisdom, no little joys. it’s probably not even all that relatable to most of the mamas i’ve met these past few years. but i’ve held onto this shameful story of mine for long enough, and i felt i needed to write it all out — to finally be rid of it.
27 september, 2011
in early autumn of ’11, i had been out of my parents’ house for nearly four months. but every now and then, i would come back to collect some of the things i had originally left behind. such was the case the night before “the day.” i unsurprisingly ended up staying a bit too late to feel entirely confident in my ability to drive myself back to lawrence in one piece, so i made my way to the guest room and collapsed, bone-tired, on the bed.
the following morning — the morning of the day that changed everything — didn’t feel significant in any way. it started off as any other — i woke up, rolled rather reluctantly out of bed, skipped breakfast, and headed for the bathroom to prepare for another day at work. the only slightly unusual thing that happened didn’t even seem all that unusual. as i went to open the bathroom door to leave, my vision went black and i fell to the ground. but fainting fits like these were (and still are) not uncommon for me, so i wasn’t alarmed.
still, the idea of getting a doctor’s note and having the day off from work was awfully tempting. so i asked my mum to drive me out to lawrence, with the intention of coming back “home” to rest, or at least not work, after being given the “okay” from a doctor and my employer.
not my proudest moment, i’ll admit. and, if you’re reading this, chris, i’m sorry i tried to escape my shift. i blame it on the pregnancy hormones. they make you do craaaazy, very non-you things.
we found a walk-in clinic within our network, filled out the new patient forms, and waited for my name to be called. in the past, i had always asked my mum to come sit with me during my appointments, rather than alone in the waiting room. but this time was different. i don’t know why. perhaps it was my newfound “adulthood” and “independence” — finally having a full-time job and bills to pay and an apartment lease with my name on it. whatever the reason, i’m mighty grateful i broke the habit that day.
i didn’t know it yet, when the nurse was escorting me through the quiet hallways to the exam room, but i was about to be given the most life-changing, earth-shattering news i could probably ever receive at the age of 19.
i still remember it all, as if it were only yesterday. i remember shivering like mad, despite the warm sunlight that poured in behind me. i remember the assuming look on the nurse’s face when i told her how many months it had been since my last period. i remember the roaring silence that seemed to devour the entire floor while we waited on the results. i remember the paralyzing panic i felt imagining the worst to be true.
i remember my heart beating wildly against my chest, ready to burst free, when the very pregnant doctor walked into the room and closed the door. i remember how lively her voice sounded as she delivered the four little words that i believed would ruin me:
“well, you’re definitely pregnant.”
my face must have been as white as snow. my eyes darted around the room, desperate to stare at anything and everything that wasn’t her or her coincidentally pregnant belly. i knew if i tried to speak, to say anything, my voice would break. i couldn’t even breathe without feeling like i was about to vomit up all the food i didn’t eat.
she offered what words of encouragement she could. she told me many, if not most, pregnancies were surprises, just like mine, and that feeling a bit of shock upon hearing the news was not abnormal. even she had a difficult time believing her pregnancy was real at first. but nothing she said helped.
i needed to leave. i needed to run.
but i couldn’t. the moment i stepped into the waiting room, i had to put on a face for my dear mum who had no way of knowing what was about to come. i didn’t say a word on the walk out to the parking lot, but i knew that i couldn’t keep the secret for long — not when we had a 30 minute car ride home together, and all i could possibly think about was how this news was going to change absolutely everything. as soon as she went to put her keys in the ignition, i broke down.
“i’m pregnant,” i said.
and we wept, and wept.
we wept until we could weep no more.
27 september, 2015
i dug through the closet, and thumbed through stacks of paper, until i found the small manila folder with the words “liam’s sonograms” inked lovingly by my mum in red pen at the top right corner. i spotted the tiniest, most precious, pastel green mittens tucked beneath an assortment of tattered journals and love letters — liam’s first pair.
i found liam snoozing away in the afternoon sun, and sat down beside him, holding what little i had left of him from his early days as close as i could — as if wishing hard enough could somehow bring it all back, and i could start over. i could do better. i could be better.
i am a broken record. i wonder how many times i’ve said the words “do better” and “be better.” i wonder how many times i will end up repeating them before i actually take my own advice, and do better, and be better.
i have no sweet memories tied to the day that changed everything — the day that marked the beginning of what would soon become the greatest adventure of my life. and it breaks my heart to think back to the days before i knew my liam nathaniel — when i genuinely felt i’d be better off without him.
but i was only 19, and hearing you’re about to have a baby to care for at the age of 19 seems like an inescapable death sentence.
i wish i could have told myself that this would not be the end of everything, that life was only going to be more beautiful. i wish i could have loved every moment of carrying the miraculous, new life growing inside me.
i wasted the one opportunity i never even thought i would have. and i know i can’t change what’s already been done. it’s all in the past — exactly where it belongs.
but sometimes, especially each approaching autumn, i am reminded of the mistakes i have made that i can never make right.
and sometimes, i am not okay.