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I was scared of what today would bring, for not only my future but for my families as well. It scared me getting in the car, driving east towards the center of town. My parents chatted, oblivious to how much was on the line. I couldn’t go there and disappoint my parents again. Especially not with this.
I rode in silence, as the panic began to increase with every growing mile. It wouldn’t take long for the doctor to know. Just one test would confirm my unease, and create even more. I could’ve avoided all this trouble, the party seemed so distant…
“We’re here, honey,” my mom smiled in the mirror. Her world would shatter when the results come back positive. And I say when because I know they will. My luck ran out the day I made the decision of accepting that party invitation.
I looked into my moms eyes through the mirror. I saw happiness. Happy because we finally got our lives back on track. We’d run into luck, when a call for my dad, announcing he was promoted, came. We moved to a quite little town, close to his new office. My mom got a secretary position at some law firm. And with a promotion comes money. I was able to buy things; clothes, music, eventually my own car. My grades increased exponentially, my drive to do better paired with my parents insistence on being better parents helped me achieve A’s and B’s.
I was fit. Trying out for track in the spring and running basketball drills in the fall. Everyday of the summer, I would run a few miles. Everyday at the crack of dawn, I’d begin my run and not get home close to seven or eight. On school days, I’d shorten my run and be home by six. Running was my life.
When I wasn’t running, I was doing homework, working out, or hanging with my friends. Life was go, go, and go until now. I didn’t spend nights out with friends, worried they’d discover the truth behind my increased appetite. Fatigue set in every day around middle day, making it impossible to do sports.
The morning vomiting, now that’s why I was in this car now, sitting in front of the doctor’s office. My mom thought it was an eating disorder. I neither confirmed nor reassured her of the truth. When the yelling began, I faltered. I felt like a little kid being scolded for something I had no idea was wrong. I sat there and took it, tears running down my cheeks.
Some part of me at the time, wanted to yell in her face. Tell her everything, so that she’d hug and cry with me. I wanted her to tell me it was ok, that I’d be ok. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell her and have her hate me. And I knew she would.
She’d hate me. She’d hate me for ruining my life, for ruining theirs. She’d hate me because she could. Because it’d be the only easy way out of knowing the truth. She was Catholic; of course she’d hate me and what I’d done. I could already hear her saying, “What have you done?! You’ve disgraced the name of this family!” She’d look at me with fire in her eyes and if not for my condition or the lack of privacy, she would strangle me. She’d only have to wait an hour, but of course she could kill me on the way home.
I smiled at her, the only thing I could think to do. I could see that she knew how uneasy I was. She only had to look into my eyes and see the fear and guilt.
“It’ll be ok Katelyn. The doctors will know how to help you. They’ll help you through whatever stress is causing you to do what you do,” my mom said, concern and hope spreading across her face in a sincere smile. The doctors would know how to help, yes, but not for what she thought they would. All I did was nod and pull my eyes away from hers. The doors to my thoughts and feelings felt like they were broken into, where everyone could see them. All she had to do was walk up to the smashed in door and discover the truth behind all the walls.
We got out of the car, and I felt like I was walking in water. The pathway up to the doors felt miles long rather then only 10 or 12 feet away. When we finally reached the door, we walked into the refreshing air-conditioned waiting room.
I didn’t have much time to think of an excuse. No sooner than I sat down, did they call my name. My heartbeat skipped a few beats and then continued beating faster than before. They did the normal measurements: height, weight, and had me go into the bathroom to pee in a cup.
I was ten pounds heavier then only a week ago. My mom frowned, confusion creasing her forehead. I didn’t look at her. I only shrugged and tried to seem uncaring. I had a feeling my mom was failing at putting the symptoms together. The nurse lifted her eyebrows and looked at me, knowing in her eyes. She turned her body sideways and her stomach jutted out, telltale of what she was. Pregnant.
She placed her hand on her stomach, looking at me. She knew. She told us to proceed to the room and that the doctor would see us soon. I prayed silently that she wouldn’t say anything, even though at this point, the truth would be inevitable.
I sat in silence on the patients table. I couldn’t look into my mom’s eyes. My dad’s had been blank since yesterday morning when they’d discovered me, lying on the tiled bathroom floor. He was disappointed, of what, I wasn’t sure. His face portrayed no emotion, not sadness nor anger. I’m not sure if he’d already discovered the truth. But thankfully, if he knew, he chose to keep it to himself.
“Well hello Katelyn. Margaret, Larry,” he said nodding a greeting to my parents. He smiled, unaware of the tension and concern radiating from my mom and unease and fear from me. I wondered, briefly, if he had a daughter my age, and if he ever had to worry about the problems his daughter might be going through. Even if he did, he hid it well.
“Hello Dr. Keith. We’re here in concern of Katelyn. You see, we found her nearly passed out, pale as a ghost by the toilet yesterday morning. We are very concerned that she may have an eating disorder,” my mom jumped in.
“Ok. Katelyn I’m going to ask your parents to leave so I can ask you some questions. Then if you feel comfortable, we’ll ask them back in and repeat the questions and answers,” he smiled, a hint of concern in his eyes, at me. He turned to my parents and shoed them out. The door looked heavy and when he shut it, it made me jump; my heart pounded in my throat as he seated himself on his stool in front of me.
“So, Katelyn how is everything?” he asked, his stare fixing on mine. I could barely breathe. I hadn’t told anyone what I’d done, not even my best friends, so how could I tell him?
“Everything’s good…,” I said, shrugging, turning my gaze to focus on the painting. It was of a countryside, with many different colored flowers and the grass seemed to grow higher and higher. I could hear the sound of the river, the sound of dragonflies and bees. I sighed.
“Are you sure, Katelyn? I’m here to help you, and from what I hear something must be going on,” he continued to look at me, concerned.
I didn’t reply, because of course, something was going on. But I didn’t want to talk about it.
“Ok, Katelyn. How are you medically? Any problems? Any unexplainable pain?”
I shook my head. I wasn’t in pain. I only got sick because I felt sick. There hadn’t been any pain, just a feeling.
“How’s your cycling? Has it given you any trouble since we started you on the pill?”
I froze up, and looked him in the eyes. I could see my eyes reflected off of his. Fear. He’d found the answer with just one question. He could see it in my eyes.
“How long since you last cycle, Katelyn?” he asked, blankly. He knew. As did the nurse and possibly my father. If my father didn’t know, he’d definitely guessed.
“Two months,” I said, tears edging around my lashes. I looked down at my fingers, which had managed to intertwine. My knuckles were white from squeezing.
“Katelyn, I’m going to keep your parents outside in the lobby, but we are going to have to do a test. And if the results come back positive, we are liable to tell your parents the truth, do you understand?” he looked me hard in the face. I nodded. I couldn’t speak.
Dr. Keith left the room, but when he returned he wasn’t alone. The pregnant nurse walked in behind him. In her hand she held a purple box with the lower case letters e.p.t. written on it.
“It’s the quickest way to find out, Katelyn. We will have to confirm with another test in about a week but because of the amount of time you’ve gone, this test should be accurate enough,” Dr. Keith explained. I nodded. The nurse handed the test to Dr. Keith who in turn handed it to me and pointed to the little bathroom at the corner of the room.
I did what I had to do, and then set the plastic test on the counter. I knew it’d come back positive. I’d gone long enough and the morning nausea was enough to explain it all. I thought about what could be growing inside of me. This little baby, which I had no clue of the sex or what it’d be like. But I loved it, that’s why I’d started wearing my seatbelt, afraid of hurting this tiny little creature inside of me. I thought about what I’d name it. John for my grandfather, if it was a boy and Caroline for my grandmother, if it was a girl.
I looked down at the test and even though I’d already known the answer, I still couldn’t believe it. In tiny purple letters the test read ‘positive.’ Tears began to blur around my eyes. I smiled. I was… happy? How could I be? When I walked out of this room, everything would change.
I walked out of the little bathroom into the doctor’s room. I’d left the test on the counter; my expression was enough of an answer. I sat on the patients table and stared blankly down at my feet. How was I going to tell my mom? My dad?
“Katelyn, you realize we have to tell your parents, don’t you? We’re obligated, because you’re underage,” Dr. Keith explained once again. I closed my eyes and nodded. I heard the door open and the slight chatter outside the room. I opened my eyes and looked at the door.
When my mom walks in that door, I’ll be dead. I knew, that when I saw the pure fire and anger in her eyes, that I’d be done for sure. That she’d burst in and grab hold of me and scream. Scream, “Why?!” and “How could you?!” A new batch of tears welled up around my lashes and flowed down. I didn’t sob; the tears just flowed out uncontrollably. I squeezed my eyes shut and waited for the expected. But what came next, was the unexpected.
“Let me in! Let me see my baby! She needs her mom!” my moms voice screamed from the hallway. How could she still love me? How could she still want to be around me knowing what was growing inside me? I thought she’d come screaming, calling me names a mother shouldn’t but she wanted to be near me and knew I needed her.
“Margaret, we would love to let you in but considering the condition of Katelyn, we can’t put her under any stress, ok? No yelling, as much as you may be upset, you can not yell at Katelyn during this pregnancy. Any kind of stress can cause complications later on. Only under your solemn promise to help keep this environment stress free may we let you in,” I heard the doctor state, calmly, quietly. I don’t know what the answer was but the door opened, revealing my mother.
Her eyeliner ran down her cheeks.
I’d only seen my mother cry twice, since our move, as much as she was now. And this was one of them. The first was when we arrived in our new home, to our new start. Her eyes were swollen, and her cheeks spread out in a guilty smile. She walked over to me and put her arms around me, sobbing into my hair. A trickle of a tear glided down my cheek onto my moms white blouse. She pulled back, her arms still floating on my shoulders.
She looked into my eyes with understanding. And pure love. Not hate or pure red anger. I held on to all that love, because I knew the next six to seven months would be difficult. But right now, I would hold on to the women who loved me even though she knew I was carrying a child. A child conceived out of wedlock. A thing she shouldn’t understand, but she did anyway.
“Mom, I-I-I…,” I trailed off, unsure what to say. I felt dumb, breaking the silence of this perfect moment.
“Shhhh-Shhh. Its ok, Katelyn. You were scared of me, and I don’t want that. I am disappointed, but I love you too much to feel anything but love for you and the baby your carrying. Who’s the father?” Not a single stutter. When she lies, she stutters. Her tell.
I thought back to the night. A lot was a blur. There had been drinks passed around to all the girls. “On the house,” one guy had even said, with a wink to a giggling blonde. I’d lost count of how many drinks I’d had. I’d felt free and light headed and very carefree.
But I knew who I’d slept with. A junior in college, the next state over. Was here to visit family. A friend of his, the host of the party, had told him he should come. I hadn’t really noticed he was there, not until he directed his path my ways. He’d pulled me into the darkened room. Told me, he needed something to remember me by, since he was leaving the next day, back to his college where no one would know of his indiscretions.
With the influence of alcohol in my system and the pleading hungry face of this man I barely knew, I didn’t think twice. He surely wouldn’t remember much of anything but I would continue to remember for years to come.
I turned into the expecting face of my mom and decided the truth would be too much for her.
“No,” and as much as I knew this next bit of information would hurt her, the truth would hurt even more, “I had too many drinks, and everything’s a blur.”
When I walked out of the doctor’s office, I knew my life had taken a strong turn in a different direction. And even though the party had marked it as the wrong path, because of my fear of my mother, I couldn’t help but feel hope. Maybe doing what I did was wrong. But I felt fuller. Full of understanding from my mom and dad, who I told myself. Full of regret, which bubbled up regularly in my head.
But, most of all, I was full of love for the life I now carried. And as my last promise, to myself and my child, I would raise my baby to never fear their mother or father, because they love you and understand more than you’ll ever know.
Hackettstown, New Jersey
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