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The Mistake Of A Lifetime
Ellie was just a lonely seventh grader when they met, she and Jim, her boyfriend of three years. Jim was the new kid and Ellie fell in love the second she laid eyes on him. They'd had a steady relationship over the years, arguing every now and then, but always staying together. Jim was Ellie's escape, escape from her mother. She always treated Ellie poorly since her father left. But she has something else to worry about now.
I've made the biggest mistake, thought 15 year old Ellie, standing in her bathroom with the pregnancy test. Pregnant, it read.
"I can't believe I let him talk me into it," she muttered, barely audible.
"Get down here and get to school!" croaked her mother's chain smoker voice.
How will she tell her? How will she tell Jim about it? After all, he is to blame. Right?
As Rodney, Ellie's brother, parked next to Jim's car, she saw him turn and flash her a smile and wave. Ellie got out of her brother's car and promptly threw up in the grass. Nerves and morning sickness.
"Ellie, El? You okay?" asked Jim, who was rushing over to her.
"Ellie," said Rodney, "do you want me to drive you home?"
"No. No, guys. I'm okay. Jim, I need to talk to you. It's urgent."
In class, Ellie and Jim went into a corner of the room where they couldn't be heard.
"Jim," said Ellie, "do you love me?"
"Of course, Ellie. I'd do anything for you," their voices rather soft.
"Well, I have a problem," said Ellie.
Jim's eyes fell, "You don't love me anymore, do you?"
"No, Jim. I do love you, and I need you now more than anything." She sighed. "I'm pregnant."
I'm sorry. I am so sorry. This is all my fault," said Jim, cradling Ellie in his arms. "Let's talk about this at lunch."
In a secluded corner of the lunchroom, Jim and Ellie sat at a table alone to address the issue.
"Ellie, are you sure you're pregnant?"
"Yes, Jim. The test read 'Pregnant'," whispered Ellie. "I'm so scared. I don't know what to do."
"Have you told anyone? Your mom? Rodney? Anyone?" asked Jim.
"No. You and I are the only ones that know."
"Know what?" said Ellie's twin sisters Lilly and Laury. Ellie and Jim exchanged looks.
"Nothing," replied Ellie quickly.
"Hey, El. Feeling better than this morning? You look better," said Ellie's brother Rodney, approaching the lunch table.
"Where's Jessie?" asked Laury.
"Here she comes now," answered Rodney.
As Ellie's siblings approached one by one, she felt like she couldn't concentrate with the growing chatter. Up came Ellie's sisters Jessie, Ally, and Miley; and her twin brothers Benji and Bentley. The full table of ten, with everybody but Ellie and Jim talking, multiplied her anxiety over the edge. She couldn't help it, her hormones were already raging. Ellie began sobbing; it was too much.
"Ellie, what's wrong?" said Bentley, and the whole table went silent.
"Too much," sobbed Ellie. "It's too loud."
"You're having an anxiety attack, aren't you?" said Rodney. "Here, I'll take you to the office."
Rodney took Ellie to the office to get her her anxiety meds. Ellie was so nervous, so anxious, so scared Rodney would find out she was pregnant. Rodney was the "man of the house". He was like a father to everyone, especially because their father was long gone. She contemplated telling him, but was too scared. She sat in the office, trying to calm down.
"Do you know what set you off, Ellie?" asked Rodney. Ellie nodded. "What was it?"
"I can't tell you," Ellie whispered. "Not now."
"Are you okay? Should we call Mom to pick you up?" comforted Rodney.
"No! Not Mom!" Ellie panicked. "Please, don't make me foe home Rodney! Please!"
"Shhhh. Ellie, calm down. It's okay. I won't send you home." He turned to the nurse. "Can she stay here for the rest of the day so she calms down, Nurse Larson?"
"Absolutely. I'll get her classwork from her teachers. Just lay down here, Ellie." Ellie laid down and Nurse Larson put a cold washcloth on her forehead. "This should ease your anxiety," said Nurse Larson, spooning Ellie her thick, syrupy medicine. And she dozed off into a deep sleep.
"You know I love you, right?"
It was a beautiful fall evening that Ellie was spending with her boyfriend Jim, in his room.
"Of course, Jim. I'm just not sure about it," said Ellie. "Let's just take it slow."
"Okay," said Jim, kissing Ellie's forehead. As he kissed her, Ellie couldn't help but think of how much she loved him. She felt his hand on her knee and pulled away.
"I said 'no'."
"Relax," said Jim, "nothing's going to happen."
Ellie had to trust him. Right?
She felt his hand rest on her hip, and could tell Jim felt her tense up.
"It's okay," he whispered in her ear. But she knew it wasn't. She couldn’t believe what he was trying to do. She had promised herself that this would never happen, but it did.
She didn't realize what had happened until after it happened.
Ellie was ashamed of herself and sick to her stomach for what she’d done. "I better go, it's getting late."
"I love you."
Ellie faked a smile as she walked away. Ellie's walked the few blocks between her house and Jim's a hundred times with him, but tonight, she walked alone. It was the calm evening that made Ellie feel mocked, mixed emotions stirring in her mind and heart. She didn't know what to do. Leave Jim for what he'd done, or forget it ever happened?
"Ellie, hey, you need to wake up," said Rodney, gently shaking her.
Ellie stirred awake. "What happened?" she mumbled.
"You fell asleep in the nurse's office. It's time to go home."
"I don't wanna go home, Rodney," she whimpered.
"We have to, I'm sorry."
"Rodney, I'm scared. I did something really bad, and I'm afraid of Mom."
"It can't be that bad, Ellie."
"It is, and Mom's gonna kill me," she said as Rodney led her out to his car. "You'll see."
So, Rodney drove them home in silence while tears streamed down Ellie's cheeks. She was so scared to tell her mom.
By the time they got home, Ellie was terrified. The afternoon passed, and Ellie was dreading telling her mom that she was pregnant. She decided dinner would be good, tell the whole family and get it over with. When dinnertime rolled around, she was shaking with anxiety.
"Mom? I have something to tell you." She took a deep breath. "I'm pregnant."
A buzz of surprised chatter broke out among Ellie's siblings. Then her mom screamed at her, "What is wrong with you, Ellie?! This is just great! Another mouth to feed! You know, it's hard enough without your father here to feed the nine of you, now you just had to go and mess it up! Thanks a lot, Ellie!"
Ellie felt so guilty, now, for getting pregnant, bringing a new burden onto her mother and siblings. But she wasn't to blame. "It's not my fault! Jim pushed me into it!"
"I doubt that, you slut!" screamed Ellie's mother.
"Go to your room! Now!"
"Fine! At least I won't be a terrible mother to my kid!"
"You know, I've half a mind to kick you out!"
"Then do it! I don't care!" she screamed back.
When she got to her room, she collapsed on her bed, crying. Then, there was a knock at the door. It was Rodney.
"What do you want? Here to scream at me like Mom?"
"Then why are you here?" Ellie was confused.
"To comfort you. Mom's upset. She'll get used to the idea in time. I promise."
"Why are you being so nice to me? You should be reading me the riot act."
"Because I'm your brother, and brothers always have their sisters' backs," he said kindly.
"No problem, El."
"Do you think Mom's really gonna kick me out?"
"It's hard to say. When Hilary got pregnant at your age, Mom told her to give the baby up for adoption or live with Dad. But you're much more responsible than she was."
It was true. Ellie was more responsible than her older sister Hilary was, at her age. Hilary was never in the stable relationship Ellie was in. But there was one thing that Hilary had that Ellie didn't: The support of their father.
She remembered how her dad took Hilary in when he found out she was pregnant. He'd never do that for Ellie. In fact, he ever told her that he never wanted her born, when he left. At least her baby will be wanted.
Ten year old Hilary cowered under the table with her younger brothers and sisters as a tall dark-haired man screamed at a blonde woman.
"I've had it Eleanor! You've messed up one too many times! I'm leaving!"
"But Steve, wait! How am I supposed to care for ten kids by myself?"
"Figure it out!" was all he said before he stormed upstairs.
"Where did I go wrong?" sobbed Eleanor.
Steve, then, trampled down the stairs and gave Eleanor a single, stony look. Then, he looked at four year old Ellie.
"And you. I never wanted you born."
"Steve! How could you say that to your own daughter?"
"Easy, I just did." So, Steve barreled out the door and never came back. Six years later, though, he did take in a pregnant Hilary.
Eight months later...
"Do you wanna feel him kick?" Ellie asked Jessie.
"Sure. Does it hurt?"
"No, it tickles, actually."
"Is Jim going to help at all?"
"Hopefully because I can't do this alone. And, of course, Mom refuses to help," she said woefully.
"Well, I'll help you, Ellie. I'm sure Rodney'll pitch in, too, and the rest of us. I know you can do it, El."
"Thanks, Jessie. That means a lot to me."
Just then, the phone rang and Ellie answered it.
"Eleanor? Is that you?" It was Ellie's dad.
"No, Dad, it's Ellie."
"I heard you got pregnant like your sister. Is it true?"
"Yes, it's true."
"Well, if you're expecting me to take you in like I did with your sister, you're wrong."
"I wouldn't want to live with you anyway!" she shouted.
"Good, because I don't want you or your baby!" And he hung up.
"Who was that?" asked Jessie.
"Dad. He called to let me know that he's not taking me in like he did with Hilary. It feels like no one wants my baby but me."
She collapsed on her bed in tears, but felt a sharp pain in her belly that wasn't a kick. She was in labor.
"Jessie, I think I'm in labor, go get Rodney." And Jessie went and got Rodney for Ellie. "Rodney, it's time," she said.
"Okay, I'll get your stuff, you just walk out to my car. I'll tell Benji to round up everyone.
So, Ellie went to Rodney's car as he came out carrying her bags and other things. "Are you ready?" he asked.
"Well, ready or not, here he comes."
They got to the hospital just before Ellie's water broke. Then, she was admitted to a Labor and Delivery Room and met up with her doctor. "How are you, Miss Ellie?" her doctor asked.
"Terrified," she replied.
"Well, don't be. Childbirth is a wonderful experience. Just sit back, relax, and we'll try to get this baby out as quick as possible. You're already two centimeters dilated and 80% effaced, which is good."
"How long do you think it will take?" she asked.
"Since you're two centimeters, I'd say twelve to thirteen hours."
Then Benji showed up with Lilly, Laury, Miley, Ally, Bentley, and Jessie. "Did we miss anything?" he asked.
"No," replied Rodney, "the doctor said it'll take twelve hours."
"Where's Mom?" asked Ellie.
"She left. She said she’d try to be back in time," said Bentley.
"Wow, she actually wants to be here?"
"Yeah, believe it or not, Ellie, Mom actually cares about you. She's not like Dad."
Time passed, and Ellie's contractions got worse, but she couldn't get an epidural without her mother's consent and her mom was still gone. Her anxiety was starting to build up, she had no parents and no father of the baby with her, just her brothers and sisters. She was clutching Rodney’s hand with a death grip. Where could Jim be? she thought. Why wasn’t he here? At the birth of his own child! Even though Jim hadn’t been involved, she still wanted him there. He hadn’t gone to a single doctor’s appointment, but she still wanted him by her side. It was his hand she wanted to be holding, not Rodney’s. After three hours of labor, her mother showed up.
"Sorry I'm late, I tried to talk your father into coming. He refused."
Eleven hours into labor, it was time to start pushing.
"Okay, Ellie, we're going to start pushing, now. When I tell you, I want you to start," said her doctor. "Now go."
So, Ellie pushed with all her might, and within an hour, her son was born.
"Hi, Joey," she cooed when she got to hold her son. "I'm your Mommy. It's so nice to meet you."
"Oh, Ellie. What a beautiful baby." said her mother. "Where's Jim?"
"Who knows? He hasn't really been involved, so I'm not going to let him be."
"That's very mature of you, Ellie," her mom said.
After three days, Ellie was discharged and happy to go home. For once, her family wasn't dysfunctional, but normal. They welcomed her home with a belated baby shower with the entire family, even Hilary and her daughter were there. Of course, Steve was nowhere to be seen. The eight of her brothers and sisters that lived in the house helped Ellie out day by day, changing diapers, filling bottles, and letting Ellie catch up on her sleep. Her mother even helped for the first month. But after a while, the household was back to what they considered normal.
"Ellie!" screamed her mother's chain smoker voice as Joey wailed at the top of his lungs. "Tell your child to shut up!"
How can she be such a terrible mother, Ellie thought to herself.
Just then, the doorbell rang and Ellie answered it. It was Jim.
"Where have you been?! I called you, like, nine times!" she shouted at him.
"Listen, Ellie, I'm too young to be a father. I'm sorry, but you can count me out of the baby's life. I'm really sorry."
"Bye" was all Ellie could say at this point as she shut the door in his face.
"Who was that?" asked Rodney.
"Jim," Ellie replied. "He doesn't want to be in Joey's life." And she buried her head in his chest and cried. "It feels like nobody wants this baby but me."
"That's not true, Ellie. You know it's not. All eight of us are helping you out. Why, I bet if Hilary still lived here, she'd be helping out as much, too."
"But what about Dad? He said he didn't want me or Joey."
"It's Dad! He says things that aren't true. Remember when he left? He said it was Mom's fault, but really, it was his own. See what I mean?"
"I just— Rodney, I just feel so alone."
"But you're not! That's the beauty of it. You have eight people helping you out!"
"I know, and thanks for the help, too."
"Anytime, sis. Anytime."
"Rodney? Will part of me always have to love Jim because it's our baby?"
"He'll always hold a piece of your heart; first loves always do."
"Sometimes, when it gets really hard, I wish for him to be here."
"He's not worth it, Ellie. You're strong and independent, you can do this. We'll all be with you the entire way."
So, Ellie could never had made it through as a single mom without the help of her brothers and sisters.