The Day Everything Changed

My alarm went off again. I hit snooze, then realized, I’d already done that 5 times. My roommate had put tinfoil on our basement window because she worked nights at the hospital, and needed to be able to get sleep during the day. It made getting up in the morning, virtually impossible for me.  Especially lately. Mornings were next to impossible for some reason.

I had promised my friend, Darin, that I would pick him up and drive him around to drop more resumes off. And, I was late.   I was so tired lately. So lethargic and unmotivated.  I quickly threw on some clothes, and called Darin to tell him I was late but also had to run an errand before I picked him up.

“Can I come with you?” he asked, hopefully.

“No!” I all but shouted it through the phone, “I mean, no, I need to do this on my own. It’ll be quick.”

He couldn’t be there. Panic set in as I thought about the idea of someone I know being at the lab today. No one could know where I was going. After all, the test results would be negative. And this would just be a funny story I could tell later on.

Oh boy, did I ever hope that I was right.

The sun shone brightly as I drove to the lab that was dangerously close to my parents home; I knew they wouldn’t be around- both of them were at work. This had been the same clinic I’d gone to when I had my concussion, when I had fallen down the stairs at school (embarrassing!), and where I had come when I needed birth control, before my parents stopped allowing me to get it off of their health plan.  I laughed out loud when I remembered that situation, then stopped cold. My laugh sounded nervous.

White knuckled, in my dark denim jeans, black turtleneck (A had told me when I wore it, I looked older, wiser, and stunning) and my favorite red pea coat jacket, I steadied myself out of my car. I walked as bravely as I could to the building where I would take a blood test, and a urine test to definitively figure out if I was pregnant.

Pregnant? No, not me.

I looked back at my car, and thought,

“I don’t need to do this today. Just one more day of not knowing. Just one more day.”

But I kept walking.  I kept moving. I had to keep moving. I twirled my hair around my pinky while I waited my turn. I tapped my foot while I took my urine sample. While they took my  blood, I kept fidgeting,  moving my toes to the beat of the pop radio station they were listening to.  The nurse told me to hold still. I couldn’t. She didn’t understand, if I stopped, I might unravel. And I was wearing my best confident face, and in order to keep that face on, I had to move around. This was the best I could do. After all, she was drawing the blood that would literally tell me what I was going to do for the rest of my life.

They told me, “Wait for 3 hours and call us to find out the results”.

I nearly passed out. 3 hours? I would have to wait another 3 hours.  I took a card, and jammed it in my coat pocket.  I would just have to wait.

Darin was oblivious. He talked, and talked, and talked. Once or twice, he asked me what was up, and if I was okay. Again, fake smile, along with a, “Of course, I am!” All I could think about was the minutes lurching by at a speed that seemed to be categorized as torture. I wanted 3pm to be there. It needed to be there. I needed to move on with my life.

An hour and a bit had past, and Darin invited me back to his house for chicken noodle soup, and a movie. I agreed. I still had 1 hour and 22 minutes. A movie would fill the time. He put on a movie, and I zoned out on the couch opposite of them, vibrating with fear. It was now, that I began to doubt my confidence in the test being negative. I mean, it had been previously. Why would it be any different now?

But…what if?

2:51.  I could call now.

2:53. No, I can’t call. Wait, do I call from here, or should I run home?

2:54. The movie isn’t over. That’d weird him out. I should call from here.

2:55. What if it’s positive?….It’s not! Stop thinking like that.

2:56. I wonder if he knows. He keeps looking at me weird.

2:57. Ugh, I hate the smell of that chicken noodle soup.

2:58. Shit.

2:59. I should probably ask to use his phone. Do I just ask? Why am I making this weird? Just ask to use the phone.

3:00. I can call. What if they aren’t ready yet? Maybe I should wait until 3:30.

3:01. I don’t think I can wait until 3:30.

3:02.  Just ask for the phone, Danielle. You can do this.

“Darin, do you mind if I use your phone?”

He nodded, and I made my way to my jacket to fish out the card I had shoved in there earlier. My hands were shaking. I was sure that my face was drained of any color.  I wasn’t sure how I was actually standing on my own two feet.

I was safely away from Darin, in the hallway of the house he shared with 4 or 5 other boys. No one else was home.  The movie would, luckily drown out my conversation. I could easily, discreetly make this call.

I dialed the number. Then hung up,  to afraid of what to play out.

I had to know.

I dialed again, and thought about hanging up, but before I could, I was speaking to a lovely receptionist, asking if I could get my results.

Pause.

“I have to go get the doctor”.

Shit. Shit. Shit. I felt like I was on one of those free falling rides.

“Danielle?”

“Yes”, I managed to squeak out.

“You are pregnant”.

“Oh. Okay, thanks”. And I hung up.

I stared at the ledge where the phone sat. Then I read the phone messages that were left for Darin’s house mates. I was about to head back into the living room, as if nothing happened, when I realized what I had just been told.

No. No. I heard it wrong. I re-dialed the number. I spoke to the same receptionist. Who, this time,  got a nurse.

“I’m sorry, I just called, but I think I may have heard the results wrong. You said I wasn’t pregnant, right?”

There was an ironic, pregnant, pause.

“No, Danielle. You are pregnant. The test was positive. Your blood work clearly shows that you are pregnant. You should see a doctor as soon as you can”.

“Oh.”

Again, I hung up the phone. I felt tears already flowing down my face. Is this what being in shock felt like?  Then the panic attack hit.  I grabbed the ledge by the phone, knowing my knees would buckle next. Within moments, I fell to the ground, hard, face in my hands, sobbing as I said, “Noooooo” softly. I could still hear the movie playing in the background.

Darin came running into the room, and gathered me into his arms, while I began to cry a cry that would years later, haunt my dreams, and echo in my mind when I remembered that day.

Over and over again, I sobbed, ” What am I going to do?”  Darin begged me to tell him what was wrong. But the words rebelled against my tongue. I couldn’t form them in a way that didn’t sound terrible.  Utterly life altering.  Saying them would mean they were real.  And he, the mormon boy who I had a desperate crush on, would judge me. How could he not? I was even judging me.

I was pregnant. I had a baby living inside of me.

I was 17. This baby’s father didn’t want me. Which meant, he likely didn’t want the baby. Or us.

I was pregnant.

Darin, in tears at this point, begged me again to tell him why I was so upset.  He would be the first person to know, and what I didn’t realize is, that his reaction would be the kind that would make me laugh, years later, and make me wish everyone had a heart as kind and non-judgmental as his:

“I’m…I’m…Please don’t tell anyone. Don’t tell a single soul. Please?”

He nodded.

“I’m….Darin, I’m pregnant”.

I felt his tear filled eyes search my face. I though I saw  a smile as he pulled me in for a hug, and then I felt his body shake. Then I heard him laugh. Pulling away, confused, he took my face in his hands and said,

“Oh Danielle, I thought you were dying! You are JUST pregnant. You’re going to have a beautiful, beautiful baby. That’s not terrible. Don’t cry, he’d want you to be happy.”

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