This is going to be a long one, folks, so get comfortable. Those who know me IRL shouldn’t be too surprised by my need to share. I think I’ve always been a bit of an overshare-er, but there’s a purpose to this story. See, for those that don’t know me IRL, I became an young, unwed mom in the mid 90’s. I graduated high school in June of 1994 and my son was born July 1996. As people argue over a woman’s right to choose, the reality of single motherhood gets brushed away, but that reality is important to understand. It is hard. In the grand scheme of things I had it easy. I am white. I was healthy. I was on my parents insurance although that only covered my own medical costs and wouldn’t cover baby, and my family didn’t shut me out. It was still fucking hard.
Some people supporting the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade say abortion isn’t needed because of adoption, and that whole idea of forced pregnancy makes me fume. A woman without the option to end a pregnancy is impacted by the pregnancy long before there’s a child to care for. Pregnancy is not as seen on TV, at least not for everyone, nor is delivery. The “Glow” people talk about pregnant women having was never worn by me. For some people pregnancy is months of debilitating illness. Some of us even end up on bed rest. Try working attached to an IV pole! Forcing women and girls to be pregnant should not be something one group of politicians can do.
I’ve been pro-choice my whole life, but in the fall of 1995 when I knew I was pregnant I knew I was going to become a mom. It was a decision I made quickly and for myself. And when I say I knew I was pregnant, I mean I knew. I was so sure that I showed up at the hospital to have a blood test. I wasn’t trusting this to a pee stick. When they asked about how late I was, I was honest – I wasn’t. Yet. But I was sure I was about 2 weeks pregnant. I even had dates. They turned me away.
After being turned away I was more determined to get the test, so I came back a few days later and lied. I mean, I was never one of those Every-28-days kind of girls anyway. Twenty eight days. Eleven days. There was no tracking that shit. The bottom line was that I knew I was pregnant and I just needed them to confirm it. They took my blood, assigned me a random number, and told me to call a phone number in a few hours for the test results. At that point I did what any other 19 year old would do; I went to the mall with a friend.
Wandering the mall I tried to come up with a game plan while my friend played her part trying to reassure me I was paranoid and it was going to be negative and everything would be fine. I was going to be fine, but I also knew I was pregnant. We went into a Hallmark store and I spent money I shouldn’t have on a stuffed polar bear there. I was holding that bear in it’s bag to my chest when I stood at the payphone at the mall and made the call. “Your test results are positive.” No shit. That bear became the first gift I ever bought for my son.
I think because I was already so sure that I was, getting the positive pregnancy result wasn’t that big of a shock. I wasn’t going to panic. I got pregnant the second week of November and got my results around Thanksgiving. If I could get through the Christmas holiday, I would tell my parents at the new year and go from there. Plenty of girls went months and months without anyone figuring out they were pregnant and I was sure I could do the same. I was wrong. It became apparent right away that I was not going to have an easy first trimester. My mom called it out one night while we were alone, wrapping Christmas presents together. I told her the same thing I’d told everyone else so far – I’m pregnant and it’s going to be fine.
My OB/GYN started me off right. I was given the injection for my RH factor. I was started on pre-natal vitamins that I couldn’t ever keep down, weighed, and given a due date. August 3rd was my first due date. I might not still remember that but it was my grandmother’s birthday. It also felt so very far away in this miserable pregnancy that I’d started. I panicked after a later visit pushed my due date out to the 9th, and then changed it to August 12th, my uncle’s birthday. I already didn’t think I could make it to August 12th.
I was working an early morning shift for a call center answering questions about at-home hair color, and taking classes at the community college to finish my criminal justice degree. Initially, I thought I could maintain both. I needed to work because I needed money. I also really wanted to finish school. I had plans for the police academy and an eventual detective position. Even though others were already saying that something was going to have to give, I spent a few weeks in denial about this part. I wanted to believe I was responsible enough to do it all.
Problems with my ambitious plan started right away because vomiting started to be an problem right away. The final straw was throwing up all over myself and my car on the freeway on my way to work. I missed work that day and the next. Fun fact: I’m a reactionary puker. Just hearing someone else throw up makes me dry heave. This was torture. Shortly after that I was laid off from my job. I’m sure my struggle mornings and the fact that they also figured out I was pregnant had a lot to do with it.
Now I was pregnant, unwed, and unemployed. After that I withdrew from school. The truth was I was sometimes too exhausted to keep my eyes open, and my “morning sickness” seemed to struggle telling time. It thought of itself more as an all day and all night kind of sickness, so I was having trouble in my morning and my end of day classes. I’d be a liar if I said that choice to quit school and change career plans wasn’t hard, but these were all my choices. Imagine having to go through this, completely unprepared, because people not impacted by your decision made the choice for you.
I was momentarily unemployed, but I was still trying to be positive and move forward. Even though my dad was bristly(we’re fine now, no worries), and I was sure some family members felt sorry for me, I had support. I had a (free) roof over my head without any threat of losing that, my groceries, or my insurance. I had no doubt that I was going to see this through and be a mom, but even at this point it was hard.
And I was only twelve weeks in.
To be continued…