I had just found out less than five hours ago that I am indisputably pregnant. At 22 years old. With someone I tried to break up with two days prior.By the time Carly and I arrived at the Long Beach Aquarium for our wedding industry mixer, the sun was hanging low on the horizon, blanketing the sky with a cool gray dewiness reminiscent of the unequivocal autumn day. I was not as pretty a sight, however, with my insides still twisted with heavy knots and my skin greasy from stress and anxiety. Stressed and anxious because I had just found out less than five hours ago that I am indisputably pregnant. At 22 years old. With someone I tried to break up with two days prior.
“So this will be perfect, Missy,” Carly conspired as we walked from the parking lot to the event entrance, “You will take this opportunity to start thinking about what kind of a wedding you want and which vendors you could use.”
“Carly, for the last time,” I had to correct her again, “I am not getting married to Patrick all of a sudden just because we might be having a baby together. Not now, and probably not ever. C’mon, what will mom and dad think??” Oh my gawd Mom and Dad. Ugh even the thought of having to explain this situation to them made me queasy beyond relief.
“Yeah, if you are going to keep the baby, Mom and Dad would probably want you to get married,” Carly replied in a serious tone. “That’s why I brought it up in the first place.” Despite my defensiveness, I knew just as well as Carly that my getting knocked up out of wedlock would be devastating news for my parents. They would feel horribly for their bastard grandchild and even worse for me, their “perfect” firstborn who left their house at 18 to chase pipe dreams in Los Angeles. The whole world was supposed to be at my fingertips and I was supposed to be the puppeteer who made things—great things—happen for me. Chance was supposed to be on my side and Lady Luck should have been my middle name. And this thing called Destiny, well, she never mentioned anything about a baby. At least not yet. And not with Patrick.
“Carly, please. Let’s not talk about this to anyone until Patrick and I can figure things out first. And no matter what, you cannot say anything to Lonnie,” I made Carly pinky swear. Lonnie, the Human Resources assistant at the company both Patrick and I worked at, was meeting up with Carly and me at the event since she was involved in the wedding business on the side as well. “No matter what, Carly, you can’t say anything—“
Hi Lonnie I’m pregnant and I don’t know what I am going to do and I really don’t want to be here right now I replayed over and over in my head as I spotted her across the courtyard and gave her a big wave.
“Hey ladies!” Lonnie greeted us enthusiastically, “This place is awesome! Look at all the amazing booths and vendors they have here! I am so excited to meet everyone!”
“No way, are all the drinks and food free too?” Carly, like a kid in a candy store, excitedly proclaimed. “I am going to eat my heart out!” My heart, on the other hand, was pounding uncomfortably like a hefty collector at my door wanting me to open it, say hi, and face the dreaded truth about my condition. My heart, like a ticking time bomb, provided incessant music as it drowned out all the laughter and chatter going on around me and no matter which way I looked, all the brightly colored lanterns, lounge chairs, and candles were a slow blur of taunting and cumbersome movement.
I was also preoccupied by the text messages Patrick and I were exchanging back and forth. Nothing too serious but we just wanted to be constantly checking in with one other to make sure we were okay. To make sure our tiny baby was okay. And Lonnie was shouting across people from the bar, “What do you want to drink Missy?” Stricken suddenly with panic on all the rules of foods you can and cannot eat while pregnant, I did know confidently that alcohol was on the black list so I replied, “Just club soda for me.”
“Really?” Lonnie was curious. “I thought you were into cocktails.”
“But she’s pregnant.” Carly informed collectedly. I’m going to kill you, Carly!
“WHAT?!?! You’re kidding right?” Lonnie could hardly believe. “Didn’t you and Patrick just break up? Unless it’s not his baby…”
“No, it is definitely his. Lonnie, I’ll fill you in later, but you have to promise with your life that you will not tell anyone about this yet. And please do not say ANYTHING to Kristine. Patrick and I need to decide what we are going to do and I will tell Kristine myself,” I tried to explain as coolly as I could. Kristine, the head of the Human Resources department at our company and Lonnie’s boss, is also a close family friend of mine (remember when I said things are always complicated with me?) and while she had nothing personal against Patrick, she was also never too fond of our fraternizing at the work place and now this? Ugh ugh ugh.
Lonnie tried to be as understanding as she could be and Carly spent the rest of the night fantasizing about my non-existent wedding plans, taking every opportunity she could to introduce me to others as a newly “engaged” bride looking to put together a spur-of-the-moment wedding. And I just thought I we were going to the event to network as business owners.
The following day, beset by everything going on, the decisions I had to make very quickly, and all the things that were so confusing to me I just had to tell someone from my family other than Carly about my baby. I needed advice, some guidance, and maybe a little TLC. I needed Mommy and Daddy and I wanted so badly to run back to them, like I am so good at doing when things get a little rough, with my tail between my legs and beg and beg for forgiveness and maybe they’ll brush my hair and take me to the principal’s office at school to right all the wrongs in this situation for me. But I was no longer their helpless teenage daughter and though I felt like it, I was not 16 and pregnant. The world wasn’t all conspiring against me and I wasn’t a victim in any of this. For perhaps the first time in my life, this was one thing my parents wouldn’t be able to understand and I had to take sole responsibility for what I’d done. The prospect of not having anyone there to back me up and catch my fall terrified me so I decided to drive test my conversation with my parents by running it through my younger brother, Wayne, first.
I text messaged him to get online “ASAP because I need to tell you something very important” and like a good brother does, his chat icon immediately popped up on my Instant Messenger friends list.
Me: are you sitting down?
Me: patrick and I are pregnant.
Wayne: really Missy? WOW congratulations!
Really, congratulations? Like this is something to celebrate? Wayne was the first person to say congratulations to me about being pregnant and it completely caught me off guard. I was so ashamed and distraught over everything that I didn’t even think having a baby could possibly be good news to most other people.
Me: thanks, wayne. i am going to tell mom and dad now. ttyl.
The last I spoke to my parents I was belligerently crying about how Patrick was every bit the wrong guy for me and how I am completely over it now so I still did not know exactly how to approach breaking the news to them. But my brother’s positive reaction was encouraging and I knew I couldn’t keep my secret inside of me any longer so I texted my mom, “Can you go online to chat for a minute? I have to tell you something” and held my breath.
To be continued.