I have a big secret. Something only my boyfriend knows. I was pregnant once. Not for very long. But I was.
I forget things - keys, birthdays, appointments, assignments. And on occasion, I forget my birth control pills. I forgot them so often, I usually took them every other day, two at a time. If I even remembered. Was it risky? Sure. But in my late 20s, in a five-year long relationship with marriage plans, I figured there were worse things than getting pregnant. Heck, maybe it would even speed things up. I've always wanted babies.
For the six years I've been on the pill, I start the brown ones Sunday, my period comes on Tuesday like clockwork, without fail. Now it was Sunday. Five days past Tuesday. Mother's Day Sunday, actually. Sitting at brunch with my mom and sisters, a wave of nausea reminds me that it is Sunday. The light-headedness lingers over the next few hours, and I try to convince myself I'm making myself queasy by worrying. On the way home, I stop at the pharmacy.
Luckily, he's sleeping when I get home. I lock myself in the bathroom, pee on the stick, and set it down to finish reading the directions, "one line not pregnant, two lines pregnant." I glance at the stick - two lines. I literally do a double take. TWO LINES?!? I check the instructions three more times, convinced I've read it wrong. Oh, but I'm reading it right. I have a bun in the oven.
I know in my heart he won't be happy. We've had this conversation before. Marriage first, kids second. I know what's coming. Deep down, I know I will never see this baby. But my heart is so stupid, I hold this secret - my tiny baby - so tight for a few hours. I picture the second room as a nursery. I imagine telling my mom. She will be so happy. I want this baby so badly.
Finally, during our evening walk, it spills out.
His first words: "My mom is going to have a stroke." Oh yes, his Mommy. Let's not upset her! Oh, what the ladies at her church would say! On the steps of the school I once went to, we talk options, we cry. We decide not to decide anything right away. It doesn't matter. I know how this is going to end.
The next week I am exhausted. The hormones are killer. All I can do is go to work, cry, and sleep. I fix dinner and eat before he comes home so I don't have to face him. I am so tired and sad I can't even argue with him. His doubts slice my heart into a thousand pieces. He has some very logical reasons why it's not the right time. But no matter what words he's actually saying, all I hear is that he doesn't want our baby. I cry more.
He suggests talking to his mom about what we should do - fuck you and your mom. All I can do is cry and sleep. I'm exhausted. I can't even argue with him. He cries with me. Next year, he says. Next year, we'll get married and have babies. As many as you want, the coward.
By Wednesday, I am broken. I can't take the stress anymore. I call the clinic and make the appointment. I have a dental cleaning later that day and don't even tell them I'm pregnant when they take x-rays. What's the point?
Saturday comes. We drive to the only office open in the whole medical park where there are thankfully no protesters. I caught the pregnancy early enough that I can get the abortion pill. I am numb to the whole process. I fill out the paperwork. I even use my real name. I'm a terrible liar anyway. I pee in a cup. They do an ultrasound, but the screen is turned away. I am told I am six weeks pregnant. My boyfriend and I sit and wait for the counselor. I am probably the oldest person there. One girl across from me is crying, her knees pulled up to her chest. They call her name "Can I have a few more minutes?" she asks. They call my name in her place.
The doctor never asks why or go through the alternatives. This is simply a medical procedure. As the counselor shuffles through my papers, I see a printout of the ultrasound stapled to a form. At one point, the counselor leaves and I flipped back to the page in my file, just to catch a glimpse, just to know it was real. A sea of static with a kidney-bean shaped black spot. A tiny dot of light. My boyfriend takes a picture of it with his cell phone.
I am given one pill in the office to end the pregnancy, and four to take the next day to start contractions. As I pop the pill out of its package, my boyfriend starts to cry. An ugly cry. The traitor. The coward. I am so embarrassed I almost ask him to wait in the car. They give me a prescription for pain medicine to take when the miscarriage starts. I don't fill it. I want to feel everything. I deserve the pain.
The next day, the pills don't make me nauseous like the lady said they would. It doesn't hurt much more than bad cramps. I am disappointed how easy it is. A week later, I go back for a follow-up ultrasound. "Your uterus is empty," the technician announces.
My uterus is empty. My baby is gone. My heart is broken.