** Memoir Monday is a weekly series that features pieces of Katie’s memoir-in-progress that covers her first pregnancy. Click here to see past entries. **
Once back in the exam room, a male nurse with broken English entered. Though he was required to write down the answers to my family kidney disease questions, he looked up and smiled a lot. The combination of language struggle and kind eyes endeared me.
For the first time since seeing the plus sign that morning, I began to breathe. Deep breaths in conjunction with shoulder rolls and eye closing. After an especially long eyes-shut episode, I opened them to find the nurse standing next to the exam table. Pen clutched between his knuckles, he rested his hand on top of mine.
“It wheel be oh kay Cat-ee. I am right here.”
I nodded vigorously. He returned to his short green metal stool and asked me a few questions about sharing needles and my life history of HIV testing.
“And vii are you coming to see Medicahl Associahhts today?”
“I think I’m pregnant.”
There. You said it.
Just like ripping off a band-aid.
“And vii do you think you are haveen a baybee?”
Short-term memories flooded my brain. The beers. The shots of tequila. The swimming pool. The man smoking a cigar on his balcony and watching as I emerged from the pool.
The puking and calling off work the next day. The mutual text messages confirming that things had probably gotten a little out of hand and that we were nowhere near ready for a relationship. The inner confirmation that despite my drunken antics, I was still actually in love with Brian Dole. The past two weeks of awkwardness working near each other at the restaurant soda fountain and nodding politely.
We were adults, after all. Adults who had shotgunned cans of Miller Lite and taken tequila shots out of each other’s belly buttons then preceded to jump into an apartment complex swimming pool naked. But adults nonetheless.
Oh so many details. Pieces in the possible pregnancy patchwork. But for now, I would give the simple answer.
“I took a test that said I am pregnant.”
He revisited the portion of my chart listing the date of my last menstrual period.
“Eet is steel very early Cat-ee. Vee can do another test here if you want.”
“Come weeth me.”
So I peed in a cup for the second time that day and wondered at the circumstances that had brought me to this point. Alone. Wrinkled. Peeing in a plastic cup at a walk-in clinic with a kind-eyed nurse waiting to stir and baste it while still warm. Is this what my parents paid for when they sent me to Lutheran school?
I did my part and trudged back to the exam room.
I wasn’t waiting long when my results came in.
“Congravulations Cat-ee. You are haveen a bawbee.”
I flipped out. Tears. Thrashing. Wailing. The messenger stood patiently across the room, clutching my chart across his body. I clutched my forehead. Spun around a few times. Kicked a red biohazard trash can.
He embraced me. Not an embrace of opportunity or obligation. But one of genuine sympathy.
“What iz wrong Cat-ee? You do not want to be a mommee?”
In between sobs I managed to communicate that I did want to be a mommy but not “like this” and that the father and I had since broken things off.
He grasped my shoulders and held me at arm’s length. Looking in my weepy eyes he said, in clear enunciated English,”No parent has ever been ready. Not even the ones who think they are.”
I nodded and my sniffling came to a stop. It occured to me that I was probably just as ready as anyone else at the threshold of parenthood had ever been. He squeezed my hand and then opened the door to lead me to the check-out counter.
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