Trigger Warning * Violence * Language * Sexual Content
No one seemed to notice me as I stumbled down the side of the road and into a nearby field, trying not to pass out. I was, as always, invisible. Nate and I just got off the payphone, planning our trip to the clinic for a pregnancy test. We wanted to make it official before we told anyone, but we were so excited. Keeping it a secret was hard. Not knowing for sure was even harder. But now I was doubled over in the field behind the grocery store I’d just left, heaving. Tears ran down my face, the pain in my gut so intense. This part wasn’t nearly as exciting.
Once I could stand and breathe again without retching, I made it the final two blocks home, and as I opened the front door, Mom stood there, hands on her hips.
“Is there something you want to tell me? Oh my God, you’re pregnant, aren’t you?”
It must have been written all over my face. I just shrugged and pushed past her. I needed to lie down more than I cared to hear her yell at me.
“I told you this would happen! But you don’t listen, do you? No, you don’t. Now you’re pregnant! What, did you think you could hide it from me? Did you get a pregnancy test already?”
“Mom, please. Leave me alone. I don’t know that I’m pregnant. I’m just sick,” I said, as she followed me to my room.
“Oh, you’re definitely pregnant. I hope you’re proud of yourself. I hope you’re real proud.”
“Yeah, I’m proud. Thank you!” I slammed the door and willed her to die on the spot. Just go. Just leave me alone once and for all.
I couldn’t eat anything. Worse, I couldn’t just smell anything without feeling sick. Curling up into a nice ball and sleeping forever sounded like a really good idea.
“I need to know if you’re actually pregnant,” Mom said, coming into my room the next day. “You’re going to take a test.”
“Leave it alone, will ya? I know I’m pregnant. I don’t need a test, ok? I don’t want to.”
What I didn’t say was that Nate and I already had an appointment. I wanted to go with him, not her.
She grabbed my arm and pulled me out of bed. “Get up. I don’t want you to be pregnant, but we can’t always get what we want, so let’s go.”
Instead of going to the same county clinic we’d been going to, where I already had an appointment, she drove to one of the bigger cities where, I guess, she could get answers today without anyone knowing. God forbid someone find out her daughter was pregnant. Or maybe she didn’t go to the local this time because she didn’t want social services to think twice about me, since she’d already drug me down there once.
The nurse handed me a cup and said, “Now honey, what you want to do here is–”
“Yeah, yeah, I know what to do,” I said, grabbing it from her. “I’ve had a little practice.” I glared at Mom, but she just pursed her lips and sighed for the benefit of the nurse.
After peeing in the cup and handing it back, I sat down and waited. It wasn’t as if I would be surprised by the result. But this wasn’t for me, it was for her.
“Well, honey, it looks like you’ve got a positive sign here. I’m so sorry.” The nurse stood with her arms crossed, and she didn’t seem very sorry at all. I wanted to scream at her to stop calling me honey.
“You can cry if you want to,” mom said, stroking my hair as I stared down at the test. For a moment, a very brief moment, it felt like she really cared.
Seeing the positive sign was a world different than being pretty sure. It made it real. There was a baby in my stomach.
Instinctively, I rubbed my belly, imagining what it would be like to have it round, sticking out in front of me, instead of flat and smooth. Would my belly button pop out? Would I gain a lot of weight and have a fat baby, or would I still not be able to keep weight on and would my baby be tiny?
“I don’t want to cry,” I said.
Mom and the nurse exchanged a look, one I’m sure was meant to say, “Kids.” We walked out of the clinic and I just felt dazed.
I couldn’t wait to tell Nate we were right — we were going to have a baby! He was going to be a daddy, and I was going to be a mommy. Ok, so this was happening sooner than I thought it would, but if we were going to be parents, we would have to get married. I’m going to get married and be his wife!
“You’re too young to raise a baby,” Mom said. “We’re going to have to discuss your options. My daughter is not going to be a 14-year-old mother. Nate’s 18, what does he care? He’s got nothing else going for his life. But you, you have options. You are not having this baby.”
I sat quietly, thinking of my baby. There were no other options to consider.
“Besides,” she went on, “he’s not going to be very happy about this. He doesn’t make enough to support himself. How can he afford to support you and a baby?”
“Nate will take care of us,” I said. “He loves me and he’ll be happy. In fact, he’s already happy. He’s going to marry me, and you can’t take my baby.”
She threw the car in drive and gunned it out of the clinic. “We’ll just go tell him now, won’t we? You watch. He won’t be happy. In fact, if he’s still with you by the end of the day, I’ll be surprised.”
But she was wrong. He was definitely happy and I was right.
Mom told the school I was pregnant and before long, teachers took me aside and offered me bathroom breaks whenever I needed them. “Just get up and go if you feel sick or just need to use the bathroom, OK?” I appreciated the permission but I hated that my teachers knew. I hated how it felt like some of them were disappointed in me, and how others probably had predicted this would happen. I imagined being the topic of conversation over cigarettes and coffee in the teacher’s lounge.
I pressed on, trying to get through each day, but it didn’t take long before word began to spread that I might be pregnant. It was middle school. Rumors happen, and whether they are true or not, they keep going until the next big story comes along. Another girl in high school was pregnant, too, but this was bigger news. I was the girl who failed the eighth grade, the poor girl who everyone knew had sat out most of the sixth grade with lice that wouldn’t go away until almost all my hair was cut off.
Every morning I waited at the bus drop-off to wave to my best friends, all of whom had moved on to the high school while I stayed behind. They sat at the back of the bus and we always jumped up and down, waving like silly fools. I missed them terribly, but at least I still had one of my best friends here, who had always been in the grade behind me until I failed.
Jumping up and down and waving as usual one fall day, their faces just stared back at me. I cocked my head at them, mid-wave, questioning what was wrong. Then they held up a piece of paper:
My heart raced. I hadn’t told anyone. Up until that point, I didn’t realize anyone had caught on to my symptoms. I definitely wasn’t showing yet.
My hand dropped to my side and I thought I’d be sick again, a combination of morning sickness, the jumping, and the looks on their faces. They turned their backs on me as the bus pulled away. That was the last time we talked, and that was the last day I remember going to school.
About Angela Giles Klocke – I’m a Colorado-based speaker, writer, advocate, and princess! I am also a survivor of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and more. I would love to speak to your group, school, or organization. Catch my TEDx Colorado Springs Talk on abuse, violence, and talking about uncomfortable topics, coming soon. Contact me!