Chapter 21: Not Afraid
Reality had finally set in when I climbed onto an examination table with my feet in stirrups and an ice cold probe in my vagina. I couldn't help felling a little uncomfortable. I slowly realized that I had a huge problem with letting a complete stranger look at what was between my legs. Danny and my mom were standing at my sides. "It's okay. When you finally go into labor, you won't give a damn about who sees it," Mom said when she noticed my discomfort. Hearing her words and holding Danny's hand helped calm me down a little.
I stared up at the ceiling as the ultrasound tech rolled the probe around inside me to get a good view of my uterus. I think that was actually worse than when she initially inserted it. Danny looked nervous and scared. Mom was smiling from ear to ear. The suspense was killing me. I knew that she was looking for a heart beat but I was afraid that there wouldn't be one.
"Gotcha!" she shouted after a few minutes passed. All of us turned our heads toward the screen. It was a fuzzy black and white mess at first, but then I saw it. I saw the tiny pea sized flicker. I sat up a little to get a better look. My eyes weren't deceiving me. "Gimme a second," she added as her hands scanned over the machine. She tapped a button and suddenly the room was filled with a whooshing sound that made my heart race. "That's the baby's heartbeat," she said with a smile. I didn't know if I was more relieved because we got our reassurance that the baby was alive and well or if I had fallen in love with someone that I didn't even know. It was probably both.
I couldn't keep my eyes off of the image. Luckily, she printed off a copy for us to keep. "Looks like you're about eight weeks! Congratulations!" She handed me the picture and I wanted to hold it close to my heart for as long as I possibly could. Mom stood in the corner smiling at us, and Danny was wide eyed and shocked. I couldn't help but think about how I didn't get to experience this the first time. I almost felt like I had the moment stolen from me.
I remembered seeing the first tiny fetus when I held it in my hands. Back then, I couldn't have been more than eight weeks along. It was odd but fascinating now that I was able to get past the trauma.
I was considered a high risk pregnancy seeing as though they never found out the exact cause of the miscarriage. I was still fixated on the image of the pea sized person inside my body. I was totally and completely drawn in and amazed by the fact that in only a few short months, this would be a seven or eight pound baby that would be half of me and half of Danny. I hoped for a boy. Seeing the tiny embryo on the screen flooded my mind with endless possibilities. What would we name him or her? Would they have my black hair and brown eyes, or would they have Danny’s blonde hair and gray eyes? Would they sleep through the night? Would they be a huge baby or would they be so small that I would be afraid to hold them? An even bigger question was, would they even like me?
"Shit is gonna get real from here on out. Buckle up kid," Mom said as she patted my back. She was right. As much as I hated to admit it, she was definitely right. It was time for me to grow up and learn how to be a mom.
"I still can't believe you're pregnant. Being who you are and all the shit you've been through, I thought we'd never see this day," Mel said, still in shock.“I know. She, I mean the baby is killing me,” I said correcting myself halfway through my sentence. “It’s going to be a girl. Girls steal their mother’s youth,” Jamie said. I noted the way my skin looked pale and washed out. I could hardly keep anything bad and I thought that I probably looked like the Crypt Keeper.
All three of them wore wide smiles and they were happy for me. That was a relief. They were extremely caring and supportive of me last year and even a little protective.“Thank God I don’t have to go through this alone,” Rachel said as she rubbed her little baby bump in a circular motion."You say that now and when school starts back, everyone will swear up and down that we have a pregnancy pact going on," I said as I rolled my eyes. The news would spread around the county fast and we would both be the topics of discussion when we set foot into Mount View High in a few weeks. "Fuck em," Rachel replied, shrugging her shoulders.
My stomach began to curl and sweat sprang up all over my body. My mouth began to water. In an instant, Danny was in front of me holding the small trash can that we kept in the kitchen with one hand and holding my hair back with the other. It was like he had a sixth sense when it came to this. I heaved and heaved until the last little bit of orange juice that I had this morning was sitting right in front of me. He pressed his hand gently against my check, making sure that I was okay. “You got too worked up, “he said kissing my forehead. He was right. God I hated it when he was right. He sat the trash can beside the couch and pulled me into his arms, making me feel safe and free from all of this madness we had to deal with.“Alright ladies. Either you go home, or we make a subject change. The baby must not like hearing all this talk about rumors,” he said softly.
Melanie looked at the time on her phone and then looked over at me, noticing that I was looking tired and nauseous. “We should go. I can’t begin to imagine what you’re feeling right now,” she said coming over to me for a hug. “Me either,” Rachel added. Whop! Jamie’s open palm thumped her against the back of her head. “Everybody can’t be a freak of nature like you!” she said scalding her. No matter what, I knew that I could always depend on these three for a good laugh. “We love you. Take care of our babies Danny,” Rachel said before reaching down to hug me. “I will. Tell Reggie to text me when you make it home,” he added.
After the hugs and good-byes, they were all gone and there was only Danny and I in complete silence. "Are you really worried about going back to school?" he asked as he plopped down beside me on the couch. I ran my fingers through my hair, preparing my very best Poker face to hide the truth. "Not at all. You know I don't care what people think or say about me," I lied nonchalantly. He raised an eyebrow, but didn't speak. Usually I didn't care, but my hormones were making me a nervous wreck. But regardless, I didn't want people to think that my previous miscarriage was just a cover up to hide an elective abortion. I didn't want to be known as the monster that people were bound to see me as.
"I'll take your word for it even though I think you're full of shit and a terrible liar," he said with a smirk. My eyes were spaced out and I was almost frowning. You could have probably seen the worry all over my face. "It'll be okay. You know that I will always do whatever it takes to protect you. That includes kicking a few asses if I have to." He smiled at me and draped his arm around my shoulders. I knew that he meant it and that was everything that I needed.
Time flew by and before we knew it, we were back to school, buzzing all around the campus of Mount View High School, excited that this was finally our time to graduate. I had woken up that morning with a few texts from my friends. I caught myself standing in front of my mirror for what seemed like an eternity. I would walk through those doors, getting a start on what would be the rest of my life. My fears of being the center of attention and anxiety about what people thought of me would fade away as my belly would grow. Right now, it was my secret that was kept in just my circle and it was going to stay that way until either someone got suspicious and spread it around the entire county or I'd blow up overnight like Mom said I would. I was brave and I was strong. Life had already kicked me around enough to where that was my only choice. I could only suck it up and deal with it.
R: Are you ready?
I stared down at my phone and sighed.
Me: Do I have a choice?
R: Nope! Let's get this show on the road! Our senior year is waiting for us!
The changes taking place showed me that shit was about to get real. I couldn't be a coward. Mount View would chew you up and spit you out if you were anything less than strong. I decided that I had to seem like I wasn't bothered by the rumors to come. Panicking about my pregnancy being out in the open wasn't an option.
The girl I was staring at in the mirror was beginning her journey toward a fresh start. I slowly realized that I didn't want to act like a bad ass anymore.
I threw on something along the lines of my typical attire of jeans, a plain shirt, and Chucks and ran a brush through my hair. I heard Rachel's horn beep in the drive way and I was nervous once again. "It'll be okay," I said to myself. That only calmed my nerves slightly, but I couldn't spend the rest of my life hiding out in my room or at Danny's house. I grabbed my messenger bag with shaky hands and flew out of my room and down to the car before I changed my mind.
I couldn't turn back now. We were ready to go on with our lives and finally become adults. Maybe. I hated going to school. That meant that I had to spend eight hours away from Danny. Hell, I hated it long before Danny and I ever met. It also meant that I had to constantly fight to stay awake all day long when I was used to taking my occasional nap at around twelve in the afternoon. Rachel was getting huge but on the bright side, she found out that she was having a girl. She and Reggie would be welcoming their little Flora Brianna in January. If we could all survive her constant bitching about her weight, then we'd be alright.
Mel and Derek took note of our pregnancies and all of the responsibilities that we would have in a few short months and used that as birth control. Neither of them ever thought about having kids, but they definitely didn't have baby fever running through their heads. Derek never joined us for lunch. He was pretty much like a sloth and without Reggie and Danny to keep him company when it was just us girls, he would spend lunch curled up in Rachel's car or in the weight room for a nap. Jamie and Brayden were getting kind of serious, but just like Melanie and Derek, they weren't settle down and have a baby serious.
My baby still had to grow and I was growing more and more anxious with every single appointment to figure out every little detail I could about the tiny human growing inside of me. By early September, I had didn’t have much of a belly, but no one really noticed. It was surprising because everything I owned was a size small and my clothes were beginning to feel snug. People stared and turned their heads when they saw Rachel coming, but she didn’t really care. Of course people whispered about me being with Danny. That wasn't surprising at all. We were seniors and our lives were just beginning. I had to say that life for me was getting better and better. I ended every night lying next to the man that I loved and he curled up next to my belly and talked to our baby until he fell asleep. I could feel it in my bones that life was only going to get better from here on out.