June 2017. I had just graduated from university and was dating this guy with whom I was completely enamored. We met in a very *modern* way called, “social media”… which led us to going out most nights, drinking too much, heading back to his place, and staying in bed far too late the next morning. It had been just about nine months since I went on a first date with him back in August.
Louis and I both love to travel. It was how we had originally connected – to “exchange stories”. We decided that post-graduation, we would take a week for just us in Ireland to explore and let loose. To be honest, we never really stopped letting loose ever anyway, but at least we wouldn’t have school to think about. So – true story – I QUIT MY JOB and left for a week to Ireland with no idea what I was going to do upon return.
We drove across the country, drank, sang, took pictures, spent a lot of time in bed together, drank some more, ate a lot of delicious, warm food, drank and came back to the states. I had never been so completely exhausted returning and of course, I thought only because of all of our gallivanting. To my surprise, though, just as I picked up a large bottle of white wine, I realized my period never came either. Must just be the stress of the trip, but I’d pick up a pregnancy test as well – just to be safe, right?
It was in the poorly lit bathroom of Louis’s cousins’ home that I took the test, thinking nothing of it, because, honestly, I had been here before. We all have, right? The *scare* – you call your girlfriends and laugh about it… not this time. I looked down after only a few seconds and it had already began to develop. I quickly picked it up and went into the bedroom. Louis was in the kitchen.
“…Louis?” I quietly shouted his name through the house and to this day, he will still talk about hearing that. He knew at the moment I said his name, things would never be the same again. He cried. I did not. He was excited; I was not. I called my doctor the next morning – I also called the abortion clinic. I wish I could tell this story as all happy memories, but let me assure you that my newly graduated, jobless, sharing a bedroom with my boyfriend of 10 months mind was FAR from motherhood.
It wasn’t until two days post test that we had decided we were doing this. We didn’t know how and I was still only about 6 weeks, but… we were doing it and we were doing it together. We also had decided we would be moving to Detroit as Louis had been offered a job and it was sounding more and more like we would be needing that.
Well. The shock never really went away. And that may be part of the reason why I didn’t tell my family until I was past the first trimester. Sure, I could say that I was waiting to make sure the pregnancy “stuck”, but in reality, I was just avoiding an increasingly obvious tell. Even now, looking back, my own mom will say, “I considered asking if you were okay, since you were getting a little, you know…”
Finally, after moving into our *two bedroom* apartment in our new city, me still without a job, I decided it was getting a little too obvious to not say anything at this point. I was terrified. I was only 23 at the time and unmarried to Louis (an ideal important to family members, not to us) who they had only met a handful of times. I showed up at my sisters house, told her first and she responded, “I’m disappointed in you,” which led to me promptly leaving and running to parents house, crying.
Lucky for me, my parents were so focused on my being upset and crying that it softened them to the news I delivered – not a part of my plan, but when did I ever have plans? Clearly, not often. My dad cried. My mom prayed. And then we went to bed and the next day… my mom took me shopping for maternity clothes.
It was one of the best things she could have done and I still don’t think she knows that. I felt so alienated, which I had done to myself, and she took me and said, “okay, what do you need?”. It was perfect. And I could finally breathe for the first time in what felt like decades.
Looking back, I could laugh out loud, because the love that these people have for my daughter, is greater than any love I’ve ever experienced. Nobody was ever disappointed, nobody was ever mad… they were just as overwhelmed as Louis and I were (and still are) and had no better way to express it.
My first trimester, while performed in hiding, was also performed with minimal side effects. I never threw up, just had nausea. I did have headaches, but could sleep just fine. I somehow made it through a full family trip – bathing suits, a 5k, eating out… It was a miracle I didn’t just say something to get out of doing half of the things my body was saying no to.
The day my second trimester hit, all of my symptoms disappeared. I gained 50 pounds by the end of it all, but it was evenly distributed and from behind, I didn’t look even a day pregnant. We had a gender reveal party only with our little family. Louis and I had made the decision that I would be a stay-at-home mom and so I still wasn’t working – just planning, cleaning, cooking. I was lonely, and I was bored in this new place.
My third trimester held my baby shower and a little bit of carpel tunnel, but mostly just a lot of waiting. I had everything set up and proofed and ready to go, but nothing was happening until finally, I was just about 41 weeks when I gave up and was induced. Mostly, I was just tired and Norah and I had both gotten a little too comfortable, barely having the energy to move around anymore.
When she was born, our worlds changed and to be honest, we didn’t know if it was for the better, worse, or somewhere in between. There was this strange person, yelling at us all the time, and I had just been through the toughest workout, most heart wrenching experience of my life and my body… I was exhausted. But we’ll save that for another time.