By Lisa Marie Lupo
One thing people don’t realize; you don’t wake up one morning and decide you’re going to take a human life.
At least that’s their take on it. It does not yet have the qualities of a human being. It can’t speak, see, or move yet. Hell, it can’t even breathe yet. In the eyes of some, however, it is nothing less than a human being.
Do I disagree? Of course not.
That’s why on that cold Saturday morning, about ten years ago, I recall the knots in my stomach. I did not march into that clinic with a mischievous smile and scream, “rip this thing out of me now! Let’s get it over with.” I instead felt increased pains in my chest, nausea pushing up the dinner I had to force myself to eat last night, and the little sleep I received weighing down my body. Looking down, I rubbed at my belly, which had begun to slightly poke out. Anyone I asked had swore to me the increase in my belly size was all in my head. I, on the other hand, saw my once flat tummy beginning to round due to three months of growing going on inside there. Whenever I showered, I would step out, stand sideways in front of the full-body mirror on the door, and look at how much my belly had grew. Most days, there would be no notable changes. On some days, however, a significant growth in my stomach size would occur. On those days, I would ponder how one’s stomach could pop out despite puking so much and eating so little. I would then imagine waking up the next day with my belly so swelled up I could not see anything in front of me besides my mountain-shaped stomach. As this horrid fantasy played in my head, the reflection of my stomach in the mirror multiplied in size about eight times. I would then hold my belly and feel my body shake with anxiety at the mere thought of my body, the body I was already insecure about, being too heavy to carry my own weight anymore. I would then close my eyes and shake my head, removing the ridiculous paranoia that my stomach could transform from “food belly” to “balloon” that fast.
It’s all in your head. I remind myself.
This is the exact reminder I told myself the night before it happened when a sudden fullness has crept into my abdomen area like a plague.
“Delia!” I heard Sonia, my then-best friend yell.
I was leaned across my desk. My head was buried in my arms as I felt my stomach churning. I let out a muffled, “yes?” Despite how heavy my head felt, I managed to lift it up.
Sonia walked into my room, her hand covering her stomach. ” Ugh, these cramps are killing me. Where did you put those tampons I bought you? Oh my God, Delia, you look like shit!”
“Thanks. I said sarcastically in response to Sonia’s bluntness. “Check under the cabinet in the bathroom sink. I’d be cautious if I were you though. I just puked in there.”
“Again? You puked yesterday too.”
I shrugged. “I dunno, stomach virus?”
Sonia stuck up her nose. “You couldn’t at least tell me first? I have a big date with-” I do not remember the rest of Sonia’s rant. At this point I learned to tune out Sonia and her self-absorbed ranting and scorns toward me.
After Sonia chastised me for nearly three minutes, I finally interrupted her. “Well shit, excuse me for not planning all this vomiting!”
Sonia clenched her fists and stomped away. I rolled my eyes, knowing full well she was just being melodramatic because I had interrupted her. Sonia was still getting used to the me who spoke back to her instead of passively taking her bull.
Sonia came back to my room quicker than usual. “Uh, Delia?”
“Why is that pack of tampons I bought you last month unopened? I thought you needed them.”
I shrugged. “I thought I was supposed to get my period that time I asked you. I never did.”
Sonia raised her eyebrow. “How often do you miss it?”
I paused. I had never really thought about it, but I had never been over a week late before. “I don’t ever recall missing it, actually.”
“And how many weeks has it been since your missed period?”
This interrogation might have seemed peculiar, yet it was not for me and Sonia. I grew up with only a father, hence me being the only one in my household to use tampons, and had no female figures in my life. I suppose that’s why I tolerated Sonia; she was the closest thing to a mother I had. Sonia was far from caring and nurturing, but since my mothers life came to an end as mine began I never had an idea of what a mother should be like.
“Uh, I’m no doctor, but missed periods? Nausea? Morning sickness?”
“I’m not pregnant!” I yelled.
“Hey it’s just a suggestion. When was the last time you and Samuel did it?”
“I don’t remember. Two months ago, maybe? What does it matter? There’s no way in hell I’m pregnant.” I responded defensively. I put on the act to Sonia that I was annoyed, but truth was I had already considered the possibility that I may be pregnant. Still, I denied that possibility and hoped refusing to speak of it would make it go away.
“Did something happen the last time you did it? Like did the condom break or fall off?”
I looked down. “We didn’t use a condom.”
“I used the pill! Well maybe I missed a few days but-”
“Oh my god, you’re pregnant!”
“How could you be so…” Sonia slapped her forehead. “Did I not say use a condom?”
“We tried! But it’s so uncomfortable and dissatisfying.”
So comfort and pleasure is worth putting yourself at risk? Delia, I can’t believe you’d be so irresponsible.”
“Irresponsible? I don’t even know if I actually am pregnant.”
“Stop being so naive! That’s what got you in this mess in the first place.”
“What the hell do you mean?”
“If you had not been so desperate to have sex while still ignorant on the subject, maybe you would not have let Samuel fuck you unprotected in the first place. I knew letting you give it up to him was a mistake, but I guess if you were actually full of more self-respect you would have been able to think for yourself. It’s a shame I have to be the one to make your choices, especially since I still associated myself with you and held my judgements when you just tossed away your virginity like it was nothing. I guess this is your karma for spreading your legs with a guy who did not give a rat’s ass about you and fucking him raw. Well, good luck Delia. I’ll be there for you, even if associating myself with a pregnant eighteen year old will be even more embarrassing than associating myself with a slutty nonvirgin.”
Those words, even thinking back to it now, managed to leave me feeling as though I had been slapped in the face. Sonia had verbally abused me multiple times; when I became shitface drunk for the first time at a party when I was thirteen, for becoming a half virgin with my ex-boyfriend at the age of sixteen, for giving into my sexual urges with a guy I wasn’t even “official” with, and so on. I convinced myself it was out of Sonia’s genuine care for me, even through the tears and agony. Sonia was the only person who cared for me, I swore as I soaked up my pillow alone that night and pounded my mattress with my fist, so if she thought I was naive, irresponsible and shameful, it must be true. I carried that mindset with me when when I attempted to sleep that night. I carried it with me when I excused myself at work the next day to punch a wall in the staff bathroom. I carried it through every doubt, every situation, and every suicidal tendency I had the over the next few months.
The smell of bacon filled the air as I made my way through the kitchen. My stomach was still churning from food I consumed the past few days as it continued to fight its way through my stomach to my mouth. Despite my nerves and last day of morning sickness, the aroma of bacon was able to seduce me into hunger. For a moment I thought of just giving into my new-found hunger until I remembered that midnight was the cutoff period for me being allowed to eat.
Damn you, sacrifices. I thought, frowning as I began to leave the kitchen.
“Hey there, Delia.” I hear my father say.
“Good morning dad.” I say, turning back around.
My dad walked into the kitchen and began to remove bacon from the grill. “You want some bacon? I’m gonna make some pancakes too, if you like.”
I can’t eat. I thought. “No thanks. Not hungry.”
My dad frowned. “Are you sure? You look tired. I’ll make you some coffee if you like.”
I can’t drink coffee. Well maybe after today I can. “No thanks, dad. I’m okay, I promise.”
“Good.” My dad simply responds. “You really need some sleep though.”
“Just busy.” I respond.
My dad grabs the box of frozen ready-made pancakes from the freezer. “Aren’t we all.”
The conversation went no further than that, yet it was one of my father’s rare attempts to display some sort of affection toward me. Aside from the occasional “Are you okay?” and offering to do something for me, my father was distant. I didn’t blame him; I was a mere reminder of the love of his life that was deceased because of me.
Still, it would have been nice to have a parental figure to say more than a few sentences a day to me and actually wonder what is going on in my life. I felt dissatisfied with my home life for the same reason as Allison from The Breakfast Club, I was ignored. I envied fathers who spoiled their daughters and humiliated them by being overprotective. I felt pathetic hating that my dad was unaware of my situation not because he would be enraged and kill the douchebag that impregnated me, but because he would not care if he knew.
I walked back to my room and checked my phone. There was two unread messages for me. One was from Samuel saying, “three hours left.” I sighed. Great to know his narcissistic nature came out enough for him to have a countdown to the time when this responsibility was finally off his shoulders.
The second text was from Sonia and said, “Plz call me back when possible.”
I looked up. Sonia had not spoken to me since the day she went off on me.
Teen pregnancy is one of those things that you hear happen to other people but never imagine would happen to you or anyone you know. It’s something you see in Lifetime movies or hear of happening to complete strangers in other places, but when you hear a girl in your school got knocked up it’s almost like a myth. It never helped that I managed to survive through high school a virgin and the only sex ed I received taught us only of abstinence. There was no talk of contraceptives, just don’t have sex or you will get pregnant and die. That did not stop any one I went to high school with from having sex and it certainly did not help our ignorance beliefs on pregnancy.
It certainly did not help when a girl in my grade got pregnant in tenth grade.
One day when I was sitting in the cafeteria with two of my old high school friends, Ashley and Danielle, Sonia came up to us. “Wow, you’ll never believe what I just heard.”
Before I continue with this story, I should add that the girl mentioned in this story had a name, but I can not remember it to this day. This girl had no significance to me, or to anyone in our group for that matter, yet when she became pregnant by one of Danielle’s ex-boyfriends, she suddenly became the butt of our jokes. This girl was timid and never got herself into any drama with anyone prior to the pregnancy, so it was a shock that anyone knew her enough to get her pregnant. Once she became pregnant, however, it was hard for her to maintain her loner status again. Everyone spoke about her, judged her, and spread rumors about her. It did not matter that none of us really knew her, we just knew that she was dumb enough to get herself pregnant at fifteen. She did eventually transfer a few months later, and soon enough everyone stopped speaking of her to a point where she became nameless. During our senior year she was occasionally brought up as The Girl Who Got Pregnant, but that was all.
Anyway, once Sonia caught our attention, she told us that the girl had gotten pregnant.
“Oh, yeah.” I responded. “She’s in my history class. I heard these two girls interrogating her about it.”
“Who?” asked Ashley.
“That girl. The one who sat in the corner in our English class last year?” I responded.
“Oh that freak that looks like Tai from Clueless at the beginning?”
“Yeah I remember her.” Said Danielle. “There’s no way she is pregnant. She doesn’t even speak to anyone.”
“Apparently, she speaks to Craig. He’s the baby daddy.” Added Sonia.
Our jaws immediately dropped and we all looked at Danielle. “No way, Craig would never sleep with that loser. He may be a horndog but he would never downgrade like that.”
“Actually, he would. I heard since you and Craig broke up he’s been satisfying himself with that outcast.”
Ashley put her hand on Danielle’s. “If it makes you feel any better I bet he’s using her.”
I decided to chime in with my own little piece of gossip. “Plus, she’s getting an abortion.”
Sonia, a strong defender of Pro-life, responded, “Oh hell no, bad enough an invisible bitch gets herself knocked up by Dani’s ex-man, she wants to murder it too?”
Ashley, who was always one for dark humor, snickered. “If the girl is who I think you’re talking about, I’d want to kill it to.”
“Speak of the devil.” I said, pointing at the girl who was walking by with a tray in her hand.
We all turned toward the girl. Sonia screamed out, “Oh look, it’s the baby killer.” As Sonia said this, everyone looked and the girl stopped. “Oh, so you respond to that? Guess you’re owning up to the fact that you can fuck my girl’s man but you can’t handle the consequences.”
The girls face was flushed. “He’s not her man.”
Danielle got up. “Excuse me? Look, little miss nobody, I had Craig first. Everyone knew we were together. Nobody even knew who you were, that shows you Craig was ashamed of you and only wanted you to get what he couldn’t get from me.”
The girl had tears in her eyes, but she would not back down. “What Craig did was not my fault. I did not force him to sleep with me and I did not ask to get pregnant.”
I responded with what I did not realize at the time was an ignorant response. “Because using a condom is so difficult.”
“Right? So many contraceptives available and you’re too stupid to use any of them?” Added Sonia.
“Accidents happen.” The girl said.
Danielle moved closer as though she was ready to hit her. “Yeah, and you’re one of them.”
Everyone was observing, yet no one stepped in to defend the girl. The only time I recall was someone yelling out, “Don’t hit her, she’s pregnant!”
“Yeah, don’t kill two birds with one stone.” Yelled out Ashley.
“Nah,” said Sonia, “she’d like that.”
Danielle never hit the girl. The rest of our torturing the girl went on just like that; Sonia and Danielle humiliating her while Ashley shouted out occasional disturbing comments and I would join in when I forgot that I had not said anything in a while. The truth was, I was ignorant on the subject of teen pregnancy yet a part of me was telling me even then that it was not the girls fault and she had the right to choose what she wanted. I cringed at some of the things all of my friends had said to her and slightly pitied her as she stood there vulnerably as a target to all my friends taunts and rage while the whole cafeteria watched. She finally ran away from Danielle, but that didn’t stop my friends from continuing to taunt her or people making inconsiderate comments toward her at every chance they got. I was too caught up in not being humiliated to defend her, yet I still felt sympathy for the girl.
And when I saw that big positive sign on my Clearblue home pregnancy test nearly three years later, I was put in that girl’s shoes.
I sighed in anticipation as the phone rang. Why was I even calling Sonia? She did not even have the nerve to make sure I was okay or apologize for all the hurtful things she said, so why did she suddenly want to talk now?
Sonia finally answered. “Hello?”
“Hi.” I said quietly.
“Delia, hey! It’s been a while.” She said this in a friendly tone I had sensed was artificial.
“Since you verbally abused me?”
“Hey, I was just giving you some tough love.” Sonia snickered. “So, ready for murder?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I was talking to Samuel last night…”
“Samuel?” Sonia, who had sensed that Samuel was an asshole long before I did, avoided meeting and talking to him at all costs.
“You know, the guy who you cried over multiple nights and totally played you? The guy who is the father of the baby you want to kill?”
Oh crap. “He told you?”
“You know, Delia, I almost thought of apologizing to you since I considered you my best friend friend, but now I’m glad I didn’t. You didn’t deserve an apology after getting yourself pregnant and you don’t deserve one now that you want to kill an innocent child.”
“You don’t understand, you think I want this?”
“Obviously you do if you’re going to go along with it! Don’t even tell me that he forced you into this because you have every right to say no. I know you are incapable of thinking for yourself but there is no way you can really be weak enough to believe that someone can force you into killing a child.” I opened my mouth to speak but Sonia kept on going. “Is this about Samuel? Do you think that getting an abortion will please him? Do you think that if you got it he would like you? Let me tell you something, Samuel never liked you. I tried to warn you so many times he was just using you for sex but you didn’t listen, and now here you are. He didn’t like you enough to date you no matter how many times you gave it to him and he won’t like you just because you do what he wants. He may promise to be there for you but in reality he’s just promising anything he can to manipulate you into killing the baby then leave you again, just like he got you to have sex with him then left you. He doesn’t care what you want, he just wants to have one less responsibility to worry about.”
While Sonia was right about Samuel’s intentions, she was wrong about me doing this to please Samuel. I had thought long and hard about this, even through Samuel’s pleading. “I want nothing to do with Samuel. If it were not for this pregnancy, he would be dead to me.”
“Oh, so what’s your reason then? You can’t handle it? So now when you face a consequence for a mistake you made you’re going to kill someone to solve it?”
“It’s not like that. The fetus isn’t even alive yet.”
“You did not just say that.” Sonia sounded genuinely furious now. I could not understand why at the time, for the baby was mine to carry and not hers. “It is still a living thing, Delia, and you are denying it a chance at life. You don’t even have to take care of it, there are many adoption agencies…”
“I’ll still have to carry it!”
“So what! This is a baby you’re carrying not a rock. You can deal with it.”
“It’s easy for you to say, you never got pregnant before.”
“If I was irresponsible enough to get myself pregnant, I would own up to it.”
I felt tears in my eyes. I already had a hard enough time believing that Sonia would really say all the hurtful things she had said to me a few weeks ago, was she really going to put her ignorant beliefs before me? “You don’t know that. It might different if you were actually put in that situation. Remember that girl that we made fun of in tenth grade for getting pregnant?”
“You mean Bella?” Oh right, that was her name, Bella. “I remember when we all made fun of her you hardly spoke. I should have sensed that you were a supporter of abortion then. You know what, I called you hoping I’d get through to you but clearly I can’t. You’re too selfish to listen to me so all I can do now is hope that karma gets you good for what you’re about to do. You may think it’ll be all over after you do it, but it won’t. All that throwing up and nights losing sleep will seem like nothing for all the pain you’re about to endure, and I am so happy I won’t have to be a part of it. I could lie and say I’ll be there for you when the abortion is over and your head is finally out of your ass and you finally feel remorse for your actions, and I know you will, but I won’t. I refuse to associate myself with a baby killer.”
Sonia hung up before I could defend myself, and I was left there in shock before the tears finally came out.
The first day I knew I was pregnant, I felt myself detached from reality. I went to work, but I felt as though I was only physically there. I worked as a cashier in a supermarket during that time, so working seemed like more of a routine. I just bagged, put in prices, and gave customers artificial smiles. That day, the smiles were twice as forced as usual. Though I knew the customers were far too invested in their own lives to care whether or not I was genuinely happy, I somehow felt that my smile and stomach had become transparent and they could read all my problems.
As my lunch break approached, I overheard two of my coworkers having a conversation.
“Ugh, Marsha I’m so beat. I was up until 4am last night working on this paper for my Sociology class and I have another one due tomorrow morning.”
“At least your shift ends early today. I volunteered to work until closing before I realized how much Pre-Calc homework I have.”
I did not engage in this conversation simply because I did not have to deal with the struggle of being a college student. This was not by choice, but rather because I could not afford college. I attended a community college for half a semester before having to drop out due to anxiety and stress becoming too much for me. The fact that I struggled financially did not help. My father did his best to pay for my expenses but it became too much since the money he made working alone was not enough. Financial aid money did little to help as well. My advisors did everything they could to make me stay, offering student loans that I had far too much pride to take out. They failed to understand just how severe my anxiety was, even with me telling them of the panic attacks I had trying to get in all my papers on time. I suppose it was my own fault for taking six classes in one semester, but either way just a half of a semester was brutal enough to get me to drop out. Though my dad was nonchalant about me giving up on college so soon, I was disappointed enough to push myself to work full time. It was a way to both kill time and make money until I figured out what I wanted in life.
As my two coworkers had this conversation, I could not help but think of how I dropped out of school due to lack of money and how much my father struggled as a single parent even with just one kid. How would I be able to support a child?
I sighed. I did not want to do it, but I had to tell Samuel.
When my lunch break came, I decided I’d go in the staff bathroom for privacy and call Samuel. I did not want to waste my break speaking to him, especially since I swore I was done with him for good, but I had to talk to him some time and I was not hungry anyway.
As I locked myself in the bathroom and pulled up Samuel’s name in my contacts, I paused to think for a moment. Samuel did not care enough to do more than have sex with me and did not hesitate to let me go, so would he even care to be there for me? Something had told me that he would find the easy way out of this and I would be forced to face the consequences on my own.
At that time, however, I was desperate to get the news out. My father would not care and I feared that my friends might judge me as Sonia did, and it only seemed fair that he knew since it affected him too.
I called Samuel, and he said a confused, “Hello?”
“Hey, it’s me, Delia.”
“Oh, I know, I still have your number. I’m just curious as to why you’re calling me? I mean, you did say you never wanted to speak to me again.”
“I know, but…” I paused. I just realized I had not broken the news to anyone. Even Sonia had just jumped to the conclusion without me having to tell her. I was not sure how to say it, so I had to just push the words out. “I’m pregnant.”
“What? No way I mean weren’t you on the pill?”
“I forgot a few days.” I said. “I don’t think I took it the day we last did anything I thought it wouldn’t make a difference.”
He paused for a moment. “Well I mean I didn’t…you know.”
“It doesn’t matter. Something could have got inside.”
I rolled my eyes. “No it isn’t, Samuel. Accidents happen.”
Samuel let out a deep breath. “Have you taken any tests yet?”
“I took a home test, and I’ll make an appointment with my doctor later. I have also missed my period and been throwing up like crazy but I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant.”
“Wow…okay. Uh, Well have you decided what you want to do yet?”
“No, I’m still in denial this is even happening.”
“Me too…” There was a long pause after this. “I just can’t believe it, like how could this happen to me?”
“You mean us.”
“Right. I just…this is too much to take in right now.”
“I know.” The words that followed after sound pathetic when I look back at it now, yet it just poured out as I still had something for Samuel at the time. “I’m sorry.”
“For getting us in this mess. I should have thought before doing. I should have remembered to take my pills or made us use a condom. This is all my fault and now our lives are ruined.”
“Don’t speak like that.” said Samuel. “This isn’t your fault. It’s mine, I fucked up. But we can fix it.”
“How could you be so positive?”
“Because there is a solution.”
“What would that be?” There was another pause. “Samuel?”
“Yeah, I’m here. I know you may not like what I’m about to say, but abortion.” I was too stunned to speak, so he continued. “I know how you feel about it, but it’s way better than having a child. I mean maybe one day I want kids, but not right now. I have way too much on my plate-”
“So do I.”
“Of course. I mean we both do, and adding a kid onto that would just make things even more difficult than they already are. I won’t be as bad as you think it will, I promise.”
“It’s easy for you to say that because it’s not your body that will be cut open.”
“I’m just being real here. Think about it, Delia. We both work but we don’t have enough to support a kid, our lives are stressful as it is, and your dream to go back to school will have to be put on hold even longer. Hell, who knows if you’ll ever be able to if you decide to have a kid. I know abortion sounds scary, but compared to carrying around a child and having to take care of it for years, I think it’s the better option here.”
“What about adoption?”
“Do you really want some strangers raising your kid?”
Of course not. Sure there were some nice adoptive parents out there, but I was not sure I can trust people who I did not know personally taking in my child possibly for life. This was not Juno where a nice, loving and caring parent could easily be found in twenty minutes. “No.”
“Exactly. Look, I have to get back to work, but please think about this?”
“Okay.” I hung up without saying bye. He did bring up some good points, but I still was unsure I really wanted an abortion. It’s easy for him to say all that, I thought, he doesn’t have to go through the trauma getting a fetus removed from him. He could just manipulate me into abortion until I did it and then have the burden off his shoulders and move along with his life. Between my anxiety, my mental state, and my morals, I was not sure I would be able to handle the guilt.
The more I thought about it, the more tears began to push out of my eyes. The knots in my stomach increased and my fists clenched until I used them to punch the wall.
Not even a day since I had found out, and yet it already was too much.