1. Cross Hairs
The proof is there in the two blue lines. A baby blue plus sign confirms I don't have the flu like I'd hoped. I don't feel joy. I feel sick and not just from what I now know to be morning sickness. To me those faint blue lines look like cross hairs. I turn off the light in my bedroom, lay face down on my bed and wish it to go away. My husband walks in and asks me what I'm doing. No words come out as I hand over the white EPT stick.
I have been a wife for only eight months but a faithful taker of birth control pills for the past five years. For 1,825 mornings I have brushed my teeth and swallowed my protection with a swish of tap water. Neither of us is ready for what this may mean. He lies down beside me, takes my hand and says, "Whatever you want to do, I'm with you." I feel a flutter--something winged and foreign--move in my stomach when he says this.
2. An Exit
This news has made the five hour drive to our romantic getaway quiet. We're only hours into absorbing this shock when the two -- now three? -- of us head down the freeway. A happy fun time has turned serious. The highway is straight and flat in front of me but my mind is looking for an exit. A way to get off this road, turn around and drive back to yesterday, last week, a month ago. I want a reverse gear on my life so I can see this coming and avoid it.
3. Against a Wall
We get to the quaint Dutch-inspired town of Solvang before sundown. Bakeries are found on every corner. We pick one with a red windmill on the roof, hoping to find a spicy cup of hot cider and a still-fresh chocolate croissant to split. Inside the pastry store I inhale the frosting scented air and quickly turn green. The sick sweet smell of cinnamon rolls makes me want to throw up. The thought of warm gooey dough slicked with sugary white icing slipping down my throat makes me dry heave. I tell my husband I want nothing then run outside. He finds me up against a wall, crying.
"I can't do this."
4. Making the Call
I ask him to leave the hotel room when I make the call. Why do I have this need for privacy? There is no shame in what I am about to do. When the receptionist picks up the phone I can't say the word so I hang up. Tears teeter then dive. What is the source of this sudden, strange sadness? I wipe my eyes with a corner of the bedspread, take a deep breath, and dial the number again. This time "termination" comes to my lips. But "possible," "not sure," and "would like to talk about options" chase after that first definite word. Where is this coming from; this indecisive grayness? I'm not pulled one way by religious guilt. My family wouldn't judge. I know girlfriends that have had this done--chromosomal defect, condom broke, he didn't pull out--and I sympathized, understood and supported them. Fully. I said "I'd do the same thing," "It's not your fault," and "You'll be okay." And I meant it. But now it's my turn and I can't help it: I keep plucking mental rose petals in my mind--
A pale pink thought remains. "I'm sorry," I say to the receptionist, "I just can't."
5. In the Dark
The lights are off in the room. I lay face up as the doctor takes an ultrasound of my stomach. He adjusts the screen towards me so that I can see: an oversized head, tiny torso, leg and arm buds, large almond-shaped shadows where eyes are forming and will open in five months and a heart--sparkling star--pulsing in the dark night of her/my/ourbody.
For the first time.
I feel it.
Gretchen Clark holds a B.A. in English Literature and has been published in Literary Mama. She is a Creative Arts Mentor for at-risk children in the Phoenix area and co-teachs a Lyric Essay course online at Writers.com.
Clear Blue (but not so) Easy by Gretchen Clark
1. Cross Hairs