By Sarah Farrugia
They say if you buy your pregnancy test at a dollar store, you probably aren’t ready to have a baby. Not really, but they should. The dollar-store test was unlike any I had ever seen or used; instead of peeing on the stick, the dollar-store brand required one to urinate into a small cup and then simply dip the stick into the cup until the results appeared. It was simple enough, but the test didn’t actually include a vital component: the cup. I scanned the contents of my parents’ bathroom. What would be the least likely to piss them off if pissed in? Leaving the bathroom to search for a suitable pee cup would only bring further attention to the strange behavior I had exhibited since stopping over for an unannounced visit. My eyes landed on a small vase, hardly three inches tall, bursting with springtime pansies. I chucked the flowers out of the bathroom window and proceeded to pee in the vase. As destiny would have it, the dollar-store test was positive. I rinsed the contaminated vase and left it, now empty, to dry on the counter.
Driving home to the apartment I shared with my boyfriend, I felt the magnitude of my secret. My mind was racing. I wanted to share my news, but I wasn’t ready for the onslaught of reactions. I told my boyfriend. He was thrilled. He went to Target and brought back tiny onesies and the smallest socks I had ever seen. I told my mom. She was out of town at a conference. She cried and sighed and said we’d talk about it when she got back. We told my boyfriend’s parents. His dad laughed so hard he fell off the couch. His mother threw her bag of chips on the floor and walked out of the house without saying a word.
None of it felt right. I thought people were supposed to say “congratulations” and be happy for us. My grandmother was apprehensively delighted. She took me to Barnes & Noble and bought me books on pregnancy and parenting. She said she had always hoped there would be twins in the family. When I went to tell my father, he told me I was irresponsible, that I was throwing away my future, that I was reckless, that I was unfit. My mother said she would take me to get an abortion. I left my parents’ house in tears, screaming that they would never meet their grandchild.
In my head, everything spiraled from there. My morning sickness lasted all day, and I found myself hardly able to keep down water. My boyfriend and I fought and fought. He punched a hole in our living room wall one day. A few days later as we argued in the car, he hit the brakes so hard I slammed against the passenger-side dashboard. Nothing was right. Nothing was how I had imagined it. No one was happy.
One Saturday afternoon in late June I sat on the floor in my parents’ house. My mother sat at her desk nearby grading papers. I rambled off my doubts to the thin air wondering if she would bite. She offered to call Planned Parenthood with me: “We’ll just… make an appointment.” She smiled with a feigned sadness. Looking back, she reminds me of Effie Trinket from “The Hunger Games,” a rich socialite from the Capitol enthusiastically reading aloud the names of the children that will have to fight for their lives in this year’s Games.
They only did the procedure on Wednesdays and Saturdays. So, one week: Fourth of July, because who wouldn’t want to have a national holiday to remember her abortion?
In my head, as soon as that appointment was made, the decision was done. On the other hand, everyone I knew, including the father of the child I was carrying, thought we were having a baby. So I came up with a lie. With Effie Trinket as my sidekick, we told my boyfriend that we had planned a mother-daughter day trip for next weekend. We were going shopping at the outlet mall a few hours away. Lunch, shopping, I would be back before the fireworks show.
I called him from my childhood bedroom the afternoon of the fourth. It had all happened so fast, I was okay, I explained, but he needed to come over. Everyone was devastated. The idea had grown on them. They had accepted it. The news seeped through our circles of friends and families. People sent condolences: cards, flowers, prayers, meaningless words that tore at my guilt. Or lack of guilt.
That was nine years and many therapists ago. And everyone is happy now.
When I analyze it step-by-step, decision-by-decision, I can clearly see that my actions were driven by the motivation to make everyone happy. A force that ultimately led to good long-term consequences, in my opinion. It is not to say that people felt joy or happiness believing that I had lost the baby through miscarriage, but they were spared a greater pain. It is not to say that I felt happiness or pleasure ending my pregnancy, but I believe that the procedure allowed me to navigate a path to greater happiness. A path that has led me to the greatest happiness I have ever known, having children and being married to a man I love with all of my heart. I believe that the ends justified the means and that everyone’s happiness now is greater because of it.