The Other Side of Unplanned

Excerpt from Trapped In Carnality by Elle Kavanah, Publication Date July 30, 2019.  All Rights Reserved.

I wake and hear Gabriel snoring, give him a little push and beg that we run out for breakfast. “I’m starving, Gabe! Let’s go.” “Alright, alright. Let me get my pants on, woman. I’ll feed you. What are you, eating for two?” he says with a little chuckle and starts fastening his belt. The words punch me in the gut, and my eyebrows pull together. “You know what, I’m not that hungry. It’s ok. We don’t have to go. I have some things I need to get done today. I totally forget until now.” I say as I look down at my rumpled sheets. “Are you sure? I don’t mind going.” He says and waits for me to answer. A deep breath escapes, and I say “I’m sure. I forgot I have this thing I need to do.”  “Okay then,” he says and leans onto the bed, giving me a quick peck on my forehead, “I’ll call you later.” I feel a smile on my lips, but my eyes are downcast. “Okay.”

I hear him leave, and I run into the bathroom. Quickly, I brush my teeth and hair, run warm water on a washcloth and wipe my face. I grab wrinkled jeans off the floor and promptly inspect the tank top I slept in.  It’ll do. I slip on my blue flip-flops by the front door, grab the keys and purse from the hook and run down the stairs to the garage. Moments are moving slower than usual as the garage door slowly climbs out of sight. I get in my 4runner, back out of the garage, and drive as fast as I can to the nearest pharmacy. I slam the gear shift to park, sprint inside and hastily read all of the aisle markers. Finally, ‘family planning’ comes into view. I head over, grab four different pregnancy tests and take them to the counter. I need to be sure that everyone is wrong. I’ve heard three different people in the last two weeks mention pregnancy, and I’m really freaked out.   I pay and wait as the cashier slowly places each box one at a time into the bag.   My God, I’ve seen sloths move faster. Finally, he passes me the bag and the receipt. I snatch them, pull them into my chest like a football and make way for the exit. The drive home drags. Everyone is driving Ms. Daisy today. So incredibly slow.

Deep breaths as I park, head up the stairs, fumble with keys, and finally find myself shut behind my bathroom door. I don’t know why I closed it. No one is here, but I need lots of privacy as I rip the pregnancy test open, remove the purple cap and sit on the toilet. I follow the steps, place the cap back on the test and place the test on the edge of the bathroom counter. I sink to floor opposite of the toilet and wait, my head between my knees and my arms folded behind my neck.     All of my emotions are spinning around me – fear, anxiety, dread, worry, excitement, confusion. My heart is beating so fast. I skootch closer to the bathroom cabinet and grab the test. I pull it down into view, my eyes closed. I take a deep breath, open my eyes and see a straight line and a plus sign. I have no idea what this means. I fish through the wastebasket and pull out the white paper tucked inside the box. It unfolds into what must be a forty-by-seventy-foot piece of paper, and I skim the contents until I see circles and lines. Two lines equal not pregnant. One line and one plus sign equal pregnant. Pregnant? Pregnant! Dear God! This has to be wrong. I’m probably not reading it correctly. This must be a defective test. I repeat the same procedures three more times, and it is decidedly positive. I am pregnant.

~

Looking into the eyes of this man, wild and free, I envy him. He sits a few steps above me, knees bent, arms crossed, and he listens to me. I am on the second to last step of this dilapidated staircase leading up to his eroding house. ” Kish, I just found out I’m pregnant. I don’t know what to do. I don’t think it’s yours, but I don’t know. I have no way of knowing who the father is and that’s not really important at the moment. I don’t know what to do. I’m not ready to have a baby. Is this even a baby? Can I not-not have this happen to me? I’ve been told that life begins at conception. Is that true? Is this really a baby?” “Hey, it’s going to be ok. Calm down. You have time to decide. You don’t have to figure this all out right now. What if it’s just a bunch of cells forming, just a bunch of tissue.” “I didn’t think I could get pregnant. I didn’t think it was possible and now, at the worst possible time in my life, when everything has fallen apart, I get pregnant. This isn’t fair! This isn’t the plan! This isn’t how my life is supposed to unfold!”

~

Forgetting all reason and the high probability that Ren is not the father, I call him. I tell him about my situation. I tell him the baby is not his, but I didn’t know who else to call. If paternity were determined by quantity over the last nine months, then  Ren would undeniably be the father. But, given the fact that I have had encounters with other men since our split, – Three lovers in one weekend for God’s sake! – I know the chances are very slim and yet, I only want to talk to Ren Montclair. I trust Ren. We have a history. I need him. Ren says he doesn’t care who the father is, he’s coming back to Texas to help me through this. Desperate times call for desperate measures as the saying goes and a memory of the tarot card reading surfaces in my mind. Is this the meaning of the four knights?

~

As I sit here in the waiting room debating my decision, I tell myself this has to be done. I am too young. I am not ready. I am not in the right place in my life for this to be happening. After all of the fertility treatments and attempts that failed with my soon-to-be ex-husband, why is this happening now? We are separated. My life is way off track, and I have no idea who the father is. As I look at the pro-life material that was handed to me as I walked into the abortion clinic, I remember a time when I was the one being trained to participate in pro-life events. Where in the hell did I go wrong? How did my life get so off track? Well, that’s it. They’ve called my name, and now it’s my turn to put an end to the insanity that has become my life. I walk toward the nurse and then immediately feel the urge to run. I tell her I’m not quite ready. Before I make this life-long decision, I need to be outside where I can think. I grab     Ren’s hand and pull us into the parking lot. We walk past all of the would-be do-gooders casting their glares and their judgment at me like invisible stones. We make it across the street, a safe distance from the clinic but close enough to go back once I build up the nerve to lay on that table.

Sitting on a brick ledge of an office tower flowerbed, I hear Ren talking to me, encouraging me, saying I am making the right decision, but his words fall flat. They sound empty and selfish. Selfish. As if that’s not what I am being. I am deeply troubled by the thought of when life begins.   When does it begin? In the womb? At conception? At birth? Somewhere in between? I know the church and pro-lifers say it begins at conception but I keep repeating in my head what Kish said, “It is just tissue. It is just matter. It is just a bunch of cells at this point.” What if he is right? Do I really need to complicate my already complicated life further? No one will know. I can just end this today and move on with my life – a life that will be a little less complicated.  Oh, if it were that easy!!!!!

Before I can cry out the proverbial, “Why God? Why?” I force myself to go back inside the clinic. I am escorted back to a sterile, white room. I’m told to undress from the waist down, lay on the table and someone will be in shortly. I do. Looking around at strange equipment and long steel rods, my nerves, and my heart are outside of my body. I am terrified. A minute passes and the door opens, a numb face appears by my side and inserts a device into my lower region, a probe to determine how far along I am. “You’re eleven weeks,” her voice monotone. Tears stream over my temples; my hands clutch the side of the table. My eyes open and focus on a poster attached to the ceiling above me. It has three red parachutes of varying sizes filling a blue sky, tiny clouds scattered around its edges. Chest heaving, for a moment, everything fades into nothingness – no walls, no ceiling, no people, no sounds.   A mirror in the sky comes into view, reflecting a scared girl with snot and swollen eyelids and a trail of bad choices, legs draped in scarlet, she mouths the words, “What if this is my only chance? What if this is the only child I will ever have?” Startled, I blink away the tears, wipe the snot from my face, and I know I can’t go through with this. My heart is not ok with not having this baby. I don’t know why but somehow in my twenty-five-year-old brain, I can’t go through with this. No way. No how. They can keep the money.   I’m keeping this baby.   Who cares if the man I am legally married to is not the father? Who cares if the church frowns upon single mothers? I can do this on my own. I sit up, put my feet on the cold linoleum tiles, the white sheet falls to the dirty floor. Hastily I dress, grab my things and run for the door. Ren, sitting in the waiting room, sees me and follows. I run to the car. Sobbing, I buckle to the ground, releasing a constrained groan from the depths of my soul. I am broken. I am scared. I am resolved.

Leaving the clinic with fear and sheer determination to have this baby, I’ve decided I have to get some things in order. Before I can wrestle with those thoughts, my mind turns to the line of protesters watching us leave this abortion clinic. It’s sure easy to stand there with those signs and condemn someone whose shoes you’ve never walked in. I never thought I would be here and yet, my broken life led me here. It’s easier to point out sin than to love. A loving person would already be in these women’s lives way before they found themselves here. Those signs are the equivalent of giving someone a Get-Well-Soon card after her head has been blown off. It’s too little, too late.   Job says, “Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping,” and he’s right. Not only do they have contempt, but they are blind to the war being waged against these women, a war that started long before they found themselves at this clinic.

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