My Grapefruit: A Personal Narrative
My good friends Katie and Jeff had asked me to fill in for their nanny for their 18-month-old son, Roman. Of all their friends with experience with kids, I had the most experience with people who had special needs. Roman has PKU, which means he can’t process protein and thanks to his super mom who understands nutrition better than most, he lives off a vegan-type diet.
This particular sunny morning Katie was working from home on her laptop at the kitchen table; I was in the kitchen making Roman his scrambled “not-eggs” and his low-pro milk in the bottle warmer. I brought him his food but he was happier to eat on the ground, so we sat together.
We spent most of the day sitting and scooting, but as I was on my back he rolled over my tummy and it hurt. “Ouch” I said, but smiled so he knew it wasn’t his fault.
It was a weird hurt and he still wanted to play so I rolled over onto my stomach to protect the hurt spot. But now it felt like a grapefruit-size mass in my upper right quadrant. So I stood up; This got me worried, why hadn’t I felt this before? I had chronic back issues so I rarely tumbled on the ground.
On my way home I tried to make a doctor’s appointment but they told me to come in right away. I walked into the immediate care of Corvallis Clinic thinking I might have cancer.
I walked out pregnant.
My follow up appointment was three days later. I was 16 weeks pregnant – I didn’t tell anyone. I had broken up with my boyfriend about three months prior because he told me he never wanted children.
I was told I couldn’t get pregnant without medical assistance by my OBGYN (who I clearly stopped seeing after this.) ‘Shouldn’t a woman know when she is pregnant?’ Yeah, maybe if she stepped out of a health textbook, but I’m a unique snowflake with medical variables so no, all of the regular signs weren’t there. I was on birth control pills, which I took religiously.
I was freaking out.
I walked to the labs department to make my next appointment, and ultrasound. While I didn’t have many answers, I did know I always had wished I could be a mom so I was most concerned about the health of my fetus “grapefruit.”
I sat waiting for my name to be called, and the woman next to me saw tears in my eyes. She struck up a conversation with me. She told me she didn’t know she was pregnant with her first child until three days before she gave birth. She told me her story in a fun way which got me to laugh. I thanked her as I walked up to the receptionist who had called my name.
The receptionist scheduled my appointment and asked me about my pregnancy, and I explained how I had just found out. She told me she didn’t know about her first pregnancy until 20 weeks and that it is very common in unplanned pregnancies.
I didn’t tell anyone about my pregnancy until after my fetal health appointment, which meant holding in this personal news for two weeks.
But once I knew my baby was real and healthy and I was going to get to be a mom, I set out to break the news to my closest friends and family.
I had always imagined motherhood would arrive like a nursery rhyme, “First comes love then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” Most of society had told me that’s how it should happen, yet here I was hoping the standards I had set for myself wouldn’t define a chasm between my loved ones.
I told my best friend Sarika first. She is sensible and majored in psychology so she looks at things boldfaced. She is also the most thoughtful and caring friend anyone could hope for and immediately knew how exciting I needed this to be. She reinforced to me that I was going to be an amazing mother.
Next I told my mom. Her reaction was every single reaction in one-hundredth of a second, and ultimately landed on being so excited to be a grandma. However she warned me about the timing of telling my dad, which kind of had me worried; Hormones and rational thoughts have a correlation. I was worried my announcement was going to disappoint my father who surely believed I should be married to the father and have a life plan.
Not all people are meant to raise children. The biological father of my daughter was informed by phone call just as I found out, and then text message, but no reply. He did end up meeting with me in person at New Morning Cafe on a Thursday morning.
My pregnancy gave me two new superpowers – I was no longer lactose intolerant and I had superhuman smelling abilities. So I could smell every drop of alcohol this man had consumed the night before. He only showed up to inform me I would be proceeding into parenthood alone, which was not a surprise to me and I gave him the legal papers to fill out to relinquish him of responsibility.
I waited until my dad had got off work for the day. I had dinner ready for him and my mom but he wanted to rest on the couch first. So as soon as he seemed to be in good spirits and relaxed I asked if I could have a serious discussion. He sat up and said “Of course.”
I had a copy of my ultrasounds to show him. I held the long glossy paper in my hands shielding him from the images. I was nervous.
“I went to the doctor,” I said. “I don’t want you to be mad at me, I did everything I was supposed to do, I love you so much…”
He stared at me with the most serious face nodding.
“Dad, I’m pregnant.”
I handed him my ultrasound pictures. “I’m going to have a baby.”
He looked at the ultrasound pictures for a minute, a little confused at first, then he looked up at me.
“Why are you crying?” he asked with a firm smile. “This is amazing news! I get to be a grandpa?! I’m so excited, you’re going to be a good mom!”
He stood up and hugged me. I breathed and felt relief. I was finally able to accept the full joy I was about to receive in motherhood.