I've been waiting and waiting to post my "story". It terrifies me to make this public. It's not a pretty picture. Makes me feel somewhat like a monster. All I can say, is that I was so, so, scared and so, so, alone and so, so, young. There was no planning, no processing, all there was was panic. In order to get past some things, you have to acknowledge them and face the fear. That's what this is about.
(The timing and some of the details are a little blurry, but the overall experience is in tact.)
Well, deep breath...
I was at the end of my sophomore year in high school when I met D. He was 4 years older than me, his best friends were dating my best friends, it was kind of a natural hook up. He really was a lovely young man. He was smart, funny, hard working, kind, a good guy who hung around with the bad guys. My parents loved him. He came from a not overly wonderful home life, was working at a gas station and going to school on his own dime. I remember there being some talk from my parents about helping him out with school. We were in love.
The summer after my junior year, I went away to an 8 week long, intensive ballet camp. We stayed in dorms at the local university, snuck out at night to buy donuts, snuck into a bar or two, got caught and kicked out (almost got kicked out of the program, too!) snuck into weddings for free food and drinks (we were ballerinas, we were starving!). We danced hard eight hours a day, and played just as hard. D. drove down to see me for the weekend. He stayed at the hotel across the street from my dorm. No, I didn't stay with him that weekend. Wanted too, but we were too scared. The first weekend I came home (around the middle of August, 1978) I talked him into having sex for the first time in my bedroom while my parents were out. Yes, let me just say this now, I was a wild, rebellious child and I wanted it BAD. We did use protection, but inexperience led to an ineffective result, if you know what I mean.
I don't really recall have any morning sickness, but I must have, because I remember my mother taking me to my pediatrician to find out what was wrong with me. I remember him asking me something to the effect of "have you been a good girl?" or something passive aggressive like that. I can't imagine why he didn't have my mom take me straight to the OB/GYN. It was the first misstep in a long list of missteps which enabled me to keep the secret.
My most visceral memory was the panic I felt when I realized I had missed my period. Even though I was a dancer and pretty thin, I had never missed one before, so I knew something was up. I kept this to myself, thinking maybe it was a fluke and lets wait until next month before I let true panic set in. The next month came and went without my period and panic was at an all time high. (Insert aforementioned doctors appointment here) My first thought was "I have to get an abortion, my parents cannot find out I'm pregnant." At the time, there was a big abortion scandal all over the newspapers. Girls were getting abortions and hemorrhaging to death. In my screwed up, terrified, sixteen year old brain, I thought, "I can't get an abortion, if I bleed to death my parents will know I was pregnant." Seriously screwed up logic. Don't know what I thought would happen nine months later after I did nothing about it. But that's what I did. Nothing. I broke up with D. because I knew he'd want to do the "right" thing and get married, which I knew deep down neither he nor I wanted. Broke the man's heart to protect him from me and my Italian born father. Didn't answer his phone calls, wouldn't come to the door when he showed up begging to see me. Lied and told him I had met someone else.
I may sound calm now, but I was nothing of the sort then. I was in tears constantly. Wherever my family was in the house, I was not. I stayed in my room, or in the attic watching t.v.. I still went to ballet class in the early days, try hiding a pregnancy in a leotard and tights. To make matters worse, I was taking dance with my friend at a studio downtown as independent study for school. She must have known, they must have known, again nothing was said. Eventually, I just quit going.
My parents asked me a couple of times if I was pregnant. I lied and told them no, I'm just getting fat. They would fight about it with each other, but they never took me to the doctor again. How do you spell d-e-n-i-a-l? In my third trimester, I was cutting school just about every day. I would ride the el back and forth from school all day long. Sometimes I would go to school for a half day, I would walk around school with my books and my coat covering my belly, pretending like everything was alright. It wasn't. At school, I did have a couple of people ask me if I was pregnant. One was my music teacher who I wasn't very close to, the others were friends. I was too afraid to admit it. There were teachers there that I would've let help me, I just couldn't get the words out of my mouth. What I needed to hear was, I know you're pregnant, it's going to be okay because I'm going to help you. I was incapable of asking for help. Couldn't even say the phrase "I'm pregnant" out loud. I spent my whole pregnancy alone, afraid and ashamed.
I was at school when my water broke. Had no idea what was happening. All I know is I went to the bathroom and an ocean of liquid spilled from my body. I freaked out. I took the el home hoping no one was home yet, so I could go hide in my room. Okay, my head was so far in denial, let's not even go there. My mom had a dance studio and they were having their recital that night. She asked me if I was going and I told her I wasn't feeling well. I remember some sort of a fight between us, I think she was trying to make me go. Little did she know I was in LABOR. I pretended to be asleep when they got home, which was seven hours since my water broke. I waited until they all went to bed and started my night long journey of quietly walking between my bedroom and the bathroom trying desperately to find a place to become comfortable. Around 6:15-6:30 in the morning 15 hours after my water broke, I woke my parents up and told them I needed to go to the hospital. I told them I was either having a miscarriage or a baby. They of course totally freaked out. Luckily we lived about 7 blocks from the hospital. I don't even think they had time to exam me. My son was born at 7:15 a.m. on May 19th.