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Friday, April 17, 2015

Be Here Now


It's not like I was against abortion.  I'd already had several by the time Jason and I met.  I wasn't particularly keen on having a kid so soon, and I couldn't imagine he was either.  We'd only been together a couple of months.  But it's not like I had any other big plans clogging up my calendar.  I also think something about being married made me feel differently toward having a child.  Like maybe it would be okay.

I told Jason I'd get the situation straightened out.  You know, take a pregnancy test and inquire about my options.  But I dragged my feet.  I kept putting the appointment off, and the weeks started to add up.

I was worried about that bag of pills.  I didn't know how long drugs show up in your system or what they actually tested for at a military gynecologist's office.  I didn't want to get my new husband into any hot water.  I was afraid somebody would yell at me because I'd been careless – again.  If I asked about terminating the pregnancy, would they hassle me because I was married now?  Could they actually do that?

I didn't know if abortions were even available in Mississippi like they were back home.  In the Bronx, it seemed as though clinics were popping up everywhere.  I felt like I'd been to almost all of them.  I wasn't quite sure how things worked down south as far as these kinds of decisions went.  Or if there was even a choice.

After Jason left for school in the mornings, I lay on the mattress in the trailer.  I stared at the water stains on the ceiling, each different shape resembling a fetus. Some of them were holding hands.  I felt wetness collect in the corners of my eyes. I thought about my mother, and the tears came easily.  She was probably still really mad that I left.  I was hoping that anger might turn to worry soon.  So when I finally called the house, she wouldn't hang up on me.

I tried to guess how much it would cost to take a taxi onto the base so I could ask about an abortion.  It was unclear if the town of Biloxi even provided this amenity.  And what if the Air Force didn't allow unfamiliar vehicles onto the premises?  I'd have wasted all that money on a cab for nothing.  Maybe I could walk back.  But shit, I'd still be knocked up.

I wondered if I could convince Jason that keeping the baby wasn't such a bad idea. Babies were little, and it didn't seem like they needed much.  Diapers.  Four, maybe five outfits.  A few toys.  It'd be kinda nice to have something special to take care of.

As time went on, I got too scared to ask questions of any medical personnel.  I would be nearly four months along before I worked up the nerve to get a check-up. The nurse who did the examination read me the riot act for not coming in sooner to see the doctor.  She scolded me about the importance of pre-natal care and vitamins.  I felt my cheeks get hot with shame as I sat on the table in my paper dress.  I'd never considered the risks before.  I simply needed my mistakes erased and forgotten as quickly as possible.

For Christ's sake, I just wanted love.  Why was it always so difficult?

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