I remember it like it was yesterday. I was working for the travel agency at the time and I got a phone call from the urgent care I’d seen just two days prior. “Ms Karambelas, we got your test results back and you don’t have a kidney infection.”
I was confused. This felt the same as the last kidney infection I had had a few months prior. They already put me on a medication to treat the infection before even getting the results of the urine culture because they were so certain I had one.
“Then what is it?” I ask.
“I’m not sure. You may want to come back in.”
I hang up and mention it to my boss in passing. Something is definitely wrong. I’ve been having pain in my lower back and a sharp pain in my lower abdomen. I go home that afternoon and get a weird feeling in my stomach. Maybe I should take a pregnancy test, I think. It occurs to me that my period should have come the day before. But, I’m not pregnant. I can’t be. I’d just requested my transcripts from my undergraduate university. I’m starting graduate applications for different colleges in Scotland. I have plans. I can’t be pregnant.
Being the Type A personality that I am, I already have a couple pregnancy tests stashed with my toiletries. I dig one out, unwrapping the foil from around the stick and throwing it into the garbage. It sticks out of the trash, taunting me. I push it farther down until I can’t see it anymore and then I remove the cap from the stick and pee.
Once the cap is replaced, I gently place the stick on the bathroom counter.
And I wait.
That’s all it takes.
Three minutes and my world completely shifts.
There are two pink lines. It’s positive. I’m pregnant.
I skip past the shock and go straight to crying. I call Porsha, my best friend from college, and between sobs I tell her what is going on. Somehow, in the span of fifteen minutes, she gets me to calm down.
I don’t remember out conversation. It’s a blur of snot, salty tears, and curse words. It reeks of failure and disappointment. I’m twenty-one. I’ve barely been out of college nine months. I’m having a baby with a boyfriend who isn’t always nice to me.
I gather myself, text my boyfriend (now ex-husband) and tell him I’m going back to urgent care. I don’t expect him to show up, but when I pull into the parking lot, his car is there.
“What’s going on?” he asks me.
My poker face doesn’t exist. We sit in the waiting room and I whisper, “I’m pregnant.”
He’s calm. He squeezes my hand. Happy Birthday, I think. He just turned twenty-two the day before.
They call us back. I pee into a cup. They confirm it. No, a blood test wouldn’t be needed. The pee test is just as accurate. No, a false-positive isn’t common. Congratulations, the nurse says. I try not to cry again.
We go to Barnes & Noble and I sit in front of the parenting books, cross-legged and wide-eyed, trying to make sense of what my life will become soon. We aren’t ready, are we? I’ve got a lot of world to see, don’t I? I have a lot of dreams left.
I buy one of those what to expect books and we get into the car. I cry some more and call my mom. I barely get the words out. She makes me repeat myself. She’s mad. So am I. But I’m also scared. She hears this and tries to comfort me but I can hear the disappointment in her voice.
The pain in my abdomen turns out to be a cyst. I learn this a couple days later at an early ultrasound. It is at this ultrasound that I hear his heartbeat for the first time. He’s just a little peanut on the screen but I can hear this strong heartbeat and I’m overcome with a million emotions. And while I’ve been terrified of what being a mom might mean for my own future, I’m immediately calmed by the fact that this is my child, and this child will be my future now.
The technician gives me photos of my baby, my baby, and I hold them like they’re crystal, scared that if I drop them, maybe they’ll disintegrate and disappear. He’s mine, I whisper to myself, rubbing my lower abdomen. This is when it all sinks in. This is when I realize that I’ve been given a gift.
I’m your mommy, I say to him, but also to myself. It’s a mantra I repeat for the nine months after, a mantra I repeat to myself even now that he’s five. The rough days are rough, but I’m your mommy, and you sweet boy, are the surprise I never realized I needed.
To my sweet, stubborn, independent, spirited Jude — My life didn’t turn out the way I expected it to… but it sure did turn into something sweet. And now that your little sister is coming into the world very soon, I feel scared and excited all over again… and not just for me this time – for you too. Because I may be your mommy, but now I’ll be hers too. My precious child, you have no idea what kind of life you gave me. It’s the best. The very best.
Mommy loves you. <3