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Monday, July 29, 2013

If It's a Girl

“How was your Christmas break?” Phillis asked, and she leaned in for a post-holiday long-time-no-see hug.
“Stay back! Germs!” I’d yelped as I’d leaped away.
Then I’d explained, “It was good, mostly, until a few days ago. I’ve got a bug that I just can’t seem to shake—exhaustion, nausea, the works.”
“Do you think it’s the flu?”
“Probably. I feel like I’ve been run over by a bus,” I lowered my voice to a whisper, “and my boobs feel like they’re on fire!”

Phillis looked at me intently for a few seconds, and then her solemn expression transformed into a grin. “You don’t have the flu; you’re pregnant!” she proclaimed knowingly.

“That’s not… likely,” I stammered.

We’d been trying for at least six months, no luck. Nobody knew that, of course. (Too intimate!) Frustrated, we’d suspended hope for the holidays, and on New Year’s Eve, I’d partied hard.

I’d sucked down practically a fifth of vodka.
I’d smoked half a dozen cigarettes and a fat cigar.
I’d even had eggnog that was made with real eggs.

Phillis’s diagnosis remained on my mind throughout the day, so the next morning before leaving for work, I grabbed a test from my stockpile.

I waited for the results to develop and contemplated the irony—for the first time since we’d decided to start a family, I was praying that I wasn’t pregnant. I’d already done everything wrong!

The lines appeared. Could I trust that verdict?

I opened another test kit.
Then another, just to be sure.
Positive, positive, positive.

Feeling justified for buying pregnancy test kits in bulk and absolutely terrified, I called out to the shape in the darkened bedroom, “Hey! We’re going to have a baby!”

He rolled over, propped himself up on an elbow, and said sleepily,

“If it’s a girl, can we name her Mia?”


Coincidentally, Russ learned of my pregnancy about a month later, but he found out in a dramatically different way.

Remember, this was when we were colleagues and friends. Nothing more, nothing less.

He stopped by my classroom during my planning time to ask about an upcoming lesson, not honoring the unwritten rule that if the door is closed, company is probably not welcome.

Here is how the conversation went:

“Jeez! Ever heard of knocking?” I chastized.
“Oops, sorry” he said, crossing the room. “Do you know where the text-structure samples—“
“Get back! Get back!
“Stop! Don’t take another step!” He continued moving toward me. “What are you doing? I said stop!”
“My word! What is with you lately?” he said as he started edging back toward the door.
“Okay, fine. I’m—“ confession time, deep breath “—pregnant, and—“
“Oh! Wait, and?”
“And I’m extremely gassy. Okay? There you have it. Now go away and if you have any other questions, use the phone!”

He blushed, cheeks absolutely crimson as he reached the doorway.

 “And for the love of God and all that is holy, close that door behind you!” I called after him.

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