At 23, I was bartending, serving at my favorite restaurant, working two other jobs and finishing up college. At 23 I was going going going all the time- and it was F U N. I would work hard all day, and at 11pm, when I cleaned my last table for the night, I would go out with friends and enjoy the rest of the night. I hardly slept, never washed my hair but I always felt amazing: tired but spirited, grungy but fresh, scattered but I meant it to be!
I got pregnant.
I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared.
The night I found out, Craig and I were watching Young Frankenstein waiting for the three minutes to pass in order to see the results of the test. The summer had just ended: Bonfires, sand volleyball at the bar, sitting outside late at night anticipating the moment a shooting star would streak across the sky were all fresh reminiscence in my head — like the lingering smell of chlorine in your hair after you’ve been at the pool all day. Autumn was approaching and Craig and I were happy to be celebrating his birthday in two days.
But I’d missed my period.
I said to him, “What if I’m pregnant?” He took a deep breath and said, “Then I guess you are. Honestly, I’d be excited.”
It was one of those things that you go through life thinking, “That will never be me. That will never happen to me. Those people are just stupid, or they deserved what they got.” (Like it’s some punishment.)
So, with that considered, I took the pregnancy test not really believing that it would show up positive. But, when I finally got the courage to pick up the thin stick and behold the electronic “PREGNANT” staring at me from the screen, my world flipped out.
Suddenly, the summer — that fresh-in-my-mind, carefree, awesome summer — was gone. Like 5 years ago gone.
I. Am. Pregnant.
I didn’t really believe it.
But I did.
Rush of thoughts. Rush of emotions.
Rush of panic — sheer panic — most of all.
What was I supposed to do?
How was I supposed to tell my family?! My devoutly Christian family! What shame this would bring upon my parents! How would people look at me?! How would I be treated?!
Those were my first thoughts. In the 5 minutes after I reconciled in my mind that I actually was pregnant.
Then, the next two weeks were a living hell inside my head.
Not only was I sick to my stomach with morning sickness, we hadn’t told a soul about it.
I couldn’t contain it! It was too much on my unprepared mind!
I cried on Craig’s shoulder in earnest. Sobbing. Standing outside in the October air. He had to go to work and I was getting ready to leave his parent’s house to go home. Craig just let me cry, as he stroked my hair. After calming, he left, and I followed in my VW Golf. He turned left and I continued to my parent’s house.
Sunny day, early afternoon, no traffic, no distractions, no music playing. I rounded a small curve in the road, my eyes flickered down to the clock to check the time. I looked up. My car neared too close to the edge of the road. I over-corrected. Then I over-corrected again. It felt like a bull had it’s horns in the hood of my car and was shaking it’s head. . . .
My car rolled 4 times, through a heavy, wooden horse fence, into a farmer’s front yard.
The doctor in the emergency room told me that each time a car rolls in an accident, the chance for fatal injuries increases by 50%. Simple enough math for me. Car rolled 4 times = 200% chance that I should not be alive today.
I received a burn on my arm from airbags deploying.
Of course, I had no idea how pregnant I was so the doctor took my blood and announced to the room (my family had rushed to meet me there) that I was 4 weeks pregnant. The room was silent as I looked around with my eyes filled with shamed tears. But before my sense of hearing could comprehend it, I saw smiles and was being hugged by my mother, father and brother who were all present.
In the first 2 weeks of October 2008, I encountered more trauma and stress than I’d ever met in my short life. Grappling with why I was alive was angering! I’ve mourned beautiful friends who’ve died in car accidents. And I’ve “tsk-ed” and shaken my head to news that someone I knew was pregnant out of wedlock. And then here I was, alive and ashamed.
I was met by some friends and family with silence and coldness about being pregnant. It weighed on me like a stone. I wanted to be loved but just wasn’t. I had no idea what being pregnant was going to do to my body (had never even thought about it before) so I was depressed that I was getting “fat”. I would see girls my age having that care-free lifestyle I knew only months before, skinny, tan and turning heads. I envied them with bitter tears.
I went with my mom — just me and my mom — to try on wedding dresses. I stood on the platform, looking at myself in the mirror, wearing the dress I’d picked out, and I saw the little bump.
“This is not what it’s supposed to be like,” I thought to myself. “I should be here with a handful of my closest family and friends, laughing, excited, with a glass of champagne, skinny and tan, taking pictures and smiling”
But I wasn’t.
I looked at that stupid bump sticking out from under the sash in my dress and a voice came to me, “This little boy will cherish and love you more. This is true happiness.”
And that voice snapped me awake. I stared at my reflection realizing I was more happy at that moment than I would have been if I’d have been there in my ‘ideal’ circumstance. The ideal was more superficial, now that I had perspective on why I was there.
THIS was real.
This bump, this stupid bump, would be the greatest love I’d ever experienced beyond marriage.
And it is. Two years later, two difficult years of losing jobs, a place to live, and all the other turmoil that comes along with financial distress, I would not have changed a darn thing.
Lexington is a unique and separate little life.
Many times you’ll hear some older person talking about their life in a boring, unsatisfied tone saying, “Yeah I coulda done this or that, but life happened. . . .”
YES. Life. It happened.
He was supposed to happen.
He is here and has exploded my world with warm, musical, blue, sweet LIFE!
Thank you Jesus Christ for my little boy on this day. He is yours always, but Craig and I are better people with him in our otherwise aimless, wasteful life. What a gift. <3
Carolyn is a Catholic “revert” who attributes St. Pope John Paul II to her reversion through his Letter to Artists. She’s married to Craig and they now have 4 children who drive her crazy . . . with joy and grace. She blogs at Svellerella.com and strives to use her artistic gifts to glorify God while being bumped on the elbow by her little ones.
This post originally appeared on Svellerella.