Emailed from somewhere on the ocean on a ship on a bed of uncertainty on : February 21, 2014
The past month I’ve been walking around thinking… I’ve been raped. I’m a woman who has been raped.. And it doesn’t feel real. Except when Jeff grabs me playfully into a hug, surprises me.. And I scream. Fold in half. Clench my fists. And suddenly I’m there. Fighting. Humiliated. For some reason, ashamed. I go over that day in my head…and over it and over it. I don’t want to. But it’s there.
I found out on board. We were leaving Aruba which I got to see from the porthole of the medical unit where I’d been since day two. Dysentery, they figured. Only the antibiotics weren’t helping. The pregnancy test was my idea. The doctor caring for me, one of two on the ship, wanted to put me on a stronger IV cocktail and something inside me cringed at this plan. What if.. I was sure I wasn’t but –
The doctor, Kat was her name, said it was too early. A pregnancy wouldn’t show up. But I had been the only patient for days and there was all kinds of time to humor me.
“See? Negative. Definitely negative.” That’s what she said. Definitely. Then right before she went to throw that little stick away, that life changing stick, she stopped. Held it up to the light. Squinted. Turned it in every direction. “After five minutes, you can’t read it anymore. You’ll get a false reading.” I know this. I also know she’s stalling. It hadn’t been anywhere close to five minutes. Thirty seconds.. Maybe forty. I asked to see it. “There are two lines.” My voice is flat and dispassionate. A voice announcing movie times or reading through coupons. “It’s positive.” I tell her, “That’s a positive.” “Maybe”, she hedges. Maybe? I look at her wondering where she got her medical degree. Online, maybe. I get it though. This is more than she has bargained for. She is unprepared. Yeah. Well. My world and welcome to it.
She dips another stick that I take from her immediately to watch that second line appear. Somehow I’m both shocked and not. Two days later, we dock in Cartagena, Colombia and a local missionary greets me off the ship. I wonder how much he knows. He’s all big toothy grins and full of historical tidbits about this city that he clearly loves. I’m so weary. I want to lay my head on his shoulder and cry and have him stroke my hair and call me sweetheart and tell me that everything will be all right. Like a daddy would. The way I’ve seen Jeff comfort Julia a hundred times. What would he do? I briefly toy with the idea in that nothing-left-to-lose way and consider the possibility that I’ve lost my mind. Out the window, the city looks no different from downtown San Diego from the weary palm trees, dingy from auto exhaust, to the colorful Spanish graffiti utilizing unconventional canvas to spread a message I don’t understand. This is comforting. Not hair stroking comforting, but it helps. I’m taken to what resembles a basement but I’m promised is a perfectly adequate hospital where no one speaks English. It doesn’t matter. Butterflies are slowly hatching in my belly when I see the dot on the internal ultrasound. And that’s the same in any language.
I smile at him/her.
And just like that, I’m overwhelmed with love and a fierce defensiveness that would grow each time I’m told how “easy” it is to terminate at this stage.Terminate. What a horrible word. I pop a pill and within a day or two it’s done. But it wouldn’t be. No matter what road I take, there is no done.
The medical staff was adamant. I wasn’t angry exactly but I was bracing for a fight. Maybe that’s unfair. I know they were trying to comfort me. I was uncharacteristically quiet, wrapping my arms around my already slightly swollen middle (damn uterus muscle memory) telling myself it would reflect poorly on me were I to punch anyone in the head and just keep cool. All I know is that no one, and I mean no one.. is getting near my baby.