Plinko

‘Is it pink for positive or blue for positive? Or is that what sex the baby is?”

“I think it’s pink for positive, Katie. And it’s too early to know if it’s a boy or a girl…I think. I dunno, I’ve never been pregnant before.”

My best friend Jamie and I sit side-by-side in my empty bathtub, our legs dangling over the edge. I’m holding a pregnancy test in my hand, the box it came in the other. I keep waving the stick in the air like an old Polaroid picture, trying to make it develop faster. This has been the longest three minutes of my entire life.

“Oh, wait,” I say out loud, “according to the directions, it’s a plus sign if I’m pregnant, a minus sign if I’m not.”

“It should be a dude giving you a high-five if it’s negative,” Jamie quipped. I giggled despite the situation I find myself in.

“Or the stick should play the sound when you lose in Plinko on The Price is Right if it’s positive.”

We’re both giggling uncontrollably and I drop the stick between us.

“Oh, god! Get your pee stick away from me!” Jamie screeches as she tries to shove herself away.

“What, you’re going to tell me pee is the worst thing you’ve ever had on your leg?” I find the stick and taunt her by waving it in front of her face.

Jamie screams again and flails herself up out of the bathtub and stand in front of me.

“No, it isn’t, but I don’t want your possibly pregnant pee on me in case that shit’s contagious.”

“Jamie, you do know what sex is, right? Oh wait, you do, because I heard you the other night. Very convincing performance, lady. Just enough ‘oh god’ thrown in to make it very believable that you actually came.”

“That wasn’t sex, Katie; that was two awkward minutes of me wishing he’d get it over with so we could finish watching Mad Men.

My phone, which is on the bathroom sink, starts beeping cheerfully at me, indicating my three minutes is up. I exchange looks with Jamie, and she reaches her hand to me to help me get up out of the bathtub.

“This is it,” I sigh, and I look down at the plastic stick I have in my hand.

“Call Bob Barker, I just lost.”

I sit down heavily on top of the toilet and stare at the offensive pink plus sign. It seems to be pulsing and radiating its “you’re pregnant!” message to me. Jamie grabs the stick from my hand, not sure if she can believe me or not.

“Holy shit, Katie…” She sounds incredulous. She looks at me, the stick, back at me, and back at the stick again. “Holy shit…”

I don’t know whether I want to laugh, cry, or the weird combination of both. My emotions are all fighting with each other now and it’s hard to decide which one should win. I slump forward and rest my too-heavy head in my hands, my hair falling in a red curtain around my face. It smells vaguely of lavender and cigarette smoke. Christ, I need a cigarette, I think and that thought is immediately replaced with guilt and “what about the baby?”

Jamie stands next to me, and she’s gently rubbing my back in slow circles.

“You’re fine…you’re fine…you’re fine…” she whispers over and over. I hope she keeps saying that because the more times I hear it, maybe it’ll become true.

***

The next few days melt together into a jumble. I go through my normal daily routines, but I can’t tell when one day ends and another begins. I went to my doctor for a blood test to see if I really was pregnant and didn’t get a false positive from the pee stick test. It came back positive, as well.  Jamie has sent me texts to check up on me, which I read, and mean to respond, but I haven’t yet. I should send her something to let her know I’m still alive and okay, but I can’t make my fingers type in the words. If she gets too concerned, I know she’ll show up at the house. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t what I was hoping for anyway. I used to live with two roommates, but both moved out recently, so it’s just me and my dog, Cleo now.

Cleo is on the couch, her massive Saint Bernard head rests on the arm, and she sighs as I sit down next to her, leaning over on her. She moves her head to look at me and offers a quite “woof.” I rub her warm belly and she shifts positions to allow for more of her underside to be exposed to me.

“I’m pregnant, Cleo,” I say as I continue rubbing her. “What do you think about that, girl?”

Cleo answers with another “woof” and stretches one of her paws upwards. I’ve found her secret spot and she groans with contentment.

My own words bump around in my head. I’m pregnant. I’m pregnant. I’m pregnant.

I haven’t told the father yet. It’s not because I don’t know who it is; I’m not a whore, for Pete’s sake. Just irresponsible. This is what I get for enjoying too much whiskey and being horny, I scold myself.

He never should have started reading from his poetry book, I lament some more. I don’t even like poetry, but his deep, smooth baritone made it worth the listen. The words flowed out of his mouth effortlessly and I found myself staring at his lips as he read, imagining what else those lips could do in addition to reading so eloquently.

He stopped reading, or rather, I made him stop reading because I grabbed the book out of his hand, tossed it on the coffee table, and straddled his thighs. The evening progressed from there.

And now, here I am, laying on my dog, and wondering what in the hell I should do. As far as I see it, I have two options: not tell him I am pregnant and quietly handle this by getting an abortion, or have his baby, determining later whether or not to keep it or give it up for adoption. I’m leaning toward the first, but admit that the latter is also in consideration. Despite the initial shock of finding out I’m pregnant, I’m blown away that I am. I didn’t think I could get pregnant. Several of my last annual exams with my gynecologist have ended with her telling me it probably isn’t possible to have children. To put it crudely, my lady parts are fucked up. However, she did say “probably,” not “definitely.” Kathryn Grace Thomas: Defying the odds since 1980.

As selfish as this sounds, I want to be pregnant. I want to know I’m growing a human inside me. I want to wear cute maternity clothes and have strangers come up and touch my swollen belly. I want the bizarre cravings at 1 a.m. and the morning sickness and that weird line that pregnant women get down the middle of their stomachs and the outtie belly button. I want all that, and I have a chance to have it.

Reality sets in and despite wanting all those things, I can’t have this child, so I make plans for Option A.

***
The sun is shining a little too bright today, I decided as Jamie and I are sitting in my car at a red light. The sky is too blue, as well. The birds songs too chipper. The world looks like one big Disney movie and I’m pissed off about it. Don’t they know what I’m doing today? But the more I think about it, it’d be terribly cliché if it were dreary and rainy, so I shut up. Jamie fiddles nervously with the knobs on the radio.
“Dude, pick a station,” I snap.
“I’m sorry,” she whines, “I don’t know what a good pre-abortion soundtrack would be.” She settles on the local National Public Radio station and we listen as Steve Inskeep prattles on during Morning Edition. No matter how many times I hear that man say his name, it always sounds like he’s saying “Good morning. This is Morning Edition, and I’m Steve-inski.”
The light changes to green and I lurch forward. I check the GPS on my dashboard to make sure we don’t get lost. I’ve never been to Planned Parenthood before and don’t want to be late, even though being late is what got me into this mess in the first place.
“Oh, sweet baby Jesus…” Jamie says quietly as we pull into the parking lot. “These assholes need to get a fucking life…”
My heart stops beating as I see a handful of protesters with neon-colored poster board announcing the sins of abortion blocking the front entrance to the clinic. “ABORTION STOPS A BEATING HEART,” “THOU SHALT NOT KILL,” “JESUS LOVES YOUR UNBORN CHILD.”
“Jamie, I don’t want to go in,” I feel sick to my stomach. I can’t tell if it’s nerves or morning sickness.
“It’ll be okay, Katie. I’m here. It’ll be okay,” she grabs my hand and gives it a reassuring squeeze. I look over at her and a tear drips down my cheek. She reaches out and wipes it away.
“Okay, let’s do this,” I grab the handle to my car door, open it, and walk towards the people with the signs.
“Murderer!!” One screams at me. “Murdering whore!!”
I’m stunned into stopping in my tracks, and I look behind me because surely, that woman wasn’t yelling at me…was she?
“You’re a murderer of innocent children and I hope you burn in hell!” she screams again.
“Yeah, well your mom should have had an abortion with you, you fucking cunt.” The words hit me out of nowhere. Jamie is standing tall beside me. Her venom was directed at the woman yelling at me, who seems taken aback by what Jamie said. Jamie grabs my hand, uses her arm to shove the woman with the sign away from the door and we enter the building. I look at Jamie with wide, round eyes and I start laughing. I couldn’t help it. The situation we were just in was too surreal and laughing was the only reaction that made sense to me.
“‘…your mom should have had an abortion, you cunt?'” I could barely talk, I was laughing so hard.
Jamie started laughing, too. “Bitch had it comin’, Katie,” she snorted. We stood in the foyer of Planned Parenthood, laughing hysterically. The door to the reception area opened and a concerned-looking woman in pale blue scrubs poked her head out.
“Ladies? Is everything okay?”
This made Jamie and I laugh harder. I tried to apologize to the woman, but all I could do was wave my hand at her face and snort.
“Well, when you’re ready, you can come inside…”
Jamie and I laughed for a few more minutes and somewhat regained our composure, and walked into the clinic, up to the front desk.
“Hi, Katie Thomas. I have an 11:00 appointment.”
“Hi, Katie. I have some forms for you to fill out, and we’ll get to you shortly. Please have a seat.”
“Thank you,” I said quietly.
***
The exam room was cold and the paper gown I’m wearing is doing nothing to ward off the chill in the air. I glance around nervously at the stock art framed on the walls and the chart of the female reproductive system. The uterus is a weird organ. There are some pamphlets on the procedure I’m going to have done and I flip through it, but the words don’t make sense to me. There’s a soft knock on the door and a giant bear of a man walks in to the room, his hand outstretched for a hand shake.
“Katie? I’m Dr. Edwards. It’s nice to meet you.” His grip is firm and his hands are soft, which contradicts his appearance.
“Have you read about what type of procedure we’ll be doing today?” he asked.
“Yes, I have,” I lied.
“Do you have any questions before we get started?”
A thousand different things filled my mind at once…will it hurt? was the top one, so I asked.
“We give you a local anesthetic and a pain-killer during the process and afterwards, you’ll experience some cramp-like symptoms, but those are easily treated with an over-the-counter analgesic,” he stated. “You’ll also experience some bleeding for a few days afterward, but nothing too unusual. Obviously, if the bleeding becomes irregular, or you have moderate to severe pain, get yourself to an emergency room. There are complications, but a small percentage of women suffer them. I’ll do my best to make this as simple as possible for you, Katie.”
“Thank you, doctor,” I mumble feebly.
“Okay, I’m going to have you lie back on the table and put your feet in the stirrups, and we’ll get started. You’re going to be fine.”
That’s the second time some has said that phrase to me during these last few weeks and I finally started to accept it.
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