Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Anniversary of Yes

Tests were always stressful for me. They're not fun. They take so much out of you and you don't know how they'll go. In school I would cram for exams and worry about how I would do. During the test I would sweat so much I wound up with a blue hand from writing on sheets of foolscap. (I was a straight A student but still always worried and doubted myself. I'd tell my friend "OMG I totally FAILED that exam!" Then I'd get a 90%.) After learning to drive, my road test was just about the most nerve-wracking thing I'd ever done. I was so scared. Most of my family had failed their road test the first time (or first few times.) I was so afraid of failing. Luckily I passed on my first try. The one thing I kind of messed up was parallel parking (I was too far from the curb.) I told the guy "Don't worry. I'll NEVER do it again!" and I haven't! The only way I parallel park is if all the spaces are empty and I can just drive along into one of them! Of course the worst tests of all were blood tests. They were always terrifying to me because I had a phobia of needles and fainted every time.

Then, last year, on November 18th 2011 I took the most frightening test I had ever taken. One which changed the rest of my life. I took a pregnancy test. I had never been late before. My periods were always on time (every 3 weeks and 3 days. Lucky me. Not even 4 weeks between my horrendous monthly visitors.) I had never missed a period. Not in 30 years of menstruation. Not with any of my boyfriends. Even ones that lasted several years. It was bizarre to me. It made no sense. I finally resigned myself to the fact that I was probably going through early menopause. But I got a pregnancy test just in case (it was my sister's idea.) I peed on the little plastic stick. I was expecting "No" the way that you expect the sun to rise in the morning, or rain to be wet. I was not expecting "Yes" any more than I was expecting pigs to fly, or Hell to freeze over. Me having a baby was not within the realm of possibility. You don't get pregnant at 42 with a guy you've only been dating a month. It just doesn't happen. I was with someone for almost a decade and didn't get pregnant so it just didn't make any sense. But there it was. After I finished shaking and crying I thought "Oh my God. I'm going to be a Mom." And beneath the shock and the fear there was something else, a kind of joy. Love. I was going to have a baby. I took a picture of the test as a souvenir because it was digital and I figured the little yes would fade eventually. I always took photos of all of my adventures and this was the beginning of my biggest one so far.

When I broke the news to Mike (Michelle's deadbeat dad who took off when I was four months pregnant) he was sitting at his computer, drinking his third cup of coffee, leaning back in his broken black leather chair (he leaned back so far in it that the spring was shot) in his office, in what is now Michelle's nursery.
"I'm pregnant."
"You could take a morning after pill." he suggested.
Inside I was screaming "God, you're an idiot!"
Instead I just rolled my eyes and said "Well first of all it's NOT the morning after. It could have been any time since my last period in October. And second, a morning after pill is like an abortion pill. I wouldn't do that anyway. I'm against abortion."
He didn't know what to say. I could see the wheels spinning in his spiky blond head. He had just turned 32 years old. We had only been dating a month (mind you he moved in after two weeks which was HIS idea.) I decided to put him out of his misery. I didn't want him to feel trapped. I gave him an out, if he chose to take it.
"Ok look, I'll fully understand if you want to leave but I'm keeping this baby. This isn't something I ever planned or expected but it must be God's will for me. It's Fate. I know you didn't sign up for this, nor did I. I mean we've only known each other a MONTH. If you want to leave you know where the door is. I'll understand. I don't expect anything from you."
I fully expected him to start packing his things and scurry out the door. But he didn't. A while later, after he'd had a chance to process the idea, he told me that he was sticking around. "I knew when we met that you were special and that this was meant to be," he said. "I've never had a family before... We'll make a cute little family. And I'll teach him everything I know."
"That's pretty scary!" I said, "or her. I hope it's a girl."

I called my sister and my Mom. They were so excited and happy for me. I thought my mother would have gone ballistic. "Are you crazy?! You get pregnant to a guy you just started dating?!" but instead she was thrilled. Apparently she had WANTED me to have a baby. She thought that I would regret it if I didn't. She'd even been praying "Please God don't let Ann Marie regret not having children." "So it's your fault!" I said to her, "You prayed for it!" It was just too bizarre. I still couldn't believe it was happening. I was the last person on Earth that I ever would have pictured having a baby. I didn't feel mature enough, responsible enough, patient enough. I didn't think I could ever be a Mom. I could barely take care of myself. But I started to change after the test. My feelings, priorities, everything changed. My maternal instincts (which before that day I didn't even realize I had) started to take over. I was becoming a Mom.

I had been posting an original song on Youtube every day of 2011. Many songs I'd already written and many brand new that I penned about the latest experiences in my life. The songs almost became like diary entries, sharing what I was feeling on any given day. So on November 18th I couldn't resist writing about my news. I wanted to tell the world, without really telling them. I'd heard it was bad luck to announce your pregnancy in the first trimester because you don't know how it's going to go. The thought of losing my baby was too painful to even fathom (though I hadn't expected her, I loved her and felt protective of her almost instantly after finding out I was pregnant) but it was a possibility. I'd known so many people who suffered the heartbreak of a miscarriage in the first few months.

I wound up writing, recording and posting "Never counted on yes" -- a song about my pregnancy test. I kept it vague enough that no one in the world would know the real meaning, except Mike and I, my sister and my Mom. It just sounded like a song about life, about love, about embracing change. "I confess I never would have guessed that life could become such a beautiful mess. And I'm stressed but I'm blessed. Never counted on yes, yes, yes."

Now here I am a year later. Michelle and I are both sick with the cold. Caring for a sick baby when you're sick as a dog yourself is one of the hardest things I think anyone could go through. Especially for a single Mom, with no one there to help. No one to run to the store to grab things for you. No one to take the baby to give you a break. Somehow I find the strength to carry her when my arms are aching and I'm so weak I can barely move. To force a smile when I want to cry. To play "This little piggy" and "Was a little monkey" to make her smile even though I'm beyond exhausted, drained, depleted, my nose running, my head aching. To comfort her and take care of her even when it feels like I'm running on empty. To put on a brave face even when it feels like I'm falling apart. Because I'm a Mom now. And that's what you do.

My little girl and I have been through a lot already and there's so much more for us to go through. Ups and downs, adventures, discoveries. We're both learning as we go. It seems like a lifetime ago that I sat in the bathroom waiting for a word to appear in that little plastic window. I know that it was meant to be. Mike obviously got scared about the idea of fatherhood a few months later, or figured that we were better off without him (because we are -- financially, emotionally and in every way he was a MESS. More of a hindrance than a help.) Someone told me that a mother is a mother from the instant she's pregnant but a father isn't a father until he sees that baby. He doesn't feel the same bond. He wasn't attached to the baby the way I was. If he was, he never could have left.

She had me at "Yes." As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I started to love her and I changed my whole life for her. I would do anything for her.

I feel so blessed to have my little Michelle. In spite of all the heartbreak I went through earlier this year, all the difficulty of being pregnant, all the pain of labour, all the stress and sleeplessness of having a new baby, I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have my little girl. If I had it all to do over again, I would.

It's a funny thing to be given an unexpected gift that changes life as you knew it. Like winning a lottery with a ticket you didn't know you had, forgotten and scrunched up in the bottom of your purse.

I never counted on yes. But I am so grateful.


  1. Omg I love love that song! So very beautiful. Michelle is a very lucky girl to be able to grow up & know how much her momma loved her right from the start!

  2. Thank you so much! Yes I did love her right away. Best surprise of my life!