You’re scared, I know, and it’s not that tenth grade trigonometry test that has you shaking in your shoes. You hardly slept at all last night, I know, and I can see those circles big and dark around the bottom of your eyelids.
It’s not trigonometry, is it? It’s another test you took, in the folds of the dark, while your mom slept soundly in the other room and while your brother played video games in the basement. It’s the test you took in the cold tile of the bathroom, next to your pink electric toothbrush and coach sized bag of make up.
You passed the test, too— but not in the way you wanted to, was it? This was a test you were hoping to fail, to throw away and forget about, to attribute to your compulsive paranoia of counting days. But the test was positive, a positive with two lines next to the word that sent you spilling your contents of dinner into the toilet.
And so today, in school, the test weighs heavier on your heart than any math or science or social problem. I didn’t even like him, I didn’t even want it, is all you can think about the party last month, about the boy with the bad breath to whom you said yes, because he’s a football player and everyone knows that’s the cream of the crop. And now he’s left you with this thing, this issue, this ball of cells slowly growing inside you that, if left unresolved will grow into a separate, living human.
There is a way to resolve it. You know, you’ve heard the other girls talk in the locker room. You’ve seen the laminated pamphlets in the school nurse’s office, advertising a simple procedure. It looks harmless and only a little painful, and you’ll never have to face the embarrassment of telling your mom, telling this boy, pacing the hallways with pants too tight and a swollen belly. No one but you will ever have to know.
It’s your choice, they’ll tell you, if you go to the clinic. Your right to choose. They’ll tell you the unwanted thing inside you isn’t really a human yet— that it’s just a bundle of cells that will happen to grow into one and so what’s the big issue?
It’s a woman thing, they’ll push when you wonder. It’s a celebration of your rights. You’ll wonder, maybe, how this quiet act, done in desperation in order to avoid shame, could be seen as a celebration of womanhood. It might feel a long way from equality for woman, this hidden decision behind closed doors. But they’ll answer your questions, pat your back and tell you with smiles that they can resolve this whole thing. Happily, they’ll take the bundle of cells out with the evening trash, never to be thought of again. You’ll go back to school, back to the soccer team after a day or too, you’ll tell your mom you’re a little sick and it will all be done with. Easy as pie.
You know all this, I know. But I wonder if you know what will happen if you don’t resolve this little bud inside of you?
At seven weeks, that little blueberry in your tummy has a spinal cord and a pancreas. Three weeks from now, you’ll hear its sweet heart beat— beating only for you, its source of life. And if you choose to let it grow, it will tumble around and kick in your tummy, more in the evenings because it is probably a night owl. It will push out the perimeters of your skin as it swells with life. At 20 weeks, you’ll find out if it is a boy or a lady, and I’m betting that you’ll have the most beautiful girl around.
By thirty weeks, you’ll really feel it, and you’ll walk those halls of school in those adorable maternity clothes, and you’ll feel so proud, because yes, your classmates are studying, learning, playing sports, but you are bringing forth life and what could be more powerful, more noble, than that? You’ll be a beacon of courage, to your teachers, your classmates, that girl in English who just passed the unwanted test herself and doesn’t know if she can go through with it. They’ll look to you as a shining example, woman of boldness who stood firm and said that life was more important than convenience.
And then before you know it that baby will be crying in your arms in the hospital, and you will wonder how anyone ever thought this gorgeous little human could have been thrown out with the coffee cups. You’ll kiss your baby’s forehead and fall in love in a way powerful enough to make you cry heavy tears. Your mother will fall in love too, and this baby— this tiny, innocent life— will bring healing in a way that nothing else ever could.
There are so many joys ahead for you— so many gifts that this personality will give only to you. There’s the first time she’ll smile in recognition when you walk into her room; there’s the laugh she saves for when you tickle her under her chin. There’s her first word, her learning to crawl, seeing snow fall for the first time. She’ll play in the dirt, scrape her knee, and as you clean up the wound you will again wonder how anyone ever called this beautiful creature just a bundle of cells.
It won’t be easy, being a teenage single mom, but what truly worthwhile thing is ever really easy? This little girl has so much ahead of her— she could be president, a movie star, a teacher, an accountant— and she owes it all to you.
To you, sweet Sarah, who chose to see past the inconvenience, the shame, the fear of what other people might think.
You, who saw more than a bundle of cells.
*Sarah is a pseudonym for every woman who has ever passed the test they hoped to fail.