Early November 2000, the week of my “actual” Birthday, not to be confused with the three weeks leading up to and after my birthday which go by the same name “My Birthday”. I’ve spent the last six months getting to know the handsome man I met in South Beach, Rome. Those six months were a whirlwind, we traveled back to Miami twice, we took a few road trips, spent long weekends cuddled up on his futon in front of the TV eating takeout and learning about each other. When we weren’t physically together, we were talking on the phone or sending messages back and forth on our Motorola 2-Way Pagers. Life was good.
He lived alone in a great apartment on the top floor of a pre-war building in the Wakefield section of the Bronx. There were high ceilings with ornate trim, huge glass windows with a great view of the neighborhood and bonus, I got a great workout carrying groceries up to the sixth floor when the elevator wasn’t working. This was my very first time “playing house” and I loved it! Plus, at 21, I thought I was cool, living in New York without the watchful eye of my parents.
It was in “3940” that we would celebrate my 22nd Birthday together. In my mind, this would be the first of many celebrations as a couple. As I drove there and climbed six flights of stairs in my Fendi heeled boots, I kept visualizing how he would greet me with a gift that he had professionally wrapped by the good people at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Plot twist. I was wrong. The weekend came and went without so much as a card. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. It was like any other weekend we had spent together. I made the best of it, but I was used to a much more elaborate birthday. Was it possible that I fell in love with the one person who didn’t understand the sanctity of the High Holiday known as “MY BIRTHDAY”?
Something changed after that “failed” birthday. Not only was I triggered by his lack of enthusiasm for 11/6, I was physically exhausted from the commute to his house from work so I was staying at my parents much more often. Then around Thanksgiving, I got some kind of flu that I was sure came on from KARMA of not properly celebrating my 22nd Birthday. He was working in the music industry which had its perks but it was also tough to navigate as a girlfriend. I was having trouble keeping up with his lifestyle and I was feeling disconnected and depressed.
Depression wasn’t unfamiliar territory to me. By December, I knew I was having an episode. I figured I would do him the favor of not putting him through my shit and honestly, I wasn’t sure he’d even understand. Anxiety and depression was not something I was particularly open about in those days. I wasn’t in the right mind space, so when he would ask me what was going on, I would just push him away.
Unsure what was happening with us, he decided to go to Canada to spend the Holiday’s with his family. The next few weeks, still battling this episode of depression and flu without health insurance, I was in no place to worry about what was next with us.
It was so expensive to call internationally, so we barely spoke and when we did it was short. In my head, I pictured him out partying and enjoying single life while I was home crying every time I heard “I…… Don’t want a lot for Christmas…. There is just one thing I need….” DAMN YOU MARIAH!
So, the phone rings at midnight, it’s 2001. “HAPPY NEW YEAR” he says, meanwhile I am rolled into a fetal position on my bed crying. I can’t understand what is going on with me, I tell him I can’t talk because “I just can’t”. He slips in that he would be returning to NYC in February for his Birthday and we will revisit “us” when he gets back.
New Year, New ME? Nope. I felt like shit. I looked like death. I started working part-time because I was so sick, even then I would call out a few days a week. I refused to eat, I certainly didn’t want to talk to anyone, my complexion took on a greyish tint and I was pretty sure I was actually, literally, dying well before Rome got back. Typically my depression was served with a large side of hypochondria, this bout was no different.
You see, I started to think my episode was self-inflicted. My whole life when I was asked “what do you want to be when you grow up” I would say “A mom!” It was never a question in my mind, I wanted children. When I was 15 my mother brought me to see a gynecologist because my period was very irregular, going almost a year without menstruating. The doctor said it was “complicated” and prescribed some terrible medicine that would not only bring on my period. It made me break out and I’m pretty sure I grew a mustache and beard as well. As a teen, you would think that was the worst of it, but it wasn’t, not even close. The doctor told my mother and I that my uterus was “abnormal” and due to this “flaw in my anatomy, natural conception would be unlikely”, I was destroyed. They tried to console me with the promise that technology would be so advanced by the time I wanted children that intervention would make my dream of being a mother totally possible.
Something inside me thought maybe I was depressed because I saw a future with this man, who I knew wanted children because he came from a HUGE loving family and here I was, most likely unable to give him that. I dreaded telling him this but knew we would need to have the conversation sooner than later. As for my family, this subject was never to be spoken of again because everyone saw how it destroyed me.
My Aunt Sue, who called daily to check on me, finally worked up the courage to bring up this subject, deciding that during the darkest time of my depression she would ask me “could you be pregnant?”
How dare she ask me that? “NO!” I screamed like a child, “you know that’s not possible”! The conversation ended abruptly. My heart was broken all over again.
I stewed over this and figured that the best revenge was to show her a negative pregnancy test and tell her how much worse I felt knowing that was STILL not the problem today nor would it ever be!
The next day I drag myself to work, walk next door to the bodega and buy a pregnancy test. I rip open the box, I pee on the stick, throw it on the back of the toilet and wash my hands. I tell my coworker Jessica that I am taking a pregnancy test to “show my Aunt how bad she hurt me” and she looks at me like I am crazy. Which, in her defense, I was getting there. Five minutes later, I go grab it for my big “GUILT TRIP REVENGE PLOT”. I don’t even glance at it, throw it in a plastic bag so I can hand deliver it to my Aunt and then Jessica asks, “So?”
I give her a “SO??????” right back.
“Jess, I am humoring my Aunt. It’s called sarcasm.” I say.
She snatches the bag, takes out the stick. like it doesn’t even have my urine on it and looks at it. Stops. Then, turns it around and looks closer.
She gets up and grabs the box from the garbage. I don’t even flinch. Actually, I’m thinking this poor girl, she is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
Then she looks up at me, eyes wide open she says “it’s positive”.
She shoves the pee laced stick within an inch of my face and repeats “IT’S POSITIVE”! That’s it, now I’m getting aggravated!
I humor her and look at it.
I start doing long math in my head.
“You can’t get pregnant” times “I just met this man in May” divided by “I haven’t had sex in over 4 months” equals the sum of “WHAT-the FUCK” squared!
The breath was literally sucked out of my body in that moment. I. Was. Pregnant. I WAS PREGNANT!
According to my arithmetic I was already past the risky first trimester safe and sound, I wasn’t dying. I was pregnant. I was having morning, noon and night sickness, suffering months with NO IDEA there was a little human inside of me!
It explained so much, there were so many emotions! First, I needed to see “it”, like for REAL! Then the obvious obstacles, like telling Rome over the phone he’s going to be a DAD for the first time! I needed to share the news with my 39 year old mother that she was going to be a GRANDMOTHER! Oh, let’s not forget the apology I owed my Aunt for hastily hanging up on her! I owed her a huge THANK YOU too! I could’ve ended up on one of those reality shows where I go to pee in the middle of the night and a baby falls out!
I had a LOT to do but I can honestly say that immediately after I found out I had a life inside of me I felt better. I knew I wasn’t losing my mind, my sickness wasn’t death it was LIFE!
I mean, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. But we can save that for another blog. February came and Rome got home. I had the tiniest little bump that was just big enough to need to use a hairtie to close my jeans but he was fascinated by it. He would just hold my belly and say, “it’s a miracle”.
We went to get a sonogram on Valentine’s Day, we found out that we were having a GIRL in August!
Oh, about my 22nd Birthday, it turns out he gave me the BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT EVER…
Chloe’s very first photo below!