If I had to listen to the constant high- pitched beeping of machines around me, or the squeaking of sneakers across vinyl floor for any longer, I’m sure I’d throw up. The pungent aroma of hand sanitizer wasn’t helping either. And the fact that I hadn’t eaten anything since hot chips for lunch earlier that day meant that the sharp pains in my abdomen were soon accompanied by an ache in my empty stomach.
A female doctor in a knee- length lab coat finally arrived holding a clipboard. I remember reading somewhere that the longer the coat, the higher qualified the doctor.
“Is there any chance you could be pregnant?” She didn’t waste time getting to the point.
“Um…” I stuttered. She raised an eyebrow at me. I must have looked to her like a dumb kid; a little high off the painkillers, alone, hunched over in an oversized gown (which made me look like a twelve- year- old), messy haired, clutching my toy fox and unsure of whether or not I could possibly be pregnant.
“Possibly” soon turned into “probably” and that doctor was out the door faster than I could wrap my head around my own thoughts. I was left waiting for an hour. Not the usual, “I’ll just grab a coffee and read a magazine”- type hour. The long, interminable, horrifying cliff- hanger of an “Am I about to become a parent? Because I still haven’t seen Europe” hour. And then she returned, and with one word, shook up my entire perspective on the world and life and what all of it meant.
And that was that. The glamorous Miss Whiskey who travelled, drank champagne, smoked cigars and earned ridiculous cash for dancing in gentlemen’s clubs was no more. In her place sat a nervous, lonely little girl cuddling a stuffed toy, wondering who she was. I felt as though I’d been unfairly plonked onto an uncharted planet with no choice in the matter.
Well, I called him first. I thought I had to. He’d left me in the waiting room earlier that night and told me to take a bus home as he’d be out drinking. I was scared of making him mad by asking him to return to the ward to see me. I had barely told him the news before my world was shaken up yet again, and before I knew it I was strapped into an ambulance and told I was heading for another hospital. He didn’t seem too fazed at what I felt was the hugest news we could possibly receive, but this was, as I later learnt, because of his automatic assumption that an abortion would be soon to follow and that he’d have nothing else to do with me.
I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but scary words such as “life- threatening” and “emergency” were being thrown around. I had heard a little about ectopic pregnancies before and how complications can be dangerous, but I still felt alien to what was happening around me.
After a few scans and tests at the next hospital I discovered that a) the baby was healthy and fine and I would also be safe, and b) I was 5 weeks pregnant. Suddenly my cramps didn’t seem to matter anymore. And I made one of the most important phone calls of my life; one to my mother.
I broke the news to her mid- conversation. She said, “Oh, okay,” And kept talking, as if I’d just told her about a new book I’d read or that I’d be having nachos for dinner. Her reaction could not have been better. I cried, realising how much I love that woman, and I wondered what her conversation to her own mother had been like when she found out she was pregnant with me.
It didn’t take me long to find out that I would be doing this whole parenting thing alone. Abortion was never an option for me. There’s just no way I could ever bury another baby. And if someone couldn’t accept and appreciate that, well I figured they’re better off not being a part of my life, nor my baby’s, anyway.
It hit me pretty soon afterwards, when I was sitting by a garden the next morning outside the hospital. A mother blackbird landed a few feet away from me, her baby following and landing just behind her. My name is from a Pakistani myth, and means “Blackbird,” and being the spiritual hippie- child that I am, I saw this as a sign and smiled down at my tummy, acknowledging my baby’s existence as a person for the first time. So this is really happening, huh?