I never thought I would really be in this situation. I went to the gynecologist today...she insisted that I take another blood test for pregnancy, and this time, it turned up positive. I took one last Tuesday, and it was negative... apparently because I had conceived only a few days prior to the test. But now, it's been the right amount of days to detect it, and here I am, 19 years old, knocked up, and scared out of my freaking mind.
I used to think that if this ever happened to me, I would have an abortion, no questions asked. But now I'm on the other side of the fence... and now it seems less possible for me to kill off something growing inside me. I'm highly pro-choice, but... now that I HAVE the choice, I don't know if I want to make it. What I would ultimately like to do is give birth, and put it into a loving, adoptive home. But can I actually go through with having it? I'm so focused on school right now... I'm working two jobs.But that makes me seem selfish...

I just can't reach a decision...

The worst part is-- I don't know who's it is. I feel so guilty, and saying that I don't know makes me think that I come across as some cheap half-rate slut. But it's only one of two people... and once they do more blood work, and narrow down the possible day of conception, well, then I'll be able to figure it out a little better... God, I feel bad. I used to think that I was invincible... that this stuff only happened to other people...

Well, guess what? I was wrong.

Insert standard male disclaimer here

I don't want to sound like I am preaching a philosophy, though I suspect that it can be interpreted as such at some point by some people. I do not claim that this is right for anyone but me.

First and foremost, your decisions are your own. That you recognize the value of that choice, and don't have that choice forced upon you is a good thing. Likewise, you respect life and all of its possibilities.

There is nothing wrong with being selfish. Selfishness is recognizing your place in your world. In all things, think of yourself first.

You are not guilty. If you are guilty of anything its of having a conscience and looking at the consequences of your actions. That is certainly not a bad thing. Think of how much worse it would be if we never felt guilt, that everything we did was care free and without consequence.

Yes, it is possible that you made a mistake in the past. Chances are he did too. We all make mistakes. Everything we do touches other people. Having a child touches may other people's lives. You can already see it touching yours.

The past has been written and cannot be changed. Make the best of the present and the future.

It does no good for anyone to say "I wish I was on birth control" or "why didn't I make him wear a condom". What is necessary now is to look at what can be done here and now.

Do not, by any means look down upon yourself. You are not a "cheap half-rate slut". You are a person who is just as likely to make a mistake as anyone else. Things happen, sometimes outside of our control or plans. To dwell upon these things just mires people in the past, afraid to take a step forward or to make a mistake again. Take pride in your mistakes, they are what gives us assurance that there is indeed free will.

Whatever your choice is, it is the right one. But don't forget to take responsibility for it.

Too much knowledge never makes for simple decisions. --Ghanima Atreides

During my extensive dating history I have been involved in two "pregnancy scares". In one situation I was the "responsible one", always wearing a condom. In the other she was primarily responsible for birth control (although during the early stages of any relationship I always insist on wearing a condom until all of the appropriate medical tests have been done and I know that I can trust her to use birth control reliably). But the facts are that no method of birth control is 100% reliable.

Both incidents had me very nervous. Although I know that I want to be a father in the future there are still many things I want to get done before children enter my life-picture. At the times I think I was almost as scared of the prospect as she was. Both incidents took place during the course of long-term relationships, and under those circumstances I feel that I would want to take some part in the life of any child I fathered. Fortunately, both times things turned up negative and my life went on.

These incidents however did raise in me the issue of "father's rights" an area of legislation that is severely lacking in the United States. Now, I've been pro-choice all of my life, and in both of those particular incidents I would have fully supported the decision of either woman if she chose to have an abortion. However, I would have expected them to discuss it with me. By law an unmarried woman (I have no idea what the laws are regarding married couples) can have an abortion without the father of the potential child being consulted. Somehow, on a gut level, this bothers me*.

Keep in mind, both of these incidents occurred during the course of long-term relationships. If it had been a one night stand, or some other such "fling" I don't believe I'd have any business in getting involved in the mother's choice whether or not to keep the child, I'd never intended to stick around in the first place (and she never expected me to), and the decision is completely hers. However if she were to keep the child I'd have no problem fulfilling my legal obligation as a father and, if permitted, becoming an active part of the child's life. If she chose to have the child, then give it up for adoption I'd expect to have first crack at adopting the child. If she chose to abort, then that was her decision, under those circumstances I wouldn't even expect to be contacted.

Long term relationships do change things for me. I think it's a trust and commitment issue that she would discuss it with me. Chances are (99% I'd say) that I'd support whatever decision she made, based almost solely on the fact that she took the time to discuss with me what was going on.

* Yes, I know I'm a man and that I wouldn't have to undergo the whole pain and strain of childbirth, I know it's probably not exactly "PC" for me to insist that a woman have a child, just because it's mine. That's not what this is about. It's about trust and understanding. Please read the rest of the node.

1993, my Senior year of high school, I had the coolest English teacher, Mr. Brown. He gave us an assignment, write about what has most affected your life. This is what I turned in.

Once Upon A Time, In a Kingdom Far, Far Away

It was Friday the 13th August, 1993, a white hot day with a slight breeze. I was at Jared's house, a two-story wood and brick affair with a screened in porch on the 2nd story. We were up there, Jared, Jeremiah, who was my boyfriend at the time, and myself. Sitting lazily in the shade on the cold tippy chairs, smoking and talking amongst ourselves. It was a day like any other in that summer. Hanging with the guys, hot, sweating, smoking, faintly bored, exasperated with Jeremiah. I remember this day, not because of what happened, but because of what I was thinking, a sort of revelation in my 17 year old mind, that would make the days events stick out, giving me an everlasting memory to pass on.

Jeremiah and I used to be very much in love. I couldn't stand being away from him, it almost physically hurt. His body was my anchor to this world. His mind my loquacious twin. Feeling his arms around me was like coming home. The need to be with him was all consuming. When I think back to the early days with him, they smell like spring in my mind, bright with sunshine and green with growing things. But by this time, my love had started dwindling. He'd been abandoned by his mother as a child, and was looking for a replacement, me. He was emotionally empty and looking for filler. I was tired of being a mother to him, tired of taking care of him, sick of his 3 year old tantrums when he didn't get his way. He used to literally throw himself on the ground, scream and grind his teeth when he didn't get his way. Every time I tried to break up with him, he did this, and the embarassment from his behavior kept me from actually going through with it. So here I am, staring at Jared, and I realize I'd never actually seen him before. I always looked at him like some clownish reggae rapper boy transplanted from Richmond, California. My eyes opened on this day, his philosophy was smart and witty, his skin seemed golden in the summer light. The realization hit me, that if I could check out other guys with interest, I was worse off with Jeremiah than I thought.

When we were done smoking, we went back inside to the cool darkness of Jared’s upstairs room. We all laid on the bed, just spread eagle, with our legs hanging off the edges, watching the ceiling fan spin around. After a bit, Jeremiah asked Jared to leave, saying he wanted to give me a 'tongue lashing'. I protested, being embarrassed at the thought of doing anything with Jared knowing what we were doing. But Jared left. And I thought to myself 'this is the first time that Jeremiah's ever instigated anything!' Then Jared knocked, and came back in, placing a condom on the bedside table. Jeremiah told him we wouldn't need it since this was only to be a tongue lashing. The act itself was very unimportant. I remember to this day though, looking up from the bed, and seeing the sunlight filter through the sheer white curtains, and thinking 'how beautiful', listening to the rhythm of Three Days. It turned out though, that Jeremiah's appetite got the better of him, and as he moved up over me, I remember murmuring something about the condom. Clearly now, I can hear him saying 'we won't need it, I'll pull out. (oh naive youth) I remember also, not wanting any of it. But knowing that it was his way of putting claim on me in front of Jared. I let him though, it cost less energy for me than protesting.

When it was over, I was very shy, knowing what Jared knew. So I called my parents, and my mom came and picked me up. A week later I got my period, and I was relieved. That was the last time that Jeremiah and I had sex. At least it was good, the feeling of lethargy and remembering the sun and the curtains. Knowing I was loved, even if it wasn't reciprocated. School started, and I eventually got up the balls to stand up to Jeremiah's infantile behavior, and broke up with him.

September came, and in the middle of the month I started having excruciating pains in my abdomen. The doctor asked me if I'd been having intercourse. My mother was sitting next to me, and I was lying on my side, crying, and clutching my stomach, fighting off the nausea. I said yes, and he mildly chastised me, saying that a girl my age could get pregnant, insinuating that was what was wrong with me. I knew it couldn't be that. I hurt so badly. They had taken a pregnancy test when I came in, and the doctor comes back seconds after berating me, saying 'you're pregnant' It was a shock of white burning intensity. I started sobbing. My mom inhaled sharply and turned her head to the wall. The doctors examining room seemed to get hotter, then I threw up in the garbage can. The doctor continued, saying that my pain either came from a ectopic pregnancy, or my appendix, and either way we were going to have to do surgery.

The hour I found out I was pregnant. I started to love my child. I was very scared. Very lonely. Lying on that table, knowing I may need to have an abortion.

The Dr. gave me an appointment for a sonogram, and my mother and I sat outside his office on the grass. I kept calling my baby a her, a she, and trying not to cry. We eventually got the sonogram done, and it proved that the baby was fine, but I needed an appendectomy, my appendix was about to rupture. They rushed me into admitting, and then surgery. Here my mother saved my child’s life, asking the anesthesiologist if he knew that I was pregnant. He almost shot me full of anesthetic that would have killed it. The rest of my hospital stay is a blur. But I remember Jared coming to visit, making me laugh, even though it hurt. I remember being accepting and happy of my pregnancy. I began to make plans then, for this event that had changed my life drastically.

I told Jeremiah about it when I saw him two weeks later. He was pretty supportive and understanding. He wanted me to have an abortion, but I told him I was fine, and that we didn't expect anything from him. His attitude one day changed drastically though, till he is the person I know now. He hasn't told his parents, I'm seven months along. He baits me with references to his unfaithfulness to me when we were together. I still don't know if they are true. He makes fat, pregnant lady jokes. Of all the things I've had to deal with, the real loss of my innocence and childhood. The body changes, the scholarship I had to turn down. The traveling. My dreams. All gone. But HE is the hardest to deal with. It scars deeply when a person that said they loved you with all their heart, said that they would never purposely hurt you, does. He's completely cut himself off from the changes he has helped to make. It's a betrayal. It makes every endearment he's ever uttered to me a lie. He is the father of my baby, but there will be no I'm going to be a dad comments from him, he even has insinuated that it's Jared’s. This affects how I'm going to live my life with my baby. My baby will not have a father to play with or care for it. I will not have anyone to help me raise the baby on a day-to-day basis. I made this decision for myself, but his betrayal hurts worse then knowing I may have to go on welfare.

I am a mother now, and that notion colors my thinking, my actions, what I eat, and who I associate with. Now and for the rest of my life. I accept this.

How can two little words evoke such polarizing emotion as elation or horror? Those two little words can be the happiest thing you’ve heard or possibly the worst.

First a bit of history
Pregnancy is not something that has always been publicly announced. In the Victorian era, pregnancy was typically hidden from public view. Instead of the term “pregnant”, pregnant women were referred to as being in a “delicate condition” or “in the family way”. There were even specially designed maternity corsets to hide pregnancy. Once the pregnancy could not be hidden upper-class women would be confined to home. Announcing the pregnancy was the last thing on their minds.

In addition to possible conflicting social mores, it has not always been easy to detect pregnancy early. Even as late as the 1960s it was not possible to determine pregnancy until later in pregnancy. Pregnancy diagnosis was typically divided into three categories, presumptive, probable and positive evidence of pregnancy. In the 1970s came the sexual revolution and a developing interest in the reproductive sciences. Due to this increase research, a two hour pregnancy test became widely available through doctors offices. By 1976, home pregnancy tests had been approved by the FDA.

Next, a bit of practicality
Today, women may get positive pregnancy test results at home several days before her period is due allowing her to announce her pregnancy as early as 4 weeks pregnant (technically you’ve only been pregnant since conception 2 weeks earlier, but since the number of weeks pregnant are counted from the date of the last menstrual period, it ends up being 4 weeks).

Although they may know earlier, many women do not make the announcement until after 12 weeks, when the risk of miscarriage has declined. Some women want to wait until as late as possible to tell their supervisors due to the perception of pregnancy that still dominate many businesses. Other women share the happy news with everyone they know right away.

Some women use unique ways to tell their husband, family and friends that they are pregnant, such as a wrapped baby shoe with a note, Easter eggs or even a t-shirt.

A Thin Blue Line: A History of Pregnancy Test Kits. http://history.nih.gov/exhibits/thinblueline/timeline.html#1900

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