Where It All Began
Where It All Began
I touched the white paper that had been burning a hole in my pocket all day and took a deep breath. Though I hadn’t had the courage to read it earlier, I knew I would have to sooner or later. Pulling it out, I unfolded it and scanned the words. My heart sank. What were we going to do? We couldn’t have a baby right now; we were both still working on getting our careers started. I could hear Peter opening and closing drawers in the bedroom. He was such a creature of habit that I could almost see him pulling on his blue plaid pajama bottoms and buttoning up the shirt. Next he would pull back the crisp white sheets, making sure they were exactly half way down the bed; then he would climb in. My heart thudded in my chest, and I bit the inside of my lip. Should I tell him now? Folding my fingers around the incriminating paper I had brought home and taking a deep breath, I exited the bathroom.
“Hey babe, is everything all right?” Peter looked up at me as he finished pulling back the comforter on our queen sized bed. Exactly half way, and then he ran his hand over it to crease it.
I shook my head, blinking back tears. Stepping closer to him, I slowly held out my right hand and opened my fingers to reveal the paper.
He tilted his head at me; confusion gleamed in his brown eyes, but he followed my gaze down to my outstretched hand. He picked up the white paper, and his eyes scanned back and forth. “I don’t understand; how did this happen?” He plopped down on the bed, turning wide eyes up at me.
I sat down beside him and picked at a thread in the comforter. My throat was dry, and I couldn’t meet his eyes. “Peter, you’re training to be a doctor. You know how it happens.”
He closed his eyes and shook his head, “No, I know that, but we were always careful.”
“Not careful enough, I guess.” I forced my eyes from the comforter to his face. “I knew something was off; I just felt weird, so I asked them to run a pregnancy test at work today. What are we going to do?”
A sigh escaped his lips as he ran a hand across his forehead. “I don’t know. We both work too many hours to raise a baby right now.” He trailed off and lowered his eyes to the paper again. “Let’s sleep on it and discuss it later.” He folded the paper carefully, as if it were contaminated, placed it on the nightstand, and crawled into bed. Right now, for him, the discussion was over.
Though I nodded, his words didn’t make me feel any better. Instead of the advice I sought, he had dismissed the discussion. A little part of me had been hoping that he would be excited and propose, but he wasn’t. He seemed unenthused, to put it mildly.
As I walked around to my side of the bed, I blinked back tears. Climbing in beside Peter, I stared at the white popcorn ceiling. It didn’t hold answers, but it was something to focus on as questions charged through my mind. Could we raise a baby right now? Will I have to give up my career? Would I be happy if I did? What will my parents say? Peter let out a soft snore, and I glared at him. Men had it so easy. They never had to worry about pregnancy and how it was going to change their lives.
* * *
I entered the hospital the next morning in a daze. My mind had raced through questions and pondered possibilities until past three in the morning, and when the alarm went off at six am, I felt like I had just fallen asleep.
As I shuffled down the hallway, I rubbed my eyes. They burned from lack of sleep. The training room door loomed on my right, but just as I touched the handle, the door swung inward, and Raquel bounded out. She nearly collided with me before stopping short and squinting her green eyes at me. “Whoa, what’s up with you? You look like you were hit by a train.”
I shook my head, swallowing the lump of emotion that had lodged in my throat. I couldn’t talk about it yet, even with my best friend. It was important to decide how I felt about it first.
Raquel took the hint and wrapped an arm around me. “Don’t worry. Whatever it is, I’ll be by your side.” I nodded, thankful for the support, and followed Raquel back into the training room. We took a seat around a back table as Nurse Hatchett – our nickname for her – entered the room.
She was a large German woman. Her tight blond bun demanded compliance, and her harsh brown eyes scoured the crowd, looking for the victim of the day – the student she would focus on and correct relentlessly. “Today, we will be practicing blood draws on the bags in front of you. Your job is not to screw it up, because if you do, that’s a life you may not save.”
“Nothing like fear to motivate you,” Raquel whispered under her breath.
I nodded, but not even Nurse Hatchett could garner all of my attention today. My mind veered back to the possibilities of my more current problem. Maybe I could find time to have a baby and still go through nursing school, or maybe I could take a year off. It wouldn’t be that long, and I could always go back.
A fist pounded on the table, and I jumped. “What are you doing?” Nurse Hatchett’s eyes bored into my own; her large meaty paws sat on either side of my equipment. My eyes darted around, not sure at first what she meant, and then realized I had poked my bag in the wrong place.
“Sorry,” I stammered as heat flamed across my face.
She folded her arms and leaned back. “Your patient just died. Don’t be sorry. Do it right.”
I nodded, shaking my head to clear the invading thoughts. Focus, I had to focus, or I’d get kicked out of the program, and a baby really wouldn’t matter. Raquel squeezed my arm in reassurance as Nurse Hatchett stomped off to terrorize the next student.
The rest of the day passed in a fog; I had no clear memory of anything I’d done. Though I’d managed to focus on work, it hadn’t really been conscious. I’d been operating solely on auto pilot.
Relief flooded my body as I pulled into the apartment parking lot and saw Peter’s car. Maybe we could finally talk about this pregnancy so I could get my brain back.
The smell of pasta filled the air as I entered the front door. Peter stood in front of the white stove, stirring a pot. He turned at the sound of my footsteps and smiled. “There you are. Just in time, the spaghetti is perfect.”
“Okay.” I hung up my purse on the rack inside the door and shuffled into the kitchen. Peter had already set our small dining table, so I pulled out my chair and sat down. A minute later, he loaded my plate with spaghetti. The smell was enticing, but I had other things on my mind. I looked up at him as he pulled his chair into the table across from me. “So, did you think any more about the baby?”
He wrinkled his brow and frowned. “Let’s not discuss that right now. It was a long day; let’s just have a nice dinner, okay?”
I bit my lip, but nodded. Why didn’t he want to talk about it? How much longer would he wait? As I ate the spaghetti and listened to Peter rattle on about his day, my mind traveled a million miles away. What kind of mother would I be? Would it be a boy who took after Peter or a girl who resembled myself?
“Sandra, Sandra,” He was shaking my arm.
“Sorry what?” I shook my head and forced my eyes to focus on him.
“I was asking you which direction you think I should go: Emergency Medicine or surgery?”
“Umm, I’m not sure. Which do you like more?” My fork twirled aimlessly on the plate. Really? This is what he wants to discuss right now? We had a much bigger elephant in the room. A tiny spark of aggravation flickered in my heart.
“Well, Emergency Medicine would probably be more exciting; you know never knowing what’s coming in, but surgery would pay better. Of course, I’m not in it just for the money, but wouldn’t it be great to get a Porsche like Dr. Rhodes?”
The spark ignited. I dropped my fork and glared at him. A Porsche would never be a good family car. “Do you even want this baby?” A tightening sensation squeezed my heart, and the words came out barely more than a whisper.
He sighed and scratched his chin. “I don’t know. I mean I want to be a father someday, but I don’t know if now is the right time. I’m not saying for sure yet, but maybe you should look into an abortion.”
My jaw dropped. “Abortion? But Peter, this is our child. Yours and mine.” I couldn’t abort my own flesh and blood, could I?
He threw his napkin down on the table. “I know. I know. Look, this is why I didn’t want to talk about it yet. Just give me some time to think, okay?” He shoved his chair back, causing it to tip and clatter to the floor. I jumped, clasping my hand to my mouth as he stalked out of the room.
The agitation flamed, and my hands clenched. Tears pooled in my eyes. I thought babies were supposed to bring people together, but this one seemed to be tearing us apart. Blinking the tears away, I grabbed the plates and rinsed them in the sink before throwing them in the dishwasher. The sound of the TV reached my ears, and I rolled my eyes. The agitation turned into ire. Here we had a real problem that needed to be discussed, but he was watching football on TV.
I stomped out of the kitchen – past Peter sitting on the couch – to the guest room. A bed, nightstand, and dresser were the only real furniture in the small room, but what I was looking for was in the closet. Opening the sliding door, I pulled out my easel, paints, and a canvas. I wasn’t sure when it had actually started, but painting had become a cathartic therapy for me. After setting the easel up, I opened a jar and shoved a brush inside before bringing it to the stark white canvas. Angry red splashes appeared. They matched my mood perfectly.
Two hours later, I had calmed down, and I had an angry piece of artwork covered in reds, browns, and blacks. Sighing, I put the lids back on the paints and took the brushes with me to wash them in the kitchen sink.
The living room was quiet now; Peter must have gone to bed. I washed the brushes, dried them, and then headed to the bedroom myself.
He lay in bed with his eyes were closed, but I could tell from the uneasy cadence of his breathing that he was still awake. After brushing my teeth and changing into pajamas, I crawled in my side of the queen-sized bed. As I pulled the stark white sheet to my face, I could almost feel the tangible chill in the space between us. Once again, I found myself gazing at the ceiling, searching for answers it couldn’t provide.
When the alarm went off the next morning, I turned it off and held my breath. Silence met my ears: no shower, no TV, no kitchen noise. I rolled over and sighed in relief that Peter’s side of the bed was made up, and he was clearly gone. The previous night had been too tense, and I didn’t want that same feeling this morning. My head needed to be in the game today. After dressing, I curled up with a cup of coffee on the leather couch and watched the news before heading to work.
Raquel waved from across the room as I entered the training room. “You look better today,” she said when I sat down beside her.
“Really?” I raised an eyebrow in surprise. “I don’t feel any better. Look, let’s talk at lunch, and I’ll tell you what’s going on.”
The door swung open, and Nurse Hatchet stomped in carrying an armful of bandages. “Today you will be working on wrapping. You’ll use this skill often, so be sure and get it right.” Her eyes found mine, and I cringed inside. She tossed a few bandages on our table, and we began wrapping. The routine movements were oddly cathartic; I found my mood lifting as I wound them around and around.
“Hey, come on,” Raquel tapped my arm, “It’s lunchtime.”
Putting my bandage down, I followed her out of the room. The hospital cafeteria was two floors up and down the hall. Though there weren’t many people in this area of the hallway, Raquel still managed to draw the eyes of every man we passed. With her long black hair and emerald eyes, Raquel defined beauty and turned heads wherever she went. She smiled and waved at the men, and I shook my head.
The lunch rush was beginning, but plenty of open seats remained. We grabbed the silver metal trays and picked up a salad and a drink from the buffet area. “Are you going to tell me now?” Raquel asked as we waited in line to check out.
I glanced around, shaking my head. “Wait till we sit down; there’s too many people here.” After paying the cashier, we crossed through the sea of conversation to the far side of the room where a few empty tables sat alone.
“Okay, seriously, why the secrecy?” Raquel asked as she put her tray on the grey Formica table.
Setting my own tray down, I pulled out the hard plastic chair. A deep breath and a glance around assured me that no one was listening; I didn’t want the gossip. I leaned in to keep my voice from carrying, “I’m pregnant.”
Raquel’s eyes grew wide. “Is that a good thing?”
“That’s the problem,” I sighed. “I don’t know. I mean I always thought kids would come after marriage, but the more I think about it, the more the idea grows on me. But I’m not sure Peter feels the same way. He won’t even talk about the baby, and the one time he has, he said we both work too much.”
Raquel bit a chunk of her carrot stick. “That is tough,” – she said between bites – “I guess I can see his point. This program does take a lot of time, but I can see yours, too, even though I know I’m not ready to be a mother. So what are you going to do?”
Sighing, I picked at my salad, scooting a tomato around the plate. “I don’t know; I really don’t know.”
Peter’s car was in the lot when I got home, and I braced myself for the strain I was sure was still there. Sure enough, Peter glanced up as I entered, but turned his face back to the TV. Clearly, he was not ready to talk tonight either.
Sighing, I crossed to the kitchen. After throwing together some food for dinner, I ate in silence and then retired to the guest room. I took the canvas from the night before and laid it on the beige carpeted floor, leaning it against the dresser. Then I removed another blank canvas from the closet. This time my painting took on hues of blue, and, when finished, it also perfectly mirrored my melancholy mood.
Peter still sat glued to the TV. He spared not even a passing glance as I passed through the living room to clean the brushes. After finishing my nightly ritual, I lay in bed and placed my hands on my abdomen picturing the baby. I could see myself running after the chubby legs or going for long walks pushing a stroller. As a smile pulled at my lips, I realized I might really want this baby.
An impossible choice. An unforeseen consequence. The hand of God.
Sandra Baker thought her life was on the perfect track until she ended up pregnant. Her boyfriend, not wanting the baby, pushes her to have an abortion and though she doesn't want one, she realizes she cannot support a baby alone.
After the procedure, Sandra's life falls apart as the guilt creeps in. She turns to alcohol, her relationship ends, and she struggles to find meaning in her life.
When she meets Henry Dobbs, a strong Christian man, she begins to wonder if his God would accept her. Will she tell Henry her darkest secret? And will she ever be able to forgive herself and find healing? Find out in this emotional love story. Fans of Colleen Coble, Lori Wick, and Karen Kingsbury will love this inspirational romance from best-selling author Lorana Hoopes. Grab your copy today!*Special discussion question section included for book groups*
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