I had been feeling queasy for weeks and unnaturally tired, even sleeping for 16 hours one day. When I think back on that day now, that really good sleep, it is probably the most restful sleep I will have ever had in my entire life and I’m strangely happy to be able to remember it, and to remember why. My mind did everything it could to not think about what was obvious to everybody else around me then. I read a lot of books, watched a lot of television shows, worked a lot of hours, and slept. Whatever was available for me to block out the reality of what was about to happen, I employed it. I grabbed onto those suckers, those tools of mind altering fakery, and convinced myself that I wasn’t pregnant. Then I peed on a stick.
Do you know how scary it is to enter a bathroom terrified you might be pregnant, not yet married and still in college, and then have to answer to people about peeing on a stick? Because other people are out there, on the other side of the door, wanting to know if that blasted line showed up or not. In my case, it did. In fact, that line showed up so quickly that I was certain that pregnancy test was defective. The instructions suggested I let the test do its thing for about 3-5 minutes or so but it was showing me the line while I was still peeing on it. See, totally defective! The test obviously did not time itself correctly so that meant something was wrong with it. I got a bad stick! I called an OBGYN and scheduled an appointment.
I went to see the doctor on Valentine’s Day of 2001. That morning, I walked out of his office with the confirmation that I was a mother, carrying a tiny bean-sized baby who was about 7-8 weeks into her life with me. I was given an approximate due date (around my own birthday), a future appointment card, and a piece of paper that made it all official.
That piece of paper from the doctor’s office could technically be considered the first Valentine’s Day card Elle has ever made for me. I’m sure if she could have personalized my diagnosis sheet, she would have written in the additional comments section: “Hi, mom. Your life is about to get awesome!!!! And it’s about time because, at the moment, you are kind of boring.” Signed, E (insert baby footprint here).
Elle is 10 years old now, crafting Valentine’s Day cards and gifts for a boy in her class. She has always made me something special for this day but this year, I gave her an out. Her attention has shifted to a member of the opposite sex and because I know it’s mostly exploratory and innocent, I’m completely okay with this. Of course, my romantic compass has been pointing elsewhere, too. Even though Matt is over a thousand miles away from me, I am very much looking forward to sharing a White Russian with him tonight while we talk about our day with each other over video chat and open each other’s cards. This is all I need. Sure, I would love for Matt to be here or for me to be there, but that isn’t ours to have right now.
Tonight I will tuck Elle into her bed, kiss her goodnight on the cheek, and let her know that she will always be my little Valentine. Things are changing. They’re changing for her, for me, for all of us. Elle is getting older, she is growing up. My goodness, she is making Valentine’s Day cards for a boy – not for me. I’m not sad.
Well, maybe just a little.
To Elle & Matt, I love you both. Happy Valentine’s Day.