Montreal, Quebec – April 8th, 2015
Yvette and her birth mother stared across the table at each other in silence. Both of them were trying, and failing, to keep a secret, and both were hurt by what the other seemed to have just revealed.
The conversation had been going so well. Since they were only able to meet twice a year, they had a lot to talk about. Naomi had been clean and sober for just over a year, and so she talked about the celebration she’d had with her friends. Yvette talked about her new job and scholarship before moving on to sharing about her fifteenth birthday party which had passed a month before. Naomi apologized again for missing the party over a work conflict. Yvette, on the other hand, was far more concerned about Naomi’s opinion on another question.
Did she think that at fifteen a girl was old enough to get her own tattoo?
Naomi had a tattoo of her own, unbeknownst to Yvette, but no matter what her opinion was, Naomi knew that the adopted parents wouldn’t appreciate her interfering on this kind of decision. So, instead of answering the question, she tried to deflect and take attention away from the issue by saying something light, something self-deprecating, something neutral.
Instead, what she said was, “Well, it wasn’t long after I turned fifteen that I got pregnant, and that’s much worse.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, Naomi realized the implication of what she had said. Whatever regret she carried about getting pregnant initially was gone as soon as she locked eyes with a newborn Yvette. Naomi herself had been put up for adoption by an unwed teen mother, and so it was easy for her to imagine the hearbreak a statement like that might communicate. She was going to apologize immediately, but when she looked at her daughter, it wasn’t anger or dejection she saw in her eyes, but fear. It looked a lot like the fear that Naomi herself had experienced at Yvette’s age.
It was on Yvette’s mind constantly the world of trouble she might be in if she was, in fact, pregnant. She probably wasn’t. It didn’t make sense. She had only been with a guy once, and even then she was on the pill. Either way, she couldn’t let words like this scare her, and she certainly couldn’t let her reaction give away her secret.
Naomi recognized that her input was minimal, but she really wanted to ehlp make sure that the cycle of teen pregnancy ended with her. The Greenes were a good family. Yvette was a smart kid. This wasn’t supposed to happed, at least not this soon again. At one point she had even thought she should sit Yvette down after she turned fifteen and talk to her about how she got pregnant and how easily it can happen if girls aren’t careful. That just seemed so unnecessary with the direction Yvette’s life was heading.
With the help of her adopted parents, Yvette ahd long ago come to terms with her status as an adopted child. But while it’s one thing to recognize that her birth was in a less than ideal circumstance, it was another thing to accept that she was inflicting this onto another person.
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Naomi said, almost to break the tension. “I’m so sorry. I want yo uto know that I don’t regret getting pregnant. I’ve made some mistakes in my life, but bringing you into the world wasn’t one of them.”
“It’s okay, I didn’t take it that way.”
In the silence that still hung in the air, Naomi debated whether or not she should ask. If she was wrong, it could add to her discomfort. If she didn’t ask, Naomi would be wondering for six months until their next visit and find her daughter in her third trimester. But if she did ask, and it was true, nobody would be in a better position to help.
“Are you pregnant, Yvette?”
The teen didn’t answer, and she didn’t even look up for a while. “I don’t know,” she finally said.
“How late are you?”
“Two weeks,” she said. Her former clockwork regularity meant she could usually consult any calendar and know when to expect her period. She had been looking at calendars for fifteen days and she knew exactly how far off her cycle was.
“Have you told anybody else?”
Yvette shook her head.
Naomi looked at her phone. There was an hour and a quarter until Yvette needed to be home. It would have to be enough time. Mrs. Greene, Yvette’s adopted mother would be there to pick her up in just under sixty minutes. In that time they would have to drive to pharmacy, buy a test, bring it back to the coffee shop, have Yvette pee on it, and then wait the ten minutes before the results would be displayed.
“If I am,” Yvette said in the car, “I’ll carry it to term. I probably won’t be able to keep it, but I’ve never believed in abortion.”
The Greenes had always promoted pro-life values in their home, but as soon as Yvette was old enough to know what abortion was, she knew that if it was an option Naomi took seriously, she would never have been born. Independent of her parents, Yvette promised herself that she would never do that.
Naomi, not wanting to put her foot in her mouth again, avoided the subject and just tried to sound positive.
“No matter what you decide, I’m sure the Greenes will give you all the help you need. They’re good people.” Naomi easily remembered the contrasts of knowing she had parental support but still not wanting to anger or even disappoint them.
“I know,” Yvette said meekly.
When they reached the pharmacy parking lot, Yvette reached to remove her seatbelt, but Naomi stopped her.
“You can stay in the car,” she said. “If anyone asks, we’ll just say that I needed to run in for a few things.”
“Okay?” Yvette answered, still flustered and confused.
Naomi collected a few things she needed anyway and then added a few snacks to make it look like she was getting something for Yvette as well. At the till it suddenly didn’t seem like a good idea to pay with plastic. Pulling the pregnancy test away from the rest of the items, she asked, “Can I pay for this one with cash?”
“No problem,” said the cashier, understanding the sensitivity of this kind of purchase.
Naomi had no interest in leaving a paper trail. Nobody ever believed her, but she was alsoways suspicious that somebody was watching.
“So what do I do with it?” Yvette asked when she pulled the test out of the package.
“When we get back to the coffee shop, you take it into the bathroom. There’s a plastic cap you take off, and then you, umm, pee on it. Then, after you finish, you put the cap back on and put it back in the box. It takes about fifteen minutes for the results to appear, so then we just wait.”
Yvette, who wondered for a secon if there was a reason Naomi knew so much about these tests, looked at the time and asked, “What if my mom comes before then?”
“I guess we’ll just hope that she doesn’t.”
Yvette took the box from Naomi from Naomi and stuffed it into her purse before they got out of the car. While Naomi walked calmly to a table, Yvette slipped nervously into the bathroom. Everything worked like Naomi said it would. The display showed one bar, and if a second bar appeared, it would mean she was pregnant. For a moment she wondered if she could just sit in her stall watching the display for fifteen minutes, but she soon realized how torturous that would be.
“It hasn’t changed yet,” Yvette said when she got back to the table.
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Naomi said. “When I was pregnant with you, I had to take three tests before I was sure enough to go see a doctor about it.
That wasn’t the message of reassurance that Yvette was hoping to hear. Naomi was too caught up in her own remembering to be aware of the anxiety at the table. But reflecting on the girl that she was, and all the things she went through, Naomi looked across the table and saw the innocence in Yvettte’s eyes. She thought she would take advatnage of the silence to give some advice.
“Yvette, baby, you are a perfect example of how good and perfect things can come of this, but you need to promise me that if it turns out that you aren’t pregnant you will be more careful with boys, okay?”
When Donna Greene pulled into the parking lot, Yvette turned back to Naomi.
“What do I tell her?” she asked.
“Just wait until you get the results. If it’s negative, you don’t need to tell her anything. If it’s positive, you just tell her what happened, and she’ll understand.
“Okay, I can do that.”
Glancing over at Yvette’s purse, Naomi noticed that the box with the pregnancy test in it was resting right on top, so that Donna would easily be ble to see it when she got to the table. When the door opened, and Yvette looked to see her mother come in, Naomi quickly took the box and slipped it into her own purse.
“Did you ladies have fun?” Mrs. Greene asked when she got to the table.
“We always do,” Naomi said. “Thanks for making this work.”
“Ready to go sweetie?”
“Yup,” Yvette said, giving Naomi a quick nervous smile.
Naomi waited until they drove off before she opened her purse to check the results.
It wasn’t until the evening when Yvette realized the test was no longer in her purse. From the time her mom picked her up until she returned to her room after supper to do homework there had always been on of her parents around. Ever since the incident, her parents had trouble trusting Naomi. Normally Yvette was careful not to say anything to get Naomi in trouble, but this time she was extra careful to not reveal her own secret. Her parents were a little suspicious because of Yvette’s evasiveness, but not wanting to push the issue, they dropped the subject and let her get on with her evenings routine.
Yvette put her books out in front of her, mostly so that she would have something else to say that she was doing if her parents came into the room. When she opened her purse and saw that it was empty, she started to panic. She checked her pockets and even went out to the car to see if she had left it in there.
When she had given up looking for it, she took out her cell phone. The Greenes had set out strict rules about Naomi having no contact with Yvette outside of their scheduled visits, but during their previous meetup they had added each other’s cell numbers into their address books, but under different names. It took a few seconds for Yvette to remember the secret name Naomi had used, but she did find it and then started typing up the message.
“Help,” she wrote, “I can’t find my test.”
“Yeah, your purse was open. I took it so your mom wouldn’t see it.”
“Okay, what was the result?”
It felt like an eternity before Naomi responded, and her coded response still made it clear what the result was.
“You’re going to need to take another test.”
Yvette started to cry, then wrote, “Okay, I guess I’ll go buy another one.”
“No! If you buy one, they’ll find out. I’ll bring one to you after school this week sometime or something.”
Yvette wanted to know who Naomi thought would find out, and how, but she was somewhat relieved to have someone else taking care of it.
“OK,” she wrote back.