It Hurt Not to Cry This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

August 3, 2011
He drove a long time. Up a winding pass going nowhere in particular, just driving. Then suddenly he turned onto a dirt road.

“My father and I hunt here,” he told me as we continued along the switchbacks and along the edges of cliffs. He told me stories of four-wheeling, campfires and unexpected weather. Then we reached our destination. “It’s beautiful up here, isn’t it?” he asked as he parked under a cluster of snowy trees.

“Yes,” I agreed. Spring was always my favorite season. I looked out the window and saw a flower blooming in the snow.

We talked for an hour about nothing and everything. As he spoke I became entranced. I focused on the way he moved his lips and the sound of his voice.

I did not think things would go that far.

After, he tried to tell me it was not his. “I had an operation and the doctors weren’t careful. I can’t have children,” he explained. I knew better. I never saw him again.

* * *

I think I knew I was pregnant right away. I ignored it all summer hoping it would go away. It did not.

I went through hell trying to hide it from my parents and friends. After six months though, no matter how hard I tried, people began to notice. When I told my friends, at first they seemed supportive. Later, I lost all but one friend. My brother found out through rumors at school. Then, one Sunday, my mother noticed. She asked me straight out. I burst into tears, and she knew.

“Why didn’t you tell us sooner?” she asked. I tried to choke back my tears.

“I was afraid of Dad and what he would do.” Finally I got the words out.

“We have to tell him,” I heard her say. I begged her not to, but it was no use and I knew that. She left me in my room, crying and asking God why something like this had to happen to me.

I heard my father yelling, “Why didn’t she tell us!” Then the house fell silent. I slowly went up the stairs to face him. The corners of his eyes were wet. He wrapped his arms around me and whispered, “Why are you scared of me? Don’t ever be scared of me again.” He said nothing about the baby.

During the next week, I saw the doctor, got vitamins, and suddenly had a huge appetite. My mind had been under so much stress it had not been paying attention to what my body and my baby needed. When that was lifted, my body screamed for what it needed.

We talked about options. My parents were understanding, saying it was my decision. My mother brought up the idea of adoption. Although we discussed it, we decided we did not want to wonder how and where the child was. But Mom had done some research.

“Open adoption,” she explained, “is where you choose the parents, can visit, get letters and pictures, and the child knows who his/her biological parents are when he or she can understand.” It took time to make the final decision.

* * *

We spoke to a social worker, who explained the process of open adoption for us. We talked about feelings in each of us. We were determined to get through this as a family.

At our next visit we were given files of five adoptive couples. Each contained a “Dear Birthmother” letter, pictures and a description of their lifestyle. Some had adopted children and others were waiting for their first.

We decided unanimously to consider a couple who were waiting to adopt their first child. They enjoyed the outdoors, traveling, dancing and other things we liked. They were not afraid to tell us what they were really like.

It was almost Christmas, a perfect time for the present they had been waiting for for years. It also happened to be the adoptive father’s birthday. While going through the pile of Christmas mail, they ran across my letter.

We met a few weeks later. They came to our house and we looked at pictures together and basically told our life stories. It was awkward at first but eventually we had a great time.

* * *

Soon I went to the doctor every other week. I called them after each visit and sent them my ultrasound pictures. I stayed in school even though it was hard having people stare at my stomach. Even my friends talked behind my back. I got so big I did not fit in the desks. I had to sit at tables, away from the class. I spent my “Sweet Sixteen” birthday on the couch with my feet up, eight and a half months pregnant.

Two weeks after my due date I was sitting in my math class taking a quiz. I got a phone message, “Call your mom immediately.” I found out I was going in to be induced the following morning. I could not finish my quiz.

* * *

Bright and early the next morning my mother drove me to the hospital. I was scared to death. They gave me a hospital robe to wear. I got an IV and then we sat, and sat and sat. It got very boring. We played cards. I was fed liquids and had to push the IV rack up and down the halls.

At two o’clock the adoptive parents came. They were all smiles. It was wonderful to see two people so happy. We talked until my parents took them out to dinner. My parents (being who they are) proceeded to describe what they would have for dinner, knowing I was starving since all I had to eat was chicken broth.

Later that night, still no baby, but I was hurting. The guys became bored and bought a cribbage board. I was very tired from labor and barely noticed. The doctors said the baby was tired too and stopped the inducing drug and replaced it with a sleep aid. I was sleeping in no time.

* * *

The next morning they started the inducing drug again. This time my labor progressed more rapidly. As I got closer, they lost the baby’s heartbeat and had to attach a monitor to his skull. A few minutes later, it hit. The pain was excruciating. My father was there the whole time. I remember saying to him, “Daddy, I don’t think I can do this.” It was then I found the most influential tool in the decision-making process: lack of choice.

The doctors called in the anesthesiologist, who started rattling off his medical jargon. I did not hear a word. All I felt was the pain. “I don’t understand you and I don’t care. Just give me the anesthesia!” I yelled. Finally, he asked me to sit on the edge of the bed and lean over. I could not hold myself up so my father was kneeling on the floor holding me up while the doctor gave me the numbing medicine. With every contraction the pain decreased. I lay there, unable to move, even if I tried. The doctors came back into the room.

“We have to do a Caesarean section,” they said.

I had stopped dilating and the baby was too big.

Surgery scared me. My heart was pounding. They wheeled me into a room filled with blinding lights. I was so tired. My eyelids felt heavier than they ever had before. Then the nurse came back and said I was going to feel them push on my stomach. I heard the baby cry. A boy! Nine pounds, six ounces! I saw him for a split second and then fell asleep. I could not stay awake any longer.

I woke up in intensive care to nurses ordering Chinese takeout. I looked at the clock and dozed off again. I opened my eyes and found a nurse pinching me. She looked at me and said, “Your father wants to see you.” When they wheeled me into my room, it was filled with flowers, balloons and stuffed animals. I talked to my father briefly and fell back to sleep.

The next morning was the worst of all the days; they removed all the tubes. I had to walk to get things moving again. It hurt. They practically had to push me off the bed to get me to go. Even when I tried, I was so weak. My whole body felt droopy.

My son, Keegan Allen, and his adoptive parents came to see me often. They fed him and I watched because I was too weak and sore to hold him. He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.

After a couple days I was able to walk better. They told me I could go home Sunday.

* * *

The social worker came and we filled out the paperwork for the adoption. By noon, it was final.

We went to the hospital church for the Entrustment Ceremony. It was almost like a wedding with tears of joy and sorrow. I placed Keegan into the arms of his adoptive parents as they promised to love and care for him. There was not a dry eye in the room, except for mine. I am not sure why I did not cry. I love my son very much. It hurt not to cry.

* * *

A week later I was back at school, still walking slowly. I will always be known as “the girl who got pregnant.”

As for my home life, it got better. I was no longer afraid of my dad. Communication lines in the family opened and my brother and I became best friends.

Keegan’s biological father signed the adoption papers and gave his picture to the social worker for Keegan to see what his father looked like. He never stopped by the hospital to see Keegan and still denies Keegan is his child to his fiancée and friends.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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