December, 12th, 2008

I knew that Sam was worried about me.

I stayed home yesterday from my waitressing job in the little diner downtown, lounging around in his plaid boxers and almost consuming an entire box of Frosted Flakes before collapsing on the couch. Our big plastic popcorn bowl lay in front of me, taunting the nausea.

This morning, Sam glared at me when I rolled out of bed, queasy, and called in sick again. He offered to stay home with me, or come home early to check up on me, but I insisted that I would be fine.

After all, I had a pretty good idea what was wrong, I just didn't know what to do about it. More importantly, I didn't know what he would want me to do about it.

Two weeks ago, I began watching the calendar very carefully, counting the days since the last little red dot in the corner next to the date. Now, two weeks later, I was still counting. I knew that I should take a test, but living on a rez made things difficult. I couldn't just walk to the drugstore and pick one up, and I didn't know very many women who would be willing to pick one up for me.

Finally, after arguing with myself for another twenty minutes, deciding that I needed to be sure before I actually decided anything, and forcing myself off the couch - pressing a hand to my stomach to quell the nausea of moving, I dialed my mother.

"Emily?" She sounded surprised.

"Hey, Mom." My voice sounded weary, and I wondered if Sam had noticed this morning.

"What's wrong?" My mother picked up on the weariness right away. Mothers - they always know. Would I always know? Was I going to be a mother?

"Emily?"

Shaking my head to rid it of the annoying rhetorical questions, I answered her. "Can you come down for the day?" She lived on another rez, the Makah, about two hours from La Push.

Her voice got softer as she moved the phone away from her face to hang up. "Sure thing. I'm leaving right now."

"Wait! Mom!"

"What?" she asked, louder.

I took a deep breath. The desperate need for acceptance made my voice shake. "Could you, maybe, bring a pregnancy test?"

There was silence on the other end of the line, and I froze for a minute. What was she going say?

"Sure." The line clicked, and I released a giant sigh of relief. At least she wasn't going to yell. That was a step in the right direction.

Actually, I wasn't sure what anyone was going to say about my suspected big news, Sam especially. That was the main reason why I hadn't done anything about it yet. If I found out that I was...pregnant...I would have to tell Sam, and I wasn't sure what he was going to do.

We weren't married yet (I wasn't sure we'd ever be) and we hadn't talked about children, at all.

We were always careful, always. But, there was a certain night, three weeks ago, when it didn't work out as we planned. The protection was no longer protective by the end of the night.

I was scared, beyond terrified. What if Sam didn't want this baby? What if Sam didn't want me after I told him? He certainly seemed to be committed, and I was positive that he loved me, but I just wasn't sure that it would be enough to keep him around. What if the responsibility was too much for him? He liked his freedom, and a having a baby was anything but free.

***

My mother arrived at the house in full control mode, the car tires rumbling over the gravel and the front door swinging open moments later. She practically threw a bottle of water at me when she got inside.

"Start drinking," she commanded, bustling into the kitchen and doing all the chores I had neglected that morning. "How do you feel?"

"Strange." I said, curling up on the couch again, after slowly retrieving the bottle that had bounced off the arm of the couch and onto the floor.

"I meant physically." She began to load the dishwasher.

"So did I."

I threw the blanket over me, and tucked my legs under.

"Strange? Not queasy or tired?" she asked, sounding somewhat hopeful.

"No, I feel sick and tired, too." I tried to explain the annoying feeling in my fingers and toes. I wanted to lay down and sleep for hours, but at the same time, I wanted to move around. "I feel weird, and anxious."

The hopeful face went away. "Okay." My mother picked up a towel to dry a pan. "How late are you?"

I was surprised at how casual she was. "A little over three weeks." I rolled over on the couch, trying to get comfortable and took another swig of water. "Mom?"

"Hmm?" She was bent over, putting something under the shelf in the pantry.

"Is it okay to be scared?" I plopped my head down on the arm cushion.

She straightened, and was by my side in a second. "Yes, sweetie, it's okay to be afraid." She could see my eyes well up with tears. "Have you talked to Sam?"

I shook my head. She looked like she was about to say something, but patted my shoulders instead and pulled the blanket tighter around me. "Why don't you try to sleep? You're probably exhausted."

"I am, but... "

"I'll take care of the housework."

"Mom!"

"This way you don't have to think about the waiting."

I rolled my eyes. "All I've been doing is waiting – for three weeks!"

"Emily, dear." She gave me a stern, maternal, don't-fight-me-this-is-for-your-own-good look.

"Fine! I'll sleep."

I turned over, pressing my face into the corner of the couch with a huff. Crossing my arms underneath me, I closed my heavy lids and let her distracted humming lull my mind into a quiet calm. It was easy to let sleep take me, easy because I wanted to get away. The eventual deep darkness swept me away before I could notice a change.

Sam was there, and as the darkness began to lighten, I could see that he was holding me.

His hand ran down my scars, searing them with warmth. He leaned in, over my stomach, to press a kiss to my lips. Something tasted like salt. Was he crying?

"Bye, Em. Take care. I love you."

It wasn't him; I was the one who was crying. I was whimpering, pleading with him. "Don't go, please."

The roaring in my ears pulled me away from the scene…

…my mother had begun to vacuum. I sat up, looking for Sam, panting, checking my stomach for a bump I wouldn't find. From a quick look at the clock, I could see that I had been asleep for almost 2 hours. I rubbed my eyes.

I felt an overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom as soon as the original grogginess faded. I bit my lip, and shuffled over to pick the drugstore tests off the counter. My mother didn't say anything; I briefly wondered if I had spoken out in the midst of my dream.

After following the directions and emptying my bladder onto the tests, I pulled up the boxers, and sat on the closed toilet seat until they were done. I looked at the plastic tests, all clearly adorned with a pink plus sign, resting on the counter. They seemed too important to throw out, but also too disgusting to keep. I left them on the countertop.

My mother was waiting outside the door, the vacuum still in her hand, as I came out of the bathroom. I nodded, and was almost barreled over as she ran to hug me.

"Congratulations!" She clutched me to her, and I found that I was crying, because when we separated there were tearstains on her shoulders. "Emily, you're going to be a great mother."

Pulling away, she immediately began listing things I would need. I smiled widely, glad to have her here with me.

***

She had returned from a jaunt to the grocery store, and was handing me a chalky white pre-natal vitamin and a glass of juice when Sam came home.

He saw me take the pill and rushed to my side. "Emily!" As his arms wrapped around me, he kissed my scars, my hair, and lastly, my lips. "What's wrong?"

"I'm fine," I protested against his warm, bare chest.

He pulled my face back to look up at him. "You called your mother." He kissed me again. "You didn't have to. I would have stayed home with you. I would have been with you."

He was distraught, and I was quickly beginning to cry. I could taste the salt on my lips, and I was immediately reminded of my dream. Was it a premonition? That type of phenomenon wasn't unheard of.

There are some dreams you don't want to come true. What would I ever do when he left?

"Oh, Emily," he wiped at my tears, "Don't cry, darling." Sam practically carried me to the couch as my mother silently backed out of the room.

"I'm okay," I insisted, as he tucked the blanket around me.

"What did you take?" He looked around for medicine, but found none. Most of the groceries had already been put away.

"It was nothing, Sam. I'm fine."

"Emily," he took my hand in his, "Tell me."

I couldn't make my mouth move. He waited, then eventually sighed and straightened, squeezing my hand.

"I'll make you some tea, okay? I'll be right back." He left, and I struggled to calm down.

The gas stove came on with a rush, and the kettle rocked back and forth as it heated. I heard his footsteps go around the corner, but I didn't realize where he was heading until the bathroom door clicked shut. I considered yelling to stop him, but then he was outside again, throwing the door into the wall so hard that it cracked. He was there, in front of my face, holding one of the plus signs and waving it around.

"Emily," his eyes were wide, and deep. I tried to focus on them. "What is this?"

I didn't answer.

"Are you - ?" He couldn't get the words out. I wondered if this was a bad sign. I had to do something! I couldn't let him leave.

"I'm so sorry! Sam! I know that we didn't talk about this," I rushed, as his face got more and more incredulous. "I don't know what to do, and I'm scared, and I-"

"You're pregnant?" He caught my face in his hands. "With my baby?"

I nodded, my whole body trembling. I don't think I had ever been so alarmed in my life.

He kissed me, his lips crashing into mine, and picked me up from the couch. Clutching me to his chest as he spun around in a wide circle, he cried, "Oh, Emily! Oh, God!"

I blinked rapidly, confused by his reaction. "Sam?" He was still spinning me. "Put me down!"

"Sorry!" He set me down lightly. "Emily! That's…oh! wonderful doesn't even cover it."

"You're happy?" I searched his face for emotion.

Sam stopped and questioned, "Why wouldn't I be?"

I burst into tears again. "I was sure you were going to be upset. I mean, we aren't married yet, and we hadn't talked about kids, and there isn't a lot of money, I know, and -"

He interrupted my sentence, pressing me against his chest as he kissed my lips roughly. "Emily Young. What in the world would make you think that I wouldn't want this baby?"

"But the timing is horrible," I said, wondering if he didn't understand what a baby meant. Less money, less freedom, settling down, and becoming fully responsible adults.

"The timing isn't important." He touched his hand to my stomach, where I knew a little baby was growing. "I would be the happiest man in the world if you would have my baby."

I threw my arms around his neck and sobbed uncontrollably. "You're not going to leave?"

"You thought I would leave my pregnant fiancée, by herself?" He stroked my hair, following it all the way down my back. "No, Emily. I'm not going to leave."

"We're going to have a baby," I gasped out between sobs.

"A baby," Sam repeated.

I heard the door close as my mother let herself out.

"How long?" he asked, still holding me.

I didn't understand. "What?"

"How long have you been worried about this?"

I blushed. All my fears seemed so stupid now. "Two weeks."

"Honey," he rubbed my back, "I'm so sorry."

I waved it off, still blushing and crying, but with a ridiculously wide smile on my face.

"What were you taking? That pill, earlier."

"Pre-natal vitamins; my mother bought them," I explained.

The teakettle whistled violently. We broke apart, both of us laughing and me still wiping tears from my face.

"We should make you a doctor's appointment," Sam said as I made my way to the stove and poured myself a cup of tea.

"My mom already did. She was great."

"Why did you call her?" he asked, pulling out a chair for me to sit on at the table.

"I needed to take a test," I started. "I had been counting the days since I realized I was a week late, and I was starting to feel sick."

"Sick?" Sam was worried again. The endearing furrow between his brows had returned. It was nice to know that he would be looking out for me now.

"Like morning-sickness kind of sick, hence the popcorn bowl." I motioned to the coffee table, where the bowl was still residing. Sam nodded, and I continued. "But I couldn't just buy a test at the drugstore, and Leah, well; I couldn't involve her in that. So I called my mom."

"You could've just told me. I hate that you were worrying about this all by yourself."

I hugged him. "It's okay now."

Sam kissed the top of my head, and then took a gulp of my tea.

I didn't know what to say to him, so I put my head on his shoulder and we stayed like that.

"You're going to be a great dad," I said, finally.

"You're going to be the perfect mom," he countered.

I scrunched up my nose in protest of his declaration, but Sam refused to let me say anything else. Instead, he settled me on the couch with the tea, wrapped a long arm around my shoulders and kissed the skin above my ear.

"I love you, Emily."

I swallowed the hot tea in my mouth, and answered, "I love you too, Sam."

It wasn't much, but it was all we could give, and it would have to be enough for now.