MOM PULLED UP to the Women’s Clinic, “Ready?”
“It’ll be okay, sweetie.”
I doubted that.
We walked through the polished glass doors into a lavender room filled with overstuffed chairs in various pastel colors. The walls were covered in watercolor paintings of mothers and babies, most of them sitting in soft focus flower gardens. We made our way to the check-in counter. The thin woman behind the desk smiled at Mom.
“Hello,” she chirped.
Mom returned her smile. “My daughter has an appointment at one-thirty with Dr. McCanne. Amanda Logan.” As Mom said this, I realized that I should probably be the one to be checking in. I suppose that would be the grown-up mom thing to do, but I stayed silent.
The receptionist’s gaze shifted from my mom to me. Her smile melted into stern judgment. The woman looked me up and down, her eyes resting just a moment too long on my chopped up, scraggly hair—which had grown out into some sort of mad scientist style of a disaster—before moving down to my watermelon belly sticking out under the men’s shirt. She handed me a clipboard and pen. “Please fill this out and return it to me when you’re finished.” Her voice was hard.
Mom put her hand on my back as we made our way to two empty chairs. The room was filled with women, some with brand new infants in car seats, some with swollen bellies. A few had, what I assumed to be, husbands sitting next to them. All were much older than I was. I felt their eyes on me as we passed them.
“This sucks,” I whispered to Mom. “I feel like a freak.”
“I know, baby. I’ve been there. Just try to ignore them.”
I filled out the paperwork and returned it to the desk. I heard a little boy say, “Mommy is that boy gonna have a baby?” My fingers dug in. It didn’t bother me that he thought I was a boy because sometimes I totally felt like a boy, what bothered me is that girls like me didn’t fit into this heteronormative, middle class, shiny white world. I was too queer, too poor, too much in the middle of the gender binary, and too young. Did my baby even stand a chance?
I made my way back to my seat, flopped down, and picked up one of the parenting magazines from the small table next to us. A blond mom and her blond son smiled back at me. Today’s Most Amazing Moms was the feature story followed by 14 Totally Awesome Breakfast Hacks for Toddlers to Teens and Disneyland Planning Made Easy.
I flipped through the pages. All the moms looked straight and, if not rich, definitely not poor. They were all at least ten years older than me with husbands and houses and all the other things that you were supposed to have to make sure your kids turned out okay. I would never be any of these women that smiled back at me and my baby would never be one of these kids. Shame seemed to seep out of the magazine, up my fingers, and through my body. I felt sorry for my baby.
She would be better off if I found some fancy couple to adopt her. She could have a mom and a dad and all the things this magazine said she needed.
I flipped to an article titled How to Help Your Teenager Make Good Choices. I leaned over and showed Mom. “Maybe you should have read this article?”
Mom looked at me with tired, sad eyes and sighed.
“Amanda Logan,” a tiny woman called from the doorway.
Mom and I stood. I heard the little kid say, “See, Mommy, that boy has a baby in his tummy.” The mom shushed him as my mom took my hand in hers and we followed the nurse into the reality that I had been trying so hard to avoid.
Half an hour later I was sitting on the edge of the exam table, totally naked under my paper gown. My butt stuck to the waxy paper cover on the table and made jagged crinkling noises every time I tried to adjust myself. Mom had returned to the waiting room. There was a brief tap on the door before it swung open and a woman in her early fifties with wild gray hair and thick-rimmed glasses stumbled in. She seemed less like a doctor and more like an absent-minded professor. She looked at me, confusion spreading over her face. “Amanda Logan?”
“Yes, but um I go by Banjo.”
“Well, hello, Banjo.” She seemed to regain her composure. “I’m Doctor McCanne, but you can just call me Alice if you’d like. I mean, if I’m going to be digging around down there we shouldn’t be so formal, am I right?” She winked. “I must admit you took me by surprise. I was expecting someone older. I hope that doesn’t offend you, but I like to be honest with my patients. I mean, if you don’t have honesty what do you have?” Her words came out sharp and fast.
I couldn’t decide if I liked her, but I thought maybe I did. She reminded me just a tiny bit of Pru. She sat down on her little rolling chair and slid over to the computer in the corner and brought up my chart.
“So let’s just confirm that the information here is correct.” After we confirmed my name, birthdate, address, and the rest she turned back to me. “So you’re sixteen?”
“Yes,” I said.
She faced me. “And you don’t plan to give this baby up for adoption, is that correct?”
I felt myself stiffen with embarrassment, though I was not really sure why.
“I’m not really sure.”
“Okay, that’s fine. You’re past the time that we would typically think of abortion as an option unless it was medically necessary, so either way you will be giving birth to this little peanut.”
She turned back to her computer and with her back to me she said, “Is anyone pressuring you regarding what choice to make?”
“No,” I said quietly.
“You’re aware of your options?”
“If you do choose adoption, an open adoption is often a really good choice, but that’s for you to decide.”
“Yeah, that’s what I plan to do. I mean if I don’t keep her.”
When those words came out of my mouth I felt the tears build.
“Well good. Congratulations,” she said, smiling as she turned back to me. “Have you seen the movie Juno? It might be a little bit before your time, still it’s a wonderful movie, but then I think Ellen Page is wonderful so I may be biased.”
I was to eventually find out that when it comes to pregnant teenagers, adults could be divided into three types. There were the horrified, you will burn in hell because you’re a dirty slut types. There were the former teen mom or friend of a teen mom types who were more or less cool and supportive and then there were the have you seen Juno people. These were the hardest ones because you never knew if they were suggesting adoption or just grasping for some way to connect with you. I didn’t know this yet though. This was to be my first encounter with the Juno Type.
“No,” I mumbled.