It’s the year 2005 or 2006, the year you get your license. The month is ApriI. I think I was in 10th grade, driving a 1994 XL Fire Engine Red Chevy Blazer. I was not yet an experienced highway driver, so wherever I went, I went the back roads.
On this particular day it didn’t matter. The place I was going was all back roads. There was one way into town and one way out, and this was it. A Long, winding, curvy, strip of what felt like forever. Beautiful mansion like houses lined the road, and the smell, the sticky smell of the salt water clung to the hairs inside of my nose the way you would picture molecules and cells sticking together.
It was the same road I had traveled down many, many times throughout my youth with my parents to get to the Beach, but one of the first times I had driven it myself. And I wasn’t going to the Beach this time. I was going to a Women’s Health Clinic to be put on birth control, without my mother’s knowledge or consent. They had a little notebook, a journal, filled with “testimonials” from patients before us. Essentially, the ” Comment’s Section” of this particular Women’s health Clinic.
I’d brought my friend Leena with me for support, more of a celebratory support. Little did I know- I was going to need more than that, and a lot of it.
I peed in a little cup for what I believe now, was the first time I’d ever done so ( outside of when my mom would hold the cup for me at my annual physical with my pediatrician), sat back down in the waiting area with Leena, and began reading some journal entries.
After about 45 minutes, and a lot of whispering stares and side eyed glares, a woman opened her door and called out my name, ” Cori? Come on in.”
We spoke about the different types of birth control, my history ( which wasn’t much yet) and then she asked if I’d like for her to bring my support person in. That threw me way off, but I sort of chuckled it off and thought it’d give us a lot of laughing material for the ride home.
She opened her office door and called out, ” Leena, could you please come in and take a seat with us?” . A knot began g r o w i n g inside of my belly. My nerves were starting to catch up to me.
When my Best Friend entered the room, we locked eyes and nervously smiled at one another.
“What is going on?” I ask the, (lets call her “Doctor”) Doctor.
” Unfortunately Cori*, we can not give you a prescription of Birth Control today, but we can offer support-” Said Doctor, uneasily.
What?! What the hell do you mean??? What is wrong with me?? Is it an STD?! HERPES? HIV? AM I DYING?! – Were some of the first thoughts that went through my head, my best friend Leena, was thinking the same things. She was so afraid of what the next words would be, she visibly clenched her fists into the arms of the chair, on each side of her body.
” We can not give you a prescription for Birth Control today, because…. you are already Pregnant.”
Explosives going in all corners of my brain.
That’s. Not. Possible. ( not a statement taken lightly in such a situation).
I couldn’t imagine being PREGNANT!? I had just turned 16 years old.
NO!! This cannot be happening. I was t r y i n g to get AHEAD OF THIS!!
The first audible words out of my mouth were, ” Okay, Well… Soo what can you guys do for this? What can we do about this? I need to fix this and fast, and again, w i t h o u t my mother finding out…”
The only support offered to me by the lovely clinic, was a few brochures regarding adoption and teen pregnancy. They did not offer, provide, nor support a b o r t i o n.
When I walked out of the clinic, I took what felt like the first breath I had taken since Leena sat down in Doctor’s office with me.
My face stained in tears, I called my boyfriend Anthony.
When he answered, he already knew something was not right. See, usually I’d only call him over the 2-way Radio. So when the phone rang and he saw my name flash across the screen, his stomach bubbled.
On the ride home, I called my mom.
She could hardly understand the words coming out of my mouth, but she got the idea. ” Drop Leena off, and head home, I’ll be right over.”
Cut to- It’s the second-to-maybe Third-to-Last Day of 10th Grade, June of 05/06, and I have an appointment scheduled for the following day. I’m sitting in Mrs. Lato’s Spanish class nauseous, a feeling I’d begun to get used to, and my teacher won’t let me go to the bathroom, a g a i n. I know my bathroom breaks were frequent, more frequent than normal- and they thought I was going to smoke cigarettes, ( something I did regularly in the school bathrooms). Over the last 3 months, my bathroom breaks had become even more frequent, and I was doing more than just s m o k i n g in the girls room.
Even when I did go in there to smoke, I would throw up. E v e r y. s i n g l e. t i m e. I was SO frustrated. I had been trying to keep this secret for months, as one pregnant 10th grade teenager would do. It wasn’t that I couldn’t take the secret any longer, it was that I had to throw up, and did NOT want to do so in front of a room full of Juniors and Seniors, most of whom I was n o t friendly with.
I tried to cover all my bases. I asked if I could PLEASE run to the bathroom, THREE TIMES. In between my pleas, Mrs. Lato would throw in a wise remark. She thought it was funny. She wasn’t trying to be mean, no – she was just trying to get through her lesson. ” It’s the last week of school, cant you wait until the bell rings? Your not going to want to miss a thing in class today or tomorrow.”
“I’m not going to be here tomorrow or the next day. So May I Please run to the bathroom? It’s s e r i o u s. It’s a M e d i c a l condition. It’s a g i r l problem.”
Nothing. She ignored me each time.
I rose from my chair and exited the class room. Fuming. Actually, f u m i n g. This was the first time I felt my whole body heat up the way it did in response to my anger. I felt my skin turn flush. My neck, covered in blotches of red… embarrassment? Fear? No, Anger. Anger that looked like a bad allergic reaction.
I splashed my face with water, and looked at myself in the fun house like mirror that was mounted along the wall as you exited the bathroom. I wanted to wait for the bell to ring, but back then, the concept of time wasn’t what it is now. It lasted longer. One half hour felt more like One whole hour. Fifteen minutes was more like 45. So I waited for my face to cool down some, and I walked back to class.