You know that day when you realize that your period really is late? I didn’t keep track of things on a calendar or anything like that. There was just a sense that it had been a while and I was mulling it over and trying to remember what I was doing the last time I got my period so I could peg a date on it. Was it three weeks? A month? I’ve always been absurdly regular. So I got off my ass and headed down the hill to the nearest drugstore. Walking back carrying the pregnancy test kit, I was calculating how we would make it all work out. I’d taken a year off from graduate school. Maybe that would turn out to be a good thing. Certainly having a child would rearrange our previous ideas about who would go to school and who would work and when. Cheri working while I went to school and took care of a child would make sense. Then, by the time I was done with school, the child would be old enough for daycare or nursery school. Without a graduate degree, I wouldn’t earn more than we’d spend on daycare anyway. On the other hand, could I manage school and a child at the same time? Maybe there was a way I could take on extra work during the next few months so we could save up a little money for the future. What a shame Quebec scrapped the baby bonus only a year earlier. It was hard to figure out an ideal plan, but it seemed to me that there were at least two or three workable plans. I wasn’t quite sure exactly how we’d handle it, but I arrived home with the home pregnancy test feeling pretty comfortable with the notion that we could handle it.
Cheri was home when I walked in the door. I went upstairs and put the bag on the platform next to the tub. I don’t remember if Cheri was already upstairs or if he followed me upstairs, but I remember sitting down on the edge of the tub as we talked. I told him where I had been, what I had gone out to buy and why. He raised his eyebrows and gave me the sort of look a parent or a teacher gives a child who has done something wrong. “You’re going to have an abortion, of course.”
The phrase “of course” came crashing down on me. Of course seemed like such a strange thing to say. And why the declarative sentence? At least if it was an imperative it would have had some honesty. When we married we discussed having children and we both agreed that we wanted them. It was odd for me because, before meeting Cheri, I never really wanted them, but he loved children and wanted them. With him, for the first time in my life, I could see having children and I changed my mind. We were still trying to get on our feet, still trying to get our careers launched, so children were not part of our immediate plan. At the same time, over the years we had gone beyond being imperfect in our use of birth control. We had essentially abandoned it. True, we were not trying to conceive, but we were doing nothing to avert it either. We were married and we wanted children, or so I thought.
Had he said to me that this was an especially bad juncture in our lives to have kids and could we talk about whether or not it was really what we wanted to do, I would not have been so startled. Ironically, I probably would have agreed to whatever he wanted anyway if he had approached it in that manner.
“No, not of course,” I said.
He raised his eyebrows again.
“I thought you wanted children.”
“I changed my mind,” he said.
He shrugged. “A while ago.”
“And when where you going to tell me about it?”
He shrugged again.
“You could have at least put on a fucking condom then.”
“How likely do you think it is that you’re pregnant?”
Now it was my turn to shrug. “Not very, but I figured why speculate.”
“Then there’s no reason for us to discuss this until we know.”
The next morning the test came out negative and a few days later I got my period. The ultimate confrontation was deferred, but it was another crack in the foundation of our marriage. How could he make such a major life decision without consulting me, or even informing me after it had been made? That he could go on having unprotected sex with me seemed to display a callous disregard for my general well being.
“Of course.” I kept hearing his voice saying “of course” over and over again in my mind.