December 26, 2006

The rest, as they say, is history.

You seemed to demand want a continuation of my history that was prompted by my memories of the BYU Honor Code that I wrote about before due to Pete's tag. So here it is, without further ado...

I discovered I was pregnant, and I was alone at BYU with 5 roommates from Utah. I knew the next few months would not be fun.

I had missed a period the month before, and since I wasn't exactly regular anyway, and since we had used condoms, I just figured the reason was due to my stress and depression over two things: 1) the guy I loved had moved back home to Chile for good, and 2) I found out my mom had re-married my dad without telling anyone first.

I was so sad and listless once he left. I didn't want to do anything. I went to class, did homework, worked, ate, slept. I was way more tired than usual, but anyone who has been depressed knows this is common. Little did I know that the tiredness was due to the changes going on inside my body.

A few weeks after he left, I got a devastating phone call from my sister. I remember standing in the kitchen and answering the phone. Her first words were, "Mom didn't come home last night, none of us knew where she was, and today she called to tell us that she and dad got married." I immediately started crying and wailing "Noooooo. Ooooooohhh, noooooo. Oh sweetheart, I'm soooooo sorry." My sister and I were bawling to each other on the phone, because we knew. We knew. This was horrible. One of my roommates came running and thought someone close to me had died. It felt exactly as if someone had.

I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family. My dad was a traveling salesman who was gone about 5 days of every week. Life was good while he was gone, then he'd come home and we'd find ourselves walking on eggshells all day, holding our breath, waiting for the inevitable axe to fall. Life sucked until he'd leave again. He was the most controlling, anal, compulsive man I've ever known. He was emotionally (and at times physically) abusive to all of us, although some got it more than others. I was one of the (lucky) ones he didn't abuse as bad. My mom would often confide in my brother and me (we were the two oldest) about her unhappiness and wishes for divorce, and we would beg her to do it, to no avail.

She finally did it after I got home from Austria and went away to BYU. I know it was a struggle for her to be alone, and I've learned over time that she's simply someone who isn't completely happy alone. She had a hysterectomy after the divorce, and I think she was feeling weak and down, and he took advantage of her weak moment and that was all it took. I was seriously devastated. I have five younger brothers and sisters whom I knew would end up being the ones most hurt by this...She didn't tell anyone beforehand, because she knew she was doing it against better judgement, and without our support. I think she also knew we'd be able to talk her out of it if she told us in advance. I remember going out to my car after the phone call and sobbing harder than I'd ever cried in my life. I have never felt so helpless in my life as I did right then.

So, after the trauma of these two events in my life, it was just icing on the cake to go to work and find myself sick over the smell of barbecue sauce. The day after work, I drove to a store far from anyplace my roommates or I shopped, and bought myself a home pregnancy test. I took it back to my apartment in a brown paper bag.

It read Positive

Next day, different store, different brand, different paper bag.

Same results.

Up until now I hadn't even had my first visit to the gynecologist. I had no idea what to do. I drove to Planned Parenthood. They gave me another pregnancy test and helped me determine how far along I probably was. My dad's words kept running through my head like a mantra: "Any of you who comes home pregnant is no daughter of mine."

It was a full two months before I got up enough nerve to make a phone call to my brother, Eric. He commented this about my first BYU post:

WOW! Although I knew most details of this story, I can't help but feel like I was reading one of the books you or Mom used as an "escape" prior to you taking up art once again! My Pavlovian instinct was to speed to the "good parts" until I remembered I was reading about my little sister!! SHUDDER!!! HaHa!

As for your potty mouth. I believe it was your Utah County assimilation that helped you break your little news to me:

Lisa: "oh my HECK eric! you are a crack up!"
Eric: "Wow! Did you just say OH-MY-HECK! Utah has made you so Molly!"
Lisa: "What do you mean by that?"
Eric: "NO ONE says oh my heck unless you are totally Molly! You're just so - GOOD!"
Lisa: "You don't know me that well"
Eric: "Pshaaaa, NO ONE knows you better than me."
Lisa voice starting to shake: "Eric, I'm not THAT good."
Eric, confused by the sudden change of tone: "Whatever Lisa, you're the most Molly - EVER!" Desperately trying to lighten the mood.
Lisa: "No Eric, you don't know but I'm not good like you think."
Eric: "Why? What makes you not good?"
Lisa: "I've done things?"
Eric: "Ummm, WHAT kind of things?"
Lisa: "The WORST thing you CAN do Bwwwaaaah!" "And I think I'm pregnant."
Eric: "Ohh, Lisa. It's going to be alright."

Note that I called Eric first. We were best friends our whole lives, and I think he knows me better than probably anyone. By this time I was almost 3 months along, and I knew that soon I'd start to show, and I'd have to get out of there. I knew that I couldn't maintain my status at BYU and be an unwed mother. So I had to go home and start over. After calling Eric at his apartment, I phoned home, and of course my dad answered, and he put Mom on the phone too. I broke the news to them as best as I could around my feelings of shame and horror at what I'd done. (Remember I'm only describing how I felt at the time, I don't find it shameful now that I look back). My parents were shocked but they agreed it was best if I came home, and we'd figure it all out together.

I went to the BYU offices and told them I was quitting for medical reasons, and it was fairly easy. I had some thought in my mind that maybe they'd see through my lie and I'd be exposed. But nothing like that happened.

I told all my roommates some inane lie about needing help financially and that I was backing out of school for the time being to go home until I could get back to school.

And I went home. I don't recall really if my parents drove down to pick me up, or if it was Eric...he'd remember. That whole time was a big blur to me.

Once I returned home, I lived with my parents and they were pretty supportive while I decided what I was going to do. I got a job doing the books part time at Albertsons, a job which I did until about 7 years ago. My dad was a lot more vocal in his disgust that some "creep" would get me pregnant...he really hated him for doing that to me. He was so vocal about it I finally had to say something like, "Um, Dad, you do recognize that I also played a part in getting pregnant, right? It takes two... If you feel that way about him, then you must feel that way about me. If so, just say it." He finally quit the snide comments.

I made an appointment with my bishop. The minute I sat down and he asked me, "What can I do for you?" I started sobbing and it all came out...I was pregnant and needed to repent. He was very kind and understanding. I got one year formal probation which meant no callings, and no partaking of the sacrament for one year. I agreed. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. Looking back, I feel so sorry for bishops who are kind like he was. I would HATE having people confess that kind of thing to me, expecting me to judge them.

All my life I've felt like that sin and repentance process brought me closer to Jesus, for I had experienced the worst suffering I'd ever felt, and afterward it was easy for me to imagine Jesus bleeding from every pore for my sins. If he felt that anguish I felt, times all the people throughout the history of the world, then that was huge indeed.

I struggled with wondering if I was good enough to be a single parent of a baby. I wondered if it was less selfish of me to give my baby up for adoption rather than subject him to the stigma of being a "bastard" and being raised by only one parent who may or may not be good at parenting alone. I had to consider my own parents and I sincerely worried I'd be just like them. I saw a poster for LDS Social Services at church, and I scheduled an appointment with the social worker. I told myself that it was wisdom to look at all my options before making a decision. That way I could choose with full knowledge, and would never wonder later if I had made the right choice.

He was kind, and explained the procedure to me. They would do an open adoption, where I could help review applications and choose who was to get my baby. But once the deed was done, I'd never be able to contact my baby again. The law in Montana is such that a woman has to wait 3 full days before she can legally give her baby up for adoption. I would lie awake at night and envision myself holding my baby for three days, and then handing him over to strangers to raise. I didn't know if I could do something so selfless. The pain of just imagining it was almost too much to bear. This baby was conceived in love, and I felt so much love for the baby the minute I knew I was pregnant, even though I knew my life would be in upheaval because of it. And I always thought of my baby as a boy. It never even occurred to me I'd have a girl. Every time I passed the baby clothes section in a store, it was the boy clothes I looked at and dreamed about.

One day, a woman from our ward came over to our house unexpectedly. She told me that she knew I was talking to LDS Social Services about possibly giving my baby up for adoption, and she had a son who was married and lived in Utah...and they couldn't have children.....and would it be possible........

Every single motherly instinct I never knew I had reared up and shouted NO!!! at the same time. I knew in that instant that there was no way in hell I would ever give my baby up for adoption. It was all I could do to sit there and look into her desperate mother eyes. I wanted to throw up.

So I let LDS Social Services know of my decision, and began to prepare in earnest for life as a mother with a baby. My mom, bless her sweet heart, took Lamaze classes with me. It was lots of fun. I was the only single mother in the class. I didn't note any judgemental glances from anyone else. People were very kind.

At this time, my mom's best friend had a son who had served his mission in Chile. He was the resident expert on all things Chilean. We found out that Chile is a country where Moms Rule. The matriarch in that society rules the household. I had seen the movie "Not Without my Daughter" during my pregnancy, and I was paranoid and worried about what would happen once I let the man who got me pregnant know about it. We had ended our relationship when he moved, and knew that we weren't destined to be together, but when you are pregnant with someone's baby, you feel things and worry and wonder more than you want to. And the hormones that a woman deals with while pregnant are a big factor too: funny things are way funnier than they usually are, sad things are way more sad, and when something makes you happy, what you feel is definitely out of proportion to what you should be feeling. So my feelings of paranoia were much worse than they should have or would have been otherwise. I worried that I would be forced to share custody of my baby, or that they'd want to take him and raise him themselves. It was irrational, but what I was feeling at the time.

So when I was about 8 months pregnant, I went to Eric's apartment, and asked to be alone to make my phone call. I broke out in a cold sweat and prayed three times for courage before I called Chile. A woman answered in Spanish, and I had to ask to speak to him 3 times before he finally got on the phone.

"Lisa, hiiii! How are you doing? Wow! I can't believe I'm really talking to you!"

"I'm doing fine. It's good to talk to you, too."

"Wow! So what's new? Do you have a boyfriend yet?"

"Uhhhhh, no.....Do you have a girlfriend?" What the hell?? That wasn't what I had expected him to say.

"No, but I've been trying!"

"Oh. Well. Heh heh. Um. Good luck with that."

"Thanks!"

....

"Um, listen, maybe you should sit down because I called to tell you I'm 8 months pregnant with your baby." My heart was beating out of my chest.

"What?!........Seriously? Wow. Really?....." A big pause as he sat down and digested what I had said. "Wow. Is there anything I can do? Do you need anything?"

I had rehearsed this line many times in my mind before calling..."No. I don't need anything or want anything from you. I just figured you had a right to know."

He sat there stunned. I could hear him breathing. "Are you sure you don't need anything? Wow. I can't believe this. Whoa."

"I don't need anything from you. I'm due April 12th.. I moved back to Montana so you may want my phone number and address."

"Yeah, I'll call you. Wow. I can't believe this. Wow. You're sure you don't need anything from me?"

"I'm sure."

"I'll call you. I promise."

"OK. That'd be nice."

"OK, well, bye, then. Good luck."

"Thanks. Goodbye."

2 weeks before my due date, I woke up one morning at 5 a.m. to sharp contractions. I drew a warm bath and soaked in order to relax and see if the pains would go away. They didn't. We drove to the hospital at 9 a.m., and were admitted into a room. I was a big baby about pain. Maybe this was because my parents were in there with me, I don't know, but I remember not feeling very brave, and not wanting to walk around because the contractions hurt so bad. My dad was a pharmaceutical representative (he sold drugs to doctors) so he told the doctor to give me Stadol, a pseudo-narcotic. Of course, this made me so out of it, I hardly remember anything except crying a weird cry that I've never heard myself do since. Strange. I don't remember much...I think that drug made me sleep between contractions.

It was taking about an hour and a half to increase one centimeter in dilation...and I was so tired. Finally at 3:45 p.m. the nurse checked me and said I was only dilated to 6. I was sick of it, and knew I'd never hold out any longer if it was to be another 6 hours to reach a dilation of 10. So (using my Damien voice) I said the words many women have come to rely on:

Give. Me. An. Epidural. NOW.

The nurse inserted the I.V. thing into the veins on the back of my hand, and left to go get the anesthesiologist. After she left, suddenly my body pushed. I say "my body" pushed because that's what it felt like: heaves you get and can't control, much like when you throw up. I told my mom that I thought I had just wet the bed. She looked and knew immediately that things were happening. She ran and got the nurse. My body pushed again.

The nurse came quickly and noticed that the baby's head was already crowning. She ran to the door of my room and yelled at them to get a doctor in here, QUICK! She ran back to me and said, "Don't you DARE push!" My body pushed again, and there was no way I could stop it. She said, "Breathe like you're blowing out a candle. That will help you not to push." I thought she was insane, but I tried anyway. It helped knowing that if I didn't stop pushing, one of my parents or the nurse was going to be delivering this baby.

The doctor arrived. He had just enough time to put on a pair of gloves: 4:00 p.m., just one push later, my baby boy was born. It had been 15 minutes from a dilation of 6 to delivery.

I had been told by Mr. Chile that he'd call me when I was due, so I waited for his call. It never came. I finally went back to my brother's house and called him again, when my son was about 3 or 4 weeks old.

A guy answered the phone who sounded just like Mr. Chile. He also had a brother who was a year older than him, so it may have been the brother, I don't know. He kept speaking Spanish, which I didn't understand.

"Is Mr. Chile there? It's Lisa from Montana."

More Spanish.

"Is Mr. Chile there? It's Lisa from Montana."

More Spanish.

"Is Mr. Chile there? It's Lisa from Montana."

Finally he broke into perfect English. "J's on vacation in Santiago right now. Would you like to leave him a message?"

What could I say? There was no way I was going to leave the message, "IT'S A BOY!!" So instead I said, "Please have him call me as soon as possible."

I never heard from him again.

My pride wouldn't let me reach out one more time. For all I know, he died on that trip to Santiago. Or he was the one I was actually talking to, and didn't want to talk to me. Or he tried 10 times and my dad answered the phone every time and never told me about it. Whatever happened, I was officially alone. It was done.

I met and married Mr. SML when my son was 8 months old. He adopted my son when he was in Kindergarten.

And now you know The Rest of the Story.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm stunned. Wow. Your writing makes me feel like I was right there with you, I could so clearly identify with your emotions even though I've not experienced the same thing.

Thank you for taking the time to write this out. Much love headed your way!

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Anonymous said...

I can so relate to all of your emotions during that time. The support of your family is invaluable during such an emotional upheaval as a pregnancy. Especially when you are alone.
My mom was my rock when I was pregnant with D and to this day I tell her as much as I can that I love her.
Mr. Chile probably knew that when you said that you didn't need anything that he was off the hook and probably never said anything to anyone about it lest he look like a sinner.
The LDS church IS all about appearances and the illusion of perfection.
I have mad respect for you girl!

C.L. Hanson said...

Wow, what an ordeal!!!

That's great that you had the courage to hang in there as a single mom -- despite the obstacles -- and provide a loving home for your son.

Sideon said...

This one hit hard. I had no idea where this wild roller-coaster would end up when I first started reading.

I was adopted from birth. I knew from an early age that I'd been adopted - my parents told me when I was around 6 years old. When I call myself "bastard" I can say it in jest or to add emphasis the same way I can say "homo" or "fag," but I know I go ballistic if others use any of the above terms. I'm rambling...

Your story made me realize that there is so much I don't know about my birthmother, about what she went through in the late 60's and about how my idiot birthfather didn't even know I existed until I was almost 30 years old.

Christy summed it up best: I'm stunned.

Anonymous said...

I am sooo glad you kept him. Mr. SML seems like a godsend. I have a Mr.SML in my life...my stepfather. He offered to adopt me when I was 7 and I said no. I told him, "I like knowing you love me just the way I am" Hindsight is 20/20 and I wish I would have said yes, but I still like knowing he loves me just like I was his biologically!
Thanks for making me cry...with joyful recollections!!

Cele said...

Wow, Lisa, thank you for sharing. It makes me feel like you're a kindred spirit of sorts. Girl you have a lot of strenght inside of you and the fact that you shared your story will help so many others, on levels you can barely conceive. You are awe inspiring. Thank you.

btw, I'm glad you had Eric - I'm thinking it made all the difference in the world to you.

Krom the Kreator said...

That was like a juicy Mormon Soap Opera. Awesome!

I think you should write a book. These stories are so dang good, Sister Mary Lisa. I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

Oh, and give that Eric a big kiss on the lips for me; he sounds like a really great person.

Bull said...

I really enjoyed the two posts, but I have to say they troubled me. I think that that there is wisdom in TSCC's preaching of abstinence before marriage due to the possibility of unwanted pregnancies, but I hate all of the guilt that they surround it with that seems to almost encourage irresponsibility or lack of realism or discretion with regards to sexuality. It doesn't teach anything positive about sex at all and leaves its members on their own to sort it out themselves.

I don't know what I'm rambling on about. It was a touching story that made me sad at the difficult and unplanned disruption of your life and happy that in the end it worked out as a blessing in your life.

Cheers.

Eight Hour Lunch said...

Beautiful writing. Thanks for sharing.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Christy, thank you.

Jessica, you'll get zero traffic from me if I can't click on your blog. I suspect you're just spam I should delete...

Rachel, it's hard but worth it, isn't it? Also, Mr. Chile was not LDS. I don't know if he cared about appearances or not.

CL Hanson, thanks for reading. I love it when I see comments from you.

Sideon, my looking into adoption for my son was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. If I had done it, it would have been a decision made purely out of love for my baby, because I wanted to give him the best life he could have...and I would have been doing the selfless thing if I had known for sure that a life with me was going to be worse than a loving home with two parents who could provide for him better than me. It was way more difficult than I described it here. I don't know if I could even describe it well if I tried. Only someone who's been there knows for sure what it feels like.

Maybe someday you'll get a chance to really discuss it in detail with your birth mother.

JOOM, I'm sure that it's how you treat each other that counts, not the adoption status. Thanks for sharing that. It'd be interesting to read anything you might post about that (hint hint)!

Cele, I don't know about "awe inspiring," but thank you just the same. I appreciate it. And yes, Eric is an amazing person, and I love him with all my heart. He saved me more than a few times.

Krom, a juicy Mormon Soap Opera? That'd be interesting if the church ever started publishing soaps. Maybe I should approach headquarters with my (your) idea. And I'm pretty sure we never kissed on the lips, did we, Eric? So...I'll just relay the message that Krom wants to kiss Eric right on the lips. It might help if you'd tell us if you're a guy or girl first.....

Bull, you're right. I did use birth control (condoms) but in the end, I was one of the unlucky ones who gets the biggest consequence for my actions. And that is where young people in the church flounder, as you said. I couldn't just worry about survival, I also had to worry about what others would think of me and how I'd be judged, in this life and the next. All I can do to change this is talk openly with my own kids about their lives and sexuality and teach them wisdom before the fact. Thanks for your supportive comments.

Doug, thank you for the compliments, as always.

Anonymous said...

Wow this was a great story. I am amazed at your courage.

I am usually into telling the single woman to adopt out the child because they are usually too immature to raise a child. In your case, I think you knew what to do... But, it sounds like your helper (the man in question) was definitely immature.

Glad you found a great guy.

Krom the Kreator said...

If you'd like some help in making these posts into a book, I'd love to help.

You can email me at KromtheKreator@gmail.com

I think it would make a find edition in the Seagull books store ;-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, Lisa. That was very powerful.

It's strange to be in the same category of kids who constantly urged their mothers to get a divorce. You learn a lot about the dark side of human relationships very quickly.

Though there's a lot of individual points in what you wrote to appreciate, there are two that shone out to me as unusual insights.

First, it's very compassionate of you to think about what kind men who find themselves bishops must go through. I have not really thought about them that way, instead focusing on their key role in the maintenance of the big lie. It's a very deep insight that rings very true. Human beings are complex creatures.

Second, perhaps more superficially, your description of labor contractions was stunning. It was very simple and short, but I have *never* read or heard anything that so made how it must feel come alive for me so much as what you just wrote. The pain, I know -- I experienced that with my poor dear wife and know the pain is beyond my imagining -- but I never really read anything that gave me a visceral understanding of the unintentional, impossible?-to-control nature of the contractions. This may, of course, only reveal my ignorance of physiology and childbirth, but you taught me a little something quite well.

Anyway, great job! I am really enjoying getting to know you!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Jessica's post is pure exploit advertising. If you look closely, you can find no indication whatsoever that she actually read your post. Looks like a generic form-letter post comment to fool people with a little flattery.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic writing, Lisa. Amazing.

I pity Mr Chile who missed out on being part of his child growing up.
You were telling him for HIS sake, but he didn't get that. His loss, completely.

Hope you had a great time during Christmas and New Year's!

aerin said...

Thanks for sharing SML.

I've appreciated reading this post and the honor code post. Your description of what happened in both posts is well written and stunning. kudos to you.

Anonymous said...

I must say that your writing is blessed with a natural flair! I've been reading all your old posts, and I just want to say that you're a very strong woman! Kudos for weathering everything with so much élan!

CV Rick said...

I feel as if everything you wrote down was a direct link - your inner voice spilling the emotion right out on the page for all of us to experience. Not to read, but to re-live.

Heart-wrenching and sad, but not bitter, not angry, just resigned, as if you gained strength after the initial devastating discovery.

Well done. Well written. Well lived.

Karma said...

Bravo, thank you for sharing the second part. I was wondering if you had told him or not. I really do admire your courage!

Celia said...

Hi. I stumbled across your blog, and i wanted to let you know I've been there. I can't believe someone else has too. Sometimes, I felt like I must have been the only girl pregnant at BYU. Thankfully, my now husband and I were able to work out our difference and marry two weeks before I gave birth. When I read what you wrote about adoption, I felt the same way. everyone told me I was being "selfish" for wanting to keep my baby, but I couldn't give her away. I met with an adoptive couple and was physically nauseated the entire time. It was wrong. I am so glad you kept your son. It seems like you are an excellent mother...and writer :)

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