Thankful for my blessing in disguise

[Photo illustration by Eliana Muñoz]

Stupid “positive” sign. What’s so positive about a positive sign when there wasn’t anything positive about it? Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do.

I was sitting alone in an OB/GYN waiting room. My dad was running errands while waiting for me, oblivious to the reason for my appointment. Finally, the doctor came in and confirmed the news I was dreading to hear.

I’m pregnant. 18 years old, a college student, jobless, single, living at home, and now expecting. At the time, freaking out wasn’t even an option since I had to get back in the car with my dad.

I couldn’t stop hearing the doctor’s voice; her words were just stuck on repeat. Even saying the words out loud to my boyfriend was difficult. What I was saying just didn’t register. It didn’t feel real.

Meanwhile, my sister was caught up in last minute preparations for her wedding that coming weekend. Great timing, I know. She and I are eight and a half years apart, with our two brothers sandwiched in between.

Right away my sister sensed something was going on. Three days after my appointment, she cornered me. I didn’t know if I should tell her—remember, it was also two days before her wedding day—but I did. She tried to hold it together and put on her Big Sister pants and started asking questions, I didn’t have any answers, which made me feel terrible and unprepared. But then she said that no matter what I chose to do, that she would be there for me and support me in any way she could. She kept our conversation quiet and threw herself into her wedding.

Telling my mom was next, so I did, the day after my sister’s wedding. By then I had realized that for this kind of news, there was never going to be a good time. My mom was speechless. Her facial expressions weren’t. After that, I told my brothers, who, much like my sister, responded with questions followed by offers of support.

My dad’s response was the one that shocked me the most. Though we’ve had our moments, my dad and I have never really been close. I worked out an entire scenario for our talk, and it couldn’t have been more wrong.

A couple of weeks after my sister’s wedding, I figured enough time had passed, and I needed to tell him. My mom suggested that the two of us go shopping—anything to get us out of the house. My dad and I never go shopping, so it was uncomfortable for me. I couldn’t bring myself to be discreet and just say the words so I decided to drop hints.

Bad idea. I would say things like, “That shirt won’t fit in a couple of months, maybe we should look in other sizes.” It didn’t help that I got carsick on the way home and fell asleep. When I sensed the car had stopped I woke up, not in my driveway, but a parking lot of a Pasadena park. He knew. We got out of the car, both fully aware that he knew what I needed to tell him.

It was a perfect day, and we took a quiet stroll around the park first. Then I told him. He stayed quiet for a bit afterwards, letting it sink in. His face said he was hurt, disappointed, and sad, but most of all, he said he was worried for me and my future.

I thought he would kick me out of the house, or wished that I would get married, or make me pay for college myself. But his response was quite different. His words were reassuring. He said that I could stay at home and continue going to school. That no matter what, my parents were there for me. That there was a reason this baby was on its way at that time, and who are we to question God’s plans? We just have to now plan and act accordingly.

The first couple of months were the absolute hardest. Everyone, myself included, was trying to get used to the idea of a new addition to the family. It was challenging and stressful for everyone. We all shared feelings of disbelief.

Slowly, with each milestone that passed, excitement and joy started overtaking the fear and stress. Hearing the heartbeat for the first time. Feeling a flutter, then a kick. It was all something that I shared with my family. Including them from the beginning helped. The day I found out what I was having—a girl—was a day we celebrated. This is my parents’ first grandchild and they couldn’t be more excited.

I’m now just a short week away from giving birth to my daughter, Mila.

Knowing that my daughter will have an amazing family to support her, no matter how she was brought to the world, will always mean the world to me.

This Thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for. A healthy pregnancy and a college education in progress. But most importantly, I have my family. There is absolutely no way I would be where I am today without the unconditional love and support. Despite my previous decisions, they have stood by me and showed me that I’m not alone—and that I never will be. I will be forever grateful.