I have kept journals across the span of my life from the age of about nine to current day at the age of fifty-three. I have always written my journals by hand so now I am transcribing them in the hope they can be kept safely in the cloud. As I have the time and gather more information, I will begin using these journals to make general observations on the inner life of a young woman growing up in America in the last 20th century. Here, we observe two pregnancy scares. One occurs when I am sixteen years old with my high school boyfriend with whom I am deeply in love. The second entry occurs five years later. I am with the same man, we are married, and now I am in college. Note the desperate and fearful tones experienced by the sixteen year old girl vs. the more mature and rational tone of the college student. There are many factors that contribute to the change in tone but the most important is probably shame. To become pregnant in high school was interpreted as a shameful event in my family. Becoming pregnant while in college, although with definite drawbacks, appeared far less shameful a proposition.
March 13, 1983
Confusion. Unsure. Plain scared. That is me for the last couple of weeks. Brent and I are so much in love, but when you’re sixteen and seventeen years old you can only take your love so far. Brent and I have gone too far. Brent and I do everything but go all the way. But the last three times we’ve gotten together we didn’t leave out anything. It’s not what you’d think. Okay…the first…he pulled out right while I was having [my orgasm] because he thought he was fixing to have one too. Okay…he didn’t come inside me and it lasted all of 30 seconds.
I can’t seem to recall the second time. I believe it was shorter and I resisted that time. Still he hadn’t had an orgasm while inside me. The last time was Friday. It lasted about 45 seconds. It felt so good and I had an orgasm. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t care. All I wanted at that second was an orgasm… after I [came] he came out and he still said that he didn’t come inside me because he knew if he did he would feel it. From the first time we ever did it I have been so worried and scared. No protection. My period was due the first time we did it and now it’s about a week and a half later and still no period. Well, to be exact, I’m six days late. The first time I counted wrong and I was freakin’ out for about two days.
Friday night after we realized what we had been doing we had a long talk. This was really getting out of hand, plus scaring me to death each new day that I didn’t get my period. We talked about what would happen to us if I were to get pregnant now. He told me frankly that he probably couldn’t handle it and before too long we would be over. I can completely understand that, even though it doesn’t thrill me. He said he would probably feel that if I were pregnant I would be taking his life away. He would feel: man, just leave; ‘cause if you don’t, you won’t be able to do all the things you want to do. If I were a guy I would probably feel that way too. Plus, I told Brent if I were a guy and got a girl pregnant I’d probably run. He said that’s an option the guys have, but the girls don’t. I showed Brent my calendar and how my periods come. I showed him how late I am and he got really nervous. The conversation took a turn from a hypothetical standpoint to a could-be reality. He kept saying, “Don’t worry, you’ll get your period. You know you’re never on time anyway. If you don’t, we’ll get ya checked out. Don’t worry.”
See, Brent is out of town now. Friday night we were having this conversation, then Saturday morning he had to leave for a week, so it made it extra hard on both of us. We wanted to be together in a time like this for hugs and reassurance. Neither of us could imagine telling our parents. I thought of the feeling if both our parents knew and one of us went to the other’s house and had to see his/her parents for the first time after they found out. What would it be like? How would it feel? Brent said my dad would probably kill him. I agreed. Brent also said he could probably never come over here again. He would feel so awkward. I can’t imagine. I’d feel like trash! It gives me chills. God, these thoughts have been invading my mind for so long now it seems. At first, when my period didn’t come I would sit down and think how I might be pregnant and start to cry.
I think of so many things you never think of until you, yourself, are in that situation. Would I have an abortion? When the question first came into my mind I decided if I were pregnant I’d have an abortion and if I couldn’t get an abortion I would kill myself. My real mistake was telling Brent that bright idea. The minute I got it out of my mouth he hit me! Pretty hard too. I needed it though. He almost strangled me that night too, but anyway…after I said “kill myself” he went into a speech. He said, “I thought you had more guts than that. You’d just give up, huh? I can’t believe you would do that to yourself and everybody else.” I can’t remember all what he said because I was in the twilight zone that night, but he changed my mind. I don’t know exactly what he changed it to, but away from killing myself.
The last episode of “Fame” Thursday night was about suicide and I cried twice when I saw it because I was thinking about me contemplating suicide myself. Anyway, at the end of the Friday night conversation we came to the conclusion that we will go on and do everything but make love (like we’ve been doing) and not try to provoke anything that will lead us to it. Like saying, “I wish we were making love right now.” Or getting on top of each other and acting like it. We decided if we were getting too close we would take a cold shower, or start talking about pregnancy! I think the latter would work anytime!
Well, I still haven’t had my period. I have been praying. I asked Brent to pray too. Oh, he’s such good support. He left yesterday and I miss him so much with all my heart. A while ago when I was using the bathroom it felt like I started and one or two drops of dark blood came out, but no more. Oh, I hope it’s the beginning of my precious period! I went off when I first saw it and started thanking God, but when I really do start my period I never start with just one or two drops. Or do I? I’m not sure because I’m never using the bathroom when I start. It made me feel a little better though. I just wish more blood would come. I never wanted my period more in my life.
When Brent left Friday night we were both worried, scared, and close to tears. He said he would call me Wednesday to see how I was. Halfway across the United States and my baby said he would call me just to say I love you and to see how I was. I hope to hear his voice. His sweet voice. At the beginning of that night you know I told you he felt a baby would break us up for good? By the end of the night he was saying nothing could come between us and he was holding me tight. I felt sick. I didn’t know if it was from him leaving, from my worry, or from the hamburger I ate earlier that evening, but I felt dizzy and nauseated. If Brent wasn’t around all the time I needed him I could never make it.
The next morning I had to drive Brent and his mom to the airport. Friday night Brent said, “If you want to talk just come over earlier in the morning, or if you can’t sleep, if you get worried or scared, you just get in your car and come over anytime you want to. Or call when you need me.” He didn’t leave anything out! It made me feel so good. He comforted me and I almost started to cry, but I didn’t. Some hard headed will power inside me won’t let me cry in front of him. He said if I wouldn’t cry that he might, and at that moment, I think he almost did.
The next morning when I went to pick them up, Brent was in the worst mood ever! I didn’t want to touch him because I was afraid he might bite my hand off or something. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what could have gotten him in that mood, but I suspect the safest bet is his mother. She gets on Brent’s nerves so easily. It’s hard to tell if she does it on purpose or not. I resent her. After a year and 6 and a half months the lady still has not accepted the fact that I’m here and I’m here to stay! Oh, she’s nice enough to me, but God forbid if Brent and I even touch! Don’t ever leave those two in a room alone, and always keep the lights on! Man, she would get on anyone’s nerves! Friday night while we were at Brent’s house she came home and we were comfortably snuggled up on the couch back to front. We had all the lights out and we were watching a movie. She came in and said, “What is this?” When she left the room she left the hall light on. Plenty of light. Of course she did that on purpose. Before she even started up the stairs Brent said, “Watch. I’ll bet she’ll leave the lights on.” He was right. So Brent got up and turned them off. Okay…a second time she came down with one shirt in her hand and she mumbled, “I have to do the laundry.” Ha! One shirt–are you kidding? That took a good ten minutes. On that entry she had turned the lights back on and proceeded to her room without turning them off. AGAIN. Brent growled as he got up to turn the lights off for a second time. Now, third time lucky the song says…pishaw! Here comes Mom again with that disgusted look on her face. As she comes down the stairs the phone rings so Brent jumps up to get it. Now she has an excuse to stay in there. She’s on the phone! Brent said, “Oh, she’ll be on there for a good hour and a half. Let’s go to your house.” I quickly agreed. Then she had the nerve to say, “Where are you two going?” I felt like answering anywhere there isn’t a pesky nosy mother who keeps switching the lights on and coming down stairs every 20 minutes! Oh, I would have loved to say that, but I just kept it in my head. She told Brent to be home by 12:00…an hour early. He said, “I’ll try.” I’m glad to say he got home about 1:15! Ha!
I got it! I got it! Glory be to heaven! I got my period! About two hours ago. Oh, it seemed to feel so good I just wanted to bleed! Now I can’t wait until Brent calls. Man, I wish he were here. Now when he calls I’ll have good news, great news to tell him! He’ll be home Saturday. Oh, I want to hold my baby now–in time of celebration–jubilation! New creation. Oh joy, joy! Man, I got to tell you, back the last two weeks when I was so worried and anxious, words cannot express my feelings or what I was going through. That one night I totally freaked out. Brent said I wasn’t even Tiffany anymore; I was acting like someone else. And I was! For that one night I was a crazy woman! I praise the Lord for everything He has done. All through this time of unsure-ness of not knowing what would happen, I prayed. He was with me and will be always. He has forgiven me of my sins and He will make Brent and I strong. Strong against all evils so nothing can get in our way!
[Five years later. Same boyfriend has now become my husband.]
May 1, 1988
I can’t sleep tonight; a combination of two reasons. One, my nose will not stop running for one full second. It’s driving me (and I’m sure Brent too, before he fell asleep) crazy! Definitely making that doctor’s appointment tomorrow. The second reason is quite a scary one. For the past two weeks or so I’ve been wondering if I’m pregnant. Gives ya something to think about. My periods have always been rather irregular. A couple months ago and this past month I would have a regular period then bleed again for a few days during the month. At the beginning of March, I had my period, then a couple weeks later I bled for another week. When it came time for this month’s period…nothing. Even if I end up bleeding sometime during the month, I still always bleed, however lightly, during the period week. That’s why it was so ominous.
At first I simply found it odd. I attributed the skipped period to having bled a full week during the month. There’s still a good possibility that that is what has caused the skip now. I didn’t worry about it last week; I was just aware of it, predicting that I would probably start to bleed when I started back on the pills. Now, it’s the eighth day back into the cycle and not one drop. Like I said, at first I didn’t worry about it, but every day that passes the question becomes more prominent in my mind. To tell the truth, I am still pretty optimistic. The fact is, ever since I began menstruating, I have been irregular. Not being exactly with the program has become my body’s trademark. A part of me knows that any day or night now, of course when I least expect it, I will begin my period. I recall a couple of times in high school while dating Brent when my period was late. I had a lot more to fear then; I don’t think I was even on the pill. Once I was about two weeks late. Those two weeks were pure torment! Now it’s all different. In high school I definitely would have had an abortion; now I wouldn’t. Even though it is still an inopportune time for Brent and me to have a baby, I could not choose to abort. Brent is the man I have married. He is the only man I can love. He is the only man I want to have children with. Now we make a majority of our own money. Besides an implement of two to three hundred dollars from my parents every month, we are comfortably making it on our own. Buying luxury items left and right I might add. I don’t know how well we would do supporting a baby, but I know that we could make it. There’s even a side of me that would be happy to be pregnant. I could never deny my love for children. Brent and I saw the most beautiful baby the other day. Now, I may have gotten the wrong impression, I mean to say, a quite different impression if this baby had been crying and stinky with dirty diapers and all, but what I saw was the opposite. The dad had the little girl in a balloon-like walker so she could move freely around the house. She was neat and clean, and the entire time we were at the house she did not make a peep! She had such a sweet and relaxed disposition. Beautiful too.
It’s scary for me to actually think about giving birth. None of the stories sound like any fun no matter how it’s told. Plus the fact that I have asthma and am always on some sort of medication doesn’t help either. A doctor once told me that giving birth may be difficult for me. Thinking about that makes me uneasy. Compounded with the fact that just going to the hospital to have the baby costs a fortune. I don’t want to delve any deeper. The hardest part about finding out if I was pregnant would be telling my parents. I have no idea how I would do it. Over the phone of course, but finding the right words, and especially handling the response, would be the most difficult parts. I know the possibility of me becoming pregnant has crossed the minds of both sets of parents. Both mothers have asked the question before. I suppose if they have had the balls to ask, I will have the balls to tell. All this, mind you, mere speculation. I know that if I were pregnant it would come as a disappointment to them. My dad didn’t speak to me for months after moving in with Brent. Would this break his heart? I know he’s longing for more grandkids, but I don’t believe he wants any from me for a while. I’m supposed to be the one to go far in big strides and undoubtedly reach my goal. When Brent and I began living together there were a few gasps and eyes turned to me to see if I would sour on my studious gusto. I haven’t done that, but if pregnant…? One of the things I hate: to disappoint loved ones.
I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I am on the pill; the most effective method of birth control. I have followed the schedule and not forgotten one pill. If the system fails it is just by chance. I may happen to be that small percent who gets away. If pregnant, it will not be at the fault of forgetfulness or irresponsibility. That makes me think What can Mom and Dad say to that? It’s just the draw of the cards.
I haven’t been able to tell how Brent feels about the whole thing. He talks frequently of children and asks how soon I’d like to begin a family. Of course all these questions are asked with the confidence that the situation is in the control of our hands. He always knows when I’m supposed to be on my period. At the end of that week I told him that my period had completely skipped and I couldn’t recall the last time that had happened. Plus the fact that I’m so irregular. The tone between us was light and we hugged with the feeling of we’ll have to wait and see. Then a few days ago he saw me taking my pill and he said, “Well, I guess we need to see a period here soon.” Then earlier today we were walking in a store and he said something about babies (not ours) and I said, “Yeah, maybe sooner than you think” and he said, “No, no. That wouldn’t be too good” (or something to that effect.) The last comment that was this evening he said, “Are you a Momma? Is there a baby in there?” patting my stomach. Then he lifted up my night shirt to see my stomach and said again, “Is there a baby in there?” This was all done lightly. Not all-out joking, but far from serious. Thus far, signals about Brent’s true feelings on the matter have been ambiguous. Last night I came close to getting him to really talk about it; to actually come right out and ask, “What if I’m pregnant?” But I refrained because it is still all premature. It’s only been eight days after my period week after all. It will be interesting to find out my reaction either way. Will I be more disappointed or elated if my period comes? Will I freak out if it doesn’t? After writing all this I’ll probably start tomorrow!
May 6, 1988
I finally had to release some of my thoughts about pregnancy and I shared them with Diana. I really hadn’t even planned on bring it up, but it wasn’t long before I introduced the subject. She was the right person to confide in. I told her that 75% of me is confident that I am not pregnant. There have been a couple times before where I had a much better chance of being pregnant than now. How my recent change in levels of exercise may have scrambled up my hormones a bit. I haven’t felt any sickness or nausea, although I have had two or three headaches which I have attributed to my sinuses. One thing that has changed about my body that I cannot explain is a sudden and dramatic change in my sleeping pattern. For the last week I have not been able to just drift off like I’ve been doing. I’ve had to stay up and occupy myself until at least one am. Today it was a bit after four am. I’ll lay there for a while. I can see it getting lighter and brighter outside. About five or six I’ll go back to sleep. Then when it’s time for me to get up, which should be about eight, I’m dead to the world until 9:30 or so. Like I said, this has been going on for about five days or so. It could just be the ending of school, coming of summer, I don’t know.
I’m almost convinced now that when and if I do get my period I may be disappointed. I keep feeling these excretions. I’ll go to the bathroom thinking, “It’s probably starting” but all it is is a milky clear substance. There has been a lot of that lately. Perhaps I would be disappointed because it may be coming that time where I need something new, something different. Every once in a while I stir things up. Even though a pregnancy would not be intentional, it certainly would stir things up. I have the idea of what I’m thinking in my head, but it’s not coming down right on paper.
May 9, 1988
Yesterday was the first day that I began to believe that I am NOT pregnant. I looked at my pocket calendar in which I’ve been recording my cycle since the beginning of this year. I don’t have much to work with, but I was relieved to find that the break between my periods has once before been this long. That break lasted 38 days. Today is the 38th day break of this cycle. Now I wish I had been keeping track earlier! There are still 12 more days until my period week is to begin. One day before that I have a gynecology check up. Within the next three weeks it will be coming down to the nitty gritty. As of today though, more than ever, I believe my period will be coming very soon.
May 17, 1988
I got it. My period came on a few days ago with a vengeance. It’s had enough time to build up some force behind it no doubt! When my period did finally arrive I was not disappointed like I originally thought I would be. I was more or less indifferent. Brent was the one who was most relieved. Now I know when that day does comes when I find out I’m pregnant I will be ready for it and I’ll be able to handle it. Even if it happens before the big wedding in Memphis. I have to admit that getting pregnant before then would throw some plans off, but I feel that I could always get back on track.