I had always been very tall for my age and with it came the assumption that I was more mature than my friends. The truth was that at the age of 17 and in my last year of school, I had never held hands with a boy or kissed a boy or even thought of boys in any other way than ‘that friend who was not a girl’. It was beyond innocence; bordering on being completely ignorant of the social rolls for men and women.
My mother must have been aware of this because when my tummy started to show the last thing on her mind was pregnancy. I had not complained about my extended stomach assuming that it was a gross case of constipation. How silly can I have been?
The year was 1985 and things were done a little differently back then. My mother and I went to see the doctor together. He of course saw my nicely firm tummy pushing against my clothing (note no examination necessary) and pronounced the happy occasion with some mirth, “your daughter is pregnant!”
Taking in this hammer blow, I recall my mother turning to me and asking “Are you pregnant?” Just those three words and a look that could turn the sun into a wasted star.
On answering NO in a shocked tone (how could you even think that Mom); the doctor completely ignores me, and speaks quietly to my mother, “They always deny it, sometimes right up until the birth”.
My mother, of whom I am sometimes very afraid, slowly turns to me but says nothing. Her eyes say ‘you had better prove him wrong’.
I am reeling in a void and lost in this capsule of confusion. You see, I had just recently discovered the that I could bring myself pleasure by touching my body. I hadn’t even found the right word to name it yet! Could this be the result? A baby!?
Burning with embarrassment I cautiously ask of the doctor, “Is there any way of getting pregnant other than by sleeping with a boy?”
My mother quickly interjects before the doctor can answer my question, “she is definitely not pregnant”. This statement brings the doctor round to admit that there may be another reason other than unprotected adolescent sex. I step alone into the examination room, terrified, not knowing what to expect.
After the examination he sticks to the initial diagnosis, saying he felt the foetus and heard the heartbeat. At this point I am feeling horribly exposed and violated. I stick to my story that no, I am not pregnant. Blood is taken and the result comes back inconclusive. What? What does that mean? By now I am just an interesting subject to the doctor that must be documented. A second test is done. This time it comes back negative and I am whisked off to a specialist.
What the doctor had heard was not a heartbeat nor did he feel a foetus; it was in fact an ovarian cyst pulsating rhythmically. Since then I have only trusted in female doctors; their bedside manners are so much more refined.