Chapter Thirteen: The Nurse
It was the thirteenth of February when Yesenia visited the nurse’s office at Manchester South High School, complaining of nausea and lightheadedness. The nurse took her temperature and her pulse, and then he gave her a cup to produce a urine sample. Yesenia brought it into the bathroom, and emerged shortly afterwards, giving him the filled container.
“Why don’t you just lie down for a few minutes.” he said. He didn’t tell her why he wanted the urine sample.
After a few minutes, the nurse explained to Yesenia, “Zero pink bars means an invalid result. One pink bar indicates no pregnancy. Two pink bars indicates pregnancy.” Then he showed her the test, with two pink bars.
Yesenia was shocked. “I’m …pregnant?”
The nurse calmed her down. “Yes. Now, don’t panic. Pregnancy is a perfectly normal condition of the female body. When was your last menstrual period?”
“The day after Christmas.” Yesenia said.
The nurse checked on a chart, and said, “Your thirty-nine weeks due date is 25 September. Do you know who the father is?”
“Steve Johnson. He’s in my C period biology class.” she replied. “Oh, I could kill him!”
“What for?” the nurse asked. “Did he rape you?”
“No. But now, like, I’m a fifteen-year-old single mom. And I just know he’s gonna ditch me.” she said.
The nurse pointed out, “There’s where you’re messing up. If you already judge him, when he hasn’t even gotten word yet, and you’re already angry at him, your anger will drive him away. Who wants to date a girl who is angry at him?” Then he said, “Sometimes the parents drive the guy away. They’re furious at him, and what guy wants to go to a girl’s house when her parents are furious at him? You have to set all that aside. Would you like me to have him paged up to the office, and I’ll break the news to him?”
“Sure.” Yesenia replied.
Then the nurse asked, “Then can I phone your mom and tell her?”
“Sure.” Yesenia agreed.
The nurse suggested, “Try to remember that Steve won’t be able to love the baby before the birth. You will love the baby whom you feel kicking inside you, but Steve can’t even see the kid yet. He has to hold the kid. After I break the news, then he walks out of the office and sees you standing there. You must set aside any and all anger, look him straight in the eye, and say, ‘I’m still yours if you’re still mine.’ That’s the best offer you can possibly give him. You do have one way to keep Steve interested, and you’re already pregnant anyway.”
The nurse had Steve paged to the front office. When Steve got there, a secretary told him to go to the nurse’s office.
Steve arrived at the nurse’s office, and the nurse greeted him. “Have a seat, Steve. You know something? I’ve been a father for the past nine years. Children are awesome. It’s a tough, challenging job at times, Steve, but take it from me, being a father is very rewarding also.”
Steve replied, “Well, I won’t have to worry about that for a few years.”
Then the nurse broke the news. “Guess again. Yesenia is due in September.”
Steve’s eyes popped open, and his jaw dropped. “She’s …pregnant?”
The nurse replied, “Affirmative. Now, don’t panic. Here’s where some guys mess up. I’m not really supposed to get involved in these things, but the school is going to be privatized at the end of the school year anyway, due to Operation U.S.A. Freedom, and I’ll be looking for a new job, so I have nothing to lose at this point. Before, too many regulations would prevent me from providing personal guidance. First, remember that if you break up with Yesenia because you got her pregnant, you don’t get out of paying child support, but you do miss out on a lot of the rewarding parts of being a father, like helping the baby learn to walk. Second, if you break up, then the next thing you have to do is find another girlfriend, when the one you already have is perfectly good. And if she’s having your baby, you couldn’t ask for a better girlfriend than that. By staying together, you avoid the heartbreaks at the end of every dating relationship, and the dry periods between them. Finally, don’t forget that you can still flirt with other girls. You can walk up to your buddy’s girlfriend and show her a picture of the baby. Girls love that. They melt, and they smile for you. They admire you for sticking with Yesenia, and you don’t need to ask them for a date, because you have Yesenia. And nothing is more innocent than showing pictures of your baby. This all may be overwhelming to you, the idea of sticking together indefinitely, but just take it one day at a time. By the way, Yesenia is waiting in the next room.”
Steve walked over to her. She looked at him and said, “I’m still yours if you’re still mine.”
Steve replied, “That’s the nicest thing anybody ever said to me.” They hugged each other.
The nurse phoned Yesenia’s mother. “Mrs. Martínez? This is the school nurse, and I’m just phoning to break the news that your daughter, Yesenia is going to have a baby in September. Yes, we know who the father is, and he has done nothing to suggest he would deny paternity. One of Yesenia’s classmates. Steve, that’s right. Something I need to point out, here, Mrs. Martínez. If you don’t want your grandchild to grow up without a father, if you don’t want Yesenia to have to be a single mother, then whatever you do, don’t try to drive these two apart. It would make no sense to break them up and make Yesenia find another man to raise her child, somebody less attached to the kid than the father is. Furthermore, let Steve do the right thing, because he wants to. When the time comes, it will be much better if Steve is there in the delivery room because Yesenia needs him, and he’s worried about her, than if Steve is there only because you demand it, and he’s only worried about meeting your standards, when it’s impossible. You cannot afford to be angry at him.”
Copyright © 2004 Tom Alciere