I know that one day, probably not far from now, my oldest son will do the math.
He will do the math and he will calculate (something he is so good at) the length of time between when his father and I got married and when he was born; which is 6 months - not 9, or 12, or better yet, more.
One day he'll come to me, and he'll ask, "So you were pregnant when you and dad got married, right?"
And I'll have to be honest about it.
His father and I were engaged for the first time when I was a freshman in college. I was nineteen, my grandmother had just passed away, I had barely made it through that first year of being away from the womb of my parents' home and was doing well in school. I'd been thrust into the role of resident know-it-all, party girl, good student and general social liaison for all things related to our small dormitory and I was enjoying it.
When he asked me to marry him, as we snuggled in my twin-sized dorm bed, I immediately said yes. I'd been attaching his last name to mine since the latter portion of grade 10, so this made perfect sense to me.
I look back at that time in our very young lives (we weren't even legal to drink) and I see the invisible warning flags that surrounded us. We were too young. We hadn't spent enough time on our own. We needed some space. We each needed to find out "who we were". We were afraid of losing each other.
It wasn't a good time to be getting engaged.
The next few years flew by. I enjoyed college-life, I enjoyed the attention from other boys, I enjoyed my role as a big fish in a little sea until I transferred schools and then the adjustment period nearly did me in.
When I transferred schools, at the beginning of my 3rd year of college, Brett and I were broken up. I said I needed space. I wanted a fresh start. I didn't want to be "the girl with the fiance". I wanted to just be me.
It worked. I struggled a lot. But, it worked. By the time we were back together as a couple, I had a clear focus. I could see our future dangling in front of me like a carrot in front of a racehorse. Things were going according to plan; I'd finish school. We'd get married in the spring and then begin our lives from there, knowing that we wanted to start a family first.
And then, my body told me otherwise.
I remember boating in the Columbia River Gorge and feeling awful. I was with friends I didn't know very well and the driver of the boat didn't know what he was doing. I blamed his inexperience and the choppy waters for the soreness in my breasts that would not go away. I'd never been pregnant before so I didn't even consider . . .
A few weeks later, my sore breasts becoming quite a nuisance, I realized that I hadn't gotten my period.
Could it be?
How . . ?
Oh my God.
I bought a pregnancy test, the first I'd ever purchased. I brought it to work with me and told myself I wouldn't need to use it.
Patience has never been my strong suit, and I peed on that test within the hour.
Then I asked my friend to go get me 2 more. Sure enough, there were plus signs on them too. I checked the expiration dates - all good. I bought yet another (at this point I was already $40 invested into this pregnancy) and the results were the same.
I was pregnant.
I was 23-years-old. I was not married. I hadn't finished school. I wasn't even engaged, even if we had a clear plan - we hadn't finalized anything yet.
And even with all of that, I wasn't afraid.
I knew I wanted this and I was prepared to do it alone if I had to. I imagined my baby and I, sharing the ancient studio apartment that I'd been renting, with it's thin walls and leaky pipes, living together as I finished college and then remained in that small town to raise him or her.
When I called my future husband to tell him (yes, I told him over the phone - possibly the worst way to inform a person that they are going to be a father, but like I said, patience has never been my forte) I could hear the panic in his voice. He had good reason to panic. He had good reason to run a million miles in the opposite direction.
But that's not what happened.
What happened is that we started planning a wedding. The wedding we'd been planning anyway. The wedding we wanted to take place in the spring. The wedding which would now take place in the fall, while I was about 4 months pregnant. The wedding which was only a few months away . . .
After a flurry of invitation writing, venue touring, food tasting, dj calling and family conferencing, our wedding took place. We were married at a local golf course surrounded by friends and family. We danced, we smiled, we did everything you are supposed to do at your wedding.
And deep down, we were a little petrified.
I still had a quarter left of school to finish after we were married. So I, along with my rapidly growing belly (why didn't someone tell me that drinking 64 ounces of pure orange juice per day for the folic acid wasn't a good idea?) returned to my tiny apartment with all the hopes and intentions of completing the English degree I'd been working on for the past 5 years.
The winter months approached and I spent many hours in a warm (but not too warm) bath which was exactly as long as the distance from my behind to my toes - exactly. There was no lying down in this bathtub, no siree - it was a sitting-only tub, and completely appropriate for the size of my apartment. Consequently, it became the one and only complaint I had about that place as my belly expanded and it became hard to even enter the shower or bath at all. There is only so much sucking in one can do of a 6-month pregnant abdomen.
I left my college town with all of my belongings, without a degree, but with a tiny life inside of me that I knew was my only concern at the moment. A tiny life that I knew I wanted.
Everything else could wait.
Sometimes I wish I could tell our children stories of how their father and I courted, were married and then, after many successful years of satisfying employment of our choice, decided to have children.
But that's not how it happened.
I'm okay with that - I am. My life isn't a fairytale and you know what? That's fine. This is who I am, this is who we are and we don't need to be made to feel bad about it because it isn't the typical, "first comes love then comes marriage then comes baby in a baby carriage," scene.
It is what it is.
We love our children. We love each other. And here we are.
And so it is, the story of how I became a mother - unexpected not unwanted.