Stephanie sat in her chair with attached desk in US History class. In front of her was a test with 80 questions. The teacher wanted to know about the Constitutional Convention and James Madison’s Virginia Plan. These were things that happened over 200 years ago. What did it have to do with today?
Stephanie placed her hand on her back to ease the pain. Her feet and hands were swollen. Her midsection already touched the desk and she had another month before the baby was born. She wouldn’t be going to the football game Friday night because it was too difficult to climb the bleachers. The baby’s father would be playing in the game.
Last year at this time, she sat in the stands and pretended to watch the game. Actually she watched only him. There may have been 22 young men on the field, but she saw only one hunk. They weren’t dating then, but she could dream. He didn’t seem to notice her until after football season was over. They started dating in January and were seeing each other exclusively by February. Her mother cautioned her about going too fast, but as usual Stephanie ‘did her own thing’.
Stephanie had never been one to follow the rules unless she saw the need. In this case, she didn’t see the need. She only saw Bryce, the tall, broad shouldered, football player who took her breath away every time she looked at him. Of course she wasn’t the only one who mooned over him. He was the catch of the school. His parents were well established in the community and he was an honor student.
By June, she could no longer deny that something was wrong with her. She went to the store, bought a pregnancy test and took it while her mother was at work. The blue line was unmistakable proof that she was indeed pregnant. She called Bryce. “Can we go out tonight? I need to talk to you.”
“Sure. Where do you want to go?”
“Let’s just go to the drive-in so we can talk.”
“Great. Pick you up at 7:00.”
Stephanie took extra care with her appearance. She wanted to look her best when she told Bryce they were pregnant. She pulled her long hair up in a ponytail, because he liked to take it down. She wore red because it was his favorite color on her. Her excitement was undeniable.
Bryce showed up right before 7:00. He was always punctual, one of the things she liked about him. He smiled and let out a low whistle when he saw her. Her head felt a little dizzy. She wasn’t sure if it was his pride in her or the pregnancy. She smiled and took his arm as they walked to his car.
At the drive-in he ordered French fries and drinks for the two of them. That was their tradition. When they had something to talk about they ordered French fries and drinks and took their time eating, drinking and gazing into each other’s eyes.
Bryce smiled as he watched Stephanie eat the first fry. She wasn’t one of those girls who pretended not to be hungry. She enjoyed eating and he enjoyed sharing food with her. She took a drink of her cola and then took a deep breath and smiled.
“Bryce, we are pregnant.”
Instantly the smile disappeared from his face. “What do you mean ‘WE’ are pregnant?”
“What kind of question is that? We did everything else together. Why wouldn’t we be pregnant?
“Because I have a chance at a football scholarship this year. I can’t be pregnant.”
“That is a stupid statement. A football scholarship is not a contraceptive. Football scholarship or not, we are pregnant. Now we need to make plans.”
“We are through. That is the plan.” Bryce said as he got up from the table and walked away, leaving Stephanie sitting alone in a booth with no way home.
Stephanie sat there crying and looking at cold, stale French fries. She wasn’t sure she would ever eat them again. How could he do that to me? Everything was fine when we were in the back seat of his car. Now we are through. How am I going to tell my mother?
A couple of hours later, Noah and Brittany came in the drive-in. “Stephanie, are you alright?” Brittany asked.
“Yes, I’ll be alright.”
“Is there anything we can do for you?”
“Can you take me home?”
“Sure. We’ll get our order to go.”
Stephanie walked into the house and found her mother in the kitchen. “Mom, can we talk?”
Her mother turned and saw the tear streaked face of her child. “Of course we can talk. What is wrong? Why are you crying?”
“I’m not sure. I know what happened, but I’m not sure why I’m crying.”
“Tell me what happened. Maybe we can figure it out together.”
Stephanie told her mother about being pregnant and Bryce’s reaction. She wasn’t sure which was harder to tell. By the time she was finished with the news, her mother was crying also. “Let’s sleep on this and make our plans tomorrow. Right now I need time to digest this.”
“Are you angry with me?”
“No, not angry, but very disappointed. This will impact your life. We will have to decide what the impact will be. Now please go to your room and give me some alone-time.”
Stephanie went to her room and lay on the bed with her cell phone right beside her. She still hoped that Bryce would call. Maybe he just needs time to think about it.
The next morning Stephanie’s mother told her they needed to meet with Bryce and his parents to make a plan.
“He won’t meet with us. He doesn’t want anything to do with me or the baby.”
“He may not want to meet with us, but he will. He can meet with us in the living room or the courtroom, it doesn’t matter to me.”
“No Mom. Please don’t make this worse than it is. Can’t we handle it by ourselves?”
“Yes, we can, but we won’t. Stephanie, since the beginning of time, boys have avoided the consequences of sex. Just because his body is not supporting the child, does not make it any less his child. We will not help him avoid the consequences of his behavior. I will call his parents and make arrangements to meet.”
“I’m begging you, Mom.”
“Stephanie, this discussion is over. We are meeting with his parents.”
Bryce and his parents came to the house that evening. Stephanie’s mother took the lead in the conversation. She explained that Stephanie was pregnant and decisions needed to be made.
“Well, I’m sorry about Stephanie being pregnant. That’s unfortunate. But why are we here?” Bryce’s mother asked.
“I asked you here because the baby belongs to Bryce.”
“I don’t think so. And even if it does, it is Stephanie’s responsibility. Everyone knows it is the girl’s responsibility to control the situation on a date. Boys simply do not have the control to stop. Stephanie should not have allowed the situation to get out of control. I’m sure you can make arrangements. Bryce has a chance at a football scholarship and we will not allow this to interfere with his plans for the future.”
“What about Stephanie’s plans for the future?”
“Well, apparently they will change now. I’m sorry about that, but there is no reason for us to ruin two young lives because one girl couldn’t keep her knees together.”
“Excuse me? My daughter is not a slut.”
“I didn’t say she was, but now that you mention it…”
“Get out. Get out of my house right now. We will see you in court.”
“We will demand a paternity test before we will help in any way.”
“And we will be glad to pay for the test.” Stephanie’s mother yelled as Bryce and his parents walked out of the house.
“Mom, calm down. I didn’t know you would get so worked up about it. You are more upset than I am.”
“Yes, I’m upset. Their son has a good time with my daughter and they take a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude. Oh they are going to be so sorry they did not cooperate with me.”
“Mom, this is not a contest to see who is the strongest or even who is right. It’s a baby. A living baby. We need to make a decision about what is best for the baby.”
“I’m sorry Stephanie. I guess I let my temper get in the way again, didn’t I?”
“That’s alright, Mom. I know you mean well. Now that you are calm, what do we do?”
“Our options are to keep the baby and sue for child support or give the baby up for adoption.”
“I don’t want to give my baby up for adoption. I don’t know that I can stand not being able to see my baby.”
“Well, if you keep the baby, it means changing your life completely. I will not raise this child for you. If you want to be a mother then you accept all the responsibility that goes with it. Mothers don’t go shopping with girlfriends anytime they want. They don’t go on dates every Saturday night. They don’t attend football games every Friday night. You see, before they can do anything fun, they must see that their child is cared for. They hire babysitters to allow themselves a little free time. And what about college? Who will care for the baby while you are in college? Can you afford to pay for daycare so you can plan for a career? If you don’t plan for a career, can you raise this child on minimum wage?”
“Mom, you’re talking about all the bad things. There are some good things.”
“Yes, Stephanie. There are many good things about having a baby. But you must face reality. The reality is that this baby will now be a priority in your life. You will no longer be the center of your universe. This baby will. Every decision you make from now on, will be for the baby. You don’t get to decide what Stephanie wants to do. You can only decide ‘what is best for the baby’. Are you ready for that much responsibility?”
“Aren’t there some other options?”
“No there isn’t. You made an adult decision to engage in unprotected sex and now you must accept the adult responsibilities that go with that decision. And you will make the decisions. I will not make them for you and then hear later that I forced you to do something. I will stand by your decision, but you will accept the responsibility of the decision and the consequences. Is that understood?”
“Yes, I understand.”
“You don’t have to make that decision tonight. You really need to think about it a while and be very sure of what you want to do.”
“It would be hard to give up my baby.”
“It would be hard to keep your baby. There is no easy decision about this. You should have thought of that when you made the decision to have sex with Bryce.”
Now months later, Stephanie walked down the hallway like a walrus and Bryce was dating one of the cheerleaders. It had been hard on Stephanie to see them together at the beginning of the year, but it was easier now. Now Stephanie saw Bryce for what he was—a shallow, self-centered individual in a pretty package.
Stephanie and her mother had seen a lawyer and made arrangements for adoption. Bryce and his parents had been served papers demanding assistance with medical expenses. Of course, Bryce’s parents demanded a paternity test, which would be done as soon as the baby was born. Stephanie had helped decide which family would receive her baby and they had agreed to an open adoption. That meant that Stephanie would have limited visitation rights. Bryce would have none unless he petitioned the court.
Stephanie sat in class amazed at some of the concerns her classmates had. Had she been that silly? Did she worry about such trivial things? What changed her? She had been forced into an adult situation and had to grow up fast. Her life would never be the same. She had always heard a saying about everyone needs their 15 minutes of fame. Well it might not have been fame, but 15 minutes sure changed her life.