Pregnancy is such a fickle and fragile gift. And unfair. Cruel even.
I write most of my blog posts in McDonalds, because they have sweet tea and free Wi-Fi and if there are distractions, at least they're the right kinds of distractions. Inspirations instead of obligations. I drop our little girl off at her dance school in North Miami at 9 AM, walk across the street to McDonalds, order my oatmeal and sweet tea, and try to write something worthwhile before I have to pick her up again.
We live in what we lovingly call "the hood." It's not that it's a bad neighborhood, or that bad people live there, but that bad things do seem to happen on a more frequent basis than in other neighborhoods.
Last Saturday, when I walked in to my McDonalds for my writing session, there was a young woman I'd never seen before sitting alone at one of the tables. She was a dark-skinned woman wearing a black tee and white sweats, with a tall coffee cup and a sandwich wrapper on her tray. She smiled at me and said something I didn't understand, so I said "hello" and waved to her. Then I realized that she wasn't talking to me, just herself. In fact, she kept right on having a quiet conversation with herself, or possibly with an imaginary person sitting across from her, the entire time I was waiting in line and ordering my food.
I was really trying to focus on my writing, and a little on my oatmeal, but she was so distracting that I couldn't really get into a groove. I kept looking up to see what she was doing, especially when her conversation turned into a loud tirade, and then turned into her waving her arms, cursing as loud as she could, and pointing at the two older women sitting at the next table over.
That's when I realized how disheveled she looked. Not dirty, just off. Her sweat pants were riding so low I could see at least two or three inches of her behind, and not in a good way.
I don't know how those two older women just sat there and took all of that noise and foul language for as long as they did. At some point, when the woman first started cursing so loudly, it looked as if she was responding to one of the older women, who might have said something to her, and was now trying to ignore her. It seemed as if the older woman had told her to be quiet or something, and I just wondered why you would want to try to correct someone who is obviously mentally ill and unstable, much less argue with her.
After almost ten minutes of abuse, the older women got up and left. A few minutes after that, the woman in sweats got up to leave as well. And then I saw that she was pregnant, at least five or six months.
She walked outside, continuing her loud and vulgar conversation with herself, pacing back and forth, smoking a cigarette and waving it around in the air, punctuating her sentences by jabbing her cigarette at no one and knocking the ashes on the ground.
I closed my laptop and pushed away my tea. I felt sick. I couldn't think about anything but her smoking and ranting and her baby. I wondered if she had people who might want to know where she was, and how I could possibly contact them. I wondered what man would have gotten this woman pregnant in the first place, and who could take advantage of a woman in her mental state. I wondered what was going to happen when she went into labor.
For a moment, it looked like she had left, but then she burst back in and immediately got into an argument with the cashier and manager. From what I could tell, the argument started with her demanding that he fill up her large sweet tea cup with orange juice and him insisting that it wasn't the right cup and there are no refills on orange juice. I was just about to step around the table where he could see me and tell him that if she wants to drink thirty-two ounces of orange juice - then give it to her. If he needed money, just tell me how much and I'll buy the cups, too. But right then is when she started taking all of the bagged meals and trays off the counter and throwing them at him, on the floor, and across the dining area.
She started posing like a street fighter about to mix it up, and threatened the staff, the manager, and the customers nearest her, shouting about psychiatric prisons and prostitution.
But she's having a baby.
It took almost fifteen minutes for the police to arrive, and at first, it was just one small woman cop who asked her questions very firmly, but kindly, obviously trying to gauge her mental state. Soon, two more officers walked in, both male and both huge. The bigger one of the two seemed annoyed that the woman cop was taking so long to remove the problem, and started shouting down the pregnant woman, telling her that she was going outside. He took her by the arm and moved her towards the door.
I prayed that God would give her enough peace to get through the next few minutes without provoking these police officers, that God would grant them enough compassion and patience to resist getting annoyed or even scared, that none of them would tackle her, taser her, or shoot her. I prayed that she would be channelled right to the place that can help her most, that the next four or five months would be nothing but rest, detox, treatment, and mercy for her.
Because she's having a baby.
Maybe dreams and desires are infectious, or contagious, or maybe they have a life of their own. This last year was a tough one for our family, and especially for my wife. She earnestly and even desperately wanted another child, despite the delicate balance in our home and despite both of us hitting our forties. I was, to say the least, unwilling to go back to those days of diapers and sleep deprivation, and instead looking forward to more freedom as our youngest grows more independent. But ultimately, she won me over and we started trying. We went through two heartbreaking miscarriages in the same year, and I called it quits.
But the truth is that I really do want another child. I want another baby, maybe a boy, if God wills it. I just don't want to go through any more pain, or see my wife in pain, both emotional and physical, especially if the odds are really stacked so high against us.
So I can't help feeling jealous, and angry, and puzzled when I see this pregnant woman. I don't understand how this is fair. I know that God loves me, and I'm definitely not looking for any "mysterious ways" lectures or pseudo-Christian platitudes. I just pray that this child is born healthy. It already looks like he has the world against him, including his mother, and it's not fair to him either.