She held her stomach, wondering about what was inside. Was it simply a mass of
cells, or was it a human being? The age old question with no right answer. She
never thought in a million years that she would ever have to make this decision.
Especially not at this stage in her life. She had already been through four
pregnancies, and had raised three beautiful children. It had not been easy. She
had devoted most of her time caring for them, working three jobs just to be able
to provide for them, and just when she began living for herself again, she was
faced with the prospect of having to do it all over again. It was not that she
did not love her children. They meant the world to her, and she really did not
mind giving up her life for them. It was just that this time was hers, to see
what else the world had to offer, and to live her life to the fullest. Besides,
she was too old to be having another child. In addition to the possible
complications that accompanied having a child at such a late stage, she could
not care for this child. Not the same way she had cared for her other children.
She was too old to go through the regular feedings, the soccer games, the
parent-teacher conferences, and the constant need for attention. She wondered if
she was being selfish. After all, getting pregnant was not the worst thing in
the world. In fact, giving birth was the most amazing experience of her life. If
this had happened a few years earlier, she would not have given it a second
thought, but the timing now was all wrong. She wondered if she should tell her
husband about it. He would not understand. While he was busy with his job, the
weight of raising all three children had fallen on her shoulders. Besides, it
was her body and her choice. She really did not want to make the wrong decision,
but she could not have this baby. This was the hardest decision she had ever
made, and it was one she would have to live with for the rest of her life.
She rubbed her stomach again. This time she thought about the joy she had felt
the first time she held her daughter in her hands. She remembered how it had
felt watching her take her first step, and the pride she had felt at her first
recital. And then she came to the realization that she could not go through with
it. She thought about what her life would be like without her children. Sure,
she might have had more time to herself, but she would not have had the honor of
raising the three most brilliant and most magnificent children in the world.
What was inside her was not just a mass of cells. It was a miracle waiting to
happen. She would love this child, and take care of this child, and this child
would grow up to be somebody. But would she be able to handle it?
Her thoughts were interrupted by the squeaking of the door. Was that the doctor?
What was that in his hand? She had no idea it would look so big. She had to make
a decision. It was now or never. Finally, she made a choice.
© 2001 Keisha Charles
© 2001 Howard University.
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse and Prose, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2001. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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