If my child ever asks how I found out that I was pregnant, he/she better be reasonably mature. Otherwise, they’ll get some amalgamation of exaggeration and more exaggeration. See, I’m a proponent of honesty in theory, but I was raised in a household where tall tales were the norm. Dad ate the cookies left for Santa and wrote me a note. Mom pretended she was happy despite the fact that she was an abused and neglected wife. I didn’t know which way was up until I moved out of my parents’ place for the umpteenth time at the age of 23 and stood firm on my no-lending-money policy.
As I type this, I’m all the more aware of the specific kinds of neuroses my child will have to endure. And endure them he/she will, if only because I’m going to wrack my brain, obsess over every tiny decision I make, and ultimately try my best not to doubt myself. Some kids are born in Jonestown, kid. Just be glad I don’t make you drink any funny Kool-aid.
Despite the fact that I’ve decided to be an open and brutally honest mom, I can’t help but have a bias towards my own cloak-and-dagger childhood; it produced me, after all, and I didn’t come out half-bad. Sure, I was a pathological liar well into my teenage years – but that only means that I had imagination! I’m pretty sure that I was two steps away from being a sociopath – but I never killed anyone. (Ruined their livelihood and/or self-esteem, maybe. But I was young and wanted to test out what I could do.) And ok, so I kind of sort of maybe more-than-dabbled in the illicit worlds of hard drugs, binge drinking, and being a ho. That just means that I know what I’m saying when I tell my kid to stay the fuck away from that stuff, right? Right?!
I’ll think about how I’m gonna navigate my way across those bridges when I get to them.
For now, I’ll concentrate on the story of how I got that first vertical line on an over-the-counter pregnancy test.
The short version is this: My coworker, Liana, thought the odds were good that she was pregnant; I was pretty sure that I was pregnant. She bought 2 epts. I got to work. We ran into the bathroom, took turns peeing, traded magic wands, and hoped for the best. Only, before I handed Liana my stick, it’d already talked; the second my piss touched its tip, the vertical line appeared bright and blazing. “I’m not even done whicho test,” it was telling me, “but I know for damn certain that ya gots a bun in the oven.” (In my head, the talking sick has a Brooklyn accent.) Liana’s stick just said, “No kid here.”
Now, here’s the thing about story-telling. Everyone knows that different perspectives make for different stories and that no story is really the truth. We unintentionally color the audience’s perception, no matter how hard we try not to.
First off, as you might have guessed, “work” was the dungeon. I’d run in at around 6 o’clock in the evening, and the bitter breeze of late autumn had nipped the tip of my nose with frostbite. I’d told Liana that I was coming in from my non-existent day job, and after we’d peed on sticks and the results were in, my immediate reaction was that I was pretty sure I didn’t want to carry my baby to term. I’d had an abortion about 2 years before, and not much had changed in those 2 years. I was stoic, in the colloquial sense of the term. Hard as a rock. Unfeeling. Unmoved. On the surface, everything was just as dandy and business-as-usual as they always are. And that’s another thing about me that my child will have to figure out. I’m not good at syphoning emotion. It either comes in unadulterated blizzards and stampedes, or it has the superficial glow of shoe polish and doesn’t really dent the surface.
So. Liana kept on asking if I was ok. She prodded me to cry or scream or do something to betray emotions. I simply laughed off her suggestions. For the one thing, I don’t trust Liana; I don’t trust anyone I work with. Ever. Unless we were friends long before we were working together – but when does that happen? For another thing, it doesn’t matter to me that I work in the sex industry; I’m a professional and I act like one. That means separating personal from business.
Eve had stood outside of the bathroom, waiting for the verdict. Sticks in hand, Liana and I marched to the lockerroom, where I could put on my usual sexy apparel. We glossed over the facts in an unassuming and carefree way to avoid the attention of prying ears. Sequestered behind a thin door, all we had were our low voices and raised eyebrows. We talked about other subjects: how our days were going, how much money was made in the dungeon. Then, out of nowhere, Eve screamed, “M, I can’t believe you’re pregnant!”
And that’s what did it. That’s what made me see red. That’s what pushed me to feel something, if only for a couple of minutes. The fact that she had betrayed my confidence and had broken my code of honor. The fact that only moments before, we were talking about the possibility of her moving into my mom’s basement. I’d almost gone against a cardinal rule of not letting my co-workers in on the me that exists outside of the dungeon – and here Eve was, proving that my first instincts are always right.
I couldn’t process the information. I couldn’t grip the facts: I was pregnant, depending on domming to pay my bills, and thoroughly happy with my life. Having a baby would change so much, and yet, with each passing second, these facts became more pertinent. I had to think about my goals, my desires, my life. But I knew only survival tactics: This is your job, I kept telling myself. Do what you can to save it and hold onto your self-dignity. Make money.
So I didn’t scream on Eve like a banshee and look for a flight of stairs to push her down. I didn’t show any emotion, because that would allow someone else to dictate and coerce my actions. I wasn’t authentic, because in this line of work – as in most lines of work – no one really cares who you are. We’re a results-driven society, and all that matters is that goals are met. If too much of your true self is known, then people might use those facts for their own whims, and their goals will be easier met than your own.
I only worked two more shifts after I found out the news. I was so paranoid that people would offer their unwanted advice and butt into my decision-making process. I was certain that I stunk of morning sickness. I started questioning the morality of my line of work. But, most of all, I figured it was best to take a breather from domming.
I no longer wanted to live a double life. I began to loathe any place where I couldn’t be my own authentic and original self. I started to think about becoming a mom and making the transition to another phase of my life. I realized that I’m ready for motherhood, and that I want it now.
I’m still taking a breather from being a dominatrix. My boss assures me that I can come back whenever I want, but I doubt that I’ll be making the trek back to the dungeon. I’m going to have a baby. And if that baby should ever ask me the story of how I found out that I was pregnant, I’m not sure what I’ll say. I just know for certain that they will be responsible for making my life better than I could’ve ever fathomed. And I’ll remind them of that every day of my life.