I have developed an obsession recently with my husband’s last semester of college. I keep hovering over him as he buys books and picking up mechanical pencils whenever I go to the store. I picked out an outfit for his first day of class. I’ve been planning his lunch now for a few days. I begged him to let me go school shopping with him and find his classes for him, but he put his foot down (ugh, men!). He will be finishing his degree this December (after only 3 1/2 years!) at my alma mater, and as his classes draw closer, I can’t help but be plagued with thoughts of my final months of school.
My last semester, after finding out I was pregnant shortly after Easter, was somewhat of a blur. The first half was great- I was all set to be in the top 40 of my class, training for a 10-mile I wanted to run, and feeling pretty confident about my teaching career. Then one day, I got my little pink lines, and my semester changed. I could barely eat or sleep, could not celebrate my four years of hard work, would not recognize excitement if it had kicked me in the ovaries (in some ways, it probably had). I could only feel dread. I dreaded making decisions, telling my parents, and pretty much every new day that came, as it brought me more nausea. The first few weeks of “knowing” were some of the most lonely and difficult of my life. How do you deal with an unplanned pregnancy when you are still planning your own life?
The places I had always turned to in hardship became havens of guilt for me. I couldn’t call my friends- the month before graduation brought them their own stresses, and I didn’t want to burden them. I couldn’t call my mom- just the thought of her reaction made me hyperventilate. My boyfriend tried to get me to go to church, where I had gone every Sunday for my four years of college, but I couldn’t make it 10 minutes into Mass without balling my head off and making a scene. The only person I had was my boyfriend- but I felt so guilty for dragging him into the mess of pregnancy that I just couldn’t tell him how I felt. I became so angry at myself and the world, so angry at my classmates and their fun weekend plans, and frankly- pretty angry that I couldn’t eat all the rich, yummy foods I wanted without promptly greeting a trash can.
While the graduating Class of 2012 exchanged tearful goodbyes the last week, I faked it. I was secretly glad to not see anyone again- glad they wouldn’t be around to judge me. I tried to have fun, I really did. I went to the bar and tipped the waiter to give me orange juice and call it a Screwdriver out loud. I drove around and took pictures on campus, fake smiling as best as I could. My conversations played like Sixty Minutes– I drilled people about their plans so as to divert their attention from my own. Suppression was my method, and it worked well to help me coast through graduation.
And now? Now I wish I could go back. From a different place, I can look back now and see how I wasted my last month of undergrad, but I think that feeling that pain made me a stronger person. I isolated myself until I was forced to rely on other people- and I was amazed when I was suddenly surrounded by accepting, loving, supportive friends and family. My baby went from being an evil, cackling villain to a beautiful miracle. It took facing my weaknesses to find my strengths, if that makes any sense. Getting through that time on my own allowed me to liberate myself of my guilt and insecurities- though I’d be lying if I said I don’t still experience them from time to time. I miss being in college, writing papers, and having deadlines, but I know I will go back at some point. There are some things you have to learn about yourself before you can truly learn about the world.
Until then, my attempts to live vicariously through my husband’s classes will unreasonably ensue…