His joke catches me off guard, and I find myself laughing out loud. “OK,” I say, smiling.
He ducks out, and I stay in the bathroom for a minute.
I breathe in and out, trying to control my brain and my body. And then I pick up my phone and Google the one thing that could convince me I’m wrong about this. The one piece of evidence I have that maybe I’m not pregnant.
can i be pregnant if i got my period
“You cannot have a menstrual period while you are pregnant . . .” My heartbeat slows. I start to calm. This might all just be OK. “But some women do have vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.”
I click on another one.
“My cousin didn’t know she was pregnant for four months because she got her period all during her pregnancy.”
I click again.
“You may still get your period at the beginning of your pregnancy due to what is called implantation bleeding when the egg implants in the uterus.”
“Typically, the bleeding will be lighter and shorter than a normal period.”
I turn off my phone and slump down on the floor.
Despite every piece of common sense available to me, I got pregnant. And it isn’t by the handsome, charming, perfect man I’m starting to believe is the one.
It’s by the asshole with a wife and two kids in New York City.
I get hold of myself. No good comes from imploding or exploding right now. I breathe in. I open the door. I walk out of the bathroom and join Ethan at the table.
“How should we kill the time?” he asks. “Should we get away from this horrible guacamole and go find you a cinnamon roll?”
He’s going to leave me. My perfect person. The man who jumps at the chance to get me a cinnamon roll. He’s going to leave me.
I shake my head. “You know what?” I say. “Let’s just order some burritos and chow down.”
“Sounds like heaven,” he says as he flags down a waiter.
We order. We talk about his job. We make jokes. And we eat tortilla chips.
With every chip I eat and every joke I make, I push the news further into the recesses of my mind. I bury my problems and focus on what is in front of me.
I am great at pretending everything is fine. I am great at hiding the truth. I almost believe it myself for a minute. By the time our burritos have come and gone, you’d think I’d forgotten.
We head to our cars and plan to meet up at the vet.
“You’re perfect,” Ethan says as he shuts my car door for me. “You know that?” When he says it, it becomes clear just how much I haven’t forgotten.
“Don’t say that,” I tell him. “It’s not true.”
“You’re right,” he says. “You’re too pretty. I need a girl less pretty.”
When we get back to the animal hospital, the vet is ready to talk to us.
He pulls us into an exam room, and one of the vet techs brings out Charlemagne. She runs right to me.
“There you are!” I say to her. I pick her up and hold her in my arms.
“So you are the ones who found her?” the vet asks us.
“Yeah,” Ethan says. “Running through the street.”
The vet looks dismayed. “Well, she’s not chipped. She is also not spayed. And she’s undernourished. She should be about two or three pounds heavier,” he says. He is tall, with a thick gray beard and gray hair. “That may not sound like a lot, but on a dog this size . . .”
“Yeah,” Ethan says. “It’s a considerable deficit.”
“Any idea how old she is?” I ask.
“Well, her teeth aren’t fully in yet, so she’s still a puppy.”
“How young, do you think?”
“No more than four months, maybe five,” he says. “My guess is that she lives with someone who isn’t paying too much attention . . .”
“Right,” I say.
“Or it’s possible she’s been on the street for a while.”
I find it hard to believe she’s been on the street for a while. Dogs that live out on the street wouldn’t run into the middle of the road. That seems to defy the very concept of survival of the fittest. If you are a dog that runs into the middle of the road, especially in the dark of night, then you are probably not going to last long on the mean streets of . . . anywhere.
“A lot of times, people don’t spay their dogs,” the vet continues, “and are surprised when they end up pregnant.”
“Caring for a nursing dog and a litter of puppies, when you don’t expect to, can be overwhelming.”
“Sometimes people keep them until they can’t deal with it anymore and put the puppies out on the street.”
I look at Ethan, who, not knowing how uncomfortably close this man is hitting the nail on the head, seems disturbed by all of it. Which makes sense. I am, too. I know that people are awful and do terrible things, especially to things that are helpless, especially to animals that are helpless. But when I look at Charlemagne, it’s hard to comprehend. I barely know her, and I’m starting to think I’d do anything for her.
“So we have no real recourse,” Ethan says. “In terms of finding out who she belongs to.”
The vet shrugs. “Well, not through this route, at least. You could put fliers up around where you found her or go door-to-door. But either way, if you are at all considering keeping her, I might recommend you do that instead of tracking down an original owner, if there is one.”
“Oh,” Ethan says, “we weren’t—”
“And if we did,” I say, interrupting him, “would we just schedule an appointment with you guys to get all of that stuff taken care of? Get her spayed and chipped?”
“Yeah,” the vet says. “And she’ll need a series of shots. We can help you with fattening her up, too. Although, assuming she has consistent access to food, she’ll probably take care of that one on her own.”
“All right,” Ethan says. “Thank you very much for your help.” He extends his hand for a handshake. The vet reciprocates. I do the same.
“My pleasure,” he says. “She’s a sweetheart. I hope you guys can help her find a good home. If not, contact the front desk, and we can help you try to get her into a no-kill shelter. It’s not easy. There are already so many other dogs in the city taking up spots, but we try to help.”
By the time we leave the animal hospital, the sun has set, and the air is crisp. I have Charlemagne in my arms, her leash wrapped around my hand. She’s shaking a bit, maybe because of the cold. I can’t help but wonder if it’s because she knows her fate is uncertain.
“What are you thinking?” I ask him.
“I don’t know,” Ethan says. We are standing by our cars. For a moment, I’m stunned that I bought the car just this afternoon. Feels like a lifetime ago. “I can’t really have a dog at my place.”
“I know,” I say.
“I mean, I want to help her, and I don’t want her on the street, but I had no intention of adopting a dog,” he says. “And I don’t know how you can adopt her, you know? Because . . .”
“Because I don’t have a place just yet.”
He looks at me. I look at Charlemagne. I’m not bringing her to a shelter. I’m not doing it. With everything that has happened today, my fate is uncertain, too. Charlemagne and I are kindred spirits. We are both directionless idiots, the kind of girls who run out into the street without thinking.
I may make a lot of mistakes, and I may act without thinking, and I may be the sort of woman who doesn’t even realize she’s pregnant when it should be blatantly obvious, but I also know that sometimes I get myself into messes and then get myself out of them. Maybe I can get Charlemagne and me out of this mess by throwing us into it.
Charlemagne and I rode a city bus today with just a backpack and a smile. We are a team. She is mine.
“I’m not letting her go back to people who mistreat her,” I say. “Not that we could find them even if we wanted to. And I’m certainly not leaving her out on the street or headed to a kill shelter.”