Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First comes love.

"I'm you
You are me 
and we are you. . ."

~ Maxwell

I saw this young couple in the residents' clinic several months ago. Super young--like not even twenty years old. And it was a rather odd visit to have in an Internal Medicine clinic at a public hospital. This couple was here together because even though they hadn't been using any birth control methods for several months . . . . they hadn't yet conceived.

"So we just came to get checked out."  That's what the young woman said as she looked over at her partner.

"Checked out?" I asked.

"Yeah, ma'am," he quickly answered. "Like to make sure we can have a baby."

And I looked at this teenage couple and coached myself not to have a judging facial expression. I hoped my face didn't show my thoughts.

Which included:

Say WHAT? What the hell are y'all thinking? A baby? A BABY!

But they sat there patiently--her in the chair next to the desk and him rolling around on the wheeled stool. Faces as innocent as little cherubs and eyes twinkling-twinkling like little stars.

Even though they were young, I liked how genuinely and lovingly they looked at one another.

"Do you mind me asking how old you all are?"

"Both of us nineteen," she replied. She scoldingly cut her eyes at him and he abruptly stopped rolling back and forth on the chair.

I cleared my throat. "Are you . . .like trying to get pregnant?"

"Yes, ma'am. We're the last ones in our family. Everybody be asking what we waiting for." When he said that, he looked at her and laughed.

And honestly? This sounded completely crazy to me. Two nineteen year-olds who'd been trying to conceive since age eighteen sitting in our clinic asking to have thyroids checked and sperms counted up to see what was keeping a bun from going into their oven.

Wait, huh?

"Ma'am, do you think we gon' be here more than another hour? I got to go to work and need to know if I should call my job," he said.

His face was so boyish and the way he kept twirling from side to side on that chair made him look even younger. I couldn't imagine what kind of work he was doing.

"What kind of work do you do?" I queried.

He then told me of his job working in a storage warehouse. Good money. A very solid, substantially-more-than-minimum hourly wage. And health benefits even.

"Including dental," he added proudly.

And her? She was finishing up cosmetology school.

"It's going real good," she shared before launching into telling me about the upscale salon where she hoped to get a job.

"Yeah, she always been great with hair. She do everybody hair already so I'm glad she in school for it." He was quick to support her. It was endearing.

"That's great," I responded. Because that was great.

Great yes. Even though in my head I still thought the whole idea of two nineteen year-olds intentionally trying to get pregnant was a little off putting. And even more, I found the thought of those same two nineteen year-olds getting sweated by their respective families because they hadn't had a baby yet rather . . . crazy-ish.

That said, we ran a few simple tests on them both. Each received a full physical exam and everything checked out okay.  After referring them to the family planning clinic, I bid them adieu and wished them well.

And by well I meant growing older and maturing some more before conceiving a human.


The other day I was standing next to the clinic elevators and who did I see?  Them. Side by side still and looking at each other just as lovingly as they had before. I glanced down at her unbuttoned coat and noticed an increasing abdominal girth poking out of the opening.

"Pregnant!" I said out loud when I saw them.

They immediately remembered me. He spoke first. "Yeah, ma'am. We just kept tryin' and we finally got pregnant!"

I love it when men refer to pregnancies as a "we" phenomenon. And you know? They were a "we." A nineteen and a half year-old we. But a "we" all the same.

I looked at their hands and their laced together fingers. Next I noticed the cursive name on his uniform. Just coming from or going to work again I supposed.

"You all having a boy?" I asked.

"Naw, it's a girl! We just fount out!" she squealed. "But everybody guessed it's a boy!"

They looked at each other again and smiled.

"She gon' be so spoiled," he said with a shake of his head. "I know it already." He glanced over at her again with her petite body with it's new miniature beachball in front. Beyond that, she didn't look pregnant at all.

"You know why they keep guessing boy, right? It's because you look so good." I figured I'd throw in my mother-wit as I mindlessly pushed the "down" elevator button repeatedly.

"Oh yeah," he chimed in, "'cause them girls rob you of your beauty right? Tha's what they say? Ha ha!"

"That's what they say." I giggled at that old adage.

"Well, not her. She been pretty since the day we start going together."

Going together. Wow.

"How long has that been?"

They both knitted their brows in tandem thinking. "Middle school," she finally answered. "Or a little before that."

We stepped onto the elevator and I watched them. He carried her purse and held up his arm for support even though she wasn't that big or tired appearing. It was just the gentlemanly thing to do for the lady you love.

And it was obvious that there was love there. Love between that young couple for sure. And no, they weren't married and yes, nineteen is hella-young if you ask me. . .


Nobody asked me. And even if they did. . . . who am I to judge their readiness to start a family? A tax payer you say? Was this your initial thought?


Funny that my initial thought was negative. . . . or rather, it's actually not funny at all. The truth? Here I was imagining for them some life tethered to government support and generational poverty and ignorance. All because they wanted a baby at nineteen. Or was that all?


Look. I sure as hell wasn't looking to have or feeling ready for a baby at nineteen. But that doesn't mean they aren't. Or that someone else isn't.

What if this hadn't been at Grady? What if this was some young ivory-faced nineteen year-old couple with tiny crosses around their necks and vermeil bands on their ring fingers?


I waved good bye to them and congratulated them once more on the pregnancy. As I watched them walk away, I froze for a moment.


Had I passed judgment on them for being young, black and working poor? Had I sized them up and assigned them a life and a future that, in all actuality, I had no idea about at all? Had I?


All that they had shown me up until that point was youth, yes. . . .but more than that, just love and devotion. The same things we had when we were expecting our first baby. Harry taking off of work and holding my coat and my arm at those prenatal visits just like them. And just like our first baby and the one that came after. . . .the main thing their little daughter would have in common with Isaiah and Zachary was that she was wanted. . .and conceived in love.

Young love, no less, but love all the same. I had no grounds for thinking anything else.

As they disappeared from my sight, this word popped into my head:

prejudice [prej-uh-dis]: an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.

I stopped at the glass door and caught my reflection. . . . .

I told that woman in the mirror, Careful, profesora. . . . Be careful.


Happy Wednesday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . .Maxwell singing "I'm you."


  1. Wow. That's some story. You know what? I wasn't thinking about government support or anything at first -- I really wasn't. I was thinking how dumb young people are. I'll take for granted that they're young and genuinely in love, that they care for one another deeply and will love their baby, too. But I still think it's dumb to have a baby when you're that young. I just do.

  2. Since I'm still regularly carded, I'm sure I'm in danger of getting the same dirty looks. But black or white or whatever, young parents get the crazy eye from me. It's just weird. I can''t imagine being a 19yo mother. Or 22yo mother. I'm 29 and it's still overwhelming to think I'll be someone's mom one day. I'm just such a different person now than I was then. But yes, their child conceived in love is a happier occurrence than too many children I know with older mothers who weren't. I wish so much that some of my friends thought more about the stability of the man with whom they were conceiving to save them some of the pain they have today.

  3. Your ability to paint a picture is even better than your ability to make a STFU mac-n-cheese.

    I could this couple in my mind's eye. I could their intent.

    I wish them all the luck. And I smite the cynic inside me down with a Nerf sword that just happens to be on the floor of my living room.

  4. This has to be one of my favourites.

  5. I don't know why but this story made me want to just cheer them on. They may be more in touch with the way the universe works than the rest of us wise old people.

  6. I think having kids young is totally the way to go - they have so much support (each other and extended family) and so much energy. And that they're gainfully employed/educated and married/supportive shows me how responsible they likely are.

    My friend's mom used to tell me that - she was married at 18, baby at 19, adopted a baby at 21. In her 40's and 50's she said that was absolutely the perfect way to do it.

    Besides, our bodies think that's the way to do it. What's with this waiting until 30? Ovaries think that's waaay too late.

    I still think about adopting (I'm 43), but you know - in most ways, I would have been a way better parent when I was 19 than I could be now.

  7. Hmmmm... I wonder if you thought about me when you wrote this - your almost 65 year-old-mother of a 45 year-old-son; four kids by the time I was 24. For sure, the times were different then, but sometimes it works. At least it did for your dad and me. I hope it does for them as well.

  8. I love your honesty.I think that's why I love your blog. That and your train of thought, that you include, which makes me laugh :) Great post, my husband and I married young and we are still married almost 14 years later and very happy. People thought we got married when we did because of a baby, but our own little family came along 7 years after we said I do. I love him and he is my best friend. I wish this couple and their child all the best this world has to offer.

  9. I'm in the middle of a divorce right now, so I'll take a story about real love any way I can get it!

    Signed a regular reader who wants to remain anonymous.

  10. I'm kind of with Nola and your mom.... even though I'm an old mama that started in her late 30's. :)

    I'm cheering them on too!

  11. What a great story. I happen to work with the product of young parents, 2nd grade teacher. There is so much that couples don't consider when they decide to have a child young and w/o proper support. It's ROUGH out there and so much is needed than just a cot and 3 square meals.

  12. So beautifully written. And your mother is beautiful too. She obviously knew what she was doing even as a youngish mama...look at how all of you turned out! However, I agree with Elizabeth on this one.

  13. Fabulous!! As always. Fabulous!
    Sending hugs ~

  14. Can I just say to all who read this blog -- thanks? I appreciate you coming into my head with me and letting me into yours. I love hearing your thoughts and opinions and reactions. Thank you.

    And Mom? Thanks for slugging it out as a 24 year old with four kids. 'preciate you, for real.

  15. I hope it works out for them and their baby.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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