My mom called at around 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday in late November. I had been expecting her call. I knew she had taken my sister, Leah, to the hospital earlier that day. She was feeling cramps in her stomach.
It wasn’t supposed to be a life-changing trip. It was supposed to be in and out, a routine visit.
The tone of her voice gripped my chest. Within seconds I had shot off my friend’s couch at her request.
“Please just come,” she said. “I don’t want to explain over the phone.” I threw my shoes on, apologized to my friend, grabbed my fiance, Akshay, by the arm and ran out the front door. I had never been on the track team, but by how fast I had moved just then, I probably should have been.
Here’s the thing, my sister is a hypochondriac. Every hangnail, slight discomfort or cramp is probably cancer. She’s the Mayo Clinic’s No. 1 visitor. She is, to put it simply, the most dramatic person I know. On the other hand, my mother is the least dramatic. She wouldn’t cause stress for no reason. I knew this was serious.
My stomach was churning and I was wringing my hands in the front seat of the car on the way. It was silent, and silence is like fuel to an overactive imagination.
I looked over at Akshay and asked, “What do you think it is?”
Without a second’s pause, he answered nonchalantly, “She’s pregnant.” I refused to believe it. As we neared the hospital, I called my mother.
“Where are you?” She answered after she picked up on the first ring.
“Two minutes away, Mom.”
“Oh good. Meagan, oh God.” Her voice sounded strained, like she was fighting back tears.
“Will you tell me what’s going on now?”
“She’s pregnant. Meagan, what are we going to do?”
So it was true. She was pregnant. My little sister was actually pregnant. Now what? In the infinitesimal space between breaths I felt my heart clench. But when my chest rose for the second time since hearing those words, I had made my decision.
There was no point in being upset. We pulled into the hospital’s parking lot. I didn’t wait for the car to come to a complete stop before jumping out.
I was still feeling a lot of things. I was bitter, resentful and jealous. But, I did what any good daughter should have done. I hugged my mom.
She is small woman with bird-like features and a warm smile. Her tiny frame is easy to wrap around, even with my short arms. She isn’t a loud person, unless she’s talking about politics, cop shows or her kid’s life altering events. She never says, “Oh God.”
Her voice cut through the thin, cold air of the night and reminded me of why we were here, “She’s pregnant, Meagan. Pregnant.”
“I know mom.”
“Oh God, I’ll have to tell your father,” she said. Her wide, brown eyes reflected the moon. There were unshed tears there.
I put my hand at the small of her back and led her into the hospital, Akshay followed behind us. When I walked into the hospital room, Leah was smirking as she watched my every move.
She pointed at her stomach and said, “What?” She over enunciated the ‘t’ and let it drag out and fall on the floor between us. I couldn’t help but laugh. She asked our mother if we could have some time alone and I sat down next to her in the doctor’s swivel chair.
“What?” She asked again. This time it was different. This time she was looking past me at the white, sterile wall of the hospital room.
It was that moment as I looked into her young face that I realized I had a choice to make. I could either let my emotions control my next actions, or I could be there for her and my future niece or nephew.
“Come here.” I remember whispering over the rhythmic beats of the machines that surrounded us. I pulled her into a hug, and all I could think about was how small she was. “You’re dumb, but I’ll be there for you. I promise.”
Life has been a roller coaster since that night, but just yesterday I shot a tiny photo-shoot for a tiny baby girl’s two-month-old celebration.
Kynlee Grace Fleece looked at me with striking blue eyes and an angelic pout. She had a white bow that adorned her small head. She was laying atop a bible, a large family one that wasn’t ours, but somehow had found its home in our pantry.
I guess sometimes the things you least expect find their way into your home.