Chapter 2 ~ 24 Hours

Over the course if the next several weeks, I will be publishing my story as a wife, mother, sister, and daughter. This is the evolution of how a little girl can change the course of her mother's story, can change the course of her heart. If your new to this blog, please start reading here.

Chapter 2 - 24 Hours

 Jerry and I were not the poster couple for following all the Church's rules of pre-marital abstinence and made many mistakes along the way to the altar.

It was a Monday morning in the Fall of 1987. My calendar was right in front of me and my stomach was tied in knots. I counted one more time.


My period was two weeks late and I had prayed every prayer I knew to make this reality go away.

I hate Monday’s. 

Bad things happen on Monday’s.

Like the stick turning pink.

How could this be? I was on the Pill. I had been since I was 14 because my periods had been so bad. I wasn't sexually active. I wasn't that girl.

It was supposed to protect me. It had been part of my reasoning the night my conscience  slipped.

I slept with Jerry ONE flippin time! This felt like a freaking After School Special. All it takes is once...

The stick was laying on my dresser, just mocking me with those two pink lines.

I had gone to Catholic school...with NUNS! I knew better. I went to Youth Group in high school. I was a Lector. I went to church every single Sunday of my life.

Crap. Crap. Crap. I was a Green. I was the the "tall funny one". I sang in the freakin church choir for goshsake. In a few months, how was I going to hide this little problem.

Sweat dripped down my back.

This was NOT an Immaculate Conception!

I was NOT 20 years old, unmarried and pregnant.

Except I was...

Daddy's going to have a stroke.

Mom is never going to speak to me again because of the shame.

Jerry is going to leave me.

I knew he was very reluctant to have children within marriage let alone outside of the union.

Hell, he wasn't that reluctant to have sex though. He just didn't want the consequences. Who did?

We stepped off the path of chastity and now the avalanche of parenthood was coming and it was going to be ugly.

What the hell was I going to do?

Terrified, I called Jerry who was in Florida at Flight School.

“I have something to tell you and your not going to be happy.” I dove right in. “I’m pregnant. What are we going to do?” I cried. “My father is going to kill us both.”

I held my breath...Please don't leave me...please don't leave me...

“Are you sure?"

"I am staring at two pink lines on my third test. Yes I'm sure!"


"Really? That's all you've got?" beginning to lose my grip.

"OK, OK. Don't freak out. I’ll fly up this weekend and we will tell your parents together. You can fly back with me. We can get married here,” he answered without skipping a beat.

In that moment, Jerry proved to be an honorable man. But how long would it last? We made plans to talk later that night.

I went off to school weighed down by fear over what my parents would do. At least Jerry wasn't walking away.  I wasn’t even considering the enormity of a baby, I was just so happy not be walking this path alone.

I looked up and saw the time. Crap, I'm going to be late for class. 

I attended the local Junior College in my town which was about 20 minutes from my house. I took the bus to campus and went about my day. Later that afternoon, I was in the MicroBiology Lab looking at slides of different strains of mold when I felt a trickle down my thigh.

I froze for a second trying to figure out what was going on. I quietly excused myself from class. I was trembling as I walked to the ladies room.

Blood. It was blood. This wasn’t right.

Oh God, what do I do? Oh God, what is happening? What do I do? What do I do? Think Mary, Think!

I didn’t have a choice. I had to call the only person that I knew who would know what to do.

I cleaned up as best I could, the blood was still coming. I put on a pad I had in my purse and I walked, knees shaking to the pay phone in the hall. My hands shook as I dialed the rotary phone, one number at a time.



“Mary Beth? What’s wrong? Why are you crying? Mary Beth?”

“Mom, I’m bleeding and I don’t know why. It’s really heavy and I am scared.”


More silence...

“Mom, you there?”

“Mary Beth, is there any way you could be pregnant?”

I started to cry harder.

“Oh Mary Beth.”

You know, I will never forget the sound of her voice in that moment. Disappointment dripped from each syllable. The tears came like a torrent now.

“I’m so sorry Mom. I’m so sorry. I took a test this morning and it turned pink. This shouldn’t be happening. What do I do?”

She took a deep breath that I could hear through the phone.

“Stay where you are and I will come get you. Try and calm down and take a few deep breaths. I will be there in 15 minutes.”

It was the longest 15 minutes of my life.

My mother pulled up in the family station wagon. I climbed into the front seat. I could not look at her. I slumped down and stuck my chin into my sweatshirt, pulling my legs up to my chest, curling into myself, trying to make it all go away.

Mom took me to her OB-GYN. He took blood and performed an ultrasound exam.  He informed me I was miscarrying the baby.

I saw the screen. There had been a baby.

Things were moving along as they should. Something must have been wrong with the fetus. I was still taking the pill and that could have caused an issue. I was to go home and rest for two or three days. No work and no school. I needed to allow my body to heal.

I was devastated and relieved all in the same breath. One second I was staring at two pink lines and in the next moment, it was all over.


I had to talk to Jerry. He was going to think I was mental. I wanted to run away and get married as fast as possible so if this happened again,  it would be legal.

On the way home, Mom peppered me with question after question.

What the hell was I thinking? When had this happened? How many lies had I been telling her and Dad? I had younger brothers and a sister at home that looked up to me. How would Mom and Dad have told the younger kids? Did I not have any pride in myself or in the family name? How could I do this? I was not raised in “that” kind of household. 

It went on and on, all the way home and I deserved every last angry condemnation. My mother was flipping out and I could only imagine what my Dad would do. I was a woman who had disrespected my family. Disrespected my God. Disrespected myself.

As we were walking into the house she turned to me and said "We will NOT speak about this in the house, do you understand? You are NOT to tell your father."

I had never been so relieved in my life. Thank you God...this never happened...

I nodded my head and slunk through the door, ran to my room, slammed the door closed and wept.

Then the avalanche of guilt descended like a holy storm.

I had done something wrong. Because of me, there would be no baby. I kept taking the pill. I had killed my child. I didn't deserve to be a mother. Now there would be no wedding. Jerry had escaped just in time. I would be alone. 

I called Jerry later that evening and spilled my heart out. He took it all in, quietly reassuring me that everything would be OK. He loved me. He would not leave me.

I didn't realize how much I needed to hear those words until that very moment. He still wanted to come up that weekend and get married. He didn’t want my parents to be upset.

“There were two of us in this Mary. Your not alone here. You shouldn’t have to take the brunt of their anger.”

Later that night, while my Dad was doing the carpool run, picking up various siblings from this practice or that,  I told my Mom what Jerry and I wanted to do and her response took my breath away.

“If you can’t stand up in a house of God in front of your friends and family and exchange your vows, then you shouldn’t be married. Yes, you made a mistake. You were taught better. But people make mistakes Mary Beth. I did. Your father did. This will not be the first time in life you find yourself humiliated because you made the wrong choice. Now stand up and deal with the consequences. I did not raise you to give up when things were hard. Don’t you dare shame your fathers good name by sneaking away with your tail tucked between your legs. You two say you love each other? Than make it right. Do it properly and for God's sake, keep your hands off each other until then.”

I don’t think my mother took a breath the entire time and I really couldn't blame her. I had blindsided her with my horrifically bad choice and she was stunned.

Later that night, I called Jerry back and told him not to come. I told him we needed to make sure that marriage was really what we wanted, because once we said “I do” there was no going back.

With my parents standing there…it would be until death do us part…because they were gonna kill us if we screwed up and I wasn’t about to go through that...again.

Then came the push to move on. My mother bore down on me for an entire week asking everyday if I was ready to go to confession. Words like mortal sin and an eternity in hell were bandied about and finally, I gave in. I did not want to sit across from a priest that I had known since the third grade and tell him I had had sex. Not only that, but that I had gotten pregnant.

No way, no how.

By Friday, I couldn't stand it anymore. I finally worked up the courage to go to confession.

It was hell.

I almost passed out when I actually had to say what I had done. The guilt was eating me alive and I admit I didn't feel much relief from the sacrament. It would take some time to forgive myself for what I had done. I had a hard time being in church, staring at the crucifix that hung over the altar.

I had failed Him too. I broke the rules. I didn't deserve to be there. How could He love me still? I killed his baby. Forgiveness? How does that happen?

It would take a miracle to make my relationship with God whole again and I didn't believe in miracles.

Over the next few weeks Jerry and I figured out our way through the tangle of emotions the miscarriage had left in it’s wake. We continued a long distance relationship, writing letters, and calling every day. We would talk for hours at a time, making plans for the future. What duty stations he wanted and what plane would he fly. We talked openly about the miscarriage and about a future family.

We talked about how many children we wanted. How would we would raise the children? I was Catholic, He was Lutheran.

"Mary, I will be gone...alot. Just raise them Catholic. It's no that far from Lutheranism anyway."

Done. Decision made. Just. Like .That.

One Saturday night, three months later, during his Christmas break from school, Jerry got down on one knee while an episode of the A-Team was playing on the TV in the background. He told and me I was the love of his life and asked me to marry him.

At that moment I heard Hannibal Smith say "I love it when a plan comes together."

I started to laugh.

There was a plan? Yeah...right...

***if you wish to read here...thank you***

Copyright 2011 Mary E. Lenaburg

Labels: ,