Photo Credit: ALAMY

With the holidays amongst us, I’m constantly surrounded by family, both mine and my boyfriend Nick’s.  It’s not bad.  For the most part, they’re all great people who we love and respect…except for the times when we want to strangle and hurt them.  For some reason, being 22 and in a 2.5 year-long relationship means I should be ready to walk down the aisle tomorrow and get pregnant the day after that (sorry, but I’m far from Kate Middleton).  They say we should be doing this as a commitment to each other, although they sound more like they want a wedding and a baby for themselves.  Hello!  Are you spending the money for a wedding?  Are you waking up at all hours of the night to care for a newborn?  No.  And despite huge concerns surrounding our personal finances and my lack of maternal instincts, there’s a blaring, elephant-sized fact that I’m just not ready.

I graduated high school in 2008.  That was only 4 years ago, yet I’m definitely in the minority of the people I know by not having a kid, being married, or at the very least being engaged.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not knocking anyone who has these things.  I know plenty of people who are living one or more of these circumstances and are truly, very happy, but when the hell did it become a defect to want to take my time with life’s major decisions?  I’m not even sure I ever want to be a bride or a mom for the matter.  My decision with that topic is usually based on whether or not there’s a “Say Yes to the Dress” marathon running, but still, my Nick’s aunt actually pulled him aside and asked, “Honey, when are you going to stop living in sin?”

Woah buddy, whose business or place is it to tell us how to live our relationship?  Apparently, everyone has a say, but here’s the thing–our relationship isn’t perfect (honestly, I’m not sure that it’s even possible to be in a “perfect” relationship).  We don’t always agree on everything, but one thing we can agree on is that we want to take our relationship slow. We’re both products of failed relationships.  We both currently spend the holidays jumping from the homes of our separated parents.  We both grew up in the center of nasty custody battles and split weekends and holidays.  From this, we’ve both been able to conclude that we don’t want that again.  If and when we get married, we want to get it right the first time.  I, for one, think that’s completely fair.

Anyway, that question from Nick’s aunt is what sparked our most recent bombardment of criticism and opinions that we never prompted.  I was doing completely fine, waving them off with grace and hiding my sheer annoyance because clearly these people were confused.  They thought “Piggy Bank” was written on my forehead, and I actually wanted their two cents.  All of a sudden, as expected, the baby topic came up.  I was told that a baby born out of wedlock would still be loved and accepted by the family.  At first, I was offended.  The hot blooded Latina in me wanted to roll my eyes and let every last person know that I will have a baby whenever and however I choose because it’s my body and my life.  My relationship status during said pregnancy will be no one’s business but mine and the baby’s father.  Right before I was about to stand my ground, it hit me… I was a week late.  My stomach dropped and my mind went blank.  I felt sick but then dismissed the thought immediately.  This was not the time or place to panic about something that was presently out of my control.  However, it was hard not to considering the following lecture about how a new baby for next Christmas would be the real “present.”

After dinner, I went home and waited until the next day.  Nick worries easy, so I didn’t want to say anything to him.  After he went to work, I drove to the pharmacy and picked up a pregnancy test.  As I read the directions, the words “3 minutes” stared back at me.  Great, 3 minutes to wait, wondering if I’d be ending my day transformed into a mother.  3 minutes to reflect on how one, single mistake could change the rest of my life.  3 minutes debating on how I’d break this to Nick, how I’d cope with this myself, to envision a tiny speck forming and growing within my body.  3 minutes to weigh my 3 options: parenthood, abortion, adoption.  3 minutes of hell.

As the seconds ticked by, I huddled in a ball on the bathroom floor.  Was I nauseous that morning?  Were my boobs sore?  Crap, did something just kick me from inside?  I am by no means ready to be a mother, but during those 3 minutes, I was already envisioning the small, angelic face compiled of the best features from Nicholas and I.  Ugh, that baby was a mixture of interracial beauty in the most perfect way.  If that face was presently growing inside of me, no matter what, I’d love it.  Maybe I already did?

The timer went off, and I stared up at the sink where my pregnancy test remained, holding my future on the digital print screen.  Like the big girl that I am, I stood up, cursed Nick’s name, and looked down.  Negative.  Yes, the one, single word evoked a whirlwind of emotions.

I was relieved because this meant I still had time, time to screw up and be young and irresponsible.  I was happy because this meant I wouldn’t have to deal with telling Nick, the straightest drama queen around (you can imagine how our fights go).  I was mortified because I was just on our bathroom floor wondering if some imaginary 4-week-old fetus was kicking me from inside.  But, above all else, I was utterly and inexplicably disappointed.  In my mind, I had already filled my apartment with the sound of baby laughter.  Our office had already been transformed into a nursery.  I was already mentally thumbing through potential names.  And for some reason, even with the test in front of me, a hand had been subconsciously splayed across my stomach, connecting with something inside of me that just didn’t exist–all during the longest 3 minutes of my life.

Maybe it’s hormones, maybe it’s a bunch of crazy relatives filling my head with thoughts, but in that second, I wanted to be a mom.  It was the craziest thing I had ever felt, catching me completely off guard.  During my last, real pregnancy scare a few years ago, I was set on abortion before I even purchased the test, despite any moral or internal conflicts.  This time, I was ready for parenthood, but I wasn’t?  I know that doesn’t make sense, but I can’t explain it any other way.

No, I didn’t run to Nick that night and proclaim my desire to spawn a newborn with the potential to be all types of crazy and overactive, but, for once, I looked at myself in a completely different way.  For me, 22 doesn’t mean I’m sporting a shiny ring on my finger.  It doesn’t mean I’m cradling a baby to sleep.  It doesn’t mean any of those things, but it does mean I’m growing up, and honestly, I’m not sure how or when the hell that happened.

Life goes on, and we deal.  We were made to adapt.  Just remember–3 minutes of hell can certainly mean a new world of enlightenment.