I was feeling groggy and embarrassed when I walked into the waiting room looking for you. I knew that this was every guys worst nightmare and the last place you probably wanted to be. I felt bad that in my pain and desperation I gave you no choice or warning about coming here. You were the last person I wanted here…the last person I called. But you were the only one to answer your phone. To say I had a tremendous crush on you would have been a lie. The truth was I would have followed you to the ends of the earth if you had asked me. So, it pained me that the first time you came home with me and met my family was to take me to the OBGYN.
I looked around the waiting room and found you kneeling in front of a dry erase board playing and drawing pictures with a little boy. You had him giggling hysterically at the faces you were making. Even at the age of 19, I knew you had the makings of an amazing father. I instantly felt jealous of the girl with whom you would fall in love. My ovarian issues and probable inability to have kids was sure to be a deal breaker for any man who wanted a family. This fact alone was enough to keep you squarely in the friend zone.
“Are you okay?” You asked when you saw me, “You look better. At least you are standing.” You put your arm around my waist and helped me to a lobby chair while my parents waited for my doctor to fill out the prescriptions. You stared at me with a questioning look. You were afraid to pry, but were clearly wondering what gynaecological emergency forced you to carry me to my car, drive me home and spend three hours in a waiting room. “I ruptured an ovarian cyst that was bleeding,” I said. You nodded like you were were glad I told you, but at the same time wished you didn’t know. “Are you going to be okay?” you asked. I nodded yes and couldn’t help but notice you looked nervous. At the time I thought it was the talk about my ovaries making you uncomfortable, but I’ve since come to realize it was because you were about to meet my parents.
The meeting that followed was cordial and brief. It was a back and forth of “nice to meet you” and “thanks for driving her down.” There was a short discussion on how and where to fill my meds, but it ended quickly when you promised my dad that you would take care of it. You said you’d make sure I got home and into my dorm. You promised to stay with me until you could get a hold of my sister and would drive me back to the doctor should my condition worsen. My parents agreed, mostly because I did, and because my ovaries exploding was a common occurrence. The bleeding had stopped and the doctor cleared me to go home where I’d be more comfortable. There was no medical reason for them to make me stay, so they agreed to send me home in your care.
While I stood on the curb of the clinic and waited for you to get the car my dad quietly said to me, “You know, when you said a friend drove you home, this is not exactly what I had in mind.” He spoke to me, but he was clearly watching you walk to the car at the end of the lot. I was taken aback by his words, “What do you mean? It’s exactly what I said. He’s my friend, I got sick and he drove me home.” My dad smirked and simply said, “You really don’t know do you?” My look of confusion told him I didn’t. The car pulled up and as my dad hugged me goodbye he whispered, “Take it easy on him okay?” He looked concerned and tense and I tried to reassure him I would be alright, “Dad. I’m fine. I’ve been through this a million times.” But my medical state was not what he was worried about and he remained uncharacteristically stiff. “Why are you acting weird dad?” I asked. He just sighed, kissed me on the forehead and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll figure it out soon enough.” He helped me in the car, closed my door and watched the boy I was going to marry, take me home.
Once in the car I pulled the seat up and put my feet on the dashboard with my knees to my chest in the fetal position. You had never seen me in pain and your look of concern was precious. I starred out the window and before long felt your hand gently reach out for mine. “You know, I really meant what I said. I will take care of you,” you reassured. Your words made me melt and as I drifted off to sleep I wondered if you were what had my dad worried.
When I woke you were lying on a camping mattress on the floor of your dorm room and I was in your bed. “The drugs knocked you out. Your sister is on a leadership retreat in the mountains and I couldn’t find your room key,” You said. “Oh, crap! My car! My meds! My paper is due!” I said. I could feel the effects of the meds making my head heavy and I was feeling confused and loopy. A quiet alarm went off and you handed me some water, two white pills and said, “I parked your car, filled your scripts and emailed your profs.” I sat looking at you dumbfounded. You crawled up onto your bed and sat next to me. You sat close. Too close for a friend to sit. I wondered if you were testing the waters, so I put my head on your shoulder to reciprocate. But it was when you told me you had set the alarm and gotten up throughout the night to make sure I took my meds and to check on me that I was truly disarmed and the borders of our plutonic relationship seemingly dissolved. I could feel myself slipping and falling down an irreversible hill. I hated that I was falling in love with you. I hated that you were just my friend. I was mortified that you were the one sitting here caring for me in a drugged, disheveled state because of my dysfunctional ovaries. But I couldn’t leave. I didn’t want to leave. In fact, I wanted to stay next to you like this forever. “Thanks,” I said. You took a long pause and looked at me. As soon as we made eye contact you said genuinely and intensely a simple word that made me think that just maybe, my dad might be on to something, “Always.”
Thirteen years later, sitting in the OBGYN’s office dealing with yet another emergency I wondered if that day when you said “always” you really understood the magnitude of that commitment. However, this time was a different problem than the one over a decade earlier. This time I was leaking amniotic fluid at 19 weeks pregnant. We were waiting to find out if our baby could be saved. The ultrasound nurse came in and began asking routine questions. We had been through this before so none of it was new. “How many pregnancies have you had?” She asked. I looked at you for help. I couldn’t answer. I knew the number, but saying it out loud made it hurt worse. “Five,” you answered. “And how many live births?” She said matter of factly. Your answer pierced my ears and left me feeling broken….”One.”
Tears rolled down my face and you took my hand while we waited to hear the fate of our fifth child. But unlike a decade earlier when I wished someone other than you was at the OBGYN with me, now I knew there would never be anyone I wanted with me more during these times than you. You fulfilled your promise and were still taking care of me even when my body threw us for some loops. I was happy no one answered their phone that fateful day. When my cyst burst, so did our friendship. In fact, we would only be friends for about a week longer. The transition to being a couple was surprisingly smooth, in part because we had always been a couple, even if we hadn’t realized it yet.
Well…even if I hadn’t realized it.
I would find out four years after that first ovarian incident, and well after our engagement, that by the time my cyst burst, you had already told your parents that you had met the girl you were going to marry…and it was me. Apparently my dad was right. He saw immediately what I did not. Even though I may not have seen it, I felt it. I was just too afraid to acknowledge it. I love that you were with me that day. It’s the day I fell in love with you. The day I knew you’d be more than just my friend…more than just my boyfriend. It was the day I realized I wanted you there for everything, always.
Twenty one weeks after the doctors worked to save my fifth pregnancy, I again found myself lying in a hospital bed crying. But this time it was because he was perfect. Just under 7lbs with a full head of hair. He was strong and healthy and your carbon copy. We had been through so much heartache to get him, but looking at him I knew he was worth it. We knew even then that he would complete our family. We would not be having anymore children. Laying in bed watching you smile at our little boy, I flashed back to the day I saw you in the waiting room and knew you’d be a good dad. While I certainly loved you at 19, there was no way to predict how much things would change. There was no way for me to comprehend the true meaning of this in my youth. But I was right, you are indeed a great dad to my two beautiful boys. But now that we are a family, there is no way I could ever love you like I used to.