One year ago, I took a pregnancy test, and my life changed.

I don’t know why made me decide I was pregnant. I was still three days away from the expected start of my bleed. I had all of my normal symptoms, but I also knew that all of those symptoms could also point to pregnancy. How weird is that? Why do monthly bleeds and pregnancy have the same signs? The only thing that was different was that my body felt just a bit . . . off. Not wrong, not outright weird, just off.

And my temperature was still up. I’ve kept track of my basal body temperature for years, and for my January cycle, my temperature never took the typical post-ovulation dip. It went went down the tiniest bit and then rose again and stayed put. We’re talking fractions of a difference here, but that had never happened before. I didn’t have to ponder what it might mean.

Geordie and I tried to think of reasons I might be wrong. He suggested maybe I was getting sick (I felt fine). He pointed out that I was very stressed about work (I was – I had arranged to quit my job in March and I was in the midst of a job-hunt). I wondered if it was because I bundled up so much at night (close-to-freezing temperatures, and I don’t like turning the heat on when I sleep). But, really, I didn’t think it was any of those things. I didn’t want to say the P word, but it was in our minds.

We bought the test almost a week before I used it. Geordie was leaving the next day (Sunday) to go back to work in Hitachi-shi, and he would be gone until Thursday. Friday was a holiday, but I had to work all weekend, and he would be gone, back to Hitachi-shi, for Valentine’s Day. We had decided to do our romantic dinner on Thursday evening. We planned on doing fondue, a full three courses: cheese, oil, and chocolate. I imagined a romantic evening.

Except for that great worry over our heads. I couldn’t keep it off my mind all during the evening. Finally, in the middle of the main course, I leaned against Geordie and said, “I think I want to take the test now.”

He didn’t try to talk me out of it, he didn’t force me to do it. He just said that I should do what would make me the most comfortable. If I wanted to wait, okay. If I didn’t want to wait, okay. He would be there, no matter what.

I thought perhaps I was being silly. I tried to tell myself that I was being foolish, that I wasn’t even late yet. But if I was pregnant, I wanted to know. I wanted to do things right and not live in denial.

We went over the directions together (they were in Japanese), and it was pretty self-explanatory: no line = not pregnant, line = pregnant. I went into the bathroom and did what needed to be done.

The line appeared immediately. No waiting necessary. I waited anyway, hoping that it would start to fade. It doesn’t work like that. I tried to figure out what I would say to Geordie. I wanted to stay hidden in that bathroom, but I knew he would start to worry. After the two minutes had passed, I packed myself up and prepared to face him.

The bathoom opened into the hall, which opened into the kitchen, where he stood waiting for me. I didn’t know what I was going to say. He turned around to look at me, and I blurted, “I’m sorry,” just before I burst into tears and threw myself into his arms. He stood there holding me for a while, asking no questions, saying nothing, just stroking my hair. After a few minutes, he took the test from me and studied it and held me tighter. I had no idea what he was thinking.

Geordie led me over to the couch, and we sat there for a long while. I cried, and he held me. I cried a lot that evening, a precursor to all the crying I would do later in the year, during the pregnancy and after. Geordie held me all through it; he has been my rock ever since that moment. When I had calmed down some, he said to me, “Whatever happens, I’m here for you. If you want to raise this baby, I’ll help you. I’m not going to leave you.”

I have never loved anyone as much as I love this man.

After I had calmed down enough to carry my side of a conversation, we talked about what we were going to do. It never came into my mind to terminate the pregnancy. I didn’t even mention it to him. I am pro-choice, but I have always suspected that it wasn’t a choice I could ever make, not without extreme circumstances. Telling the parents was the first thing that came to mind; finding a doctor was second. I worried about the doctor, and Geordie worried about the parents.

Honestly, telling my parents was the least of my concerns. I knew they wanted grandchildren, and my younger brother was not in a relationship and in no hurry to be in one. I’m pretty sure my mom thought she would be hitting seventy before she became a grandmother; torture when you consider that a lot of her friends and co-workers who were younger than her were already grandparents. She always told me that she wanted me to be happy, and if that meant I decided not to have children, she would accept it. I believed that, but I didn’t think she’d be happy about it. Geordie was half-convinced my father would want to track him down and do terrible things to him for knocking up his little girl. I knew better. Mom would be thrilled, and Dad would be right there with her.

I was right. His parents were thrilled too, as I thought they would be. After all, it wasn’t the best of circumstances, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. We could support a child, we could take care of ourselves.

And we loved each other. We loved the baby.

Never did I imagine how our lives would change in the following twelve months. I knew things would be different, and they are, but not how I expected. Not how I wanted them to change. It took me a while to accept the role of mother, but once I saw our child on the ultrasound, I knew I would do whatever I could to take care of her.

A year ago today, I found out I was a mother. I still am a mother. I’m Lauren’s mother, and I always will be.