For about two days after I got the big fat positive; I was the East Nashville cigarette fairy.
I smoked just one after that fate-filled trip to the bathroom, in an effort to stop the impending panic attack, and then made a decision right then and there that that was it. Like it or not, I was done, and I just had to be.
I took our last remaining pack in my hand, opened my window, and threw it into the street. It just felt so much more symbolic than calmly placing it in my trash can—not to mention that, in my neighborhood, five minutes wouldn’t pass before they’d be gleefully scooped up by a wandering homeless man or drunk hipster walking home from the bar.
My fiancé agreed to quit too, a huge undertaking considering his grandpa gave him his first cigarette when he was eleven. He’d smoked at least a pack a day since then.
Freaked out by the fact that I had unknowingly been smoking up a storm while pregnant, and drinking, and riding roller coasters, I took to Google, and waited for the words “you and your baby are dying or you’re already dead and just don’t know it” to pop up.
And then I found a new study claiming that pregnant women who quit smoking before the fifteenth week of pregnancy reduce all the risks of blowing carcinogens in a fetus’ face to that of women who never did it at all (read more about it here).
Armed with that dangerous knowledge, I got in my car the next morning to make the thirty-minute drive to Murfreesboro, one usually made with the trustworthy companionship of tobacco, and I found my car turning left instead of right, turning into the gas station instead of the interstate, and then my car door was swinging open, and I was walking toward the gas station, and I was saying thank you to the nice shirtless man holding the door open for me, and then I was asking for a pack of cigarettes and handing over a ten dollar bill and gripping the tiny box in my fingers and tearing off the plastic cover and pulling out the foil and then I was back in my car, with an easy way out of the panic that was pulling at every inch of my body sitting right at my fingertips.
With just one little puff, it could all be gone, I could be making the drive home just like nothing had happened, like I was myself, a smoker, and all would be normal and okay.
And then my phone rang, and it was Jason. His voice was tense and agitated—the voice of someone who’d just quit smoking. And then it hit me.
This was real. I am pregnant. I always said I’d quit when this happened, but that was always an undefined one-day, and it sure as hell wasn’t supposed to happen anytime soon.
But the cigarettes are now just an afterthought, and their relief would be nothing compared to the relief I’ll feel if I give birth to a healthy baby, and know that I did everything I could to make it that way.
And so I rolled down my window. I threw the cigarettes on the street, watching as the box broke open and the cancer sticks exploded out, rolling this way and that, yards away from where they’d landed the night before.