When I got pregnant with Zahara I developed gestational anemia, which is a scientific way of saying I was knocked flat, sleeping about 20 hours a day, and getting up only to use the bathroom or grab something portable and relatively not messy to bring to my bed and devour. I was dizzy and weak and pale and I thought pregnancy is wayyyy too misrepresented as this glowing, flowing, fresh and happy, shiny phase of life. Then of course, my doctor did bloodwork and came up with this innocent sounding diagnosis and an easy fix: one iron pill a day to balance me out and get some color back in my cheeks!
All this was well and good, until I noticed that my copy of the lab’s results listed my blood type as O positive.
“Um, excuse me Doctor, just one question. Does this say I’m O positive?” I asked with a slight shake of my head and a small, somewhat condescending smile. Oh, you silly doctor people, you.
“Let me just take a look. Yes, O positive, says so right here.”
Confusion, bigger shake of the head. “Uh, no, that’s a mistake. I’m B positive, have been my whole life.”
“Who told you that?”
“My mother. They told her when she was pregnant with me. She’s rH negative so they did extra tests on me as a fetus and said she had to get special shots because I was B positive,” I explained calmly, so sure of myself, so smug.
“Well, we’ll check it again, but there’s really very little chance of this being wrong,” the Doctor said, a bit bemusedly. I’m sure he was wondering how long he’d have to put up with this hormonal, crazy pregnant lady mountain out of a molehill stuff before I’d leave his office.
“Yes, please check it again. I mean, I’ve been B positive my whole life and your blood type doesn’t just change, does it?” Mothers can’t be wrong about their kids’ blood types, can they? I mean, come on, that’s like the most basic thing to know about your own child, right? Wait, I don’t even have a clue about Zahara’s blood type…
You’re asking yourself right now why this matters. What’s the big deal, you say, she thought she was a B but she’s an O, who gives a shnizzle? Ha, never used the word shnizzle before, but I like it!
Well, here’s the thing. My mother was wrong, I was wrong, and my doctor and his lab in Puerto Rico were right. I am O positive and since blood doesn’t transform spontaneously from one group into another (unless you’re a character from Twilight) that means that I’d been wrong about that basic building block of my life for my whole life. And when I think about it, that is a really huge thing to not know about yourself. I was out there living the B positive life, taking any shnizzle thrown at me (ha!) and letting it smear all over my face, get in my wide, opened permanently into a fake grin mouth, and letting it choke me on its way down inside where it festered into a putrid pile of, well, redigested shnizzle.
And all this time, I’d been O positive. O, the universal donor, the universal giver. O, the illusive, mysterious, stand-alone type who will only accept something like itself, but who can, and will, give to anyone and everyone else as much as possible. I was trying to B positive and feeling like the octagonal puzzle piece shoved into a circular space. I could sort of fit, I could make it work, but it just didn’t feel right. But to find out I am an O, well, that’s something else entirely, isn’t it?
O gives happily, easily, without having to be anything other than itself. In fact, O is perfect for everyone just as it is and actually, it was born ready to help, to empathetically serve the greater good. (Is empathetically even a word?) But O does not do it unwillingly or by force like the unfollowable mantra of the B positives. No, O cares for all while demanding care for itself by those just like it. O needs O, like attracts like in this case, and O is open to receiving from those who were also born to sacrifice of themselves more than metaphorically, literally doling out pints of itself for strangers and renewing itself with ease to give again another day.
O is rare and O is valued. O is called by blood registries to schedule donations to help with national and local shortages. And O responds. O replenishes itself and is strong, and brave, and adaptable enough to emerge often to aid in saving 5 lives with every pint, as the old saying goes. O is a unique and powerful gem of blood groups, like a superpower in a cartoon, well-hidden and yet so incredibly important.
I was wrong and my mother was wrong and an OB-GYN in Puerto Rico let me in on the biggest secret of my life. I am O positive, not B positive. I am quietly strong, distinct and important. I am all this and more from my blood through my core to every inch of me and I don’t need to force a thing.
I am who I am and when I was trying to be something else I didn’t fit. But now, I’m the goddess of blood types, the All-Powerful and All-Giving and All-Loving of blood types. I’m O positive and I am sure of it.
And if you need me I’ll be there in a heartbeat and a needle-stick, but if I need anything or anyone I will be selective. I will confirm that at your core you are like me so I don’t die from receiving an ill-matched transfusion of feelings and blood and time and love and instead, I will see to it that the only one who gets past my skin is someone who’s going to fit right in. So my mother was wrong about me and that began a lifelong journey mistakenly believing myself to be something I’m not. I know now that I’m an O positive. I’m living it and I’m loving it.
And I have to thank my daughter for saving my life. Because without her poking around in there and existing and forcing me to take a look at myself, I never would have known who I truly am. I would never have learned how special and valuable I am and I would never have embraced my beautiful, quirky, and generous O positive self. My mother and I messed up, but Zahara showed me reality. And so what if I don’t know her blood type yet? When the time comes we’ll find out together, but I’ll never make the mistake of convincing her she’s something she’s not.
And if you’re still reading and you’re wondering, my ammi is also an O and I love her rarified self more than I can say. She’s even rarer than me, an O negative, with qualities and strengths for me to admire and mirror, just not identically. And that’s okay, because she is who she is and I am who I am and us laid-back Os are all about live and let live, man. We’re both Os, anyway, so there’s more of my mother in me than meets the eye. And there’s more of me in her, too. We’ll just let time tell us what runs through Zahara’s veins, and take it from there.