My period is always on time. It always falls somewhere between the ninth and fourteenth of each month. But Chris and I always knew it was coming because I got severe PMS for, honestly, almost two weeks before it came. We braced ourselves for emotional outbreaks and irrational fears, and were relieved when I started my period because we knew for the next two weeks things would be much more even keel.
I know, pretty bad, right? But I know I’m not the only one reading this who has experienced the power of hormones.
I was not on birth control at the time. I kept hearing terrible stories of women who tried and tried but couldn’t get pregnant. I was almost thirty (not that that’s old, but it isn’t 20). I felt like at this point in my life, I just didn’t want to take a pill that did something to my body so I couldn’t get pregnant. Probably uninformed of me but that was just the feeling I had.
Anyway, that weekend – the one where my period should have come… any day now… Chris and I drove down to Macon to visit Zach, Mary, and Abby. It was their last weekend as a three-person family before Nolan would be born by scheduled c-section. (time out for Nolan pic – we love our sweet Nolan already -)
(okay back to our visit in Macon -) We had Mexican food for lunch. I drank a big margarita. I mentioned my awaited period and asked Abby if she wanted a cousin (just to tease Chris). She nodded vigorously, yes.
That night, we all sat around the chimnea eating hotdogs and drinking beer (yes, wonderful for a pregnant lady I know). We drove back to Atlanta that night.
The next morning, I woke up before Chris. I still hadn’t started my period. I walked next door to Target and bought a pregnancy test, the cheapest one they had. I came home, went into the downstairs bathroom, peed on the stick, and placed the stick carefully on the shelf. I worried that if I shook it or did anything wrong the results might not be accurate. I fully expected a negative result.
I watched as two tiny blue lines appeared on the stick – one much fainter than the other. I thought, both lines have to be dark to equal a positive result. The faint line must show up regardless, it is only when that line is dark that you are pregnant.
I still had some pee, so I peed on the second stick. Again, two blue lines. This time, the faint blue line was a little bit darker.
I left the box and the two sticks right there on the shelf and went into the kitchen. Very calmly, I began to wash and chop turnip greens. I decided that on a lazy Sunday, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread would be good.
What I felt when I saw the stick: Something between excitement and numbness. Excitement from The Biological Affect and numbness from fear.
How I felt while I was chopping turnips: Like I had the biggest, most magical secret in the world that was also terrifying and probably not true or real. So as long as I was the only one who knew, I could hang on to that terrifying, wonderful possibility for just a little while. I could exist suspended in dreamland where I both could be pregnant and also wasn’t pregnant before I told Chris, and then I was either “oh shit, we’re pregnant” or “oh… we’re not.”
Then Chris came downstairs, and it was only a matter of time before he went into that bathroom – yep, omg, there he goes! – and said “What… is this?” and came out of the bathroom slowly saying, without a hint of dread, but with something more like laughter, but yet definitely not quite laughter because he should be terrified, right?… “Helen… so… are you pregnant or not pregnant?”
We then proceed to examine the sticks and I started freaking out because then, you see, it is real and I said “Look how faint that one line is” and Chris said “Helen, but the line is there” and I said “I need to take another test, that was a cheap one” and Chris started googling the brand and found lots of people saying the test gives false positives.
So you see? we both said, we’re not pregnant. Better take another test, just in case. But we knew we weren’t. We both trust what we read from strangers on the Internet one hundred percent.
Turnip greens and black eyed peas simmering, I headed back to Target. This time, I didn’t skimp. I went for the expensive, name brand 3-pack. I came home, peed on my first stick, and got two, indisputable dark pink lines immediately. I sat silently, not wanting to come out and face the music just yet, but naturally Chris is waiting and calls from outside the door “Well???”
I came out with my stick and set it on the kitchen counter. He looked at it and that was it, we were pregnant!
“Lots of people miscarry. It is very common in the first trimester,” I said. “I’m going to pee on the other sticks,” and I did and they were all positive, of course.
We laid the five sticks on the counter in a neat row and stared at them. The implications were flashing through my mind, one of which was my sister’s wedding. Doing the math, I’d be due very close to it. I’d be a fat pregnant bridesmaid at my baby sister’s wedding.
There were many other thoughts, and many fears, but also excitement and happiness. There was disbelief. I kept apologizing to Chris and thankfully he kept saying “Why are you sorry babe?”
I went for a twelve-mile run. Hang on, baby, I thought. You’re the size of a poppy seed. The weather was autumn-ish, and the leaves had started to fall. I felt really, really happy.
Later that day, Chris and I went to the Candler Park Festival. We walked around and he kept his arm around me and called me a momma. We bought some hand-woven baskets from some Somalians.
During the next few days and weeks, we would panic over many details that needed to be hashed out, and I would start to experience some awful pregnancy symptoms that felt like they’d never end. But that sunny Sunday, the day we found out we’d be parents together, held us mercifully, in a happy state of disbelief.