Becoming a Mother
Some unwitting teens get knocked up in the back seat of a parent’s borrowed car. Other couples place their hopes and pocketbooks in the hands of the in vitro fertilization gods. Perhaps most often, it takes trying and failing month after agonizing month until a blue line appears on a carefully selected pregnancy test, and the real fun begins.
Ryan and I, however, didn’t really decide to start trying, so much as we pulled the goalie and rolled the dice. I read somewhere that it’s completely normal for conception to take up to a year. We’d been temporarily living with close friends who’d been trying for months. A friend heard an old wives’ tale advising women to lie flat after the deed is done to help the egg and sperm on their way into uterine bliss. She wound up with a urinary track infection. It seemed safe to say, it would be a long, bumpy road before I’d ever sacrifice red wine and sushi date nights. If we’re being honest, part of the decision came as a result of me quitting my job. Ryan’s health insurance wouldn’t cover my birth control, and what schmuck wants to shell out fifty dollars a month on birth control when you can just pay $200,000 to raise a kid? Looking back, I see no holes in our logic.
One morning a few weeks later, I wake up with the gut feeling I am pregnant. No way to describe it other than just overwhelmingly sure I have the makings of a human growing in my uterus. Hokey, right? It gets worse. My sister calls me the same day to tell me she dreamt I was pregnant. That pretty much seals the deal for me. Ryan, ever a fan of “logic,” needs more convincing, so we pick up a few pregnancy tests on our next Target run. We wait with bated breath, and after two long minutes, I read the words, “Not Pregnant.”
I love hearing how women tell their partners about the news. I remember Becky Donaldson from Full House cooked up a really fancy dinner full of “baby” foods, like baby carrots and baby corn, then asks if Uncle Jesse notices a theme (he doesn’t).
After waiting a week, test after test confirm: not pregnant, not pregnant, not pregnant. I begin to wonder if a dream is really more accurate than a pregnancy test. Further, I wonder if I am really ready to be a mother in the first place.
My favorite is when a newly pregnant woman takes the positive test and wraps it up for her husband. It’s not the most original, but wrapping up something you peed on is equal parts awesome and gross.
By my seventh go-around peeing on a stick, I switch from the pricier name brand tests to the dollar store variety. Instead of the words, “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant,” a blue line means pregnant, no line means not pregnant. Sounds simple enough. After waiting the customary 120 seconds, for the first time I can’t decipher the results. The royal blue control line comes through clear as day. The test box, on the other hand, has the faintest blue line, barely visible even in the best light. My mind races, “Does that even count as a line? After six negative tests, does the rule of odds owe me a false positive? Should I start preparing baby corn and wrap up this pee-covered stick?”
Instead, I opt for the most memorable route: a text message. “I think I might be pregnant,” I write. Send. Then, I sit down to watch the most graphic birthing documentary I’ve ever seen. Smart. Ryan’s response went something like this. While lecturing sophomores in a western civilization course, “The 100 years war was actually a series of separate wars where…” reads text message, “um…yeah let’s do group work.”
I’m not sure how it happens, but I survive my first trimester. It is grueling. Between moving into a new house, Ryan flying to China, and the Christmas/New Year’s hubbub, the second trimester flies by. I figure it’s all coasting from here. Then, at a routine OB appointment, the doctor mentions a complication. Calmly and optimistically, she explains the high potential for the issue to resolve and how we will proceed if it does not. Her calm confidence leaves me feeling pretty chipper. Up until this point, I’ve steered clear of the laundry list of baby books and simply consult Google as questions arise, a strategy that served me well for my remarkably normal first and second trimesters. Consequentially, I have very little idea of the risks that accompany said complication, and frankly, I prefer it that way.
We go for an ultrasound the very next day, hopeful for good news. We watch our little guy kick and squirm and smile, and while our babe grows stronger and healthier each day, the technician informs us that nothing has changed. Not bad news, but not good either. Still, no panicking on our part. I don’t even worry too much when a nurse friend informs me that this now identifies our pregnancy as “high risk.” Not until several days later, when the medical assistant calls to put me on pelvic rest do I start to Google. If I didn’t understand the magnitude of creating a human before, I do now. There are a lot of moving parts, and sometimes they don’t align. Turns out, Google is an excellent resource for worst case scenarios. I feel my heart disassemble as I filter through pages of encyclopedia entries, personal stories, and graphic images. I regret sometimes questioning if I’m really ready to be a mother, because now more than ever, I am sure this is what it feels like. Powerless, terrifying, exhausting, but naïvely full of hope.