I know, I know. I could hardly believe the news myself when we found out. A tiny human was going to grow inside of me? And then it had to come out of me!? Lawd almighty. This little baby wasn’t exactly in our “six-year-plan” for getting out of debt and traveling the world, but I have always seemed to make the most of any surprise situation. I’m trusting that Jesus knows what He’s doing. Right, Jesus, you do know what you’re doing, right?
The positive pregnancy test was as out of the blue as falling in love with Ian. I’ll skip the commentary on how the birds and the bees came together and fast forward our story to about a month after our wedding. I will preface this part of the story to say that my girlfriend, Andrea, gets these prophetic feelings about certain things that always end up coming true. Always. Before I moved to Montana, she told me I was going to “fall in love and never come back.” I laughed in her face. LAUGHED. IN. HER. FACE. And then, four months later, I was married! You get the gist. Andrea just knows things, like on a deep, spiritual level somehow. Anyway, my other gal-pal was a couple days late, and I wasn’t in a full-blown panic until after talking to Andrea. She said she had a dream that I was three weeks pregnant. Cue the nervous laughter. I became completely obsessed by the thought that I could really be pregnant.
I looked at the calendar and started counting my days, double- and triple-checking. And then I remembered that Ian had brought home my favorite Subway sandwich for lunch earlier in the week: glorious turkey and provolone on honey wheat bread. The thought of that decadent sandwich made my mouth water, but when I actually took a bite, it tasted terrible. So terrible that I couldn’t even finish my precious sandwich. Oh. My. Gawd. I’m pregnant.
The thoughts were becoming more obsessive and I finally told Ian that I thought I was pregnant. He laughed and assured me that I wasn’t. I talked to his mom, who also assured me that I wasn’t pregnant. And to his dad, who also assured me that I wasn’t pregnant. But I just had this nagging feeling that I couldn’t shake. So one Sunday on my way home from work, I stopped in a Walgreens to buy a test. I bought the most expensive test on the shelf that read a digital result so I wouldn’t have to stress out about whether a faint line was actually a line or not. I wanted to definitively know if I was pregnant.
I originally wanted to take the pregnancy test at home so Ian could catch me if I passed out from shock after reading the results. But as I started driving home and thinking about how I would actually react to the results, I realized I didn’t necessarily want Ian to see my reaction. I had spent the last 31 years of my life trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted, with that thirty-first year having (finally) been the one where I discovered my true sense of self. I wasn’t ready to give that up yet because it felt like my life’s purpose was just beginning. I didn’t want my life to be consumed with spit-up and diapers and painful boobs… and painful other body parts!
I was halfway into those dizzying thoughts when I pulled into the Town Pump gas station. I parked the car and sat in silence for a moment before the sound of the small cardboard box ripping apart filled the quietness surrounding me. My hands were shaking as I put the Clear Blue test in my pocket. I made a b-line for the restroom and had one last thought about my life and the possibilities that could unfold in the next three minutes of waiting. I really didn’t have to wait to read the results of the test. In the three minute countdown to the definitive results, I already knew what my body had been trying to tell my brain for the last few days since hearing about Andrea’s dream. I already knew in my bones that I was pregnant.
Pregnant. Those eight letters stared at me through the digital screen while I glared in return. Pregnant. Those eight letters felt more like the eight letters that make up the term “game over”. Wasn’t I supposed to feel some sort of elation? Glee? All I felt in that moment was despair – I imagine the same kind of feeling when a mother who is trying to have a child gets a “not pregnant” result. And then I felt guilty. Guilty for not wanting this baby in the first place, and then feeling guilty for feeling guilty because I knew so many women who desperately wanted a baby. Women who wanted a baby just as much as I didn’t want one. I cried in the bathroom stall from the crashing wave of emotion. I shallowly cursed. I wondered if I could reverse the results if I threw the test hard enough against the wall.
I put the cap on the test, shoving it in my pocket, and walked back out to my car in what felt like slow motion. The conversations happening all around me in the gas station sounded muffled and inaudible, and the tile floor beneath my feet felt like mud. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I sunk into the driver’s seat of my car and placed both hands on the wheel at the ten-and-two marks, like a cautious first-time driver. Cautious. We should have been more cautious. Ian and I had been on the same page about children from day one: we agreed that we would be perfectly happy without having any children at all. Realizing then that I would have to tell Ian made me grateful that I was too impatient to take the test at home. I had no idea how I was going to tell him. I had no idea how he would respond. He was so sure that I wasn’t pregnant. Maybe I’ll wait until Christmas to tell him. Maybe I can wait until after the first doctor appointment. Maybe….
I stopped myself from living in the whirlwind of details for a few moments. I resolved to just drive home and see how the evening played out. If the timing felt right, I would tell him. If the timing didn’t feel right, then I wouldn’t. I let out the last of my tears before giving myself a rearview mirror pep talk that involved drying my eyes, patting my cheeks, and failed attempts at soothing the blotchy red skin around my eyes.
I pulled into the driveway. Having a big secret and not knowing what to do with it made me feel like a stranger at my own home. The weight of the positive test felt like the weight of the world in my pocket. I approached the front door and turned the handle, gently pushing it open. Ian was standing over the stove in the kitchen, surrounded by piles of pots, pans, and groceries. My stomach dropped. I can’t wait until Christmas to tell him. I walked towards him and as I did, I noticed something in his hands. He turned to me saying, “Here, this is a congratulations you’re not pregnant gift!” as he handed me a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates and laughed. I could feel the color in my face turn white. I dug my hand into my pocket and replied, “Funny you should mention that,” as I handed him the results.
His expression read like this was some kind of prank. Maybe he thought I had bought the stick on Craigslist or something. He did what all men do in times of crisis: “I’m calling my mom,” he said. She echoed Ian’s disbelief and definitely thought we were pulling some kind of trick. Within thirty minutes, she was at our front door with a box of tests so she could see for herself. I took two more tests, both positive. Of the three of us, my mother-in-law was the most elated. Ian’s face still read disbelief. I was still shocked, disappointed, and regretful. My life already felt over and I was barely pregnant.
Would I love my baby? Would my baby love me? I didn’t know how I could possibly fit into this role as a “mother” when I’ve spent my entire life selfishly pursuing what I wanted, when I wanted it. Was nine months enough time to accept that my life was no longer my own? Was nine months enough time to accept that, ready or not, I would have a human being depending on me for every single need? Would I still be willing to hike, travel, and camp?
Would I still be me?
I didn’t know how this would change my life, I just knew that I wasn’t ready for the inevitable, drastic changes. But I knew I had eight more months to figure it out.