Owning your story

Exactly 11 weeks ago, I woke up with a start. I sat straight up in bed at 6:00 in the morning for the second day in a row. Resigned to being awake, I groggily made my way to the bathroom. I sat down and mid-stream decided to take a pregnancy test. I squeezed my pelvic muscles as hard as I could to slow the release of fresh urine, and scrambled for my designated cup (which was not in it’s designated place). Somehow, I managed to capture just enough. I set it aside cautiously, and fumbled unsteadily in the back of the cupboard for my bag of pregnancy tests, which had fallen to the bottom of the basket beneath my sink.

One eye open, the other still closed with sleep, I tore open the wrapping and carefully dipped the end into my meager cup. I watched detachedly as the absorbency line on the paper move up the strip, until one, and then two, lines turned pink.

Shaking my head and confused, I flung the strip aside, and hurriedly opened a new one. Both eyes open this time, I repeated the process. Just as before, two lines turned pink.

I tested a third time, this time running to the bedroom for my phone, and setting a 2 minute timer. There were two lines long before that timer went off. I called for my husband and he came, sure I was hurt, and soon we were both staring at the positive pregnancy tests flung haphazardly around the sink.

That had been the day we had planned to start our first round of IVF. The paperwork was still on my nightstand, leftover from a thorough reading the night before. Everything I had ever known about positive pregnancy tests had long since left my brain, and I googled every alternative possibility that could explain now four(!) positive pregnancy tests.

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I called my doctor. Blood was drawn, tests were run, an ultrasound was performed, and there was no mistaking it; I was pregnant.

Lest you worry, allow me to pause here and assure you that I am still pregnant; all is developing as it should. I am beyond grateful that we are both healthy.

So grateful.

But here I am, beginning to show, and enough people know, that we don’t seem to own our story anymore.

Family members have spread the news quickly and beyond our circle of comfort (though fortunately we are on the other side of the country, and minimally affected). Another family member alluded to it on my Facebook wall, despite knowing that we do not want anything about this baby on Facebook. A new friend is just a week further along than I am, and smiles at me like we have a secret bond. Some people use this miraculous conception to make claims about God – claiming it as an indication of His goodness and an opportunity to bear witness that “He keeps His promises”. My sister even exclaimed, “Hey! You’re not infertile anymore!”. Friends and relatives who have experienced pregnancy talk to me like I’m now part of this exclusive club, imparting such wisdom as “after maternity pants, trust me, you will never go back”. My sister even exclaimed, “Hey! You’re not infertile anymore!”.

I don’t particularly want people to know. I don’t want this to be just another baby, nor do I want to throw our story to the whole world, like pearls before swine. I don’t want the status that comes along with being an expectant mother. I don’t want my mother-in-law (or my grandmother or anyone else) telling her entire extended family that we are expecting. I don’t want to be told that so-and-so is also pregnant, but with their third (whoops! this one was an accident!) child. I don’t want people acting like this happens every day, but I also don’t want anyone who will make light of this child, or claim him/her for their own purposes, to be given any kind of advance warning of his or her existence. And I especially don’t want anyone claiming that my sudden knock-up-itude is due to any kind of righteousness or deservingness on our part. That’s not how biology works. And if our sudden fertility is due to any kind of interference from God (and I’m not ruling that out), then I don’t want it pointed out. It’s not anyone else’s miracle to claim.

We already cherish this baby. I joke about pregnancy being a bad idea (because, for real, the first trimester was pretty much like having the flu for two months), but this baby is not your average, everyday baby. This baby is the one we stopped hoping for, that is coming anyway. S/he isn’t a feather for anyone’s cap, and s/he isn’t a sign, and s/he isn’t a lifetime pass to the motherhood club.

S/he’s ours. And s/he doesn’t have to be anything else.

The Unopened Pregnancy Test

This is the pregnancy test I’ve been saving. It expires this month, and this month is nearly over.

The Pregnancy Test I bought two years ago

The Pregnancy Test I bought two years ago

Does every woman have a pregnancy test she saves – the one that will surely be “the one”?

When I bought it, I already knew we were infertile, but I never imagined the test would last this long.

This test has survived four residences (not including the month we lived with my in-laws while we were waiting for our house to be ready), the pregnancy announcements (and subsequent loss, birth or current pregnancy) of 7 nieces and nephews, countless friends, acquaintances, new jobs, fertility drugs, career changes, a 2,500 mile move across the country, and the rise and fall of many hopes and dreams (not to mention the dozens of times I have been sure that our wait was finally over). It’s amazing what can happen in two years.

I really didn’t think the test would have a chance to expire. The only thing more unthinkable than having it come up negative was never having sufficient reason for it to be used. I’ve never been able to throw it away, and now that it is about to expire I’m not sure what to do with it. It seems wrong to throw away a symbol of hope, but hasn’t the symbol changed? Isn’t it now a symbol of dashed hope? of hope washed away? a life that has moved on? Why would I keep that?

What do you do when the one you’ve been waiting for runs out of time?

I’m young. I have plenty of time, but in moments like this I brush up against my own ticking clock, and I realize that this dream of having our own children has an expiration date — just like that pregnancy test. My kind, stalwart Klingon of a husband is always there, unfailing in his love, support, and dedication to the life we live together. I’m blessed – truly, deeply blessed – to have life partner whom I would choose over any possible life without him. The sad irony of what a wonderful father he would make, what a happy home we would have, is not lost on me.

Maybe it’s time to get a new dream, but I can’t seem to let go of this one. I can only build dreams that coexist neatly with the hope that one day we will be able to add to our little family; one more grandchild to the mix, someone (or two! or three!) who will be adored beyond anything we now treasure.

I don’t know yet if I should buy a new pregnancy test – the idea of having one follow me around has lost it’s appeal. This one is out of date, but the dream, at least, has another fourteen years or so before I have to put it away.

But what do I do with this – this symbol of what might-have-been? It seems sacrilege to throw it away. In the end, I’ll be practical and toss it, along with my expired prenatal vitamins, cold medicine and empty shampoo bottles. I don’t want to fill my life with empty things, useful only to my wistful, nostalgic soul. I’m finding a balance between hope and real life. Giving myself permission to love the way things are. Even if they make me sad sometimes.