After embryo transfer, they ask you to come back about ten days later for a blood pregnancy test. We were going to be in New York that day, so we scheduled ours for a few days later. This didn’t stop me from packing a pee test and taking it on the trip. Luckily Sandy managed to convince me not to take it in Jon Solomon’s bathroom. We agreed that I would wait until we got back and take the test at home the morning of the blood test. If it was negative, the call from the nurse about the blood test wouldn’t be such a shock, and if it was positive, then we’d get to find out together.
I woke up at 4 am, dying to pee. But I needed that pee for the pregnancy test, so I forced myself back to sleep. At 5, I was up again and again forced myself back to sleep. When the alarm finally went off at 6:30, I leaped out of bed to take the test, both out of anxiety and utter desperation to urinate.
Sandy and I have a rule about pregnancy tests. After I pee on it, I have to immediately stuff it back in the wrapper so we can reveal it together. I shoved it in and brought it to bed. We pretended to fall back asleep until the snooze went off, and then turned on the light. Sandy pulled the test out, and there was nothing.
I went numb. This was all so familiar. I had pulled so many blank tests out of so many wrappers at that point. The full disappointment wouldn’t hit until later, after a few hours had passed and I couldn’t keep it at bay any longer.
Out of sheer habit, I did the things I always did with negative tests: turned on more lights and tilted the test back and forth just in case there was secretly a line there after all. While I was doing this, I realized something strange. There was really truly nothing. No pregnancy line, but no control line either. The test was defective. Or, more likely, I had literally flooded it with my huge reserve of desperation, anticipation, and saved-up pee.
After having turned off all my hopefulness in the space of a moment, I had to find a way to rewind: we never took that test. That negative we thought we saw never happened.
I took some very deep breaths and tried again while Sandy was in the shower. This time I cheated a little and watched to make sure the control line showed up. I didn’t see anything happen in the main test window, so I started preparing myself for the negative. I hid the test in the wrapper, and after a few minutes, we turned on all the lights in the bathroom and got ready.
Sandy pulled the test out and we both grabbed for the test to get a good look.
There was a line.
It was a really faint line, the kind of line where you spend a lot of time passing the test back and forth and saying, “That’s a line right? That’s totally a line!” It was the pale, smudgy, watery looking blue line we had been straining to see for twenty months, and suddenly there it was.
I wish I could end this story right there. Wish I could tell you that we saw the line and magically the previous twenty months of anxiety and disappointment vanished in a sea of joy and excitement.
There was joy and excitement for sure – hugs and kisses and some badly lit bathroom sink photographs.
But this was no ordinary pregnancy. We hadn’t made this baby ourselves, and until the lab told me I was pregnant, the truth is, I didn’t totally believe it. I found myself staring at this positive pregnancy test that I’d been waiting so long to see, and still feeling a little numb. So, after one last wistful look at my little blue line, I drove off to take my blood test.
I got the call early in the afternoon. “Your HCG level is 27, which means you’re pregnant!” the nurse said.
I wish again that I could end this story right there. Medical confirmation! Twenty months of sadness disappearing with a phone call!
But somewhere along the way a switch got flipped for me, and I found to my devastating disappointment that I no longer had an innate ability to trust good news.
On top of that, good news from a doctor always comes with complicated instructions. “Come back in two days so we can test again to make sure your level is doubling fast enough,” she told me, opening the door to a whole new set of things to worry about.
I wanted so badly to feel the kind of uncomplicated joy that I knew was in order, but I didn’t feel it. I felt uncertain and off balance, like all this good news was an inconvenient delay to the start of the next cycle of despair, resignation, and renewed hope.
“You’re pregnant,” Sandy kept telling me. “You can’t be a little bit pregnant.” I repeated it to myself like a mantra, wanting so badly to be able to make it feel true.
[Next: Part X]