…and this is how I found out. It wasn’t like most of your married, hetero, thirty-something pregnancy discoveries. Closer to a clueless, irresponsible teenager.
This past summer, my partner and I decided to go ahead and try getting pregnant. A year earlier, I’d set a not-so-arbitrary date of my 33rd birthday as the point at which we should start. I’d done enough self-educating to know that the longer you wait, the harder it is to get pregnant, and the higher the chance of birth defects. I’d also learned that I had endometriosis, which can make it more difficult to conceive. So while we might not have felt totally ready, our biological alarm clocks had run out of snooze buttons.
I’d been tracking my fertility for over a year, since having my IUD removed, in the interest of better understanding my own body. (And it turned out there was a lot that I’d never learned about the reproductive cycle.) So I knew when my next fertile window was, and we had sex at what I thought was right before that window. Sort of a warm-up or trial run before the actual fertile window, when we would try every day.
But the next day, my partner was more or less a mess. The weight of potential fatherhood had hit him hard, and far from wanting to try again that night, he was regretting that we’d ever started. Unlike me, he is not normally anxious or prone to spirals of worry, so seeing him like this also destroyed my confidence.
“I accept responsibility for it and will be totally supportive if you are pregnant,” he assured me. But this wasn’t the enthusiastic level of support I’d been counting on, and I decided that if he weren’t more fully on board, then I wasn’t ready to be pregnant at all. Pregnancy would be hard enough even with a glowingly supportive partner. So I decided I would take Plan B, the morning-after pill.
That should have been just a simple trip to the pharmacy. But it turns out that another medication I take interferes with the efficacy of Plan B, so I would need a double dose. And the pharmacist could not give that to me without a prescription.
Getting that prescription, and getting it filled, took another day. I finally had it in hand 72 hours after possible conception. This being the second or third time in my life that I’d taken Plan B, I thought I knew something about it. I thought that it worked by preventing implantation of an embryo into the uterus. But while it may do that incidentally, that’s apparently not an indicated use. What it actually does is attempt to delay ovulation by giving you a huge dose of the hormone levonorgestrel. So if you have already ovulated – which I knew at that point I almost certainly had – it does nothing at all. Still, as the doctor said, better to take it just in case than to not take it and turn out to be pregnant.
Anyway, I reasoned, the chances of getting pregnant on the first try, at age 33, with endometriosis, was exceedingly unlikely. There was really nothing to worry about, and Plan B was really only necessary out of an abundance of caution.
I waited the appropriate length of time – about 10 days after possible conception – and took a pregnancy test. Negative. I waited three more days and took another one. Still negative. Great. We could officially wait and think about babies some other time, when we felt really ready.
A couple of weeks later, we were out of town on a weekend getaway. I just happened to mention to my partner on Friday night that my cycle was being weird. The Plan B must have messed things up – I hadn’t had a real period, just some spotting, and it really should have started by now.
“Um…isn’t missing your period a sign that you could be pregnant?”
Oh, fuck. Yes, it is. It is literally the most obvious sign. And I hadn’t even thought of it.
Instead of that, I said, “But I took two pregnancy tests. They were both negative.” I also didn’t verbalize the thought that followed: maybe I didn’t wait long enough to take them.
“Okay, I guess I’ll take another pregnancy test when we’re back on Monday. It’s too late to run out and get one now.” Anyway, if I were pregnant, what good would it do to know while on our mini-vacation? It would just take away the fun and make it stressful.
We went on to discuss how scared we were of having children.
“I’m fundamentally terrified of pregnancy and labor,” I said. “I truly don’t know how I’d be able to handle those things. Or dirty diapers.” They make me gag and dry heave.
We ticked off as many reasons as we could think of why we weren’t ready to have children – we’d have to move, what if there were something wrong with them, how could I possibly get hired for a job while pregnant, etc. – and then went to bed.
But now that the thought was planted, I couldn’t wait. The next morning, I knew I had to take a pregnancy test. We were due to meet my partner’s friend at 9 am and spend the day with him. So before he arrived, I ran out to the drugstore. I came back and took the test with 10 minutes to go.
It was positive.
“Holy fuck,” I said, while still in the bathroom. My partner didn’t hear. Shaking, I came out and showed it to him. “I’m pregnant.”
And there it was. We had less than five minutes to begin to absorb it, and then we were off, and not able to discuss it again until we were alone again late that night.