Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Testing, Testing

My experiences with pregnancy tests have been a bit weird. The first time around - last March - I only took the test because my best friend talked me into it. Sure, my period was two days late, but I was *sure* I wasn't pregnant, so why waste $12 to confirm what I already knew? He (yes, my best friend is a man - it's 2007, get over it) reasoned that taking the test and getting a negative that very day meant that my hopes wouldn't get any higher than they already were before being crushed. This made sense to me, so I took the test.

It was positive, though, and I was completely stunned. I remember looking at the second pink line, which had appeared seconds after I peed on the stick, and wondering if it was going to disappear before the alloted 3 minutes I was meant to take before reading the results.

It didn't, by the way. And three minutes later I dragged my husband into the bathroom and ... did I announce joyously, "You're going to be a dad!"? Did I gesture dramatically at the test and shower him with kisses? Did I put into action an elaborate scheme involving tiny coloured baby booties planted all over the house so he'd get the hint? ... no. I pointed numbly at the test and mumbled, "Um, what do you think that means?" Then followed this up with, "I mean, we shouldn't jump to any conclusions, right?"

The summer was a blur. After miscarrying, I became incredibly focussed on getting pregnant again. In June, I took a pregnancy test with a perfect balance of fear: I was equally terrified of a negative or positive result. It was negative. In July, I was desperate. I needed to be pregnant. I took the test as soon as I possibly could, five days before my period was due. It was negative again. I got furtive and squirrely. I'd buy tests in the middle of my cycle, so I could feel emotionally detached from the public declaration that I was a Woman of Reproductive Age. The awkward conversations with cashiers seemed less awkward when I knew I couldn't even take the test for two weeks.

Then last week, my period was late. I was hyper-aware of exactly how late it was, the minute it was overdue. I waited a full 36 hours before deciding what I was going to do about it. Again, I didn't want to get my hopes up. But on the other hand, my period was actually late, and I was having a variety of odd symptoms. I didn't tell anyone about my suspicions, not wanting to get their hopes up either.

On Friday afternoon, I stopped in at the drugstore between my office and my house. Unfortunately, they didn't have the brand of tests I'd become familiar with since the Spring. I looked at the two they did have available, and thought to myself, "Well, pee on this stick, pee on that stick - how hard can it really be?" I got home and peed on the stick and got an answer to my question. Not all pregnancy tests are created equal, and let me tell you, ambiguity is not what you're looking for when you're desperately trying to interpret the results. Add me to the ranks of women who despise the "Clearblue Easy" test, whose only honest syllable is "blue".

There was definitely blue on my test, but was it a cross or just a line? Hold it this way, it's a cross ... the other way, it's a line. I felt like a bit character trying to decipher Da Vinci's code. I ended up calling the 1-800 number on the package to get some assistance - who would have predicted I'd be *that* woman?

Naturally, the helpline won't say, "You're pregnant." What they do say is, "That's considered a positive result." Denial set in, just like last time. "How can she say it's a positive result?" I wondered. "She doesn't see how faint that cross-line is, or how it fades when you turn the test a certain way. What does she know!"

Of course, there was nothing else for me to do but to take another test - hopefully the good one, the right one, the easy-to-read and always accurate one, aka First Response. One line equals not pregnant, two lines equals pregnant, I'm familiar with the process, no crosses or other bizarre hieroglyphics to decipher.

Peeing on the First Response stick felt like coming home.

But before I could do so, I had to procure said test (a trip to another drugstore, and did I mention this is all on my lunch break from work, and that I don't have a car?). Not only that, I had to generate more pee.

I sat at my desk at work and slammed a full litre of water in 15 minutes so I could end the suspense.

And then there they were ... the two beautiful, perfect pink lines.

As soon as the denial started to fade, my thoughts turned to how to tell my husband. Since we only plan to have one child, this is likely to be the last time he gets this news broken to him. I wanted at least to improve on the incoherent panic of last time. Fortunately, I had a few days to figure it out, since he was out of town and wouldn't return until Sunday. And my best friend was due to arrive for a visit, so he and I could conspire all weekend to figure out the "perfect" scheme.

We decided on a balloon bouquet, but had a hard time figuring out where we should put it. Mike suggested the bathroom, which seemed weird until I remembered that that's where *I* got the life-changing news, why shouldn't he have his own special bathroom moment? In the end, though, the balloons along with a "Daddy to be" card were waiting for him in the bedroom - where I happened to be hanging out and folding laundry - when he arrived home.

Such a lovely artifact of the experience - a balloon ("Congratulations!"), a card, a snuggle with your smiling wife. Future aunties and uncles and grandparents get a happy phone call or email sharing the news. But for the mother to be, it's a whole different picture - madly hunting down the "right" test, drowning herself in bottled water, then crouching over a pee-stick to find out where lies her fate. Just a beginning to the glamourous life ahead.

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