What do you get when you cross a…
Crumb. I can’t remember. Scottish or Irish? Where did my dad’s side emigrate from? I think it was Scotland. Hmmm. But Irish works so much better for my joke… I think I’m just going to go with Irish.
Okay. Here we go again:
What do you get when you cross an Irish with a Mexican?
Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately. The problem is that a little over a week and a half ago, I peed on a stick, and kind of got the surprise of my life. I mean, it wasn’t the *biggest* surprise of my life. I think the biggest surprise of my life was the first time I found out I was pregnant. Still, this was a close second. The Bean and I had been a little reckless this month, and even though I wasn’t technically due for a day or so, the nervousness was eating at me. I escaped work early on a lunch break and had driven over to a Rite Aid where nobody could possibly know me. I don’t know why I get so embarrassed buying pregnancy tests, but I do. I have a hard enough time buying feminine hygiene products; pregnancy tests are somewhere in the vicinity of 300 million times more embarrassing. I have this underlying phobia that one of these times, when I hand the box I’ve been hiding behind my purse over to the cashier, it’s going to go something like this:
“ Uh, Hi. Umm… here. Here’s my purchase.” I slide the box over the counter, face down, blushing mightily.
“ What is this?” The cashier picks up the box, staring at it in confusion.
“Its, uh… a pregnancy test.”
“A what? Speak up, I can’t hear you!”
“A pregnancy test. Please, just ring it up.”
“Did you say a pregnancy test? What? You think you’re pregnant? Why? Have you been having unprotected sex? Why would you do that?”
“I’m married!” I protest.
“It doesn’t matter. If you need this test, you’ve obviously been having way too much sex. You’re dirty. Eww. Gross.”
At this point, a second cashier from the lane over comes over, intrigued. “What’s going on?”
“This girl thinks she’s pregnant! She’s been having lots and lots of slutty unprotected sex! She’s a big, dirty ho!”
“I have not! I’m married! It’s totally legal. I’m not a ho, it’s just… we were dumb… oh, just PLEASE ring the item up,” I beg… only to be interrupted by the customer in line behind me.
“Are you a big, dirty ho? Really? Do you, like, have AIDS and syphilis? You do, don’t you? Haven’t you ever heard of safe sex?”
“Please, forget about it… just, it’s okay. I don’t need to buy it. I’ll just go.”
“Oh, no you don’t,” says my loud-mouthed cashier, “We need to get a price check on this item.” He leans in close to the microphone, “PRICE CHECK ON THE FIRST RESULT PREGNANCY TEST FOR THE DIRTY, DIRTY HO-BAG WITH AIDS AND SYPHILLIS AT CHECKOUT ONE. I REPEAT, PRICE CHECK ON A PREGNANCY TEST FOR THE FILTHY, LOOSE WOMAN WHO CAN’T CONTROL HER FERTILITY AT CHECKOUT ONE.”
Okay, so that’s never happened yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a matter of time.
I hate buying pregnancy tests.
This is why I drove 20 minutes away from my work to go to the Rite Aid to pick “it” up. Shoving the plastic bag hiding my purchase deep in my purse, I slunk into the Ralph’s grocery store next door and made a beeline for their bathroom. Once inside, I took a deep breath, opened the box, peed on the stick, set it on top of the toilet paper holder, and waited. I didn’t really think anything would happen. After all, I wasn’t due to start until the next day… I was just being paranoid. One of the side effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis is bone-numbing fatigue, so that could account for all the yawning I’d been doing lately. And the occasional waves of dizziness were probably a reaction to all the weird Chinese herbs I’d been taking in an attempt to go the “natural” path of treating the RA, right? I just needed to cut down on those, because….
There were Two. Obviously. Distinct. Lines.
I’m pretty sure I said that out loud when the meaning of the two lines sunk in. It wasn’t a very maternal first reaction. My second reaction wasn’t much better. “CRAP. Now I’m not going to be able to ride horses regularly for another year.” If any of you EVER tell my unborn child that this was my first and second reaction, I will hunt you down and… I don’t know. Toilet paper your house. Right before it’s going to rain! Yeah! You don’t wanna mess with me!
The other problem was that I couldn’t tell the Bean. He was right in the throes of finals, and had four back-to-back finals within the next few days. I didn’t want to ruin his chances of good grades by distracting him, so I kept quiet. I made my peace with yet another surprise pregnancy, and I began to get excited. Baby. I was going to have a baby. A soft, squishy, wiggly little Squidglet.
I found an Ob/Gyn near me and made an appointment on the same day as the last of the Bean’s finals. I peed in a cup, then went to wait in the room for the doctor to join me. I figured I could get some kind of a grainy ultrasound of a dark smudge in my uterus and bring it home to surprise The Bean. I had the neatest idea of telling him all planned out— I would do a scavenger hunt, where he would have to work out the clues to find the next hint. The last hint would direct him to the freezer, where I would have the ultrasound picture taped to a ½ gallon of our favorite ice cream… It would be beautiful….
The doctor walked in to the room. “Well, according to our tests, you’re not pregnant.”
“Yes, the urine sample came back negative. How long ago did you say you tested positive?”
“It was, like, 3 or 4 days ago. I peed on two tests. They both came back positive… and really positive, not just an imaginary faint line positive.”
The doctor shrugged, then smiled reassuringly. “It happens. Let’s take a look inside, shall we?”
The grainy ultrasound showed a barren wasteland of a uterus, completely devoid of any life, except….
“See that right there? That’s a little bit of bleeding.”
“BLEEDING? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!”
“Probably nothing. Don’t worry about it. It’s probably too soon to see anything. We’ll take a blood test to test further, and if it comes back positive, you can come back in two weeks.”
Like any normal person, I left the doctor’s office in tears, and headed straight to my close friend who knows everything: Google. Google did what he always did best: He confirmed my worst fears. If my expensive, sensitive, home pregnancy test had caught me early at 20-30 units of HCG (the pregnancy hormone) in my urine, then if my pregnancy was progressing correctly the HCG levels would be doubling every 24-48 hours. This meant that it should have been well over 100, if not more than 200 at the time of the failed pee test. Since the doctor’s office had failed to catch it, it was obviously much below that… which mean it wasn’t doubling properly. And after a few hours of frantic internet research, as EVERYONE knows, low HCG levels are directly related to miscarrying. I perused forums littered with people in the same situation I was. I became familiar with all the Trying to Conceive lingo, HCG charts, Days past Ovulation, BFPs and wishes of baby dust. I became an expert in a matter of hours, and it was obvious that my too-low-to-register HCG levels mean only one thing.
Crap. I was miscarrying.
That night, when The Bean came home, instead of playing “find the grainy ultrasound”, he came home to me sobbing on the couch.
“What’s wrong?” he asked in alarm.
“I’m sor-or-orta pre-e-e-gnant,” I wailed. “Bu-u-u-t I’m prob-a-a-ably lo-o-o-sing it…”
The Bean took me in his arms and murmured all the right things, but it wasn’t enough to soothe me.
So I did what I do every time I’m upset: I go visit the horses. I spent last weekend with my friend’s horses. I scratched necks. I leaned in and breathed in that warm, sweet scent. I played with the babies, chastising them for innocent mouthing, secretly enjoying the sensation of soft, fuzzy lips playing with my clothing. I crawled up and rode, and did surprisingly well for the jumbled mess I was inside. I cleaned pens, soothing myself with the rhythmic repetition of scoop, shake, and toss. I threw flakes of scratchy, rich alfalfa, and leaned over wide backs with my ear pressed to warm hides, listening to the deep crunching. By the time I got in the car to return home, I’d made my peace with the sadness of my situation. I came home, and I went back to work, and I waited. I waited to start the process of losing my child, and I waited for the long-lost test results to come back from the doctor and confirm what I already knew in my heart.
So two days ago, when the doctor finally came back with the HCG results (as well as the news that I am Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, HPV, and AIDS free. Yippee), I was a little in shock. “Well, I don’t know how we couldn’t test this, but your levels were at 318 that day. That’s right where you should be. I’ll see you in a week. We might even be able to see the heart beating by then.”
So this weekend I am heading back up to my friend’s ranch, ready to spend 3 days living on top of a horse. I figure I had better get my riding in now, since it’s going to be awhile before I can crawl back on a horse again. Oh, boy. Here we go again.