Getting Pregnant With Michelle Tea: Magical Pee Sticks And A Fight
When Dashiell is sleeping, her bones melt away and she is just this floppy creature that flops around some but mostly lies very flat and still. When I whispered to her that we were pregnant she rolled over and enveloped me in her floppy, bone-less arms. It was like being embraced by a life-sized stuffed animal. Dashiell is the best person to share a bed with ever.
“Where are your bones?” I asked her. “How do you get so floppy?”
“You have to do another test,” she murmured in her floppy half-sleep. “We have to make sure.”
“Okay, Flops,” I promised. Next time I get up to pee, I’ll pee on the other stick. And we dozed for a bit in a dreamy way and I was happy it was the weekend and neither of us had to go report to computers somewhere, and we could just laze and flop in bed until someone –- me or the dog –- needed to pee.
When I peed on the second stick I watched it turn palest pink pale pink faint pink legitimately pink dark pink deep pink hot pink. I brought both pee sticks back into the bed with me. Was that gross? I’d just peed on them. But they were magic wands, now.
“Look,” I hushed to Dashiell. “We are so pregnant.”
She hustled upwards, her bones solidifying. She took the pee sticks from me and gazed at them. “Oh my god,” she said, the "d" in god getting stuck in her mouth. She looked at me with her blue elf eyes flashing and wide.
“Oh my god!” I agreed.
“Let’s not tell anyone,” she says. “OK? Until we know for sure.” My blood test is mid-week, and this is what she means by "sure." But I feel pretty sure from these here pee sticks. Two BFPs in a row after POAS with FRER? (That’s Big Fat Positives after Peeing On A Stick with First Response Early Result brand pregnancy pee sticks, for those who don’t troll TTC message boards.) I know that I’m at least very chemically pregnant. Whatever happens from this point, as we learned so recently, is up to the gods, but I know I’m pregnant, that the pee sticks are right. But if Dashiell wants to wait until we get the results of the blood (beta) tests, that’s fine.
“We can tell our families,” she says, and we immediately call our mothers and sisters.
“Tali and Bernadine count as family,” she says, and I shoot off a text to Tali and Bernadine. Brenda and Finn counts as family, too, so we shoot them a text as well.
“You know,” I say to Dashiell. “People know we did an egg transfer. If someone asks if I’m pregnant, someone who knows I had some fertilized eggs in me, can I be honest?”
“I guess,” Dashiell says uneasily. I don’t like making her uneasy, but I need to know what to do in this awkward situation, an awkward situation I know I’m going to be in soon. Like, that afternoon. More friends text asking if we’re pregnant yet or what.
“Can I tell Joe Blow and Madame X we’re pregnant?” I ask, looking down at my phone. They, like many others, knew we either were or we weren’t.
“Fine,” Dashiell says, in a tone of voice that conveys it’s actually not fine at all. I tell the incoming texters that we won’t know until mid-week. Which, if we’d followed the fertility clinic’s advice and not peed on sticks, is when we’d know. We’re totally not even supposed to know we’re pregnant right now! But we do. And I want to tell everyone.
We get in a massive fight on our walk to the grocery store. Me and Dashiell don’t fight often at all, both of us survivors of relationships plagued by constant bickering and the walking on eggshells that comes with it. So we only fight on special occasions. Like, literally. When something totally awesome happens, we have a big blow out. Much preferable to fighting on the daily, but frankly, totally awesome things happen to us all the time and I wish we weren’t cursed with this weird-ass pattern.
Probably it’s my fault that we fought. I felt oppressed by Dashiell’s need to keep things quiet, to protect herself. After what we’d been through, I understood, conceptually, why she’d want some privacy. But I also thought, well, if we do miscarry again, maybe I don’t want to carry it around like a big dark secret. Dashiell agreed, politically, that it was bad for women, the way everyone was so hush-hush about his common tragedy. But she still didn’t want everyone knowing her business.
I don’t know why I am possessed with such a desperate need to make sure the entire world knows my business, but I am, and I poked and needled at Dashiell’s protective resolve until we were fighting in the street. Like we were in a movie, the rain came down all around us. In the middle of it all was Rodney the dog, getting waterlogged in the downpour.
We split up, and I collected myself and went into the grocery store to get food for dinner. I grabbed an expensive San Francisco health food store chocolate bar defiantly, planning on eating my feelings on the soggy walk home. Which I did. Ate mouthful after mouthful of wet chocolate while the rain ate away at my paper grocery bags and they finally split just as I walked into my front yard, produce spilling all over the place. The chocolate didn’t even taste good. It just tasted compulsive.
Back in the house we fought some more, going in circles -- Dashiell defending her right to some privacy, me psychoanalyzing her need and deeming it "fear-based" and therefore unacceptable. I stormed back out into the rain, thinking I’d punish all of us by walking along the ocean in a storm, after dark. By the time I got to the corner this seemed exhausting and so I went home. I felt like a kid who threatened to run away from home and basically sulked in the backyard for a half-hour and went back to their stuffed animals.
Worse than fighting is being pregnant and fighting. My stomach felt deeply empty and hollow even though I’d eaten a bunch of food, a sensation I remembered from when I was pregnant last time. My hunger was located exactly in my stomach, a lonely place I could locate between the bottom of my ribs. Even after downing a plate of pasta and an ice cream sandwich, the pit yawned.
I felt disgusting from the food I’d already ate, and the thought of eating more seemed repulsive. I had no appetite, yet my stomach roared. I lied in bed and daubed at my eyes with a lacy hankie. I accumulated a lovely collection of vintage lady’s handkerchiefs back before I went on meds, when I cried all the time and thought I should at least inject some style into it, for my self-esteem. Now I have a cute little collection in my top drawer, mostly from a thrift store in Scotland but also some from some mysterious girl who likes my writing and makes her gay uncle who lives in San Francisco bring them to my readings here. (Thanks, Mystery Hankie Woman!)
Eventually me and Dashiell stopped fighting and we went to sleep. And then we got over it, though I don’t even remember how. Fighting is so stupid. Who cares if nobody knows I’m pregnant? They’ll know soon enough, since it’s too early for my beta yet I am somehow already showing.
The next day I get a call from the fertility clinic, just a little check in.
“I’m doing great,” I gush to the nurse on the phone. “And, I took a home pregnancy test and it said I’m pregnant. Two of them did.”
“Well,” the nurse said, with a little tinge to her voice. The clinic really doesn’t like you taking the home pregnancy tests, but mostly, I thought, because of the likelihood of false negatives, and how the fake bad news could make a woman go off her hormones, sabotaging a pregnancy that might actually be viable. But I didn’t get a negative, I got two positives. Why isn’t the nurse all super happy for me?
“That’s great,” she says mildly. “We can be cautiously optimistic.”
Cautiously optimisitc? Cautious optimism was my state before the pee sticks. The whole reason you pee on a stick is to bump that cautious optimism up into careful euphoria. I try not to let the nurse’s restraint bum me out too much, but I am surprised at the disappointment in my chest when I get off the phone.
The morning I’m to rush to the lab to get my beta test, first thing in the AM so that I can get the results the same day, I wake up in bed naked and covered in sweat, the sheets beneath me a shallow pool wetness. Gross. I definitely had pajamas on when I went to sleep. I must have ripped them off in my night sweats frenzy. It’s the hormones, the ones I’m shooting into my ass and plastering across my abdomen. And even though the pajamas feel unbearable in the midst of a sweat-fest, it’s actually more disgusting to be naked, because with nothing to absorb it the sweat puddles and also makes me stick to the sheets. Argh. I’m a monster.
I take a train and then a bus into the Marina, getting of at the stop near the Marc by Marc Jacobs store, walking up the hill to the medical complex where Dr. Wendy, my beloved gynecologist, has an office. There is a laboratory on the ground floor, and I’m not certain but I’m pretty sure that if I get these tests through her, insurance covers them.
Our insurance won’t cover anything fertility-related, so my fear is that if I get the beta test through the fertility clinic I’ll have to pay for it. The same phlebotomist who always compliments my tattoos and then shows me the half-sleeves he has hidden under his button-down and who then always laments his ability to get completely covered in tattoos goes through his regular routine with me while drawing my blood. I make sure the results get faxed to the fertility clinic stat. And then I wonder what the fuck I’m going to do all morning while I wait for the official results to come in.