That’s how long I knew I was pregnant for. I hate to spoil the ending for you all but: it’s not a happy one. And it all started with a twinge in my right ovary.
The Day Before: I didn’t ovulate. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself throughout my seventeen long days of light-heavy spotting. It was a simple solution for my body freaking out – I figured we were both equally confused about what was going on, but I still wanted answers. I was Google-hungry and spent my evenings self-diagnosing and searching for similar situations. I wanted to find out that this was normal, expected, and most importantly: would end soon. Nothing gave me any clarity. I had resigned myself to just waiting it out (I refused to make a doctor appointment for fear that they’d tell me that exact same thing for a lot more money), when my ovary gave me an I’m-working-over-here pain. Was I somehow ovulating through all this? There was a new box of ovulation strips sitting in my apartment, screaming to be used. No time like the present, right? Except at the moment I was sitting at work, so I made a mental note to test once I got home.
Suddenly, mid-Bachelor In Paradise episode, I jumped off the couch and told my husband that I needed to take an ovulation test immediately. He seemed wary at the idea of it showing I was ovulating, but let me entertain myself regardless. It was BLAZING positive. I assumed I was reading it wrong since this was my first time using the strips rather than a digital, but the results were staring me in the face. I was…ovulating? My husband and I looked at each other, debating if we wanted to try. I still didn’t have any ovulation symptoms, so in the end we chalked it up to my body being wonky. Another urge began to form inside me though – I wanted to find out what other hormones might be flaring up, so a plan unfolded. A very basic plan that involved me taking a pregnancy test the next morning.
The Day Of: I quietly slid open the linen closet door, as if the mere sound of the wood creaking would cause my husband to run out of the bedroom and exclaim, “Are you taking a pregnancy test?!” I felt ridiculous sneaking around my own apartment as I pulled out the thin pink package. “So, we’re just going to pretend it wasn’t severely negative when you tested the day you expected your period to be? Okay…” I called myself ridiculous and warned about the disappointment I was about to experience while gazing at the slightly-fogged strip. Was it faulty? Did that even matter? It was going to be negative after all. Once I dipped it and the fog began moving across the strip, I nodded to myself when a second line didn’t pop up. See, you mad woman, you’re still not pregnant.
But then the three minutes were up and….there was another line. I muttered out loud, “Wait. But, that’s not supposed to be there.” Now I was imagining lines on pregnancy tests?! Confusion and excitement and fear hit me all at once as I tried to make sense of what was surely a false positive.
I mentally ran through all the symptoms (or lack thereof) that I had experienced, along with the neverending spotting, and couldn’t make sense of what was happening. But I didn’t ovulate!! I was so sure I had an anovulatory cycle (which, when I later brought this up to my doctor, she said, “You mean an ovulatory cycle?” which blew my mind and I still can’t figure out if I’ve been either pronouncing it wrong or if I somehow completely made up that term). During several of my internet-perusing sessions I had read that, eventually, your body will try to ovulate again – had I just missed it and unknowingly became pregnant? And then…if I was pregnant, why was the second line so light? My next mental checklist ran through everything I had done the past few weeks: Ambien. Wine. Xanax. Advil. Advil. Advil. (I had been experiencing back pain almost the entire time that I had been spotting – yes, I realize that was probably a sign that I had thoroughly ignored, but you forget that I believed I didn’t ovulate) I ate deli meat and did everything that you shouldn’t do while pregnant, short of riding on a rollercoaster (not including the emotional rollercoaster I was currently on). I had been treating my body like a tomb, not a temple, and feared that my possible unborn child was facing the consequences of my actions.
Where is my husband during all this, you ask? Just living in blissful ignorance as I didn’t want him to witness what was surely a mental breakdown – besides, this wasn’t how I had planned to announce to him (number one lesson learned while TTC: life doesn’t care about your plans). I threw out the test and told myself I’d check with a First Response the next morning. Before even leaving for work I decided I’d test again in the evening, or…should I just put a test in my bag to check later today? I managed to convince myself that I have some form of self control and went to work pregnancy test-less.
I made it through an hour and a half at work before I decided I needed to call my doctor’s office – surely they’d tell me that this wasn’t real and that they know the trying to conceive process can be difficult but that I needed to stop pretending I was pregnant. I stood in the hallway outside my office and attempted to discreetly describe the faint (I over-enunciated the word) positive I saw today, what my spotting was like, and that my last confirmed period was in July, waiting for them to say, “But, didn’t you not ovulate?” Instead, they asked me to come in that afternoon for an ultrasound and blood test. I began to mumble about insurance and not being totally sure and again, faint line, and must’ve sounded so erratic that the nurse eventually asked, “Was this a planned pregnancy?” Planned, sure. Expected? Absolutely not.
The call ended with me booking an appointment for the next day at 8:00 AM, but not before I confirmed that I could cancel it if I took another test and it was negative, and also without incurring the “late cancellation” fee. Priorities.
Are you angry with me yet? Can you believe I waited those seventeen (now eighteen) days and wasn’t rushing over to get checked out? It all seemed so surreal – I’m still struggling to mentally digest everything that happened. What I do know is that if I had made an appointment that same day, I would’ve gone alone, and I don’t think I would have been able to emotionally process everything without my husband by my side.
A new plan. I needed confirmation and I needed it now. Digital results don’t lie and I needed the comfort of words spelling out exactly what was going on with me. So, I ended up buying a test during my lunch hour to end things once and for all. Doesn’t every woman dream of finding out she’s pregnant while in the bathroom stall at work? No? Not the ideal situation for me either. It didn’t matter though – I had started to see the bright red spotting that they warn you about (apparently spotting can be totally normal, albeit confusing and scary when you’re pregnant, as long as it’s not pink/red) and convinced myself that my morning test had been wrong and I wasn’t pregnant.
Instead, the digital test told me that I was wrong about being wrong. Well, actually, it just said: Pregnant
Pregnant? Pregnant. PREGNANT?!
Dread rushed through me. Something wasn’t right.
A half hour later, I was back on the phone with my doctor’s office. “I just confirmed with a digital – should I come in today after all? I’m now spotting red. This is all a very bad sign, yes? Is there anything I can even do right now if there is something wrong?” The nurse calmly explained that at this point, I wouldn’t get all of my results back until tomorrow regardless, so it was best to keep my appointment the next morning and to “just relax”.
The hours that followed were anything but relaxing – they were filled with internal questions (Am I losing this baby? Is it all my fault? How could I be so wrong about everything?) and the cruel hope that this little bean would be safe. Once we were both at home, I finally told my husband. I simply said, “You know how I’ve been really confused about what’s been going on with me? Well, things just got a lot more confusing” as I showed him the digital test (which is now forever sealed in my nightstand – at least until I’m sure the battery has run out so that I don’t have to see the word ‘pregnant’). I used words like possibly and maybe and this isn’t for sure, but his eyes still shone with happy tears and he couldn’t stop smiling. His happiness was contagious and I asked, “How did we even pull this off?!” as we laughed and hugged and tried to remain cautiously optimistic. I was as honest as I possibly could have been about everything that I was going through, and how I was more sure that it could be a chemical pregnancy if anything, but he’s impossible to strip of hope so I let him hang onto the thought that maybe we were going to have a baby.
Sleep was impossible as I thought about the next day’s appointment. Were we going to see our baby for the first time? Was it going to have a heartbeat? Were they going to give me creams or medicines to help me to thicken my uterine lining or increase progesterone or anything to help this little bean stick?
It wasn’t a chemical pregnancy though. It turned out to be, in my mind, something much worse.