This post was inspired by The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Connect the Dots.
Two weeks earlier, my mom and her best friend—someone who’s known me since I was a baby—took me out to dinner to celebrate the new job I would be starting in September. We went to a Mexican restaurant just outside of my hometown, famous for their table side guacamole and salsa. The evening seemed like any other evening to an outside observer, but what that lay person didn’t know was that I had stuck myself with a needle full of manufactured hCG, commonly known as the “pregnancy hormone,” to trick my body into ovulating at a particular time. I had spent the week before and the morning before at my specialist’s office, having ultrasounds (always uncomfortable, but something I was used to at that point) to check that the follicles in my ovaries were responding to the stimulation drugs I had been taking. I was at high risk for twins, as more than one follicle was full with a mature egg that would hopefully become a baby, but my RE cleared me to “trigger” the night before. Trigger the ovulation, the release of the eggs, and hope for the best.
If you wanted to be technical, it was my third round of fertility drugs. But if you wanted to be critical, it was my first successful round of fertility drugs, as the first round had produced one, lone, too-mature egg that was never destined to become a baby. The second round produced more than four mature eggs, putting me at severe risk for triplets or more, and was cancelled.
The fun thing about Ovidrel (the hCG shot) is that it can temporarily make you feel like you’re pregnant, all at once, in the course of 48 hours. It hits you like a ton of bricks the next morning: sore boobs, nausea, headache, maybe even an unusually more frequent need to pee. As the drug is doing its job tricking your ovaries into releasing the eggs for fertilization, the rest of your body is going “WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS THIS?!” and trying to deal.
So as I’m sitting with my mom (who knew of the treatments) and her best friend (who did not), stuffing my face with tortilla chips topped with yummy salsa goodness, my stomach decides it feels pregnant all of a sudden. There’s a roll, and a lurch, and I get that weird feeling in my face—you know the one. It’s like a wave of hot and cold at the same time, and you feel a sort of flash in front of your eyes as the nausea comes. My heart caught in my throat, then started to pound furiously. I took a sip of my frozen margarita, trying to reassure myself that I was fine. It would pass. I zoned in on the sugar lining the rim of the glass as the noise of my mom and her best friend talking faded into the background. Despite my focus, the feeling worsened, and I excused myself from the table.
I stood in a bathroom stall, begging my body to relax for just a minute. I didn’t want to get sick. I knew if I started, I wouldn’t stop, and the night would be ruined, and I might have to face questions later as to what might have been wrong. The cool surface of the stall wall felt good on my forehead as I leaned against it with my eyes closed, waiting for the feeling to pass. Because, eventually, it did. My appetite certainly slowed from that point on during the evening, and one margarita was enough for me, but I made it through the rest of dinner without incident.
Two days later, my husband and I were in a really horrible car accident. I was driving. My tibial plateau (think of the long bone in the lower half of your leg…the plateau is actually one end of the bone, underneath your patella, or your kneecap) was fractured, and I had severe contusions to my upper thighs and abdomen (yes, right where all my inside baby-making and carrying parts are). Blood tests the following week showed that my thyroid had reacted poorly to the accident (you know what they say, a body’s chemicals truly can be affected by trauma) and was severely out of whack. My thyroid medication was increased and I was also prescribed Lovenox, a blood thinner in—again—shot form, due to the combination of the placement of the fracture and the fertility treatments/change of pregnancy putting me at an elevated risk for blood clots.
Off on our vacation to Washington DC and Virginia Beach my husband and I went, in spite of the accident and our injuries. I enjoyed several beers every night for the first few days of vacation, well aware that I had probably ovulated the night before or morning of the accident. My chances of becoming pregnant were slim to none. And to top it off, this was round three. Research shows that three rounds of the drug I was taking is the recommended maximum for back-to-back treatments. I knew I faced a break or a change in medication. I knew I could face more expensive treatment.
So you can imagine my surprise one morning—eleven days after suspected ovulation, to be specific—when I peed on one of the cheap pregnancy tests I’d bought off Amazon the previous month and saw that unbelievable pink line.
My heart tried to climb out of my chest, just like it had when I’d eaten that salsa.
In the minutes that followed, I experienced the entire range of human emotions. Fear, excitement, dread, anxiety, love, disbelief, anger, gratitude, the list goes on. I stood there in the hotel bathroom (balancing on crutches), staring at it, looking away, staring at it again, second-guessing whether I really saw it or not. I doubted my body’s ability to carry this pregnancy to term, what with the events of just a week and a half before.
I tried to be positive. I tried to have a little faith. My husband and I bought a onesie for our maybe baby later that afternoon at the Crime & Punishment museum. My hand trembled as I handed it over the counter to the cashier, and wondered if she wondered who it was for. I didn’t look pregnant yet. When we returned to the hotel that night, I took it out of the bag and used it as a prop when we FaceTime’d with my parents to let them know the status of this round. Every morning I glanced at it with a mix of trepidation and hope. Even as sequential betas and worsening symptoms proved things to be going well in the coming weeks, I was still scared. I still held back.
And I have to admit, I never wondered what it would feel like to be near-term and looking back on all of this craziness only to say, “This is how it all began.”
Excerpt taken from Ploughshares, Vol. 31, Nos. 2 & 3, edited by Antonya Nelson, 2005.