I stare at the small plus sign on the cheap pregnancy test. Up to this point in my life, a + sign has either meant the addition of numbers or some kind of biblical reference. I set it down, pick it up, and look at myself in the mirror. I grab the stick and tiptoe to the bedroom, careful not to wake our houseguest, who is sleeping in our TV room.
“It’s fucking positive!” I half yell, half whisper to my husband. “The. Test. Is. Fucking. Positive.”
“What?” Alex rolls over and struggles to get his eyes open. “Are you serious?”
I start laughing nervously, afraid that if I don’t laugh, I will erupt into a ball of flames. Pregnancy is not something I’ve ever really thought about. Exercise is something I’ve thought about. Being a published author is something I’ve thought about. Making ends meet in the city. But pregnancy? That is a word reserved for my other friends, and something I’ve often joked about after spending time with their kids. “Note to self,” I would tell Alex. “We are never having kids.”
Although I could sometimes see myself hand in hand with a little toddler strolling down the city streets, impossibly awesome at managing being a mother and a writer all at the same time (yes, I realize this is a fantasy), I could not imagine the nine months it would take getting there, the endless months of trying, the financial stress, and the realization that I would actually be responsible for another human being. Forever. Not to mention that I’ve had brain surgery. And knee surgery. And Alex and I are freelancers, which, in this economy, means that we make as much as circus midgets.
This can’t be happening.
I stare at the stick again.
“Welcome to mommyhood,” it says.
Alex and I get dressed and leave the apartment quietly before 7:00a.m. to train a client. I have him hold the boxing mitts, because I am nervous and don’t know what else to do. As I’m correcting my client’s form and calling out combinations, I can feel the weight of my belly, the intense soreness radiating in my chest, all of the little nagging aches and pains over the past week or two now making sense in my head. But what about that gluten-free beer I had a couple of weeks ago? And the wine? And the two venti black eyes on my road trip last week? Instantly, I think about the tough exercises I demonstrated to the U of C men’s rugby team the night before – and how, after I demonstrated a Floyd Mayweather full punching sit-up, it felt like something was tearing my stomach apart.
Miraculously, I finish the hour, waiting for my client to stop talking casually about her boyfriend and her plans for the week. On the way home, we stop at Walgreens and buy an EPT test.
“I need to see the words pregnant or not pregnant. But I can’t be pregnant, can I?” I ask. “I mean, didn’t you think that plus sign was a little off center? Maybe it was wrong or something? That can happen, right?” Sure, I was six days late, and I’m never late thanks to my trusty iPhone application iPeriod. I track it with the neurotic sensibility of someone who has been off of birth control for many years and knows her cycle like the back of her hand. “Maybe I’m just stressed? Maybe I’m so stressed it created a false positive?”
Alex smirks. He is eerily calm, and though this is momentous and the last thing we ever expected, I know that no matter what, we will be okay.
At home, we wait three minutes, the hourglass blinking back at us. Finally, I arch over the stick and see that eight letter word staring back at me: Pregnant.
“Oh my God!” I scream. “Holy balls. It’s official. I’m with child. You knocked me up!”
Foolishly, I know just when it happened. I evidently ovulated late and thought all was “safe” for my husband. Apparently not. Six years off birth control. I thought I had it down.
Obviously, I am an idiot.
We look at each other and start laughing like a bunch of school girls.
“What do we do?” I ask. “I have no idea what to do.”
Still in gym clothes, we decide to go do cardio. The air is cool. Fall is imminent. At the gym, I hop on the stair climber, unsure of what to do. I don’t have maternity coverage. I don’t even have a doctor. When I finally find a doctor to call, they will estimate I am 5 weeks (though I assume I am more like 3, thanks to the late ovulation). They will tell me to carry on with my daily activities, drink more water and abstain from alcohol. “Otherwise, we will see you October 18. Congratulations.”
Congratulations, your life is forever changed. Congratulations, you will have stretch marks. Congratulations, you will be able to flip your boobs over your shoulders. Congratulations, you will never sleep again. Congratulations, things will never be the same again.
All my choices in life – always knowing what to do – going to college, entering in and out of sports, purchasing homes, getting married, deciding what to eat and what not to eat – these were definitive choices. I’ve chosen my path in life and set sail on the bumpy road of being an artist. Getting pregnant wasn’t a choice we had planned and plotted for. Like so many things in life, it just happened.
Obviously, I don’t know how to proceed.
With every step on the stair climber, the excitement and fear pumps through my body. There are so many hurdles to jump. What if it doesn’t stick? What if it goes away? What if I get really huge? What if it’s unhealthy? What if the doctors try to shun my plant-eating ways? Should we tell people? Should we wait (even though I can’t keep a secret like this from loved ones for three months)? All the unknowns shoot through my mind. I grip the handles of the stepmill harder.
But, no matter what, at this moment, on September 21, 2011, I am pregnant.
I have life coursing through my body. For a moment, I marvel at the miracle of life. I stare at all the people in this gym. They were all born. We were all born. If they can do it, so can I.
I watch Alex grinding his legs on the bike across the room, his rugby hoodie soft and freshly washed. “We are going to be someone’s parents,” I say. The guy on the stepmill glances in my direction. Sweat flies from his face and comes dangerously close to my machine.
“You shouldn’t stare,” I say.
See? I’m taking charge already.
This will work out just fine.
My Green Juice/Shake
Expectant mothers need a plethora of vitamins and minerals. The more plants you eat, (mostly broken down so they are easily digestible), the better for you and for baby. Alternate the types of veggies you put in your shake/juice, and try to make it a daily habit. I juiced the below ingredients today and also made a shake from the recipe below. Experiment to see what you like best!
1 granny smith apple, chopped
1 kiwi, peeled
2 bunches kale
1 bunch spinach
Blend until smooth. Strain if shake is too pulpy. Enjoy the instant energy boost!