By the time September rolled around, I’d been telling my husband I’d been laying eggs for months. We weren’t planning on making human omelets, not that ovum cells made for much of a meal, but it was important for what we were trying to do. With the chaotic nature of our lives, it made sense that the best time for us try for a baby was in the middle of a pandemic.
For the few years prior, as I was finally finishing my undgrad career, I had also been working on my health. My favorite exercise had become running. Being asthmatic, my body’s naturally wheezy, but running helped strengthen the lungs and everything else.
However, pandemic runs were different than normal runs. Usually, I didn’t wear a mask while hitting the trail. During the pandemic, I wore a mask because a) I’ve always kind of liked apocalypse chic and b) COVID-19 targets the lungs. It was doubly important for me to avoid the virus because it also screwed with hormone levels. At 40, I had been told it would be harder to have a baby and that I’d probably need medical intervention to do it. Why make it even harder on myself?
One sunny September day, I was on the trail, listening to my alternative rock, letting my mind wander into its favorite epic alternate reality, and lost my breath after only a few minutes. That wasn’t normal for me. It wasn’t asthma because I had no coughing or wheezing. I just couldn’t catch my breath. For a second, I wondered if I’d caught the plague, but remembered that pregnancy can bring on breathlessness.
Could it be? We’d been seriously trying for only three months, and despite what I learned in sex ed, we hadn’t spawned the first time we neglected the condom.
I had my hopes, but the larger part of me didn’t want to be disappointed. As a compromise, I used one of the ovulation strips I’d been tracking my cycle with. One of the many things I’d learned from my research is that those strips can’t differentiate between the ovulation hormone (LH, or lutenizing hormone) and the pregnancy hormone (hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin). They tend to pick up hCG much more easily than early pregnancy tests, so while they may not be completely accurate in predicting pregnancy, they could cue a person to take a pregnancy test.
The purple line in my tracking app’s chart shot right up. Either I was ovulating again in a big way, or the “For Rent” sign I’d put up for my uterus had attracted a tenant.
The next morning, I took one of the early pregnancy tests. The morning after, I took tests from two more brands to verify. They were all positive.
I told my husband through happy tears.
He uttered the two words I’d expected to hear all along: “Oh, crap.”
I responded with the sentence I know he’d expected to hear: “You have to change the litter boxes, now.”
We always have been a romantic couple.
I never gave much thought to having children growing up. The only things I really knew about pregnancy itself were that you puke in the morning, you get big, you yell a lot and maybe break your spouse’s hand while someone in latex gloves catches the baby as it pops out, and suddenly you’re a parent. Congrats! You’re never sleeping again and you’re officially a part of the Diaper Olympics.
Being pregnant is much, much different than I had imagined. It’s far stranger. As my body moved throughout the first trimester, I looked up the whys of my symptoms and tracked the changes going on. I’ll cover the anxiety, disbelief, and mental gymnastics my brain put me through until my first ultrasound in upcoming entries. At posting, I’m in my 20th week of pregnancy, which translates to the fifth month.