When I awoke on Halloween morning last year I was anxious. My period was officially one day late and that meant it was officially acceptable for me to throw on some clothes, rush to Albertsons, and ask the pharmacist for the key to locked cabinet which held expensive and frequently-shoplifted items like blood pressure monitors, diabetes supplies, and pregnancy tests.
The trip to the store was somewhat unusual. For years I had kept a regular supply of pregnancy tests under my bathroom sink. I’m not in a place where I can explore the full story with you. Every relationship has its dangerous third rail, that place where you are both so terrified to go, you whisper about it, or speak of it as That Thing That Shall Not Be Named. Expanding our family beyond the tight bond of two people was one such topic for us. And for years we had been meticulously tracking all activity surrounding my fertility in an effort to avoid pregnancy. Only couples who are trying to conceive are more aware of their ovulation window than we have been for years.
But we weren’t trying to conceive.
By the time October rolled around, I was newly recovered from a six-month-long depression that was triggered when I was
unfairly unexpectedly fired from my job. After dealing with all sorts of issues that being fired brought bubbling to surface like a too small pasta pot, I sat down with my therapist to discuss how desperately I wanted to touch that third rail. We agreed to start mapping out a game plan for approaching this subject. My next appointment was to be a week later on Halloween.
So I bought the pregnancy test first thing in the morning, October 31, 2006. I had peed on the little white stick numerous times in the past, frequently needing reassurance that what I feeling was PMS and not the symptoms of early pregnancy whenever my period was more than an hour late. A large part f me felt relieved every time the results read negative. A positive result would mean my marriage would be yanked from its safe harbor and sent hurtling toward a cliff. Negative was safe. Even if it only served to reassure me that my desire for motherhood would remain an unrequited love.
Like the many times before, I was certain the results of this test would be the same. Negative. Nada. Nothing. Move along.
But something felt profoundly different this time.
I came home and immediately puled one of the two test sticks out of the package. I had bought a fancy new test with a digital readout, because I’m a geek and more technology equals better product. Though the directions say you’re supposed to use the first urine of the day, my desire to know was too strong to wait for the most accurate reading, so I took my chances, peed on the stick and waited the 30 seconds for my predicted result.
I was pregnant.
I was pregnant.
I was pregnant.
And in that moment my entire view of the world shifted. Like a jump cut in a film, there was my life before this pregnancy and my life afterwards. Both part of the same story, but jarringly distinct.
On my way home from therapy that night I bought Garrett an anniversary card and this book, which I wrapped with the positive pregnancy test taped to the top. When he realized the significance of the test and the book, his eyes welled up with tears. They weren’t tears of joy…
But in time they would be. It’s a story for another day.
We had jumped on the third rail, not merely tip toed around it, touching it lightly with our finger tips. The current was shocking to both of us, but in the end, neither one us would get burned.
Fast forward: It’s Sunday, October 28, 2007. Garrett and I are sitting on the couch. Lyra is pressed against his chest, her head nestled in his neck, her arms limp from sleep. He is stroking her dark, silky hair with his hand. “Thank you,” he says. The tears are pouring down his cheeks. I pat my daughter’s back, so proud that she makes him happy. He looks up and into my eyes. He reaches out a hand to grab mine, “Thank you,” he says , again. I finally get it. My watery eyes have stolen my voice. I close them. I knod. I hold his hand tight.