That Moment When Everything Changed
Tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow, Dick and I will ring in 2016 like we have so many years before. We’ll kiss at midnight. We’ll call our family. We’ll send texts to friends. We’ll laugh. We’ll drink sparkling cider. We’ll go to bed around 2 a.m. But this time, we’ll have a little guy between us, who will giggle and smile. A little guy we’ll swing around and bounce up and down. A little guy we’ll hug and kiss and say, “Happy New Year, our little man!” This time, last year, he was just a pea in my pod. Now he’s a full formed human absorbing the wonders of the world. I’ve thought a lot lately about the two weeks in which our whole lives changed. In honor of our new world, here’s my story.
“I think I need to buy a pregnancy test.”
I don’t look at my partner, Dick, as I admit what was brewing in my head for the last week. We’re both sitting on our new futon, a body apart, smoking our cigarettes and watching Hulu.
“You think?” he asks, turning his head to me.
“Yea,” I answer, turning my head to him.
I’ve only taken a pregnancy test two other times during our decade-old relationship, but the results were negative. And I never really believed I could get pregnant. But in that moment, on that couch, four months after we just moved back to New York so I could attend grad school, something inside me knew I was making another human.
Something inside me knew I would be a mother.
A couple of days later, on Halloween, I took two pregnancy tests. Dick and I sat on the edge of our tub in our tiny bathroom in our one-bedroom Bronx apartment as we waited for the lines to cross. And they did, but barely. So I took the second one and we waited again — our bottom on the cold ceramic, our hearts gripped with anticipation.
The lines crossed again, and again just barely.
I lit a Camel cigarette.
“You shouldn’t smoke. What if you’re pregnant?” Dick says, his voice a little gleeful.
I ponder the question. What if I am pregnant? I mean this is the first time I’ve ever gotten a positive, even if that positive was weak. But a false-positive can happen, although rarely.
“Nah, I’m probably not,” I respond, inhaling.
Dick looks hurt. “But you shouldn’t.”
I dismiss him with a shake of my head and a flick of my wrist.
Our son, K, turned seven months Christmas weekend.
Time flies too fast. It feels like yesterday when I rode the D train down to Brooklyn Hospital Center. Our son was five days late, and my ob-gyn didn’t want me to wait any longer. So that afternoon in late May 2015, I waddled my way up the hill in Fort Greene, the sun hot on my face, and was admitted for induction.
I never thought I’d see that day. Dick and I spent the last three years wanting a family, but physical realities held us back. And for all the times we’ve had unprotected sex during our relationship, I’ve never became pregnant.
I stopped my birth control after we moved back to New York. My refills were done. I hadn’t a chance to visit a local Planned Parenthood. But when I didn’t get my period in August, September or October, I didn’t think anything of it.
I have polycystic ovary syndrome, which affects as many as 5 million women. It’s one of the leading causes of female infertility. Since PCOS messes with your menstrual cycle, I was used to long stretches of period-less months.
Not having my period was as normal for me as making a cup of coffee every morning.
So while a part of me knew this time was different, I couldn’t accept pregnancy. Pregnancy went against everything I knew about my body. The iffy positives gave me a reason to deny the possibility.
Until I had a few vaginal mucus discharges a couple of days later — something I’ve never experienced before. I smoked my last-ever cigarette that day. I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood for that Wednesday.
On that fateful day, I nervously sat in the waiting room until the nurse called me in. Convinced I was pregnant, she asked me to pee in a cup. “Bring it up to the third floor.” Back in the exam room, the nurse told me about her first pregnancy as I waited for the results.
She cut herself off mid-sentence. “Yup, positive.”
My hand covered my mouth. I started crying.
“Are you OK?” she asked.
“I’m…I’m just happy,” I said in-between heaves.
We talked about my options. I waited to be called over to the social worker. I took the opportunity to text Dick, who was at work in New Rochelle.
Call me now, I write. My phone rings a few seconds later.
“You’re gonna be a daddy,” I tell him.
He didn’t have time to register the news. “I have to go. I’m meeting with the social worker.”
That day in May, I lied in the hospital bed, poked and prodded by doctors. Dick and my moms paced the room as they waited for my son to come along. But he wasn’t descending and I wasn’t dilating.
So at 1:51 a.m. the next day, after an emergency c-section, our son was born.
And now we‘ll celebrate his first New Year.