Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to the action plan

Heather is not pregnant.  We've already not-seen pink lines twice, and today we saw a minus sign instead of a plus.  Heather asked if I'd really believe it now.

The last two weeks have been emotionally chaotic and full of minute-to-minute violations of the sole post-insemination law: avoid obsessing over it.  First, Heather believed within just a few days that she was definitely pregnant.  I took the paternal position for the first time, dismissing her convictions as hysterical and hormonally-driven.  But I wanted it to be true, so I was fighting my own hysterical side as we evaluated the relative weight and veininess of her breasts.  Did they seem heavier?  Were the aureoles bigger or darker?  Could we see any blue on her cervix?

As someone very, very fond of gift-giving holidays and general anticipation, I thought we'd have an exciting two weeks, holding hands and grinning at each other, then going to the store for a pregnancy test after a full 14 days.  The test would be like a wrapped present, and dipping that stick in the cup would be like the moment when you just begin tearing apart the wrapping paper.  That plus sign/pink line/"yes" would be my new shoes.
And, even if there was a minus sign or "no," I would have had two weeks to fantasize about the shoes before unwrapping the too-small skirt my misguided sister selected for me.
Heather, meanwhile, will tell you in the clearest specifics what it is she wants for a gift, then check in every other day to confirm that you heard her the first time and ask whether you've done anything about it.  In later stages, she'll tell you how excited she is about the present she told you to get, and even ask if she can go ahead and open it.  Instead of grinning in anticipation, she'll grin at the box under the tree because she knows exactly what's in it. 

Whether it was because of that, or because my body wasn't the one alternately aching or weeping, my complicity in premature excitement ended at Walgreens.  When Heather said she really, really wanted to check her cervix, I got back on my knees at the edge of the bed; when she was uncharacteristically exhausted, I sucked it up and napped with her-- but I did not buy a pregnancy test.  I admit that I did, in the first few days, Google early signs of pregnancy, but the results didn't help all that much (few sites list the signs of pregnancy before sperm has made it to your fallopian tube), so I set the online search aside.
In further tribute to Steve Jobs, Heather's nearly religious state of connection to her iPhone and iPad meant it was well-nigh impossible for her to walk away from Google and rumors of changed scents.   Trying to survive in a body that might or might not be hosting an embryo tore her up as she swayed from certainty that the baby we'd pinned our hopes on was on its way to powerful self-doubt. 

Without relief from the hormonal and mental flux, Heather bought a pregnancy test.  I grimaced, saying that I'd look at the results but wouldn't believe them so far in advance.  Still, it hurt when we gigglingly, with hands over each other's eyes, stumbled into the bathroom and saw the negative.
Heather took the results as gospel (or said she did), support for her suspicions, while I tried to ignore our first testing set-back.  From my end, it seemed like a disappointment that didn't even count: my feelings were hurt but maybe over nothing, as though someone had slapped me to let me know that, in another week, I might get punched.  And I did.

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