So, what does a woman do after she is inseminated? Well, just like with the other parts of the infertility process, she has to wait! To refresh your memory on the biology of baby making it can take several days before the sperm fertilizes an egg. Then once it does it needs time to attach to the uterus wall to grow (if all goes well). That time frame is two weeks. Folks, no one knows how long two weeks can be until they are waiting to find out if they are pregnant. Every feeling, every body change, I wondered if I was pregnant. A rumble of gas would pass through my intestines and I’d think, “Oh, is that my body telling me I’m pregnant?” Ridiculous, I know. But, one’s brain can create some crazy ideas while waiting what seems as an eternity. And so, there was no reason to take a pregnancy test until the two weeks was up. BUT of course being impatient AND thinking our case would be different, we bought several pregnancy tests after just a week. We bought the tests that claimed to detect pregnancy early. Yes, I know. They didn’t mean that early but hell it was worth a try. Meanwhile, every time I took the test and it came out negative, I was heartbroken. Carol kept reminding me it was still early. Maybe the egg hadn’t attached yet. There were so many reasons I could not be pregnant yet. Carol told me we needed to wait and made me promise to STOP taking pregnancy tests. She also hid the pregnancy tests to make sure. Patients was NOT a great skill of mine. The wait was a killer!!!! My emotions were up and down. One day I was excited and I just knew I was pregnant and then the next day I doubted it. You don’t want to get your hopes up and you want to prepare yourself for the possible chance it didn’t work. And yet, just thinking about it not working was heartbreaking. Oh, it was SO frustrating. Inseminated on Saturday, November 16th, 2002, I had to wait until Saturday, November 30th.
Around the 27th of November I noticed our animals were acting out of character. One of our cats was being extremely affectionate to me. What was really strange was this cat was not an affectionate cat. AND one of my dogs was acting strange too. When we’d go for our daily walk he’d growl at anyone who’d approach me. He was a very sweet dog and had never done that in all of the 6 years we had him. Carol and I had hoped the cat and dog were telling us we were pregnant. My fingers were crossed, starred and anything else which would make it possible. We hoped and hoped.
You can probably imagine that on Saturday, November 30th I was up before sunrise. Damn, who wouldn’t have been? It was around 5:30 in the morning and I couldn’t wait any longer. I thought Carol was asleep but as I got out of the bed, she asked if I was going to take the pregnancy test. There was something else somewhat important about this day. It was the first day of Chanukah. After I peed on the pregnancy test stick and set it on the counter to wait, I remember taking that moment to talk to my mom (who died when I was 15 years old). I often did that during moments where I needed my Momma. I told her the best Chanukah gift I could ever have would be a positive pregnancy test reading. By the time I was finished with the conversation with my mom, it was time to read the results.
Carol was still in the bed. She knew she’d have no problem hearing me if we were pregnant (or not pregnant for that matter). As the stick was sitting on our bathroom counter I leaned over afraid for some reason to touch it. I didn’t want to alter the results in anyway as if it would have. I started worrying if I did the test correctly. Did I pee on it the right way? Maybe I got too much pee on it or maybe not enough? OMG! MaLea! Just look at the damn stick already! I picked up the stick and in the window where the results could be seen, I saw a very clear smiling face (which was the sign for being pregnant). I was in disbelief and looked at it again. It was the best and most grandest smiling face I had ever seen. I yelled out, “CAAAARRRROOOOLLLLL!” I suppose the way I yelled out, Carol, she thought something was wrong. After all if we were pregnant she just knew I would have yelled, “We’re pregnant!” Oh, I am so unpredictable.
Carol ran into the bathroom prepared to comfort me. Just as she came in, I held up the stick to show her. She looked at the stick and then at me. She asked, “MaLea, we’re pregnant? Yes, we are I told her. But, she seemed in disbelief and started questioning me as to how I peed on the stick and how long had I left it sitting on the counter. She seemed in a panic that I hadn’t taken the test properly. I must have answered her questions correctly because she then embraced me and kept repeating, “We’re pregnant! We did it!” We then stood in disbelief looking at the stick.
Once again I was to call the on call nurse (since it was a Saturday). However, Carol suggested I at least wait until at least 9am to call which was in two in a half hours. At 9:00 sharp I called. When the nurse answered I was thrilled to tell her we, I mean I, was pregnant. She already had my name and information and reviewed with me the procedure I had followed with taking the home pregnancy test to make sure I had taken it correctly. I remember thinking how dummy proof pregnancy tests were so it blew my mind she even had to review it with me. I may have been a clutch opening a wrapper but I knew how to take the test. OK, so I questioned whether I took the test correctly myself but still. I was supposed to be in disbelief, wasn’t I?
The nurse was surprised I was pregnant. She asked, “Wasn’t this your first insemination?” I told her it was. She explained to me I needed to come to the clinic first thing Monday morning to take a blood test because it was the only way to be sure I was pregnant. The blood test could also give me an HCG reading which could tell me the “heartiness” for lack of better word of what was to be the fetus. The nurse explained how unusual it was for women with infertility problems to get pregnant on the first insemination and how home pregnancy tests can give false readings. I HATED all of the negativity. My heart dropped. Maybe, I wasn’t really pregnant like she said. The way this infertility clinic seemed to stress so many of the negatives, it really started fucking with my head and my confidence. They may have thought they were trying to help keep me from getting my hopes up but to me they were only adding to my stress.
After I hung up the phone with the nurse I cried. I really started thinking I wasn’t pregnant. Damn!! I had waited the longest two weeks of my life. Then, I waited the longest minute of my life hoping to see a smiling face on the pregnancy test stick. And now I’d have to wait until Monday to “really” know if I’m pregnant. HOLY SHIT! It was only Saturday morning! Once again, Carol had to reassure me and tell me how the nurse was used to dealing with women who couldn’t get pregnant. Carol was so angry with the way the nurse spoke to me but what could she do about it? Just moments before calling the nurse we were so excited. And now we both were sitting there worried. It was as if the rug had been pulled out from underneath us. Carol worked hard to keep me busy that weekend- to keep us busy. She told me to think positively. It was hard. Carol was my rock and I know I couldn’t have made it through all of those ups and downs with out her.
Finally, Monday morning arrived. Of course once again it was an early morning for me as there was no way I could sleep past 6am with the anticipation of wanting to know definitively if we were pregnant. As nervous as I was about knowing if I was pregnant, I was even more nervous about having my blood drawn. OK, so getting my blood drawn terrified me. I wanted Carol to come with me to hold my hand but she couldn’t. She not only had to go to work but if I wasn’t pregnant and would have to do another insemination, I couldn’t afford for them to find out about me and Carol. And so, I had to go alone.
Because Carol and I had only one car I first had to drop her off at work which wasn’t too far from the clinic. I started to cry when we pulled into Carol’s work’s parking lot. In usual Carol fashion she hugged me and told me not to worry. She started to get philosophical and told me if it was meant to be for us to have a child, then we will. Meanwhile the reason I was crying was because I was scared about having my blood drawn. It terrified me and especially with out having Carol there with me. But, I couldn’t get my words out to explain why I was upset to Carol. When she started getting philosophical on me about being pregnant I needed to compose myself and tell her the real reason. Finally, I told her I was upset because I was so scared of getting the blood test. As soon as I said it Carol started laughing which made me laugh. Listen, of course I was concerned if I was pregnant but my immediate concern was the blood test. Carol gave me a kiss and told me to come back to her work after I found out the results. (We didn’t have cell phones back then.)
I arrived at the clinic at 10. It was an entire hour before my appointment but I was hoping they’d take me early. Hell, it was worth a shot. Meanwhile, when I arrived and I saw every seat was filled in the waiting room (with some standing) I knew there would be no way I’d have my blood test earlier. While I was waiting I over heard two women who were talking. It was their 4th and 5th attempt to get pregnant. That didn’t make me feel better. I moved to another seat so I wouldn’t have to listen to them. Just as I did the woman at the front desk called me. I had already been waiting for an hour and forty five minutes. She told me they were running behind and I could come back the next day. WHAT? The next day? HELL NO! I’d rather sit there all day before having to return the next day. I told her I couldn’t and asked (OK, I begged) if I could please wait. She told me I could but there was no guarantee I’d be fit in that day. By noon no one was left in the waiting room. It was clear everyone had gone to lunch including the clinic staff. Because the clinic was located in a hospital, I was allowed to stay there. And I was the only one there. A little after noon a nurse came out from a room to my left. She was the one who had been doing the blood tests. When she saw me sitting there she asked why I was there. When I told her I was waiting for a blood test but was told to come back the next day but begged to stay, she gave me the biggest smile. I’m sure I made no sense what so ever. She rubbed my arm and said, “Oh, honey. I am so sorry you’ve been waiting so long. I know this must be so hard. Please, come with me. Lets go ahead and get your blood test over with and find out if you’re pregnant.” Her kindness was overwhelming and like a breath of fresh air. I started crying. Now, Carol knows I will do ANYTHING possible to NOT cry in front of others. I really must have been a wreck or hopefully, pregnant to have so easily done that.
The woman was so kind. She could tell I was scared. She reached for my hand and while holding my hand she walked me to a chair in the room where she drew the blood. For the first time during my entire “infertility” process someone showed me compassion. She assured me I was going to be OK which for some reason I believed her. Before she drew my blood she asked me a few questions. First, she asked if I had taken a home pregnancy test. When I told her I had and it came out positive, she smiled and said, “That’s fantastic! That’s a very good sign, honey.” She then said, “So, lets see what the blood test tells us and hopefully it will match the pregnancy test you took.” This nurse was amazing. She didn’t give me any false hope but at the same time she was being positive. I needed that very nurse that day at that very moment and I am so thankful she was.
By the time she drew my blood not only was I calm but I didn’t even feel her do it. She was awesome to say the least. When she got all the vials of blood she needed she told me she had to place them into a machine for a good 30 minutes. She told me I was welcomed to wait right where I was sitting until the 30 minutes was up and I did. While I was waiting I could actually see my tubes of blood being shaken vigorously on the machine. There was a timer on the machine and I watched the countdown. Well, let me tell you. It was like watching water boil. It couldn’t have gone by any slower. I was glad the room had a large window which allowed me to see folks passing by in the hall. That was entertaining and helped me keep my eyes off the damn timer. At the end of the 30 minutes the timer gave a loud “ding!” I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard it. It sounded like one of those old oven timers. Made me think,”Bun in the oven is done!” Incredibly ironic.
As soon as the timer went off the nurse immediately went over to the machine. She smiled at me and said, “Lets see what it says. I’m keeping my finger’s crossed for you.” I couldn’t sit any longer and stood up pacing in the very small room. Her back was to me as she did a couple of things. When she turned around she softly said, “It’s positive.” For some reason I couldn’t comprehend what she had said so I repeated what she said.” She could tell I seemed confused, so she added, ” Yes, you are pregnant.” When she told me I was pregnant I felt so overwhelmed with happiness. And to show my happiness, well, I cried. The nurse asked if she could give me a hug and as she did she congratulated me. It truly was amazing! That nurse was amazing.
I couldn’t wait to tell Carol the good news. She was only a few miles down the road at work but the drive seemed to take forever just like all of my other waits did. I hit every red light and got behind every slow driver. Can you believe this was still the time before everyone had a cell phone? I suppose I could have called her from home but I wanted to tell her in person as soon as possible. When I finally got to her work, I parked the car and walked quickly into the building. I know I floated up the stairs to the receptionist’s office. While the receptionist called for Carol to meet me I waited in the sitting area. I was so excited to tell Carol. In my head I had planned to jump up and down while saying, “We’re pregnant!” However, when Carol walked into the room for some crazy reason all I could do was cry. I couldn’t even get the words out. Carol immediately embraced me and told me it was alright. She started rambling about how we had another vial and how we could do another insemination. Oh no! Carol was thinking I was crying because we weren’t pregnant! But I couldn’t stop crying to tell her. And, I couldn’t seem to get Carol to be quiet long enough to listen to what I had to say. Now it all seems very funny to think about it. It was something you’d see straight out of a movie. But, I remember at the time being so frustrated. I kept shaking my head no hoping she’d understand that meant “no, that’s not it.” But instead she kept thinking I was saying we weren’t pregnant. I didn’t know what came over me. I just couldn’t get the words out. I was finally able to say, “stop! I need to tell you something” as I gasped in between each word because I had been crying so hard. Carol stopped and leaned towards me to hear me better. As I said one word at a time, she would repeat the word trying to understand what I was saying. Slowly but surely I got out the words, “We are pregnant.” Folks, I will never forget it. Carol, repeated each word I said, “We….. are….. pregnant.” But just like when the nurse at the clinic told me just 20 minutes earlier and I was unable to comprehend what she said, Carol did the same with me. It wasn’t until I was able to say very clearly, “Carol, we are pregnant. We are going to have a baby!” that she finally understood. And then she gave me a slight push on my arm while having the biggest smile on her face and said, “MaLea, why did you do that to me? I thought you were crying because the results were bad!” She started laughing at the misunderstanding which made me laugh too. It was truly like a scene from a TV show or movie.
Carol had to go back to work for only another 30 minutes. I waited for her and then we both went for a celebratory lunch. It was the third day of Chanukah and it was the best day of my life!