I had imagined the moment I would finally find out I was pregnant too many times in too many ways to count. Reality is so rarely like the creative endeavors of the imagination.
In my mind, I would see the two pink lines and gasp dramatically, hands placed on my cheeks like a surprised 1950's house wife or Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. I would run gracefully, wind blowing in my hair, to my husband who would be waiting for me with his arms outstretched. We would kiss, embrace, cry beautifully and the music would crescendo while a burst of sunlight broke through the clouds and illuminated the joy in our glowing faces.
In real life I was by myself sitting on my toilet at 7am and I was a hot mess.
It was a Wednesday in early April, I woke with a start after a vivid dream and I knew. I was only two days late but I knew with 100% certainty. The sun was barely up and my husband was still snoring heavily next to me. I watched his chest rise and fall, watched his eyes twitch a little and wondered what was going on in those dreams of his. I thought about how after today he would wake up feeling different for the rest of his life.
Walgreens was almost empty. The pregnancy tests were locked up. I had to find an employee to access them and as I squirmed as she fumbled with her keys she smiled at me. I beamed back, already glowing. At the register the woman looked me directly in the eyes as she scanned my two items: the test and a giant bottle of Perrier. "I hope it is whatever you want it to be, hon," she said. I almost cried. "Me, too," I managed. Me, too."
I downed the whole bottle on the five minute drive back and when I arrived home drank a few more glasses of water and waited for the urge to go, antsy and anxious with anticipation.
I have played a lot of waiting games in the past six years, most of them in France. Waiting for trains, waiting for visas, waiting for paperwork to go through so I could finally work. Never in my life has waiting been so excruciating as the few minutes a pregnancy test takes. I left the test in the bathroom and huddled on the couch in the living room until the designated time had passed, shaking and mumbling incoherently to myself.
Why I didn't run upstairs to wake my husband before looking I will never know. We had taken so many tests in the months prior and every time my heart broke a little when I saw his face. My heart fell crooked on its own with each negative, but knowing that he was disappointed, too, made the hurt worse. It was easier for me to compose myself and face him with a bit of time to cushion the blow than with my head shaking "no" as I walked out of the bathroom and soon thereafter my body shaking with sobs as he comforted me.
Seeing those two pink lines felt different than I had expected. It was utterly overwhelming. I started shaking and crying uncontrollably, obsessively checking the box to make sure I was reading it right. "One line, negative; two lines, positive," I kept repeating under my breath. "One line, two lines," I counted. And again. And again. I took a second test, and when two pink lines showed up again, I found myself sobbing on the toilet for a good twenty minutes. I would finally calm myself down, then disbelief would creep in and I'd check the box again to make sure the directions hadn't somehow changed in the five minutes that had passed. The crying would start up again and I'd wonder how in the hell I was supposed to keep it together long enough to tell my husband, which would just make it worse.
I called one of my best friends for help. "Are you sure I'm reading this thing right?" I asked. I sent her a picture of the little window with the two pink lines. "Oh, yes!" she replied. "That is the darkest line I have ever seen on a pregnancy test. You are definitely pregnant!" Hearing it from someone else made it seem a little more real. I realized I had told someone before my husband that we had created a new little person together and instantly felt the most guilty I ever have in my entire life. I had to find a way to tell him that he would never forget.
I tried to wait patiently for him to wake, but my husband is a sleeper. If he could, he would sleep sixteen hours every day. I made it to 10 or 11 o'clock and couldn't take it anymore. I ran upstairs and woke him with a kiss, trying not to let him sense my excitement. It was easily one of the hardest conversations I've ever had. I could not look him in the eyes or I knew I would lose it, so I focused all of my attention on the comforter, counting the folds and stitches in an attempt to distract myself.
We had just recently moved into a new house in a new neighborhood and my husband's family in France had not yet gotten the tour, so I told him I wanted to make a video to show them our new home. He seemed confused as to why this needed to be done first thing in the morning, before eating breakfast, but after a bit of persuasion he acquiesced.
The camera was set up facing the couch where we sat awkwardly facing each other. With the camera rolling, I am obviously nervous; there is anxious tension in the air between us, which is uncommon and makes the whole scenario seem even more unreal than it already is. I ask him casually what he thinks of the new house. He looks at me sideways either annoyed or suspicious and answers he likes it just fine. I reach under a pillow sitting between us where I have carefully hidden the evidence and hand him the pregnancy test wrapped up in toilet paper and ask him what he thinks of this. His jaw drops. He looks up and me, back down at the test, back up at me. "Does this mean...?" he starts. I nod and start crying. "You're going to be a Papa," I say. He starts crying. We kiss. It is epic. We embrace. He turns to the camera and asks if we can turn it off now.
That is finding out you're pregnant.