Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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I was crying in the examining room.
The midwife looked concerned. "Has this happened to you before?" She meant the "faint line" on the pregnant test she'd just told me about.
I tried to wave away my tears with my hands. "No, no," I said. "I'm just emotional. But how can it be okay that I have a faint line? When I came here with my last pregnancy, the nurse said the line was nice and dark, and that it meant I was 'definitely pregnant.' So if the dark line was good, how can the faint line be fine, too?"
She didn't really answer this, other than saying that it was so early. But she did suggest getting bloodwork done, which would tell us more precisely what my hormone level was. If it was low, she said, they might have wanted me to come back two days later--if the hormone level doubles, you're good.
Long story short? The hormone level was low. And the nurse did suggest I come back in. But in the time it took to come home, tell Aron, and get the news from the nurse, I decided not to go back in to check my levels.
Why the heck not?
There were extenuating circumstances, for one: on the Friday they wanted me back in, the three of us were leaving for a cross-country plane trip. I could've squeezed in the appointment on the way to the airport, but the results would come in and the office would close before I landed. I even got so far as to hatch a plan with the nurse--she would leave a message on my cell phone, telling me the results. But then I had an image of myself, frantically dialing my voice mail as the plane taxied to the runway, and hearing something ambiguous like, "Well, they're still a little low, but we're not sure what that means" or "They seem good enough" or "I guess you're okay, then." (This was the same crotchedy nurse that, when she called to give me the bloodwork results, said: "Well, you're pregnant." To which I said, "Yay! You mean--there's no problem?" and she said--I am not exaggerating--"Well," she stammered, "Not yet.")
Then there was the whole idea that in a normal universe, a universe in which I hadn't had my annual exam a day before I was supposed to get my period, I wouldn't have even known I was pregnant yet. So the idea of running around to get test after test because of a faint line just seemed like too much. As a friend said, "It really puts the 'managed' in 'managed care.'" I felt like I already had too much information, and nothing I could do with it. I mean, finding out I had a lower-than-normal hormone level wouldn't make me do anything differently than I already was.
I got a midwife at the practice to call me back, feeling kind of guilty for all of the work I had just put the crotchety nurse through, scheduling my lab work at a place on the way to the airport, and putting my cell phone number in a "special place" where she wouldn't forget. (I came to think of her as Crotchety with a Heart of Gold.) It turned out this midwife was the one who had been telling the nurse to urge me to come in. When I went through my schpiel about it being so early, and I wouldn't even have known I was pregnant yet, she said, "So, are you having any symptoms of miscarriage? Spotting? Cramping?"
"No!" I said. "Nothing!" I tried hard not to yell this.
"Oh," she said. "Then you're probably fine. I've just had a tough week, with a lot of problem cases. I was probably transferring my worries about them onto your case. You're fine."
"Oh," I said. "So do you want me to do bloodwork when I'm back from my trip?"
"No," she said. "You're fine. Don't worry about it."
I've been trying to take the midwife's advice to heart. That, and the words of a good friend, who conveyed what her friends had told her when she was in exactly this situation: "Pink is pink, Katherine. Pink is pink."
Meaning: a positive pregnancy test is positive. That pink line shows up at all? You are going to have a baby. Forget about the rest. What good is it going to do you?
Now that I'm being more open about my pregnancy, I've found out that this back-and-forth at the beginning is pretty common. Going in for three, four, five tests, only to hear in the end what they really already knew... they're pregnant!
Like me. Even though the nurse had already said that doing a repeat home pregnancy test wouldn't tell me that the hormone level had doubled--which is what they wanted to see--I couldn't help myself when I was in a drugstore about five days later, and then couldn't wait until Aron got home to try.
And there it was: a solid, dark blue plus sign. (I thought about changing this blog's headline to "blue is blue," but it just doesn't have the same ring to it.)
"What are you doing, Mama?" Sylvia asked, seeing me stand in the bathroom, grinning.
"Just checking something, Syl," I said. "Just making sure."
Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.
Next week: Wasn't this supposed to be easier the second time around?