Thursday, July 12, 2012

What a positive test won't tell you

I took a pregnancy test this week.


I can't say I was surprised. But just in case it had been positive, I had given myself a pep talk before that epic first pee of the day.

"OK, even if it's positive, you have to understand, that doesn't mean you are having a baby. What that means is that a sperm met egg, and SOMETHING happened. Don't get any hopes up, because a positive test doesn't mean anything."

In spite of my pep talk, I still know inherently that more that a positive test does mean SOMETHING. But it doesn't mean what we all assume it means . . . that a healthy newborn baby will be in our arms in 9 short months.

I think before someone has a pregnancy loss (or maybe for someone who has not intimately known someone who's had a loss ), if they get a positive test it just means "HEY! I'm having a baby!" That positive test feels like a PROMISE.

That promise is what makes some women run out for an abortion because they didn't just pass some test -- it means there's a baby at the end of the deal, and for whatever reason, they aren't ready for that baby. For other women, it's a promise of a beautiful nursery, baby showers sparkling in pink or blue, and of course, a baby to lovingly sing to and rock to sleep.

For some women (like for me when I was pregnant with Maddy), that promise felt like a cruel joke and made me feel out of control. A baby was not in MY plans, at least not yet, and I very much rebelled emotionally from the little "alien" inside that caused me so much discomfort and completely usurped my plans. (I'm very happy and thankful for that "alien" now . . . it just took some time -- OK, all 9 months -- to accept this new plan.)

I think no matter how we FEEL about that promise, it still feels like a promise in the end.

Or maybe I should say, felt.

It doesn't feel like a promise of anything anymore. Except maybe that no matter the outcome, my heart is deeply involved, for better or for worse. And no matter if we end up with a baby or with heartache, my life will change.

Sometimes I do wish pregnancy tests would tell us more. Something like:

"So, you have a positive test. But . . . just so you know, in about 6 weeks, you are going to lose this little one. So you best be prepared, and don't get too attached."


"Yay, it's positive! And you are actually going to keep this baby! Yep, everything's healthy as can be, the baby's in the right spot, and things are moving along swimmingly. So, get your life in order, because there will be a new addition to your family that you are actually going to keep!"


"I hate to be the one to tell you this, but while you are pregnant, and you are going to go full-term, your baby will not be going home with you. Start reading greiving books. Find a support group of women that have been through this. And by all means, bond with this little one as best as you can, because your pregnancy will be the only memories you will be making with this child. "

But the truth is, ALL OF US who get pregnant get the same positive test. We all all believe (or at least desperately want to believe) that we will have a healthy little newborn that we can proudly hold, dote on, and dress up in the cutest Gymboree outfits we can afford.

I know for me, I felt like I was given the same promise as everyone else around me this past December. And so it's no surprise that I planned, I dreamed, and I acted as if I would have a newborn baby who should be arriving here in 3 weeks. And it's no surprise that since then I've felt empty and broken inside, like a part of my has been forever lost.

Because when I took that test, all it told me was that I was going to have a baby. And that positive test sure felt like a promise.

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