Two bright pink lines. Clear as day – not even a little bit blurry as the label had said they might be. And that was only the first test.
When I’d finally mustered up the courage to take the second, I knew there was no denying it this time. A large, digital ‘YES’ stared back at me from the screen of that god-awful white stick.
I was pregnant.
With a deep, shaking breath, I shoved both tests back into the box and then stuffed the entire thing into the depths of my bag, as if the deeper it went, the less likely I was to have to deal with the problem.
I’d been nauseous for two straight weeks now. Not just in the morning either. If the wind even blew a certain smell in the wrong direction and I caught a whiff of it, my stomach was ready to empty itself. And this happened at least 5-10 times a day. But, until now, I had just chalked it up to my poor immune system and the fact that I was a first year teacher, likely to catch every single virus that came my way.
Until now, I hadn’t even considered this an option.
We’d been careful – I was on the pill and I took it regularly. I knew what the consequences were of missing even one dose. But, knowing of the consequences did nothing to help me when it came time to face them. It didn’t matter how safe we had been, and I was forced to come to terms with that when my bloodwork came back from the lab the following day.
The results only solidified what the tests had confirmed the day prior. I was already between six and eight weeks.
No matter which way I looked at it, or how long I spent considering the various options, there was one thought that I simply couldn’t shake.
I wasn’t ready.
Even with a salaried job in which I was employed by the state, I was still living paycheck to paycheck – and that was simply because what I made bi-weekly was just barely enough to cover rent, utilities, and groceries, let alone our phone and cable bills too. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the things I wouldn’t be able to afford once the baby was born and I was on an unpaid maternity leave. Then, there came the matter of space. Where, in our tiny 800 sq-ft apartment, were we going to find space for an entire nursery?
And, as if that wasn’t enough to take into account… I had to consider my own well-being.
Almost exactly two years ago, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. While my mood-swings were well regulated and I felt more in control over my emotions than I ever had, I knew that this new flood of hormones had the capability of setting me back one-hundred steps. How was I supposed to take care of my body physically, in these upcoming months, when it would be a daily struggle just to monitor my own mental state?
Not to mention the risks I may have to face once these nine months were up. I had done my research – and what I read, terrified me.
“Studies have found that women with bipolar disorder are more likely to have postpartum depression than either healthy women or women with major depression. The research indicates that anywhere from half to two-thirds of women with bipolar I or II disorder may face severe depression in the months after delivery.”
Over and over again, the thought kept circling in my mind. I can’t do this – I’m not ready. And I knew that meant I had made my decision.
Within twenty-four hours of me having taken that first test, with the help and support of my loving boyfriend and parents, and the kind, encouraging words of the nurse I spoke with over the phone, my mind had been made up. I would have one initial ultrasound, and then the following week – my procedure would take place.
All of this would happen before I was even 10 weeks along.
On the day of my ultrasound, a nurse took my vitals, as well as my height and weight (which had already increased 5 pounds since I’d last weighed myself) and explained to me the purpose of that day’s appointment. No one was there in an attempt to discourage me from going through with the decision I had chosen. It was simply their job to make sure that physically, everything appeared normal. For example, an ectopic pregnancy, or one that exists outside of the uterus, could cause major complications when it came time for the procedure.
But, everything seemed to be okay. So, I opted for the surgical route.
The week leading up to the procedure was a blur. There was the constant nausea – both from the pregnancy and the overwhelming anticipation of what was to come. And of course, the feelings of uncertainty, fear, and sadness, all intermixing with one another to create a tornado of emotions within me. Putting on a happy face, both for my students and fellow faculty members, in an attempt to keep my situation a secret, was the only thing keeping me together.
However, despite all of the negativity that surrounded the situation, I had to force myself to look at the positives or I knew that I would never, ever allow myself to relax. In reality, I was in what could be considered the “best-case-scenario” of an extremely difficult predicament. Because I had opted to be seen by my personal OBGYN throughout this ordeal, as opposed to visiting a clinic, my surgery would be performed by my own doctor at one of the top hospitals in the country, and it was being entirely covered by my insurance. Additionally, my doctor assured me that I would not be conscious during the procedure – I would be given a general anesthesia, which would put me under, unlike the local anesthetics given at most clinics. (Even now, post-surgery, I still shudder at the thought of being awake during something so invasive.)
And if that wasn’t enough to soothe my nerves, I kept reminding myself of the most important thing – I had support.
I had a boyfriend who told me, from the moment we discovered I was pregnant, that he would support whatever decision I made and would be there every step of the way. I had parents who even showed up during my surgery, so that I had more than just one familiar face to see when I woke up. And I had friends, who were awake at the crack of dawn to wish me good luck before I went in, and were immediately asking if I needed anything after.
I was not alone in this.