I used to think the most terrifying thing that could possibly happen to me was being haunted by a demon. When working at the cupcake shop that made me fat, one of the bakers told me that my manager had a demon that followed her around and messed with her all the time. She would come out of the bathroom to find a single cupcake in the middle of the tray squished, and the coffee pot in the kitchen would be giggling and saying “red rum” or something. I was pretty sure that was absolutely the most horrifying thing that could ever happen to someone.
I was wrong.
Thinking you’re pregnant is way scarier than that. The second you realize your period is late, a million things come flooding through your head. For me, that moment came at 8:00 a.m. in my friend’s grandmother’s guest room after I had spent the weekend flaunting my carefree youth through Mumford and Son’s Gentleman of The Road “stopover” music festival. I’m still not exactly sure what woke me up, it was either my other friend scream-whispering directions to said grandmother’s house to the young man that was giving her a ride back, or it was God slapping the shit out of me. I think it was God. I rolled over and checked the date on my cell phone. Sure enough, I was 3 days late.
I lay there for a minute trying to think of every unmarried couple I knew that successfully raised babies while still holding on to some semblance of freedom. I could only think of Ross and Rachel. I wasn’t convinced that this was a realistic example of responsible parenting. This made me panic, so I did what any self-respecting girl would do. I ran into the front yard so I would not wake up my friends or interrupt the grandfather’s puzzle he was working on and tried to wish my period into my pants. As I sat on the front steps of this kind elderly couple’s sanctuary, I couldn’t help but feel a little dirty as I googled “how to make your period come.” This was so Marilyn Monroe when I’d always thought of myself as so Jackie O. The Internet proved to be a wealth of information. All I had to do was eat a lot of celery, some exotic fruits, drink some ginger tea, go for a long run, apply a hot compress to my lower abdomen, and settle comfortably into the deepest state of denial I could possibly ever enter. I could do that. This brought me some comfort. My period would return on a ship made of celery and papaya and return everything to normal.
As I turned to walk inside, I caught a glimpse of myself in the glass door. Who was I kidding? This wasn’t Marilyn Monroe; this was Courtney Love. I had mascara smeared all over my face and a gerbil plantation forming in my hair off the side of my head. I was wearing a long Syracuse t-shirt that couldn’t have been mine and no pants. I was the picture of motherhood, if motherhood was like that movie Thirteen. I couldn’t deal with this yet. My period would come. I had just been “raging” too hard lately and it was blocking my reproductive cycle.
A few weeks passed and there was still no sign of Aunt Flo’. Every time I turned on the TV or drove past a billboard, I always saw something to the effect of “ARE YOU PREGNANT AND TOTALLY UNPREPARED? IS YOUR UTERUS BEING OCCUPIED BY THE AFTERMATH OF YOUR IRRESPONSIBLE LUST? TEEN MOM ISN’T SO FUNNY NOW, IS IT, JUNO?” A glimpse of realistic clarity was starting to break through the deep fog of denial that I had been comfortably hiding behind for weeks. I could no longer blame my lack of menstruation on moving to Texas, stress, giving up carbs, reclaiming carbs, my excessive cell phone use, the couple of times I did hot yoga, reading Fifty Shades of Grey, or Miley Cyrus. I had to take a test. I had to find out for sure or this was going to become that show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. Except I did know I was pregnant. I just wasn’t dealing with it. I decided it was best to pee on the stick in the guest bathroom as to not bring any bad juju to the master bathroom. I needed to have more periods there.
After I completed the pregnancy exam, I sat crisscross applesauce on the floor and stared at the stick until a faint pink plus sign appeared. It was so faint, actually, that I was sure it had malfunctioned. I grabbed the test and burst into the living room.
“Alex, look at this,” I said outraged as I tossed the urine christened test to my very calm and collected boyfriend.
“How am I supposed to tell what this is?”
We both agreed that there was only one way to determine if I was incubating our spawn. He would have to take the second test in the pack and see if it was clearer. While we waited for it to develop, I started frantically asking questions that I hoped would bring relief to my situation, such as: “Can I still pull off floppy hats if I’m a mother? Could I ever pull off floppy hats? Will this be more incentive for me to finish my degree? Is this a great excuse to learn the rules of football? Whatever happened to Ross’ son Ben anyway? Can I pull off floppy hats more than ever?” He didn’t answer. He was staring at the test in his hand. There it was. Clear as day. Negative as my Grandma. I was pregnant.
The interesting thing was that now that I knew, it wasn’t so scary. In fact, there wasn’t a doubt in our minds that we could do this. There was no doubt in our minds that we wanted to do this. Sure, the timing is off and I’d have to stop eating only microwavable foods, but as we sat there on the bathroom floor staring at the pink plus sign, I knew that everything was going to be okay. I also knew that cupcake demons were still the most terrifying thing in the world. But I hadn’t googled the word “episiotomy” yet.