Friday, April 10, 2015

How do I even know I'm pregnant?

The first pregnancy is a long sea journey to a country where you don't know the language...
-Emily Perkins

I have worried so many times that the negative pregnancy test results I received over the years were actually wrong and that I was actually pregnant and I would surprisingly just go into labor one night. Too many I didn't know I was pregnant episodes, I guess. When I got the positive result, I was also skeptical.

How could this be? I mean, really? It didn't make sense. I felt like telling everyone, "We had a positive pregnancy test... we're checking into what this may mean." I showed Johnie the test and I showed my mom the test just to get their confirmation that it was, indeed, two lines. Unanimously everyone who looks sees two.

But I have been a little shocked by how eagerly everyone just accepted the news. I just said (or someone else said for me) basically, "I'm pregnant." And everyone just believed I was carrying a baby inside my body. I started getting presents for the baby within hours. (I already have a shelf dedicated to baby items in my basement.) Some people already had a feeling I was pregnant before I even knew myself. Some people already knew the sex of the baby. They even instantly began calling me mom, momma, little mommy, baby mama. Did they not need more proof of my impregnation, or especially of my mothering skills first? I sure felt like I did. I only had one friend who actually demanded (okay, not really demanded) to see the test with her own eyes. She was with me on not being able to believe it.

I was kind of afraid that I somehow wrongly took the test. That I would wake up one morning and things would be normal and I wouldn't be pregnant. And then I'd have to tell everyone, "Nevermind. I wasn't actually pregnant after all. Isn't that funny? I'm just going to hide now." I'd be the girl so stupid she didn't even know that she wasn't pregnant.

I even took another test two days later just to see if it was still positive. I was also a little worried because shortly after learning I was pregnant my short list of possible pregnancy symptoms vanished and I felt like I normally do. It was still positive.

Still though. I had heard of chemical pregnancies (though I'm still unsure what those actually are) and ectopic pregnancies and other types of pregnancies that trigger a positive test result but fizzle out quickly. How could I know I didn't have one of those types of pregnancies?

I scheduled a doctor's appointment and thought maybe that would help me be sure I was, in fact, pregnant. Even the lady on the phone when I scheduled the appointment congratulated me. (I guess we do just have to take people's word for it whether or not they are pregnant.)

Many of my friends assumed I'd have some kind of ultrasound during that first appointment. Maybe those things are common for first appointments, especially with first pregnancies and high risk situations? I really wanted to see inside my uterus. Babycenter told me the baby was only the size of a sesame seed, but I wanted to see that little seed with my own two eyes. How else could I know it was actually in there?

I tried to prepare myself for a disappointing appointment. Of not being able to hear the heartbeat yet because sesame seeds are so tiny. (Believe me, they're even tinier when you think of them as real live people... How anyone comes to be is a mystery to me.) I had even prepared myself for no ultrasound at all.

Which is what happened. No peek inside my uterus. No confirmation more sophisticated (in my opinion) than the one (two) I had received at home. And yet, having a doctor's official opinion of the reading of the test somehow made my pregnancy more legitimate for some people. "So you really ARE pregnant," they said.

Myself, I questioned the midwife's confidence in my condition. Because I am high risk, she scheduled an ultrasound to be conducted by a high risk OB the following week. "We will hear a heartbeat," she said. She said it just like that. It kind of scared me. I usually try to refrain from definitive statements. How could she be so sure? Do they teach you something in midwife school that allows you to just look at a newly pregnant woman and know the tiny little heart she's growing is beating? Or is there a third line for doctors' pregnancy tests that indicate "beating heart?" (If so, they really should have told me that.)

How was everyone else in the world more sure of this pregnancy than me? I didn't know. Maybe some sort of wisdom is imparted by people who are actually parents and they understand pregnancy better than us unexpecting (maybe that is a bad word choice) newbies.

At any rate, I took my appointment card and resigned to wait another week for some visual -- concrete -- confirmation of this tiny baby.