When I purchased a pregnancy test, my first ever, it was on Cinco de Mayo. My period was about one week late, and I spent everyday of that week convincing myself I was being paranoid and wasn’t really pregnant.
So by the time I was ready to snatch the Band-Aid off and buy a pregnancy test, taking it was nothing more than a way to clear my mind of what was the faintest of possibilities. It was the responsible thing to do before I went out drinking.
After all, my fiancé, Donzell (Zell) Floyd, and I were three months away from the wedding we had been planning for nearly a year. My liquor list was set. Our honeymoon was booked. My dress was hanging in my closet.
I couldn’t be pregnant, but that’s what flashed across the indicator screen of my pregnancy test: “Yes.”
A positive pregnancy test and a wedding
I couldn’t believe it. I smiled, but it wasn’t a happy, celebratory smile. That came later. This was more like a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-smile.
I chuckled a bit then looked in the mirror. I didn’t know what I was feeling exactly. I knew I wasn’t angry, sad or embarrassed, but I also wasn’t excited or jumping for joy.
I was feeling one of the in-between emotions that is usually difficult for me to pinpoint. But whatever it was, I knew I wanted to remember it. I took a picture of myself with my cell phone then asked Zell, who was driving home from work at the time, when he would be home.
I heard the garage door open before I noticed his response.
Telling my partner I was pregnant
I had him sit down, and I told him the news. I was secretly hoping that even though I didn’t feel immediate excitement that he did, but he didn’t. I was searching his face for some kind of clue as to what he was feeling, and I swear it’s like he felt exactly how I did – uncertain.
Only, I was angry at him for feeling that way, and I told him so. That’s the thing about me. I tend to say how I’m feeling no matter how trivial or unfair. I honestly can’t even remember how the discussion played out, but I remember feeling uneasy after the fact.
Although we had always talked about having our first child two years or so after getting married, I couldn’t be sure that my husband or I really wanted to be parents at that point.
In fact, I beat the sun up the next morning to take the pregnancy test a second time. Sure enough, I was pregnant.
Coming to terms with the pregnancy
Over the days and weeks that followed, my uncertainty grew into acceptance, which turned into subtle excitement, then pure joy. It wasn’t so much about being pregnant as it was about becoming a mother. I forced almost every other uncertain aspect in my life to fall in line. I started a registry, planned to turn our upstairs loft into a nursery and scheduled appointments with a seamstress to have my wedding dress let out.
Similarly, it seemed like any uncertainty Zell felt vanished the day of the first ultrasound, when he could see his teeny tiny baby for the first time. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes.
From that moment forward, he became irritatingly involved in anything related to the baby from what I was eating to how long I was standing for any given period of time. Although planning a wedding, honeymoon and new baby at the same time definitely brought its stresses, we were blessed to have an almost problem-free pregnancy – emphasis on almost.
Enters the words marginal cord insertion
I had a complication described as marginal insertion of the umbilical cord. That basically means the umbilical cord is not attached to the center of the placenta, where it should be. My doctors’ biggest concern was that the baby would not get enough nutrients, so I tried to be deliberate about what I was eating.
I forced down smoothies with spinach and yogurt, snacked on almonds and drank protein shakes.
The sitcom version of the pregnant woman delighting in satisfying over-the-top cravings was hardly my story. While I had always loved food, eating became a chore.
Pregnant while working
At the time, I was a breaking news reporter at a daily newspaper, and I would find myself so stressed out at work, left to balance as many as seven stories a day, that I would forget to eat.
This wasn’t exactly the dream job – with no benefits, maternity leave or paid time off – and I definitely didn’t have the dream boss.
I had the kind of boss who despite the workload, counted every imperfection like he was being rewarded in gold.
Still, I made it work because the big picture was: I was about to get married and have a baby.
That baby was the center of my focus for better or worse, and the better far outweighed the worse.
A new baby’s coming: for better or worse
The better: Zell and I planned a gender reveal celebration for our wedding reception. So when the time came, our loved ones threw thousands of baby blue petals in the air. We were having a boy.
The better: Soon enough, our little man was starting to kick and wiggle wildly as if we were dancing our own special dance together ever few minutes.
The better: I had few indications that our baby was anything but perfectly healthy.
But the worse: I almost fainted twice on our honeymoon when long walks on rocky beach and coliseum paths proved to be too much.
The worse: I couldn’t sleep, and the more time that passed, the more Zell and I had to do.
The worse: Our baby was underweight, and I was scared.
Surviving the fear of early labor
I was carrying so low that my doctor was worried that with a shift in my dilation, my water would end up breaking before I made it to the hospital.
She even sent me to the hospital for monitoring when I told her I was having light cramps and didn’t know whether they were contractions.
It cost me precious hours of sleep on a work night, and I wasn’t in labor. So when I felt light cramps around 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, I made no sudden movements. Other than telling Zell, I ignored the pains and continued with my night until they got sharper. By midnight, I couldn’t sleep or get in a comfortable position. It was clear I was in labor.
Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby
I chose to wait a few hours before rushing to the hospital to have the staff send me home for coming in too early.
So I emailed my editor and manager that I wouldn’t be coming into work, and I waited through the pain until just after 2 a.m. At that point, I had Zell drive me to the hospital.
We parked and took the elevator up to the labor and delivery floor, where Zell and I had preregistered weeks earlier. That clearly meant nothing. We still had to answer a bunch of questions and do paper work.
There were at least two other pregnant women in the nursing room, and I hoped they weren’t feeling what I was feeling. I’ll admit it wasn’t out of general concern.
I wanted to be moved to the top of the list and see a doctor sooner than them. No shot. Zell and I waited. I twisted and turned in my seat, stood up then sat back down. Nothing helped.
Finally, getting my epidural
Ten minutes passed, then 20, then 30, then 40. I told Zell to take me to another hospital because they obviously didn’t know what they were doing. He refused, trying to reason with me. That didn’t go over well, but I did not use a single curse word, a fact I’m very proud of. Instead, I waited for my turn in the delivery room.
When I got there and the nurse checked my progress, I was 5 cm dilated. She offered some silly mild drug that was supposed to help with pain. And when it did nothing, I opted for the magical powers of the epidural and finally got some sleep.
We’re having a baby!
I didn’t wake up until my doctor arrived just after about 9 a.m. She asked was I ready to push, and I said yes.
I didn’t have the guts to research childbirth in advance, and I had never seen it up close. So I didn’t know what to expect.
Even with the epidural, it was exhausting.
At every contraction, the doctor instructed me to push with all my might, and I did. After about three tries, she and my husband started saying how close I was and how great I was doing. I couldn’t understand if I was doing so great why there was no baby. The pushing continued for about an hour until the doctor said she would have to cut me.
I said, “oh, no” and started closing my legs, but ultimately I let her.
One more push, and I could hear my baby boy crying. Seconds later, the doctor put him on my chest, and I felt overwhelming joy and relief. He was healthy, and he was beautiful.