I’m 30-years-old, and for more than half of my life a pregnancy scare was something to avoid.
My mom told me so. Preachers echoed that sentiment, and I won’t even mention the movies and TV shows, which tended to treat teen pregnancy like heroin addiction.
Pregnancy was bad. Don’t even think about it as a teen. Avoid it at all costs in college, and stay clear of it before you get married.
So it’s only fitting that when my period was late for the first time, I felt a twinge of fear.
My first pregnancy scare:
Although I was engaged, I wasn’t married. I had just spent thousands of dollars planning my wedding and honeymoon, and my saving’s account was barely existent.
Still, I adjusted. I quit my job to care for my son. And notwithstanding the occasional mommy meltdown, I became a pretty good stay-at-home mom.
But having a baby doesn’t necessarily mean you want to keep having them.
I’m not ready to be a mom of two.
So imagine how I felt when I left my birth control behind on a trip to Chicago and stomach pains followed.
I played through the what-ifs for a few days. What if I’m pregnant and have to take on a toddler and a newborn? What would that mean for my writing career? How would my family afford it on one income?
The pregnancy scare was real, but I’m no teen.
I’m a grown woman. I wasn’t about to give in to the fear or avoid the thought entirely. I refused to be in the dark about my own body.
I needed a pregnancy test.
So on the way home from one of my weekly trips to the library with Donovan, I stopped the car at a local Dollar General store. I unbuckled the baby, plopped him in the back of a bright yellow shopping cart and proceeded to search the store aisles for pregnancy tests.
I probably looked aimless moving from toiletries to feminine hygiene products to makeup, but, I definitely had an aim.
I just wasn’t ready to announce to the whole store that I was dealing with a pregnancy scare. Consulting an associate would be doing exactly that in my mind. So I continued to search the aisles.
“Why don’t they keep pregnancy tests next to the maxi pads and tampons,” I thought.
I passed razors, cotton balls, lip glosses and medicines on a ride Donovan found greatly entertaining. He reached, stood, bounced and cooed as I searched.
I felt ridiculous reading deodorant labels like they would magically reveal pregnancy indicators.
So after a second trip down the same female hygiene aisle, I gave up my independent search and headed toward the checkout counter to ask for help.
It turns out I wasn’t completely wrong about the checkout lady.
I watched her loudly ask another customer about to leave the store if he had found everything he needed. He told her no. And when she asked what he needed, he hurried closer to the counter to whisper what I just knew had to be condoms.
Poor thing. He had nothing to be ashamed of, but I totally understand the need to whisper. Buying condoms, or a pregnancy test for that matter, is one thing. Revealing to strangers that you’re buying them, that’s a whole other ball game.
Still, the man took the associate’s advice to look in the back aisle, and I worked up enough courage to ask where I could find a pregnancy test.
I was proud of us both.
Even though I didn’t hang around to see if the guy purchased his condoms or what have you, I got my $1 pregnancy test.
It was a no-thrills, old school test that relied on one line to indicate you weren’t pregnant and two to say you were.
I read the directions, stuck a cup of noodles in the microwave and went to the bathroom to do the deed.
I wasn’t nervous or excited. I mean, I had just survived the store experience, so I felt like I could conquer anything.
I watched as one line appeared, seemingly in seconds, and I forced myself to wait a little longer before I accepted the result.
Pregnancy scare over. I’m not pregnant.
I should feel relieved, proud even. I was facing a pregnancy scare, and not only did I deal with it head-on. I came out victorious.
But even as I type the words, hours after getting the result, I’m a little disappointed. I know more than I did the first time I found out I was pregnant.
The residual pregnancy panic would fade. I would have nine months to prepare. And in that time, I would make space for the new baby. I would decorate. I would organize. I would give up some things and hold others closer.
Sure, I would change, but I would also keep the important parts of myself. I would love more fully, cherish more intently and give more generously.
I would become someone’s mom again. And now that I think about it, that’s not something to fear at all.