newlywed in her twenties tells her parents she’s pregnant, they squeal and hug,
jump up and down and start decorating the nursery. When an over-40 mom with a history of
miscarriages tells her parents she’s pregnant, it gives them anxiety. “OK, I
guess,” they say. “Keep us posted.” This
is the limbo I’m living in right now. I’m technically pregnant, but at my age,
the odds of winding up with a baby are not in my favor. Still, I persevere.
test positive at home, my next step is a blood test at the doctor’s
office. Not only does it confirm the
pregnancy, but it measures my HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels so we can find out
if they are doubling every two days — a sign of a healthy pregnancy. Historically, my HCG levels have been terrible. The first reading will be pathetically low,
fail to double, then plummet back to pre-pregnancy levels. Game over.
I’m technically pregnant, but at my age, the odds of winding up with a baby are not in my favor.
thing is, there’s nothing that I — the slightly pregnant lady — can do to change the outcome. The egg is either healthy or it’s not, and
only time will tell. Sure, I can stop
drinking booze and make sure I take my prenatal vitamins, but once the horse
has left the barn, it’s mostly out of my control. I hate feeling out of control.
miracle, this time, my first blood test reading is well over 100 — a normal level
for someone at my early stage of pregnancy. I’m off to the races! As grateful
as I am for a glimmer of hope, it also means I’m climbing aboard an emotional
rollercoaster. I must wait 48 hours for
the next blood draw, and then six more hours to get the results, with my phone
cranked up to top volume, glued to my palm, waiting. Then comes the news.
I call my
husband at work. “Honey,” I whisper-yell. “It doubled.” Our victory dance
is subdued, for we know we must do this wait-and-test mambo one more time. Incredibly, my levels double yet again. Now the embryo will be big enough to see on
office waiting room is packed with nervous couples. I try to guess who is
trying to conceive vs. who is actually pregnant. I exchange a sly smile with one woman, who
confides that she’s here for her first ultrasound. “Me too,” I tell her. “Good luck.”
expectations, our doctor explains what he’s hoping to see on the ultrasound: at
a minimum, a gestational sac. If we’re
lucky, a heartbeat. The last time I saw
a heartbeat was four pregnancies ago, when we conceived our daughter. A heartbeat is my dream.
get an ultrasound, there’s always a weird moment when I have no idea what I’m
looking at on the screen. A 1970s UHF
television station? A math problem? A poltergeist? Then it appears. A tiny oval, and inside it, a blinking light. Heartbeat. But my shocked gratitude has barely registered
when our doctor gets that frowny look he gets when things aren’t going right. He busts out a stopwatch and starts counting,
“One, two, three, four …” I don’t know
what or why he’s counting.
heartbeat’s slower than I want it to be,” he explains. “I wouldn’t start telling people about the
baby just yet.”
How I long
to be that 20-something newlywed, decorating her nursery, blissfully ignorant
of all the things that can go wrong.