As overjoyed as I was to learn I had conceived so soon after miscarrying and to see such an amazingly dark line, it was quickly tempered by fear, worry, and doubt.
This time around was vastly different from the first. Instead of dizziness, I had annoying headaches. Instead of being quite sleepy, I felt wide awake. The line on the pregnancy test was dark and stark instead of pale and almost invisible. I couldn’t help but worry that something was going to go wrong.
My friends knew I had lost my first pregnancy and they stepped carefully around me when the topics of kids and pregnancy came up. They knew me well enough to know I would tell them when I was ready if I was pregnant or not. It was well-known that my plan was to have a baby between our third and fourth years. I did mention, in passing and only once, that I had gotten a positive pregnancy test. But the end of the semester was right around the corner and we had finals and papers due. It was a very busy time.
I wanted more than anything to make it known I was pregnant, especially around my friends who were mothers. But I was scared. What if I lost this baby, too? What if something went wrong? What if the egg didn’t implant properly? What if it ended up being an ectopic pregnancy?
My biggest fear was a phantom pregnancy. Being a psychology student, I was no stranger to phantom symptoms. I had heard cases from my classmates that some women had every sign of pregnancy, including a positive test, but no ultrasound evidence of one. Every symptom was there, but there was no baby.
What if there was no baby?
I wouldn’t know for sure until our 8 week scan.
Because of my miscarriage, my OB ordered a blood test when I was 5 weeks along. I sat in that chair with my husband beside me, hoping and praying I wasn’t having blood work done only to find out there was no baby. I silently plead that there really be a baby. That’s how much I hate needles.
My semester had just ended and my husband and I were about to spend two weeks with my family in California, all the way across the country from where we lived. I wanted to see my parents, but I was nervous about spending Christmas with my entire family. I was afraid we would let slip I was pregnant, especially as my grandmother took every opportunity to ask when we were going to have a baby. I was determined to not announce it until I was sure there was a growing baby.
The trip also meant I would be across the country when the results of my blood work were returned.
To this day, I have the voicemail from the OB’s office saved on my phone. The test results were positive and looked really, really good. Congratulations. We were pregnant.
Still, I fretted.
What if there was no baby? What if it was a phantom pregnancy? What if I was wishing so hard for a baby that I had every sign and symptom, but no baby?
The exhaustion finally hit at around 7 weeks. I found myself lying down on the couch and falling asleep a lot. I had headaches almost every day. My appetite had tanked. Though there was one evening where I wanted a box of Kraft mac and cheese so badly, but didn’t want my husband to leave me to get it, that I started crying and laughing. It took forever for me to explain what was going on. It was my mom who assured my slightly terrified husband I would be okay with her and to just go get the box.
As determined as I was to remain tight lipped, I had a massive headache that wouldn’t go away one evening. I was wary of taking any drugs, so I just suffered through them. But this one was interfering with everything. My husband was so worried that I told him to call one of my cousins. She was a doctor and a mother. If I was going to trust anyone, it was going to be her. She just had to be sworn to secrecy. I have never been so happy to take Tylenol in my entire life.
Too soon, the two weeks were over. It was Thursday and time to head back to Philadelphia.
We got lucky; it was snowing and my husband’s work was closed the following day due to the snow. I was newly turned 8 weeks pregnant and we were able to schedule our 8 week scan for that Friday. The moment of truth had come.