Read previous posts from Expectations here.
On the third day after Charlie’s positive pregnancy test, he goes back to the doctor for a second blood test. Even though he called ahead, somehow the test hasn’t been scheduled, so he has to wait around while they try to fit him in. On the plus side, to make up for the confusion, the doctor’s office rushes the test results, so within a few hours we know that Charlie’s hCG count has more than doubled since Wednesday. These are great numbers and indicate that our little Smidgen is growing right on track. I relax, but only a tiny bit. This early in pregnancy there are still a million things that could go wrong, and I don’t want to take it for granted and accidentally jinx us. (Of course I don’t believe in jinxes, but I still want to avoid them as best I can.)
Charlie’s sense of smell is getting more and more sensitive. He’s always hated avocado, but tonight when I sit down near him with chips and guacamole, he reacts like I’m spraying him with skunk juice. “Oh my God, I can’t stand to smell that. Can you go eat it in another room?” He also gags at the prospect of the leftover kale he made a few days ago, and he ends up eating cheese and crackers for dinner. We both find the nausea somewhat reassuring—supposedly morning sickness indicates a healthy pregnancy and less chance of miscarrying. (I’m trying to avoid any spoilers in this space, but I do want to note from my vantage point in the future that remembering a time when Charlie’s morning sickness was cause for excitement now inspires bitter, joyless laughter in us both.)
This weekend is my mother’s birthday. We’ve decided we want to tell our immediate family members about the pregnancy, though we’re keeping it a secret from everyone else until around the end of the first trimester, assuming we get that far. After spending an embarrassing amount of time looking up cute pregnancy announcements on the internet, we agree to tell my mom by giving her a scrapbook to fill with pictures of her first grandchild.
We use stickers to write “TBD King-Miller” on the cover. Inside, we stick photos of us on the airplane on our way to Tucson, giving the thumbs-up just before the transfer, and our first-ever baby picture, a hugely magnified photo of our beloved blastocyst. On the last page, we include a picture of the positive pregnancy test (which Charlie still hasn’t thrown out), along with the words “Coming in November.” I’m not usually a crafty person, but lining up pictures and borders and stickers, thinking about doing this in the future with actual photographs of our baby, is making me super happy.
Around this time, Charlie goes into intense planning mode, possibly to distract himself from not being able to eat very much. He schedules an ultrasound for next week to confirm that Smidgen is in the right place (ectopic pregnancy is slightly more likely with IVF) and not twins, emails several local midwives to set up interviews, and now he wants to buy a baby name book. Tonight, we venture out into rain and snow to Barnes & Noble, where we hunker down on the floor in the baby and parenting section and systematically look through every name book they have.
Charlie evaluates each book carefully and scientifically, making insightful comments about how they’re laid out and what information they include about each name. I flip through books at random and reject them if they contain stupid names. (Nope, you can’t name a child Flirt. That’s gross. Try again never.) Eventually we narrow it down to two choices, then buy them both. Baby names are one of the aspects of pregnancy I’m most excited about. I sort of hope Charlie is having twins so that we can come up with two baby names. Charlie does not agree with this assessment.
On Saturday morning, we have to go shopping, because the smell of my body wash has been added to the quickly growing list of things that make Charlie gag. To find a less offensive product, Charlie has to sniff every scrub and shower gel in Target. “This was a terrible idea,” he points out after smelling ten or twelve bottles and hating all of them. “I might actually throw up.” He doesn’t throw up. (Cue ominous horror movie music and the word: YET.)
That night is my mom’s birthday, and we go out for pizza with her and my brothers. Usually this is one of our favorite restaurants, but Charlie is barely eating anything. “Melted cheese is so gross,” he whispers to me when no one else is paying attention. “How did I never notice how gross melted cheese is?”
When my mom opens the photo album, she starts smiling. By the time she gets to the page with the positive pregnancy test, she’s beaming.
“Congratulations!” she says, hugging us both. She’s been dying to have a grandkid to spoil pretty much ever since my youngest brother stopped being a cherubically dimpled two-year-old.
My brothers aren’t very emotionally expressive, because they are dudes in their early twenties, but they seem happy as well. “You’re going to be uncles!” I say, trying to wring a little excitement from them.
“You’re not allowed to buy our baby alcohol or give it tattoos,” Charlie adds, sending the excitement back where it came from.
We ask all three of them not to tell anyone for the time being, including my dad, who we’re going to tell next week, and my sister, who lives in Chicago. We want to be the ones to break the news. My mom is slightly reluctant to promise to keep it to herself, but she agrees.
Telling people feels exciting, but also risky. I can’t help thinking: Now we aren’t the only people who will be devastated if this pregnancy doesn’t last.