Expectations: Test Anxiety


Read previous posts from Expectations here.

Following an IVF transfer, the usual protocol is to come back to the doctor after 10 days for a blood test to see if you’re pregnant. I’m not sure why this is, unless the logic is that if you can’t get pregnant under your own steam, why should we trust you to pee on a stick correctly? Anyway, obviously Charlie isn’t going to fly back to Tucson to get blood drawn, so he tries to schedule a test at the clinic in Denver that did his pre-IVF monitoring.

They want the clinic in Tucson to order the test. “Well, we can, but honestly, you could just take a home pregnancy test,” the Tucson IVF coordinator points out.

“Should I?” Charlie asks me. It’s been almost a week since the transfer.

“I think you should wait,” I say. “Even if you are pregnant, it probably wouldn’t show up on a test yet anyway. And if you see a negative it’s going to really bum you out, and then you’ll have to take another test in a few days, so why not just wait?” The truth is, I expect to be disappointed and I’d rather put it off. I’m trying desperately not to get my hopes up, already telling myself it will be okay, we still have two more frozen blastocysts.


Charlie wants to buy a test anyway, but the Walgreens near our house is out of the First Response brand that’s supposed to give the most accurate results this early. (Obviously Charlie isn’t going to just walk into a drugstore and buy any old pregnancy test. He researched this shit. I believe a spreadsheet was involved.)

“It’s a sign,” I say. “Just wait until 10 days and then we’ll go buy a test somewhere. If it’s sitting around the house you’re going to be that much more tempted to use it.”

“Okay, fine, I’ll wait,” Charlie says. It’s Tuesday, exactly a week after the transfer, and we go out that evening with some people from Charlie’s work. I’m drinking margaritas, but Charlie is drinking seltzer because he has to act as though he’s pregnant until proven otherwise. When we get in the car to head home, I’m pleasantly tipsy and looking forward to falling into bed, but Charlie turns the car in a direction I’m not expecting.

“Where are you going?”

“There’s a Walgreens up here,” he says. “I just want to check and see if they have the First Response tests.”

“You were going to wait!” I protest halfheartedly.

“I don’t have to take it tonight,” Charlie says. “I just want to have it around for whenever I decide I actually can’t wait any longer.”

“Sure,” I say. This Walgreens has the test Charlie wants. In my mildly inebriated state I want to buy ice cream too, but Charlie is much too focused and efficient for me to distract him.

As I’m starting to get ready for bed, Charlie says, “I can’t stand not knowing. I’m taking the test tonight.” He disappears into the bathroom with the test and comes out a moment later.

“I have to wait five minutes before I look at it,” he says. “It’s on the counter, but upside down so you can’t see the result. Distract me for five minutes and then we’ll look at it together.”

“Okay, well, I have to brush my teeth, so I might as well do that while we’re waiting,” I say, feigning nonchalance as best I can, but really my heart is pounding. I’ve stripped down to a bra and underwear in preparation for bed, and it crosses my mind that if I’m going to collapse into a sobbing heap on the floor I might want to be more fully clothed, but it’s too late now.

I brush my teeth as thoroughly as I ever have in my life, then drink more water than I really need. Charlie talks to me the whole time, but I don’t remember anything he says.

“Ready?” he asks.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready, but there’s no putting it off any longer. “Remember, no matter what happens, we have each other and everything is going to be okay,” I say.

Charlie nods. “One pink line is no, two pink lines is yes,” he reminds me, and then he turns over the test.

For a moment I think it’s a negative, but then I realize that there’s a second line there, faint but definitely present. “What does that mean?” I say, feeling totally disoriented. I didn’t realize until now just how hard I was bracing for disappointment.

“It’s two lines,” says Charlie. “It’s yes.” He’s smiling maybe the biggest smile I’ve seen on his face since our wedding day.


“Are you sure?” I say. “It’s so light.”

“It’s definitely yes,” says Charlie. “It doesn’t matter how light or how dark it is. Two lines means yes. I’m pregnant.”

“Pregnant,” I say. “You’re pregnant?” It comes out more like a question than a statement. I’m not sure I believe it. I don’t want to get my hopes up. What if it’s a mistake, a trick, a false positive?

“We’re going to have a baby,” Charlie says, and starts laughing. I start laughing too. There’s a feeling in my stomach like being at the top of a roller coaster, like free fall.

“We’re going to have a baby,” I say. It’s beginning to feel real. “Holy shit. You’re pregnant. Oh my fucking God, we’re going to be parents! I have to stop saying fuck so much!”

Somehow that’s the sentence that makes it real. Charlie and I are jumping up and down in our underwear at 10:00 at night, laughing and also kind of crying. I look at the test over and over again, saying “Are you sure? Are you sure?” Charlie is sure. Little by little, I’m becoming sure, too.

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