I apologize to the millions of couples with infertility issues who may inadvertently read this. This is not your club and though I would not want to join yours, I offer sincere empathy.
This is about my perpetual pregnancy paranoia.
I am blessed with textbook periods; arriving like clockwork every 28 days. I have two children and I knew the exact day both were conceived. However, every month, until I feel the warm, comforting trickle of blood, I can’t relax because even with firm safety measures in order, I can’t think but hear the phrase my mother always repeated as a kid, “Even a stick shoots once a year.”
“My father got me pregnant by looking at me,” my mother would say, alluding to the ease of getting knocked up. My father, hearing her say this, would take this as a sign of his machismo and flex his biceps as a symbol of sperm virility.
As a teenager working at the donut shop, the evening-shift waitress Dotty would speculate pregnancy as the culprit to any of my teenage over-dramatized physical symptoms I hung on her ears as we wiped down the Formica counters with bleach.
Even something as ordinary as, “I have to pee” would yield a, “Maybe you’re pregnant.”
“I have a headache,” I’d say.
“Sounds like you’re pregnant,” she assured.
“My boobs feel sore,” I’d confess.
“Girl now it definitely sounds like you’re pregnant.”
I never had the heart to confess I was still a virgin at 15 while her daughter, following in her footsteps, was a teenage mom. She was the third generation of red-headed, freckled, loud-mouthed, buxom women who were inaugurated into the motherhood club at 15.
I’m 42 years old and happily finished with procreating. My family is complete with a 14-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl. “You have one of each assortment,” my grandmother often points out in the same breath as she says, “With children like yours, you should have a dozen.”
Yet every month, I hold my breath on expected period day, vigilantly visiting the bathroom waiting for the reassuring stain.
Earlier this month, I took a momentary sensation to an extreme “Imagine if…” scenario. (See Worst Case Scenario Club, which sometimes should be called “Impossible Scenario Club.”)
I was lounging by the rooftop pool enjoying the last days of summer, trying to read a book but I was distracted by what felt like a baby kicking inside my belly. I’ve had two full-term pregnancies and I distinctly remember the feeling of a baby fluttering.
“I know this sounds impossible,” I say to my husband, “but I really feel a baby moving in my tummy.”
“Can’t be. Must be gas,” he says.
“Can’t be gas,” I insist. “I don’t feel like I have to fart.”
“You haven’t missed a period; everything has been status quo.”
“I don’t want to end up being one of those ladies who doesn’t know she’s pregnant for six months or worse ends up popping out a baby – in a public bathroom no less!”
Our idiotic illogical conversation lasted 10 minutes before my husband opened his book and abandoned CrazyLand.
I wandered off into the worst case scenario club for a little, even going as far as Googling how early in a pregnancy you feel the baby kicking. When I read it was 14 weeks, I looked down at my belly and realized it would be a lot bigger, especially with a third baby. I relaxed – slightly – but didn’t actually relax until I got my period a week later. Last week on a run to the dollar store for a microfiber cloth, I noticed they have pregnancy sticks at just the right price for paranoia; appeasing my neurosis is totally worth a buck.