I’m still spotting but my period’s not here yet and I have only myself to blame for screwing up my cycle. I hate the damn pill. I think I might have to get one of those IUT or IUP whatchamacallits or that patch thing – something so I don’t have to remember all the time.
Major PMS is setting in and I’m completely aggravated with Adam. Not only was he totally unsympathetic to the whole Wendy thing and the Holiday Window Slaughter (“Don’t worry babe, you’ll get the job”), he’s engrossed with Tiger Woods. Adam works at Buckland Golf Course and Tennis Club as its director – golf all week – and then when the weekend comes, he’s what’s he doing?
“Come on, Tiger baby, get it in the hole!” he yells at the TV.
“I’m going out,” I snip, after Tiger makes the putt, even though I had my fingers crossed that he’d miss it, just to spite Adam.
“Where?” he asks, not taking his eyes off Tiger.
“Just want some fresh air. I’ll be back before the tournament’s over, don’t you worry.” I close the door, a little harder than necessary.
I walk quickly down the sidewalk, annoyed that everyone’s so happy. Why can’t everyone else be pissy when I’m pissy? Even the mail guy is chipper, greeting me as Mrs. McMillan, which pisses me off more. I’m not his damn mother, I want to yell.
After a long walk into town, which only makes me hot and even more irritated, I go into Walgreen’s and grab a two-dollar faux spring water most certainly from the mountains of Colorado. I feel cramps coming on so I head to the feminine product aisle because I am out of tampons.
When I get to the Aisle-Where-No-Man-Goes, my heart does this kind of “Oh God” thing, and I turn suddenly hot, then cold, then flushed again.
They are all lined up neatly, in their blue and white or pink and maroon boxes. They are little soldiers, taunting me, daring me to make a purchase. The urge comes over me to just buy a frigging test, take it and put my mind at ease already.
I do a quick, side-to-side, over-the-shoulder-glance-around to make sure I’m the only one in the aisle, then scan the rows and rows of boxes. I never knew there were so many types – tests that display plus signs, sticks that turn purple if pregnant, black if not. One brand is called Two Hearts where a pink heart appears if positive, and another brand that displays a YES or NO answer. It’s kind of like the Magic Eight Ball pregnancy test. I wonder if there are other answers like Better Luck Next Time, or Ask Me Later, or Should Have Used A Condom. There’s a get-two-for-the-price-of-one-test; one with a free condom inside, which makes me laugh out loud; and a kit with K-Y Jelly samples included.
I grab the Two Hearts test, because really, I think it’s the cutest of them all, with little pink hearts dotted all over the box – very cleverly designed. It’s the least expensive, and even includes a bonus test stick, which I’ll probably need because I’d be the person who drops the stick into the toilet or something equally stupid.
I head toward the checkout and freeze. I can’t buy just water and a pregnancy test! Everyone in the store will see I’m buying a pregnancy test! I have to camouflage this purchase so I do a quick mental inventory of things we need at home. I grab a four-pack of Charmin, a two-pound bag of Reese’s Pieces, a new razor for Adam because even his stubble is annoying me lately, a birthday card for Mom, People magazine (Paris Hilton, on the cover again), and a box of super-plus tampons.
Tampons and a pregnancy test – that’ll throw the clerk off. I consider buying a pack of condoms too.
With a surge of confidence, I take the items to the checkout and “Hello-My-Name-Is-Dottie” (who looks smashing in her poop-brown Walgreen’s smock) smiles at me with her smoker’s yellow teeth and bleeding pink lipstick. She doesn’t even look at my items as she scans them. She doesn’t give a damn what I’m buying! Thirty-four dollars later, I’m out the door, determined the pregnancy test was a waste of money.
At home, I shove the tampons and Two Hearts test in the closet, grab the Reese’s Pieces and the People magazine and settle in for some Hollywood gossip. Adam’s still watching golf and has said exactly two words to me since I got home: “Hi, Babe.”
I instantly cheer up after reading about Katie denouncing Scientology and teaming up with Brooke to educate women on Postpartum Depression. Ben’s having some marital problems and he and Jen are living on separate coasts for a while. And one of those top models has been put on a guava juice diet because she gained like four pounds and a swimsuit shoot in Australia had to be postponed. My life’s not so bad, I think, and I pop a few more Reese’s Pieces.
“Hey, what time is it?” Adam asks, eyes still glued to Tiger.
When I don’t answer, he turns his head away from the television and checks the clock. “We’re supposed to meet Paul and Jolene at five!”
“Well, you better get your ass off the couch and go take a shower. And here, while you’re in there, go shave. That stubble is doing nothing for me.” I toss him the razors I just purchased.
* * *
Paul waves us over to the table when we arrive at the restaurant, and Jolene is smiling ear-to-ear, probably ready to regale me with tales of the twins. Paul and Adam went to high school together, he was our best man, and now he’s a big-shot lawyer. We used to see Paul and Jolene pretty regularly, but there was a shift in our relationship, ever since I went running out of their house the first time we met the twins, almost two years ago. We see them about every four months, and frankly, it’s tiresome, listening to Paul talk about his latest deposition, and having to endure Jolene talk about Hugo and Sloan. I still can’t understand why they chose dog names for their children.
We exchange hugs, and Adam apologizes for being late.
“We ordered a bottle of white,” Paul offers, and I accept a glass graciously, thinking we’ll need another pretty quickly. Jolene pulls out pictures of the boys, and Paul and Adam start talking about Tiger’s performance earlier. I am faced with Jolene and her photos.
“Did I tell you Sloan’s over the charts in height and Hugo’s in the ninetieth percentile for weight?”
What the hell does that mean? “Oh, really.”
Paul and Adam are having a debate on which college basketball team has the best forward, so I’m stuck listening to Jolene, who’s onto breastfeeding. I drink my wine and am glad when things get a little fuzzy because I so do not want to hear about Jolene’s blocked milk ducts.
“I really should have stopped after one glass of wine. Now I’ll have to go home and pump and dump!” She laughs, easily amused, but I have no clue what she’s talking about, and Jolene realizes this.
“Oh, I guess I didn’t know about it until I started breastfeeding.”
I turn my head to see if anyone has heard her. It’s embarrassing. She’s loud and she’s slurring because she’s had like one and a half glasses of wine.
“Pump and dump is when you get rid of the milk in your boobs after drinking a few cocktails so the alcohol doesn’t get passed to the babies. I’ll go home and use my pump, then I’ll toss out the tainted milk – pump and dump.” And she laughs like it’s the most humorous thing she’s ever said.
I am dumbfounded by this whole phenomenon, and then consider how strange it is she’s still breastfeeding her children when they are practically two already.
“So, what about you guys?” Paul asks, looking at Adam and then at me.
“What about us, what?” I ask.
“When the two of you going to get on the baby bandwagon like the rest of the world?” Paul asks and proudly puts his arm around Jolene. Me man. Me knock up wife.
I reach for my wine and take another sip.
“We’re talking about it. We’re thinking about it,” Adam says, reaching for my hand under the table, which I reject. I know he’s hoping for a reassuring comment from me. I respond by finishing my wine.
Jolene perks up, “Don’t wait too long, guys. You know those eggs start to rot after you hit thirty or so, and sperm starts to lose it’s oomph after a while too.”
Our entrees arrive and suddenly my linguine with scallops in cream sauce doesn’t look so appealing.
* * *
It’s Tuesday. The test has been in the closet since Saturday, right next to the box of super-plus tampons. I haven’t used either yet. I have, however, devoured the entire two-pound bag of Reese’s Pieces, a dead giveaway that my period will be here soon.
Oh God, oh God, please, please God.
A thin layer of urine spreads its way through the test stick and onto the result windows. Everything looks purplish-pink, like watercolors with mixed-up paint.
In a state of panic, I had ripped open the Two Hearts box, took out one of the foil-wrapped sticks and peed on it without reading the directions. My heart is banging in my chest, my palms are clammy, and my forehead is hot. As I watch the windows swirl with a faint purple color, I glance at the instructions and wonder if maybe I hadn’t peed enough. My hands shake as I check my watch. I’m supposed to wait three whole freaking minutes.
In one window, a faint outline of a pink heart appears and I momentarily freak, scared because I don’t know which window is the YES and which one is NO. Finally, I match what I see on the stick to the instruction page and get the result.
The one I was hoping for.
Negative. Negatory. No. Nada.
I toss the stick into the garbage can, exhale loudly and flop onto my bed. I thank the good Lord for His divine intervention.
“What’s this?” Adam asks, leaning over my chair. He’s holding the Two Hearts box and the stick I threw away hours ago. I put down People.
“Just a test. My cycle’s screwed up, but it’s okay. It was negative.”
As soon as I say it, I realize it’s not okay with Adam, because he wants us to be pregnant.
“Why are there two hearts on the stick? Doesn’t that mean something?” Adam shows the stick to me, and there, in both windows, are faint outlines of pink hearts, barely visible but kind of there. My heart does a little freaky “oh shit” thing, but then I remember what I read on the box.
“The instructions said the result is immediate, and when I looked at it exactly three minutes after I peed, there was only one heart in the control window,” I explain.
“Come on, don’t be bummed. We’ve got time. We’ve got plenty of time to have children, just not this month.” And not next month or the month after that either.
“Look, we’ve got our vacation coming up, then Christmas. And I’ve got to concentrate on the holiday windows. That’s my main concern right now. I can’t let Wendy get my position. It’s just too important for my career.”
Adam looks at me like a beaten puppy, all sad-eyed and pathetic. I kind of want to kick him in the face. He’s being ridiculous. Hell, he’s acting like a woman.
The next night, Adam and I are at our favorite Italian restaurant, Cosa Mia, sitting in a cozy little booth, with checkered tablecloths, and cheesy ruby-red glass candle votives on the center of the table.
“Can you give me until April?” I ask.
Adam looks up at me, midway into a forkful of linguini, and he makes this strange sound like he’s either asking me a question or choking. I figure he’s not choking or else he would have given me the international sign for choking, so I continue.
“My annual check-up’s in April. I’ll talk about it with Dr. Keller then. Maybe get a prescription for those vitamins Jana talks about. I’ll feel much better if we can hold off just a bit longer.”
He sips his wine, looking at me, skeptically.
“Is this okay with you? Can you wait for a little bit more?” I ask.
“If that’s what you want,” he says.
Of course that’s what I want. That gives me seven months. That gives me our anniversary in Jamaica, Christmas, time to transition into my new job. Time to be me for a while longer.
Adam’s smiling at me, and I’m suddenly happy I’ve come to this decision.
“Are you sure about this Elle? I don’t want to jump into it unless you are positively certain. I mean, are you sure I’m the right one for you?” He gives me an exaggerated wink but I can tell he’s pleased. He calls to an imaginary waiter. “Sir, more wine here, please! We’ve got something to celebrate! My wife might actually let me impregnate her someday!”
We drink more wine and talk about the possibilities ahead, and I begin to relax. I’ve stalled him. I can concentrate on work. I’ve got a plan in place, and I can look at things with some perspective. April is a long ways away. It’s plenty of time to ready myself for pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood, puking, weight-gaining, sleepless nights, crappy diapers, midnight feedings, a squawking baby…
Yes, waiter, more wine please.
Since it appears I’m really going to get serious about this pregnancy thing, I need to call Sarah, my best friend. She and Jetson already have two kids and live in Montana where they run some sort of a ranch. She’s a great mom, plus she got her degree in psychology, not that she’s doing anything with it taking care of animals at a ranch, but I know she’ll give me some sound advice, and help me sort through my anxieties.
Sarah and I met freshman year in college, while we were rushing sororities and she convinced me to accept a bid from Delta Gamma Pi. If I hadn’t met her, my college experience would have been completely different, and I might not have met Adam, either.
It was Sarah who suggested we take Women in Literature as an elective, and that’s where I first saw Adam. Right away, I knew he was sensitive, because what insensitive guy would take a course like that? He was also cute, wearing a baseball cap, faded Levi’s, navy blue GAP t-shirt. Sarah and I started following him after class and I found out he lived at the Sigma Chi house, went to the library to check out Golf Digest, and was a regular at O’Leary’s Pub.
I started dragging my sorority sisters to O’Leary’s.
“Why are we going here again?” Sorority sister Megan would ask each time we headed to O’Leary’s for happy hour.
Sarah would say, “Because she’s hot for Adam, so we have to go.”
I’ve loved Sarah ever since. She just got me.
At O’Leary’s, there was always a fun crowd, and rarely any fights ever broke out, like they did over at the Neanderthal bar Havoc, where the only chance a guy would buy you a beer was on dime beer night.
One night, a bunch of us girls gathered at O’Leary’s and had monopolized a couple tables up front. I started showing off my one beer-drinking talent which was pouring my beer backwards into my mouth without the cup touching my lips. I usually only attempted this when I was well on my way, and this particular night, we had garnered quite a crowd.
Adam walked up to our table and said, “Cool trick. Can you teach me?” I felt my heart do double-triple flips. He and his buddies sat down with us and we laughed and drank, and one-upped each other on our worst drinking adventures. At last call, we ended up singing a glorious rendition of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” before the lights were turned way up signaling closing time.
Adam looked directly into my eyes and asked, “So, Irish Eyes, what should we do now?”
We ended up back at my apartment. Not a lot of sleeping went on that night, and aside from one short breakup the following year when Adam needed to put our relationship “on the back burner,” and I shed the fastest twelve pounds in my life, we’ve been together ever since.
At the end of the semester, I got a C- in Women in Literature, but I always joke that at least I succeeded in getting my “MRS.” degree. Those sloshy late nights at O’Leary’s weren’t some of my proudest collegiate moments, but it did land me my husband.
I call Sarah on a night when Adam’s going to be late because Adam gets annoyed at how loud I get when she and I are on the phone.
Andrew, my Godson, answers the phone.
“Heh-wo.” He says in typical three-year-old fashion.
“Hey Drewy, how are you?”
“Auntie Ellie, Aunt Ellie!” Sarah insists the kids call me Aunt Ellen. I cringe when I hear it because I imagine the children Jana longs to have are the ones who should be calling me Aunt, but I’ll take being called Aunt Ellen over Mrs. McMillan any day. That’s Adam’s mom for Christ’s sake.
“Wanna heah my A B Thees? A b thee defghijklmno…P…pee pee… I make pee in tha potty.”
“Andrew honey, get your momma.”
Four minutes later, three more rounds of ABCs, a detailed description of his afternoon poop, and a quick chat with his sister, Charlotte, who can’t even speak yet, and finally, Sarah picks up the phone, out of breath.
“Hey, sorry! I was folding laundry; didn’t hear it ring. I didn’t even know what was going on until I heard Char beating Drewy over the head with the phone.”
“I thought she was playing her toy drum.”
We laugh, and continue to do so, especially when I ask her how the cows or mules or whatever they’ve got on the ranch are doing.
“Horses, Ellen, they’re horses we’re raising.”
“Sarah, come on, we all know you’re raising children, not horses!” And I figure this is the perfect segue into my unforeseen and skeptical future as a mother.
“Speaking of children…”
“No, no, no.” It freaks me out to even hear her say this. “But, we’re going to start trying.”
“That’s great! I’m so happy for you. When do you ovulate?”
“What do you mean? You’re not starting now?”
“I still need time,” I sort of whisper.
I relay all my worries, and she and I talk for two hours.
“It will be the best thing you’ll ever do,” Sarah says. “You have no idea how wonderful it is to be a mom. And don’t think of it like you’re losing a part of yourself. You’re not. Well, you kind of do in the beginning, because at first, you’ll be pregnant and all the attention will be focused on you, and then pop! Out comes this baby. And by the way, I won’t tell you how much it terribly hurts, because if I told you, you’d say forget it. But anyway, after you have a baby, you do lose a part of yourself, but you can get it back. It just takes a while. You spend all this time catering to this tiny being’s needs. Demands, really. And then, at the end of the day, there’s nothing left for yourself, or for your husband. Of course, this is all in the beginning. You know, the first ten or eleven months after you have a baby, but then, everything starts flowing. It flows a little more slowly and maybe in a direction other than you thought it would be flowing, but still, you’ll get used to everything and you’ll be fine.”
“Really?” I ask.
“You really will. And I know you’ll be an awesome mother.”
As much as I want to believe my best friend, I have tremendous doubts.