At some point in your life you’ve probably heard this… unless you live in the deep Southern United states or Kansas, but at some point in say… health class you heard this: “it only takes one time of unprotected sex to get pregnant.” Since my 13th birthday when my stepfather bought me a thee pack of Trojans and showed me how to use them on a banana, I’ve been convinced that that phrase was true. If you’ve even caught yourself not believing that phrase understand this, it’s 100% true.
I was famously against getting pregnant. It’s not that I didn’t want kids, I did want kids, just someday. Someday could be anytime not in the present. This is similar to how I’ve felt about many things in my life. I needed to get my increasingly out of focus eyes checked, but someday. I should get that rash checked out, but someday. That loud vibration the car makes when I turn the wheel hard, is probably serious, I’ll get that fixed someday. There was no doubt that I would marry my girlfriend of six years, but someday.
When it came to marriage I did want to get married, but I had an unwritten checklist of reasons not to. I couldn’t write them down or recite the list to you, I could just tell you as they happened. When our relationship came to a head my girlfriend posed the most convincing argument against my checklist, “there’s never going to be a good time to get married.” Within the month I’d proposed. When it came to babies, I was resistant to that logic.
I wanted to wait until we had a house, until we both had stable jobs, until my website secretly-important.com (shameless plug) was on it’s feet, until I was 30, until, until, until, until. It was like a single soldier guarding the walls of a castle against an entire army. The stone walls would keep them out for a time, but eventually they would be overtaken and that lone soldier would be trampled in the coming onslaught.
The way I look at it, had one of a dozen things gone differently during the year leading up to our pregnancy, it’s a good bet I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. But even as I sit here and write this story I’m still not sure what changed in me. My agreement was foolish but somehow made sense; “we’re not trying to get pregnant but we’re not stopping it either.”
There’s another phrase that you might also have heard before; “it can take up to a year to get pregnant.” Oh really? This is what my wife told me, and it was actually the perfect thing to sell me on the whole getting pregnant thing. Yes we would be trying, but it wasn’t going to happen today, it was going to happen… someday. And that someday could be in three months, nine months, a year, or even a year and a half. Here’s the thing about that phrase, it’s bullshit.
I’ll spare you the tawdry details of what occurred during the month of November. But I will say that it involved intercourse one time, (it was a very busy month for us.) Early on in the month my wife found her self in the emergency room with very concerning symptoms, blurred vision, slurred speech, loss of limb control, thundering headache. She was rushed from work to the hospital where I met her, and was horrified. She could hardly get words out to tell me what was going on or how she was feeling. The doctor was fairly certain that these were signs of a severe migraine, but just to be sure they were going to give her a CAT scan. Before that they gave her a pregnancy test, which came back negative. Remember that fact.
The weekend following Thanksgiving my wife had yet to get her period. This was a common occurrence, prior to our relationship she claimed to be very regular, but in the eight years we’d been dating this was never true. In college if her period was just two days late she began walking around the living room in tears holding her stomach saying “my body just doesn’t feel right, I can feel something growing inside.” We all know the story of the boy who cried wolf right?
I knew that there was no way she was pregnant, it defied nature, we had a pregnancy test done at the hospital and it came back negative. So that Thanksgiving weekend we attended a party and got absolutely shit faced, and when my wife mentioned that she might be pregnant I completely wrote her off, it just wasn’t possible.
That following Monday it was decided that even though I knew it was physically impossible, we should take a home pregnancy test. My wife went to the store after dinner and bought a box of three EPT home pregnancy test sticks. A Christmas Carol was on TV, a fact that I remember only because it was the awful Jim Carrey Robert Zemeckis version. This wasn’t the first time we’d taken a pregnancy test, in the past I’d always waited outside the bathroom door, my heart thudding through my chest cavity, my palms oozing sweat. This time I calmly did the dishes.
I can’t express to you how little I expected my wife to say what she said when she popped around the corner into the kitchen, “you’re going to be a Daddy.” Who? I was speechless, not me, I’m not ready. This was supposed to take a fucking year. There was a nervous smile on my wife’s face, I could tell that she was excited but nervous too. I wish that my reaction could have been different, I wish we could have jumped for joy but I couldn’t. There were so many thoughts racing through my mind I couldn’t even pluck one out from the ticker flashing by and put words to it.
I wan’t to believe that she was lying, but there it was, a little purple and white stick, with a small oval screen that read pregnant. It wasn’t confusing like in the movies, it was obvious, “pregnant” it said “pregnant, pregnant, pregnant!” The only way we could have been reading it wrong was if the test itself was wrong. Before going to bed that night, we finished off the box. “Pregnant!”
My first reaction was as my first reaction to important new often is, pay a visit to my parents. So at 8:30 p.m. my wife and I drove up the hill to my parents house to break the news to them. When I was young this was literally the worst thing I could have imagined telling them, and perhaps because that had been true for so long that even now, when the news was good, I couldn’t shake that feeling. They were ecstatic and they welcomed us in with hugs. My stepfather cracked open an extra special Crown Royal reserve and poured us a glass.
I said very little right up until we went to bed that night. I didn’t sleep well, my mind was still watching that ticker flashing by, still trying to pull just one thought from it and vocalize it. The most life changing event of my life had just occurred and yet it didn’t feel different at all. It wouldn’t take long for that to change, soon there would be doctor visits, and nausea, tiny baby clothes, car seats, and eventually a tiny little person that I would be expected to raise into a self sufficient adult.
If there are any lessons to be learned here it’s this; when someone tells you that it can take up to a year to get pregnant, they’re full of shit. And When I grab my daughter by the shoulders at the age of 13, my fingers digging into her innocent flesh, my voice shaking, my eyes wide and say to her, “always use protection, it only takes one time to get pregnant.” She’ll wince in pain and roll her eyes, knowing that I’m just her overprotective kook of a father, I’ll squeeze her tighter and say, “It only took once to get you.” And I will be absolutely right.