While I'm Waiting
to go: 1,278.97
I'm waiting, I
think I'll rinse out my bike shorts.
squirt of Ivory
Liquid in a sinkful of cold water, a quick dunk-and-swish, a gentle
squeeze, and they're ready to drip-dry overnight, just in time for
weekend riding. As I'm swishing and dunking and squeezing, I'm
purposely forcing myself to think about nice, safe, *happy* subjects.
Riding the Iron Horse Trail on Saturday, for instance. My little
nephew's third birthday on Sunday. Our one-year wedding anniversary next
basically, except what's happening in my bathroom,
right this very moment.
DO make maternity bike shorts ... right?)
It probably wouldn't
hurt to set up the automatic coffeemaker for morning, too, while I'm
waiting. This is one of those semi-onerous tasks I try to remember to
do every night before bed ... not only because I adore waking up to the
smell of fresh-brewed Foglifter in the morning, but also because our
coffee grinder sounds like a gravel compactor at 5:16 a.m.
I start avoiding caffeine?)
I'm at it, I pack
two Zip-Loc bags full of grapes for our lunch tomorrow (Maybe
I should drop a couple of jumbo garlic dills into *my* lunch bag)
... and then I stuff the clean dishes into the dangerously-overcrowded
kitchen cabinets. (We don't
have room for a fudking LASAGNA PAN in this phone booth of an
apartment: where on earth would we put a CRIB?)
all the while, in
the next room ... the little plastic stick is quietly thinking.
been twenty years
since the last time I bought an in-home pregnancy test. (Subsequent
pregnancies were confirmed or denied the old-fashioned way: by offing a
poor defenseless bunny.) A lot of things have changed about these
over-the-counter tests since 1982: packaging, price, procedure,
technology. I dimly recall struggling to pee into a container the size
of a walnut, then gingerly dipping strips of paper into the smelly mess
until I got a reading. Now you simply hold this device that looks like
a digital thermometer under the *flow* for about five seconds, lay it
on a flat surface to cook for a couple of minutes ... and boom, you're
done. No pee-covered fingers, no messy "backsplash," no fuss/no muss/no
needless added trauma.
the other hand, some things haven't
changed a bit. I'm still taking the test alone tonight, without my
husband here to hold my hand. (At least this
husband isn't sitting in a bar somewhere, playing pool with the grocery
money.) I'm still going to be anxious to talk to somebody the
it's over. As soon as I got the results that first time, twenty
ago, I went across the hall and plucked eight-month-old Jaymi from her
crib. "You're going to be a big sister, Puss!" I told her joyously. She
responded to this happy news by urping Enfamil down the back of my
I'm still pretty
sure that whatever happens is meant to be ... one way or the other.
three minutes have
passed -- it's been more like twenty-three minutes, actually, but I'll
admit I'm dragging my heels here -- I walk into the bathroom, heart in
throat, and look at the plastic stick laying on the side of the
There it is.
told myself that I
would be calm, regardless of the results, positive or negative,
I am. I am completely calm. I am supernaturally
calm. I am so calm, in fact, that it's damn close to having an
out-of-body experience. I float across the apartment to the kitchen,
feeling calm and otherworldly, and I sit down in the computer chair and
pick up the phone and dial TicTac.
answers on the
first ring. "What took you so long?" she snaps.
a moment I consider
telling her that I ran into a snag: that the little digital thermometer
thingamabob was defective, maybe ... or that my mother-in-law dropped
in unexpectedly, just as I was heading for the bathroom, and the two of
us got involved in a thrilling game of Jenga ... or that when push came
to shove, I just couldn't tinky-winkle enough *flow* to do the job.
Then I consider trying to explain the unexplainable: that I'm
sure this is the last time I will ever experience this
wonderful/terrible combination of emotions -- the very last
Watch* of my life -- and that I wanted to prolong the drama
a little bit, just for
old times' sake.
in the end I keep it
simple. "It was negative," I say.
hard to tell,
long-distance, whether she's relieved or disappointed. I suspect it's a
lot of one and a little of the other. (Not unlike the way I am
feeling, as a matter of fact.)
I'm not going to be throwing you a
baby shower next spring?" she deadpans.
remind her that
nothing is carved in stone yet -- that I only took this stoopid
drugstore test as a first step, and that I'll probably have to follow
it up with a 'real' test if my goddamn period doesn't start soon (read
this: before the end of mankind as we know it) -- but that at this
point I am reasonably certain she won't be the only 21-year-old on her
block with a baby brother or sister, come February 2003. I assure her
that I'm very happy with the results, and that I know David will be
too. We're too old to start cranking out babies now. We're too tired
and too broke and too set in our ways. We love our life just the way it
I say to her,
"how could I possibly top the three children I already
have?" And I tell her to go take a look in the mirror if she doesn't
believe that I have already produced perfection in my lifetime.
chit-chat for another
couple of minutes. I thank her for 'sharing this special moment' with
me -- "We have a really
unusual mother/daughter relationship, you know it?"
she says -- and then we exchange 'goodnights' and 'I love yous' and
soon as I'm off the
phone, I wander back into the bathroom and take another look, just to
make sure. It's still there: a single vertical pink line, appearing in
the right-hand 'window' of the little plastic stick. Not
pregnant, it says quietly.
Bullet dodged. Crisis averted.
With a sigh, I wrap the stick in two layers of Kleenex and deposit it
tenderly into the wastebasket. Then I wash my hands, turn off the
light, walk out of the bathroom ...
and close the door
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