Ready or not, here comes parenthood
August 9, 2011 was kind of a big day in my life. Here’s why:
Last July, we flew back to Atlanta to attend my sister’s wedding. After I returned to Vietnam, you might remember me complaining about the terrible jet lag I had. I felt disoriented and exhausted, and also felt bad physically. On my layover in Narita, I had to leave my place in the check-in line to go throw up. I blamed it on lack of sleep and red wine. While unpacking my suitcase, the strong lavender scent of the dryer sheets I had brought from Atlanta made me gag.
When I told Tanya this, she gave me one of those “something’s up” looks, but Jonathan wasn’t concerned. I had quit taking birth control long before because of how it made me feel, so he was used to me being The Girl Who Cried Pregnant. He was happy either way, though, since he had decided the previous November on his 39th birthday that he was ready for children.
But I wasn’t ready. I had things to do. We had four trips planned in the next month – including a honeymoon to the Maldives. We were trying to book an all-inclusive sailing cruise in Thailand for Tanya’s 30th birthday. I was starting to do restaurant and bar reviews. I did not want to be pregnant in Vietnam. Whenever the time came, I wanted to be in the States where I could be around our families and friends. Also, I’d spent enough time caring for children to know how much work it is. I knew that having a child with a pilot would mean I was a single mom a lot of the time. I wasn’t ready to give up my freedom.
There was still some time before I really needed to be concerned, but all the symptoms made it hard not to think about it. I spent the week dwelling on it and talking to those around me. Everyone told me that things would be okay either way. Not being able to drink champagne on your honeymoon wasn’t the end of the world. Lots of people had babies overseas. Lots of people had babies with pilots.
I knew they were right. I also knew that it was a possibility that when I decided I was ready, my body might not agree with me. At my age, I’d seen enough friends struggle either to get pregnant or to deliver a healthy child. Who knows – maybe I was worrying about something that couldn’t even happen.
A few more days went by and though I started feeling better, I still didn’t have my period. The day after our anniversary, I spent several hours interviewing a lady. She smoked throughout our conversation, and it was all I could do not to throw up. I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to a pharmacy and bought a few tests. They each cost $1.25 and were individual plastic packets, each containing a cup, a test strip, and instructions – much less tidy than what we are used to. I took one that afternoon, and it was negative. I didn’t feel any sort of relief though. Afternoon pregnancy tests aren’t usually accurate; I distrust medicine and drugstore items made in Vietnam; and I was no longer sure what I wanted the outcome to be.
The next morning I took another test. As I came out of the room holding a test strip with a very faint line on it, Xuan and the maid walked in the door. They started patting my stomach, smiling, and saying “baby, baby, baby!”
“Woah now!” I thought. I’m not sure about this yet. And the line is so faint.
That morning we had a long power outage in our apartment building, so Tanya, Joe, Jonathan, Kari, and Evan (friends and apartment neighbors) all met downstairs at the café. After my cooking lesson, I went to meet them and told them about the pregnancy test. I said that I would wait until I was a week late and then go to the doctor. Kari and Tanya both looked at me in shock.
“How can you wait that long?”
I asked “If you were me, when would you go?”
They both immediately replied, “Right now!”
With that, they paid their bills and five of us went out front to the taxi stand. Since the power had been out, none of us had really gotten dressed for the day, so baseball hats, sweatpants, unbrushed teeth, and all, we headed to the doctor. The staff seemed amused that all of us were there for one pregnancy test. They took my blood and told us we would have to come back after lunch for the results.
During the longest two hours of my life, we went shopping in the nearby stores and then to a restaurant for a light lunch. I couldn’t focus on anything. I was pretty sure I was pregnant (Tanya said there are rarely false positives), but I tried to imagine my reaction if they told me I wasn’t. Then, I thought about the implications of a positive result. I didn’t think I was ready to have a child, but part of me knew that I would never be completely ready. It would have to be something that just happened, and then I would be thrilled.
Finally, we were back at the doctor’s office. She took the two of us back into her office and told us the test was positive! I couldn’t believe it. I was really pregnant! There was a tiny little speck of human life growing inside of me. At some point, I started to cry. I was really happy. My heart rate was high enough for the doctor to question me about it, but it was all the excitement. Our lives were changing. We were going to be parents.
As we left the consultation, I told Jonathan everyone was going to know because we were in there so long. But as I walked into the waiting room I said, “I can’t believe they took that long to tell us I wasn’t pregnant.” Their faces dropped until they saw Jonathan standing behind me, hands in touchdown pose saying “I have swimmers!” It’s true. That is the father of my child.
Coincidentally, Jonathan had just told me two weeks before that he wasn’t going to say anything else about children until I was ready. Way to come off as a gentleman and still get what you want ;-)