Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pregnancy tests and online friendships

It's been about a month since this happened and I'm cool, so I'll tell you about it.

During the Great AW Blackout, I was on the phone with supermod Lori (Birol) talking about life and stress and timing. I told her that it was just about time for me to take a pregnancy test, but that I didn't even know what to wish for this month because I felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and that this would be "a miscarriage waiting to happen." It was while I was still trying to get back our databases and freaking out over how I was going to pay salaries and the new server costs and all that.

And then I took the test... and it was positive. But with a qualifier: I was supposed to read it within ten minutes, and instead, I was in the shower and didn't get to it quite on time. I read it at about the 15-minute mark. Anthony was there with me, and I excitedly flung it at him, saying, "Do you see the line?" It was very, very light-- but he saw it, too. He warned me not to get too excited, so I quite rationally ran to get the digital camera to take pictures of this marvelous line from every potential angle.

So who would I tell next? My mom? My sister? My old college roommates?

No. I told Mac, Lori, and Dawno-- three of the AW supermods. Two of three of whom have no idea why any woman in her right mind would ever want to get pregnant. But that's who I wanted to tell. Never met any of them in person, but they are among my best friends.

I took another test the next morning, and watched it carefully. At the ten-minute mark, I didn't see anything. I almost threw it away. But at the 11-minute mark... there was the line. Even fainter than the one the previous day, but definitely a line. I called my doctor and ran out to the drug store for more tests.

The nurse is someone who used to see me sitting in the waiting room after hours every week. While I was agoraphobic, I couldn't handle coming in to see the doctor when there were people around (heck, I had enough trouble just facing the doctor alone), so he would make me the last appointment of the day, about half an hour after everyone had left and it was just this nurse and him still hanging around the office filling out charts and stuff. He wanted me to check in with him weekly until we got my disorder under control. For a long time, the nurse seemed to not know what was wrong with me or why we did this. She always looked a bit puzzled, but didn't ask questions, and just led me to my doctor's office instead of an exam room.

There, he would ask me how I was doing with my medications, and show me new articles in medical journals that he thought might help me, and tell me about conferences he'd gone to or therapists he'd talked to. He asked me to write about being raped (that's always the default-- most people assume that's why I got a panic disorder, but I think it was a small piece of the puzzle), and he would pick up on things I wrote and talk about how he interpreted them.

Yes, my doctor went way above and beyond the call of duty with me. I was a friend of his daughter's way back in the 6th grade, and I think it bothered him just about as much as it bothered my family to see the way I had fallen apart-- from a happy, friendly kid and teenager to this hermit who couldn't face the world and looked like she was having seizures several times a day.

I had several panic attacks in front of him, which humiliated me. The more I tried to mask them, though, the more obvious they'd get-- I'd get facial and neck tics, in particular, and my eyes would dart uncontrollably. I wound up on about 9 or 10 medications before we found the one that made all the difference.

Anyway, it wasn't until after I got better that the nurse sort of asked me, in a roundabout way, what those visits were all about. I hadn't been to the office in about a year, and when I came back, I was an entirely new person. She told me one day, "You're the one who used to come in after hours, aren't you? You look so much better! I remember you always sat there with your head down..." So I told her the story, and she was so happy for me, and told me about her own experiences with anxiety.

So, back to the test. I was in the exam room with this nurse, and she asked what I was there for, and I practically bounced off the table: "Pregnancy test!"

She gave me a big hug and told me what a long way I'd come. My doctor came in with a big grin and I explained that I'd had taken two tests, but needed to verify the results. They drew blood and said I'd have the results the following day.

I couldn't sleep that night. Early in the morning, I took another test, but it was stark white. My heart sank a little, but I waited for that phone to ring. And when it did, I knew from my doctor's tone what he was going to say. He started out with too much small talk: "How are you? Nice day, huh?" He wouldn't do that if he were calling with exciting news.

Sure enough, he told me the blood test was negative.

"Totally negative?" I asked like an idiot. (No, Jenna, partially negative.)

I told him I had a bad feeling about that because the test I took in the morning was negative. But then why the other two positive tests? I knew that there's something called an "evaporation line" (or "evap") that can happen when you read the results too late-- but usually that doesn't happen unless you read the results REALLY late, by an hour or more. Were they really both just evaps, or false positive tests? Or... the other thing.

"It could have been a very early miscarriage," he said. And I sank to the floor. But I decided later that because we'll never know for sure, it was more comforting for me to just assume that the tests were wrong, and not... the other thing.

Testing time has rolled around again. Stark white negativeness this morning, but I still have 3 more days before I'm really "supposed" to test, so I'm not giving up yet.

Someday, I'll get my chance to have morning sickness and back pain and stretch marks and roller coaster hormones and agonizing labor pain and... wait, why am I doing this again?