Kelly came in early one morning as I was lying in bed, looking out at the rain.
“So, just wanted to let you know, because it might explain why I’ve been acting so freaky, but I might be pregnant.”
She handed me a plastic-thermometer looking device.
“See?” pointing to a faint, ghost-like line parallel to a bold pink line. “Two lines indicate pregnancy.”
“That one? It’s not really much of a line.”
We sat there for a minute in silence.
“It’s really barely a line.”
“Can you take another one? You know, try again?”
“I only have one more. I’ll do it again tomorrow. I just peed.”
“Yeah, you pee on it. It measures a hormone in your piss that you only release if you’re preggers.”
“Oh. Really? Weird.”
I looked at the device again, then handed it back to her.
“Well, crazy. What’s for breakfast?”
It’s not that this was completely unexpected—Kelly’d gone off the pill a two weeks before. But Kelly’s parents had taken years to conceive; it had been difficult for a number of other couples we knew, and Kelly had been on the pill for ten years: we both assumed it would take her body a while to recuperate, flush the residual pill particles out of her system, start to menstruate, etc. I figured we had at least three or four months before I’d have to start debating how wholly-materialized a line may be.
Two days later, driving back from friends’ farm—friends, it should be mentioned, who were some of the first of our college friends to have children (two boys, now aged six and two)—where we’d harvested and pressed apples and drank copious amounts of cider mixed with only slightly less copious amounts of bourbon, Kelly wordlessly handed me the second test.
The line was decidedly stronger. Incontrovertibly stronger.
I’d like to tell you of the feelings of joy and excitement and pride and fear that washed over me then, feelings that filled me with life and a clear sense of manly purpose, that changed the way I saw the light shifting through the clouds, that the clouds themselves resembled cherubs, or any of that hallelujah-chorus glory.
But that’s not how it was. We pulled off the highway into the town of Chehalis, parked at a Safeway, and went shopping. Avocados, smoked salmon, bread, cheese, and Naked juices. Food. That’s what was important. The baby? The baby that would change my life forever? That baby didn’t exist. There was a line on a urine-soaked plastic strip. There were three more hours of driving and the familiar twinings of hunger and hangover in my belly.
And there was Kelly. That changed. Suddenly there was Kelly, my sweet, beautiful, smart Kelly, who was now sweet, beautiful, smart, fertility-goddess Kelly.
Later, I would see a pattern here, in those early days, that it wasn’t a complete denial. It was almost like nostalgia—a glossing over the pains for the joys of the past—in that I could see Kelly as pregnant, I could treat her as a goddess, but the slight bump in her belly–a bump that at that point didn’t even exist–the bump that was actually a baby, well, that didn’t really mean what of course it meant.