Tag Archives: positive

Finding out you are pregnant, in slow motion

I’d always thought that you would find out you were pregnant for the first time in this sudden, formative, instant.

Here’s how I imagined it went: You show outstanding restraint and take a pregnancy test on the day after your period is due. If you are, indeed, pregnant, the line on the little stick that you have just managed to pee on in one graceful controlled stream that doesn’t go anywhere except on the stick and in the toilet, turns pink (or blue, or whatever colour it’s supposed to turn). Bright pink. Bright, neon, practically flashing-like-a-Las-Vegas-show-sign, pink (and well within the two minutes that the test is supposed to need to work). Then you know. You know within the span of a single heartbeat that your life is about to change forever and you rush out of the bathroom and find your husband and have a moment. A once in a lifetime, tender, unique, set to the music of violin-playing-angels, moment.

Yeah. That’s so not how it happened for me.

I took the first test the Saturday my period was due – the morning I was to leave Mike behind in Laos for two more weeks while I headed to Australia early for Christmas holidays. I will not comment on where, exactly, pee went during this process. I’ll just tell you that the result was negative.

Later that night I started to feel sick in Bangkok airport. Very sick. I began to wonder whether the test had been wrong – maybe this was morning sickness? By the time I was throwing up violently in the bathroom of the boarding gate right before I got on the plane I was desperately hoping it was not morning sickness.

It was not morning sickness. It was food poisoning.

In Australia my period still didn’t come. Perhaps the food poisoning had thrown my system out of wack? Perhaps I was pregnant? I took a test on Tuesday, then one on Thursday. Negative. Not pregnant, then. I celebrated/mourned these results with a glass full of sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.

“I don’t understand,” I said to Mike on Friday night when my period still hadn’t appeared. “Most of those things promise “early response” and claim to be able to tell you up to five days before your period is due. The tests say 99% accurate.”

“Isn’t that the false positive rate?” Mike said. “It’s probably not the false negative rate.”

Oh, right. Duh. Five years of statistics classes at university serving me well yet again.

I did some research on Dr. Google. The false negative rate for pregnancy tests is significantly higher than 1%.

While we were out and about on Saturday I bought another test. I was appalled to find out how much they cost in Australia and set the expensive little sucker aside to use first thing in the morning on Sunday, as per instructions.

On Sunday I woke up at 5:30 in the morning needing the loo. With this test you had to pee in a cup and then float the stick, firmly anchored in a rubber ring.

I peed. I floated. I watched. Two minutes passed. Nothing. I consulted the instructions again. It said that results would almost certainly appear within two minutes, but if they appeared within two to ten minutes it was still a valid result.

I went back to bed and lay there staring at the ceiling.

After eight minutes I got up and checked again.

There was the very faintest of pink lines, almost a shadow really, where the positive result should have been popping up.

I checked the box. The picture on the box showed the positive line as fainter than the control line (a sturdy, vivid, purple) but surely the line should be brighter than that??

Back to Dr Google. Had anyone else gotten faint lines with this test and wondered if they were pregnant? Were they? Half an hour of research later the answers to those questions appeared to be yes and yes.

So I was very likely pregnant.

I lay back down on the bed to think this over and fell asleep.

When I woke up two hours later I called my mother upstairs.

“What do you think?” I asked, showing her the stick and the box.

“Maybe I need my glasses,” she said slowly, “but I’d say that’s positive. Yes. Well. There you go!”

Then she walked out to continue getting ready for church.

Luckily Mike was up, Mike was on skype, and skype was working. We even had video.

(Pause here to insert melodious Ode To Skype).

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Taking care of our baby puppy,” Mike said, still sleepy. “He woke me up at five, whining.”

“Well,” I said, “while you’re taking care of our baby over there I’m taking care of our baby over here.”

I held the stick – not that he had a hope of seeing that faint shadow of a line, but it felt like a useful dramatic prop for our big moment.

“Oh, that’s great, honey!!” Mike said, smiling. Then he said, “I knew you were pregnant yesterday. After all you are a week late now, and you’re never a week late – but I thought I’d just wait until you figured it out yourself.”

“What?” I said.

“History suggests you need time to process these things,” Mike said serenely.

“That is not…” I said, then stopped. I sighed.

“Hey,” I said conspiratorially, “can you go down to the corner chemist and buy me another pregnancy test and bring it out with you next weekend?”

“What?” Mike said.

“They only cost sixty cents over there, and they cost twelve bucks here!”

“But that one’s positive!” Mike said.

“It’s very probably positive,” I said, looking at it again. “But I just want to be sure.”

“OK,” Mike said. “You’re pregnant, but OK.”

Mike did not bring me my backup test from Laos (he said he thought I was kidding when I demanded he produce it the following Saturday – husband fail) but I’m not sure it would have convinced me. Frankly, there was a part of me that still couldn’t grasp it until we had an absurdly early ultrasound (since we were headed back to the land of few doctors) and I saw the heartbeat on the screen. Contrary to everything I’d expected, the whole process of finding out that I was pregnant was much more of a slow reveal than a single, life-transforming, moment. I wonder what other expectations will get turned on their head during the next couple of years?

What about you? When’s the last time you had a “moment” not go at all as you’d expected?

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When criticism collides with fear

As everyone who’s read the previous post knows, we didn’t have the greatest start to the week over here. So I wrote about that in all it’s “ugly day-ness”, and I wrote about myself and my “not the finest display of coping with frustration that I’ve ever put forth”.

I received more than a few comments on that post – many of which warmed my heart and made me smile, and one that didn’t. It’s all caused me to think a lot about my reactions to compliments and criticism this last day and a half, and I’ve decided that something I am giving this much time on my mental airwaves deserves to be written about.

Let’s start with criticism, and sometime in the next couple of weeks I’ll wind my way around to talking about compliments.

So, one of the comments I received on that post was the following:

“I’m addicted to your blog. I guess I keep reading, waiting for when things will turn around (or for your perspective to change). I feel sorry for Mike. Not only does he have to contend with the low water pressure, lack of air conditioning, and all the inconveniences, but it’s compounded by a stressful job in which he can’t help everyone who needs it and by knowing that his wife is thoroughly unhappy because he wanted to move to Laos to fulfill what he feels is his purpose in life. It’s always harder to deal with negative situations when surrounded by negativity.

Reading your blog, I can’t help but wonder what it must be like to be poor and living in Laos–having no air conditioning ever, running water, or people to call to fix things.

I hope you find something beautiful and meaningful in being there. Try to stay positive, Lisa.”

I’ve had a wide range of reactions to this in the last 24 hours.

Initially I was just stunned, and bewildered. (Also a little admiring that this person had managed to imply that I was an unending fountain of negativity who is making Mike’s life harder than it needs to be, subtly remind me to think of the poor, and begin and end with a clear message that I could perhaps benefit from a perspective shift… all in 151 words. I can clearly learn something about brevity here, if nothing else.)

Then I wanted to be a bitch – to hit “reply” and deliver a pithy, self-righteous, set-down in return. I won’t list the one-liners that rushed to mind, but there were several.

Then I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to point out that in the last couple of weeks I’d written about bad days and tiring border runs, yes. But I’d also written about interesting visits to museums and incandescent days spent out at beautiful waterfalls and meaningful Sunday afternoons spent pondering how to help sick kids.

Then I started to wonder why this was bothering me quite so much. There were other comments on that post that were very positive indeed. In fact, most of the comments left on my blog are positive. This was the day after I had written, in a draft chapter for my next book, “I am less imprisoned than I once was by what people think of me.” The irony of my ruffled feathers over this – a single comment written by someone who does not know me well – was not lost on me. Neither was the fact that I was doing the very thing she insinuated I do far too often – focusing on the negative. So why did this bug me so?

Then I realized she had (probably unwittingly) trespassed on something that, deep down, I sometimes greatly fear – that I’m not supporting Mike in his important work here as well as I could/should be. I also sometimes fear that I am the weak link in the chain of our marriage. I sometimes fear that I am a petty and small-minded person who chronically runs short of joy and gratitude. I sometimes fear that I am really not all that lovable, and that one day Mike will figure that out.

Once I’d dragged this tangled mess of “sometimes fears” out into the light, I sat down and tried to really think about where she was right and wrong, and what helpful take-homes I could glean from her comments.

She is absolutely right about the fact that it is always harder to deal with negative situations when surrounded by negativity, that a positive attitude is one of the most powerful forces in life, and that trying to stay positive is rarely wasted energy.

She is very wrong in her guess that I am thoroughly unhappy here in Laos. I think/I hope that she is also wrong in her supposition that I am, on balance, making life overall more challenging for Mike. Yet she came to these conclusions from reading my posts – not just the one I wrote yesterday, it seems, but all of them. Should I change something about the way I write, or what I’m writing about?

So after pondering this today, here’s what I think… I’ll continue to monitor the balance of generally “positive” and generally “negative” material that finds its way up here, but I’m not going to let fear of what you all may think of me drive me to sanitize the blog of accounts of bad days, or my own potentially less-than-admirable moments.

Because, right now, this blog is meant to chronicle life in the moment. Sometimes those moments here are waterfalls or museums or funny encounters with the police, and sometimes they are hard days where lots of little things go wrong (and they are relatively little things – but sometimes in those moments they don’t feel quite so little). Sometimes in those moments I do desperately need a shift in perspective. And, often, it’s writing about those moments that helps me find one.

It is writing more than almost anything else that helps me transform an event, a thought, or a mood into something acknowledged, clarified, and manageable. Writing is cathartic. I usually don’t show Mike my posts before I put them up, but I did the other day. I read the bad day post out loud to him that night while he was washing the dishes. We laughed a little. Writing the post played a large part in nudging me back into territory where I could laugh. And the comments that you all leave on the posts make me smile. Well, usually… But even when they don’t make me smile they often (as in this case) push me to think, and that is very valuable too.

So thank you all for tracking with me on this journey.

P.S. Hey all, feel free to comment on anything I’ve written in this post, but please do not discuss the comment that I reproduced in this post. I did not write this to set her up for any third-party criticism (or praise).

P.P.S. When Mike read the first draft of this post he laughed when he got to the line about me fearing that one day he’d figure out I was unlovable. “One day,” he teased me, “one day dumb old Mike will figure this out.” Then he grinned. “You’re safe for a good while yet, though – I’m far too busy organizing medical care for orphans to figure it out anytime soon.”

P.P.P.S. I’m going with Mike up to the villages today and will be there for the rest of the week. No internet = no blog. So I’ll see you all next week.