On a Sudden (Surprise) Second Pregnancy
“We have a seven-and-a-half-month-old and I’m pregnant again.”
En route to the yoga studio, free of the concerns for revolution or childcare, I make a right turn into the parking lot of our local grocery store. I hadn’t planned this detour. I hadn’t even thought about it until that very moment. But I get out of my car and walk in, making a beeline to the condom aisle. Ah, the condoms. The names alone are so very big, so Trojan in their pleasure. The condom aisle is where the home pregnancy tests are stocked, and I need one.
No, I need two—better to buy two just in case. Because Sean and I haven’t been using any of the aforementioned French letters. We haven’t been using any kind of child deterrent whatsoever, and despite the fact I’m nursing and what’s considered “geriatric” as far as motherhood goes, I feel a sudden, irrepressible urge to pee on a stick. I buy a two-for-one pregnancy test in a comforting pink box and, once in the car, roll the box up in my yoga mat.
Five minutes later I’m in the yoga studio, which smells of lavender and sweat. Shoes stack in neat namaste rows on the stairs. There’s the happy hush I feel whenever I enter the yoga studio. I’m several minutes early and the bathroom that’s always jammed with people trying to pee before getting into any kind of compromising position is open. I surge in, tucking my mat against me like a football.
The bathroom has a small shelving unit in front of the toilet with several rolls of toilet paper and a wood sign that says Breathe in white, painted cursive. I unroll my yoga mat and tear open the pregnancy test. My heart careens in my chest like a drunken toddler. Breathe. I pee on the first stick. I put the test on the shelf and wait, pants around my ankles.
I stare at the stick as it turns blue. Easter egg blue. My God. It can’t be. A slow buzz starts in my head. I tear open the second test and pee and wait. They aren’t always accurate, these tests. You can have a false positive. But in seconds there it is: the blue plus. It’s definite. Breath stalls in my chest. I have another passenger aboard.
I throw the test sticks into the garbage can and pile some toilet paper on top. I’m being ridiculous. I sign in with a big, shit-eating grin. People file in. Hushed tones fill the room. I spread my mat on the floor and lie down, trying to keep my shit together. Keep your shit together! Jesus, this is a yoga studio. The yoga teacher’s name is Kim and she’s lithe and beautiful. She sits on her mat in front of me as if she’s sitting in front of a stream. And lo! I am the stream. And then we bow our heads and chant three oms. I start giggling uncontrollably.
This is a problem of mine. Overwhelm of any kind sets off the giggles. It’s an unfortunate coping mechanism, especially when in a yoga studio. I feel like a man having sex with someone for the first time and doing everything possible to distract himself and maintain the vigor of a stallion. Imagine your mother-in-law! No, imagine a very, very sick kitten! I start snorting, which is another unfortunate habit. I’m cracking up at the image of a sick kitten. I’m making little snorts into my mama bra tankini. Death and carnage! Apocalypse! Zombies eating small children!He looks up and smiles an awkward, vulnerable smile. It’s the smile that felled me the moment I first laid eyes on him.
I manage to get my euphoric shit together by the time we’ve moved from the stream and the oms to mountain pose. Still, I’m out of my mind. I’m ecstatic, looking under my arm while in down dog at the woman next to me and wanting to whisper in an embarrassingly loud voice—no, wanting to shout like a lunatic—“Hey, guess what? I’m pregnant! Can you fucking believe it?”
The next night I surprise Sean by asking Christina to babysit for a few hours so I can take him on a date to the Metropolitan, one of Salt Lake’s swanky downtown restaurants. The Metropolitan advertised in the Wasatch Journal and, as payment, a few of us at the magazine got gift certificates. The Metropolitan is the kind of restaurant that has handsome Italian men waiting in the wings to fold your napkin into a quick swan when you get up to go to the bathroom. I feel both awkward and jubilant.I recognize it—the evolutionary high in my body that has been turned on like a light switch.
It’s such a silly thing, this kind of bourgeois napkin folding. But I’ve taken my man to the place of the fold, so we can sit next to the fire and order Bison Medallions with a Pomegranate Reduction and I can tell him I’m pregnant. Again. Earlier, I’d strolled into Planned Parenthood to take a real pregnancy test.
The people at Planned Parenthood want me to plan well, and even though I’ve taken two home tests, which they assured me are fairly accurate, I wanted a third and final opinion. There’s something about peeing into a cup in an office that feels more medically reliable than peeing onto a grocery store test at a yoga studio.
I wait for our bison to arrive before sliding Planned Parenthood’s folded test results across to Sean. I sit on my hands, trying hard not to jump out of my seat and into the jaw of one of the hovering Italian men. Sean looks at the paper, then at me, then back at the paper as if it’s something flammable.
“Take a look.”
“Uh . . . okay.” Slow, unfolding of the paper. Eyes scanning the small print, confused. Finally, his eyes rise to the top of the sheet. He recognizes the name printed in boldface: Planned Parenthood.
“You went to Planned Parenthood?”
This is all going interminably slow. It feels almost scripted—the fumbling of the husband, the jittery glee of the wife. I’m out of my mind on baby hormones, and I recognize it—the evolutionary high in my body that has been turned on like a light switch.
“Yes,” I say, cocking my head. “This morning.”
Sean looks down again, but it’s a wash. There are names of hormones with indecipherable numbers next to them running the length of the page. He looks up at me.
He puts his hand on his forehead and starts rubbing it, fingers pressing in deep, as if somehow he can move the information in more quickly and have it make sense. We have a seven-and-a-half-month-old and I’m pregnant again. Hello, family.
“Wow,” he says, rubbing. “Wow, wow, wow.”
And then he looks up and smiles an awkward, vulnerable smile. It’s the smile that felled me the moment I first laid eyes on him. My heart lurches.
“Wow,” he says again. “You’re pregnant. Oh my God.”
After a few minutes and several gulps of wine, he stops rubbing his head and looks up, his eyes penetrating mine. “Have you told Finch?”
And then we fall into ridiculous, giddy laughter. The bison medallions have gotten cold, but we’re in happy hysterics, unable to comprehend how this could have happened and then laughing at how much random sex we’ve actually been having—while Finch nods off in his seat in the living room; while he sleeps in the stroller we’ve parked next to the kitchen table; at midnight, at 5:00 a.m.; when it snows; when it doesn’t snow. We laugh like two people at the edge of a cliff, ready to dive into water that shimmers at least thirty feet below us.
I can barely catch my breath at the suddenness, the corralling of everyone into the largest office, the one with the pretty but clichéd print of orange poppies in a field that someone had put up to combat the whiteness. I’d been so sure we’d make it. We’d sent the winter issue to the printers. We’d been paid.
But this morning we’re called in by the publisher’s twentysomething son and are told that we’re done, the Wasatch Journal is closed as of today, as of right now: Clear out your offices, take the microwave, there’s just not enough money to keep us afloat. So sorry, and thanks, everyone, for your hard work. It’s over.
Excerpted from Blood Orange Night: My Journey to the Edge of Madness by Melissa Bond. Copyright © 2022 by Melissa Bond. Reprinted by permission of Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.