I surfaced from the fog somewhat reluctantly, I will admit, since at the time, I did not normally wake up before midday on weekends unless we were attending a function that had a very specific and immovable starting time. I rubbed my eyes and managed to grunt something along the lines of “What?”
The muffled echo of the sound in my head as I spoke was because of the consumption of copious amounts of beer the night before. A recreation from a simpler time, a time before I turned forty and a pastime that has since been relegated exclusively to every second New Year’s Eve and then only on a much, much smaller scale.
“I said do you see one stripe or two?” My beautiful wife was sitting on the edge of the bed holding out a pregnancy test for my inspection. “It’s very feint, but I think we’re pregnant.” She was glowing. At least that is how I remember it. Then again it might just have been the sun shining into the room, through the curtains specifically designed not to block out any light whatsoever from the east facing windows but which were ‘absolutely the right curtains for the room’ that was framing her in silhouette.
But I digress, I had to agree, the smudge I was looking at on the stick did in fact look like a positive result. We resolved to go for a formal blood test, which google indicated was a relatively simple procedure that would take about an hour to yield a result.
I am not sure I can adequately describe the excitement I felt that day. A euphoric, child-like giddiness that had me beaming from ear to ear. Not even the dreariness and banality of the pathologist rooms could dampen the fluttering of the butterfly wings in my belly and the big drum-thumping of my heart in my chest. The nurse took a blood sample from my wife and we went for breakfast to chew up the hour or so while we waited for the results to come back.
I know what I had for breakfast that morning because I always have the same thing. An English breakfast or whatever is closest to that on the menu and a diet cold drink. Yes diet, like that actually makes a difference when you’re scoffing bacon. I think my foot tapped the entire time we were there and after the longest breakfast in recorded history, we headed back to the pathologist. I was excited and overwound to the point of snapping when we walked up to the reception desk to collect the results. The nurse handed us ‘the’ piece of paper without comment and I swear, I heard a drumroll in the background as we had a look at it.
Nothing in life is ever that straight forward though. What I expected to see was something descriptive and quite formal like ’pregnant’ or ‘positive’. I would even have settled for something biblical like ’you are with child’ or perhaps a ’thumbs up’ emoji even though it was a few years too early for that. But no, what I saw instead was a mess of numbers and dates and tables. A little confused, we leaned over the counter and asked the nurse to show us exactly where the actual result was because, you know, the bloody piece of paper was just about as clear as frozen Diet Coke.
Shakespeare said, “I am not bound to please thee with my answers.” I think this is a nice way of saying ’tough’ when giving someone an answer to a question they have asked you, that is the opposite of what they were expecting to hear. With that in mind, imagine my complete exasperation when the nurse told us that only a doctor could interpret the result for us. So sorry, but we would have to wait until Monday. Imagine that.
Ja, neither could I.
This particular pathology lab, which will have to remain nameless for obvious reasons, presents their results on a notepad-sized piece of pre-printed stationary. Half of the page is dedicated to company logo and credentials (read clutter) and the balance of the page is dedicated to reference tables against which to measure your result. Indeed, the focus given to the salient bit of information, the actual test result, is about the same amount as that given to nutritional information for a chicken nugget on a menu at McDonald’s in 1984, which is to say, not that much really.
The problem here is identifying your result amongst all the prattle around it. It is quite simply put, the most nondescript piece of information on the document and unless you knew what you were looking for, you simply would not see it. I believe this to be by design. Because why would we want the average person to interpret the results of a pregnancy test? That would be disastrous since it would exclude the doctors from a potential first consultation where they look at the very same piece of paper from the pathologist, then gaze up at you over their spectacles and say, “Yes, you’re pregnant”.
As it turns out, with a little stiffening of resolve and bristling of mane, we managed to convince the nurse to show us where the result was, which we were then able to compare against the reference table, conveniently printed in the page. Despite the fact that neither of us had a medical degree, we were in fact then able to determine that my wife was indeed pregnant by a little over two weeks.
Mr and Mrs, your main feature will be starting in about 38 weeks, please grab some popcorn and take your seats.
We walked out of the pathologists rooms into the hallway and had a nice, quiet moment alone in each other arms. We were going to have a baby. How does one explain that feeling to someone who is not already a parent and who is not actively trying to become a parent? I guess the short answer is you simply cannot.
It is a moment I will remember for as long as I live, or at the very least until old age and senility rob me of my faculties and bladder control, whichever comes first.