Your period is late. It’s never late.
Stage One: “I’m Pregnant”
You know that you’re pregnant. Your period is always 100% on time, down to the minute. You know when to expect it, you know its likes and dislikes, its favorite shows and foods. You and your buddy Period are close and she is a punctual friend. When she’s late, there is a reason, damnit. You’ve been here before and you were totally pregnant. You frantically text your best friend. She tells you to take a test. You remind her you have five stages to get through first.
Stage Two: Time-Lining
One, generally speaking, needs to have unprotected sex in order for the greatest possibility of conception. You and your husband have a toddler. You are no longer kidding yourselves about what it would be like to add another tornado to the mix and, therefore, are very careful and conscientious about birth control. Okay, sure, there was that one time something may have gone awry, but the odds of that leading to pregnancy..? Nah.
Stage Three: “There’s No Way I’m Pregnant”
Okay, relax. Your period is allowed to be a minute late. It’s totally normal, every cycle is different and postpartum bodies are particularly complex. Deep breath, it’s totally fine. Especially because you definitely had four mimosas the other day.
Stage Four: Googling
Google search history looks something like: “early pregnancy symptoms” “late period” “early pregnancy tests” “am I pregnant” “for the love of Google just tell me if I’m knocked up again” and “how will I raise two kids under two I know women do this and they are amazing and I will need their help please help me I’m not handling this well” Not too many hits on that one.
Stage Five: The Conversation
You let your husband know that your period is late while on a walk pushing your toddler in the stroller. The very same toddler who is now attempting to stand because he wants to get out and push the stroller himself and communicating this by yelling “no” over and over, causing your dog-walking neighbors to assess whether or not you are in fact kidnapping this child. The husband isn’t thrilled which hurts your feelings even though you felt that way a moment before. You talk about it. Your husband starts to become convinced of the virility of his sperm overcoming birth control. If this is reality, your husband threatens to get a vasectomy then and there. You both laugh and feel better. Evidence shows that you make pretty cute kids who you love to death. You’ll make it work. It could even be awesome.
Stage Six: Buying A Test
You scan the options at the drugstore while your toddler plays with the truck display conveniently located in the same aisle. The store manager must be a mother. You finally choose the cheapest test because in your ambivalence, you feel like going cheap makes you seem casual about it, and not like you’ve started imagining adding bunk beds to the kid’s room.
Stage Seven: Waiting
Every website, book and pregnancy test instruction manual tells you to take the test first thing in the morning when the hormones are at their most concentrated. Waiting is agony, but you decide to follow instructions. You read conspiracy theories about Avril Lavigne late into the night to distract yourself. You become more than half-convinced it’s a body double and you start to question your own sanity.
Stage Eight: Taking the Test
You wake up after a fitful night of dreams about babies. Unsettling. You hear the kiddo talking in his crib and go to the bathroom before you get him up. You remember at the last second that you were going to take the test today and you hold your morning pee in as long as possible while you open the test sitting on the counter. You’re going to burst and have to wait another full 24 hours if you don’t get that accursed thing open in the next ten seconds. You make it and let it flow. You leave the test on the counter, wash your hands and get the kiddo ready for the day.
Stage Nine: The Results
You’ve been avoiding the bathroom for several minutes now, taking your time cutting the banana slices and starting the morning coffee. Once your kiddo is happily eating, you take a deep breath and pop over to the bathroom. Casual, breezy. You try to see it before you can see it from the other side of the room. You finally cross to the counter and pick it up confirming your real intuition: It’s negative. You double check the sign on the stick and the box just to be sure. Yup, negative.
Stage Ten: Uh-oh
The feelings have crystalized, the information has sunk in. You text your husband at work and he sends back a small smile emoji. You send back a thumbs-up. You take the test out of the trash can and double check it because you heard that sometimes the test can take that long. No change. You make some eggs and sing Old Mac Donald, managing to keep your voice from quavering on the “quack quack, here”, an emotional lyric.
Your period starts the next day. You greet it with an eye-roll.
Because now you know what you didn’t before. You kinda want to have a second kid.
Uh-oh. (insert the wide-eyed emoji here)