I am six days late.
All day long, while I rush around from meeting to meeting, shuttle my daughter to preschool, wait for my mother at her doctor’s appointment, make dinner with my husband, this is all I can think about. I am six days late.
I have no idea what this means. All of the tests are negative. I have been hyperaware of changes in my body for so long that I no longer trust any of my own instincts.
Last month I was so sure. Everything smelled terrible. Coffee lost its allure. I collapsed into bed every night by 8:30, exhausted in a way that I just *knew* could only be that first trimester haze descending on me. I caught a glimpse of my breasts in the mirror after showering one night and literally laughed out loud at their swollen, discolored, bumpy nipples. This is me pregnant, I thought, smiling fondly at my reflection as I remembered what this felt like last time, the idiosyncrasies of a pregnant body, the strength and power I felt as my belly grew.
I was wrong, though. At lunchtime on a Tuesday, in the third bathroom stall on the right in the women’s restroom at the food court at the college where I work, I started bleeding. I waited there, doubled over with grief, for my entire lunch break.
And then I spent the afternoon berating myself. Grief? Grief over what? There was no baby lost. There had never been a shadow of the hoped for double pink line that month. There was no reason to think we had managed to get pregnant, no logical reason.
There is no baby, I told myself. That is all. There just is no baby this time. You need to trust in God’s timing, and wait.
I sulked for a day. And then began another cycle of testing, temping, charting, scheduling sex like some kind of deranged marital secretary. I did everything I was supposed to do, when I was supposed to do it. And then I waited.
And now I am 6 days late, and I am still waiting, and I have peed on all of the available sticks. I’ve done Wondfos, I’ve done FRERs, I’ve done digitals, I’ve done blue dye and pink dye. I’ve woken up at 4:30am desperate to use the bathroom and – instead of peeing quickly in the dark and going back to bed like a normal person – spent 20 minutes locked in a brightly lit bathroom like a mad scientist in her laboratory, peeing into cups and dipping the stick and waiting and squinting and still waiting and turning the thing over and taking the test apart and wasting enough time that I can no longer fall back asleep because I didn’t want to waste that precious first morning urine that might finally this time tell me we’ve made a sibling for our daughter, that our family’s wait is over. Because it is not just my wait.
She plays so gently with her baby doll, wrapping its cotton bottom in tiny play diapers, offering it a bottle, rocking it in her arms.
“Ella,” I ask, “what’s your baby’s name?”
“This is my sister baby,” she tells me. And I have to leave the room because my heart is breaking.
“Mami,” she says to me one night after I have finished my dinner and am waiting for her to finish hers, when I have overeaten and am wearing an unflattering shirt, “you have a baby in your belly?”
And my husband answers so that I won’t cry in front of her. “No, Ella,” he says. “Just a food baby. Sometimes we have to wait a while to get a sister or a brother.”
I know the last comment is really for me, and I know that he is not wrong. I know that I have to have patience. I have affirmations for fertility stress relief, I have scripture upon scripture about waiting patiently for God and about having faith – and more patience, and more faith – in God’s timing, I have secret Pinterest boards that are full of other women’s advice on how to “survive the two week wait.” I am trying. I am trying so hard to wait, with grace.
And yet I am six days late, and it is all I can think about.
So in a minute, I will pee on my fourth stick of the day. I will wait, and I will pray. And then whatever the result, I will go pick up my daughter from school, hold her close, and thank God for her life. I will ask his forgiveness for my impatience, and I will ask him again to help me give Ella a sibling. But above all, I will do what I have done for so many months now, and ask God to make me brave enough and strong enough, and, yes, patient enough to simply wait.