I knew. I waited until a Monday morning to pee on the stick.
Contorted on the toilet, I lifted the pink stick and a line instantly appeared. I set it on the ground and stared at it as I watched a second line cross like a tiny, makeshift Swiss flag. The lines weren’t faint. They were strong, blue, and pregnant. I moved the pregnancy test from the ground to the sink.
For my entire life, I’d imagined becoming pregnant would be a lot of things. But I hadn’t imagined what my truth would be when the lines on the stick throbbed a shameless blue.
I cry regularly. I cry during commercials with baby animals. I cry at every wedding, despite knowing the couple. I cry when I see random old men being quiet and observant. I cry by the ocean. I cry in the shower for no reason. But at this moment, standing barefoot and pantless with an XL tee, staring at the truest truth of my entire life, I couldn’t cry. The news could have been as simple as “Order for Brittany” at Starbucks. I shrugged, carefully set the test inside the bathroom closet, put my pants on, went upstairs, and checked my email.
Not Feeling How I Thought I Was “Supposed To” Feel
I sat in meetings all afternoon and listened to my husband approve car loans in the other room. I downloaded a pregnancy app and typed in the last date of my period. I was about five weeks along. The app asked me for a nickname for the baby. “Baby is just as cute, don’t worry,” it scoffed like a joy junkie. The app told me “baby” was the size of a grain of rice. “The developing circulatory system just started pumping blood through baby’s body,” it continued. “MOM, I’m growing! The bud of tissue that will give rise to his lungs has appeared!” Exclamation point! Exclamation point!
In Meg Mason’s book Sorrow and Bliss, she wrote, “The time between finding out you are pregnant and telling anyone, including your husband, even if it’s just a week or one minute in my case. No one talks about that part [the best part].” But I didn’t think this was the best part. It didn’t feel like the best part. Before becoming pregnant, I’d thought I would keep this secret like a tiny blue gem tucked in my palm, priming to shout it out in a neighborhood musical while retrieving the mail. I’d thought there would be sunshine. I thought I’d cherish pregnancy’s possibilities and whirl around inside the color (ideally, a prism rainbow). Instead, I was terrified to be responsible for such news.
Before becoming pregnant… I’d thought there would be sunshine. I thought I’d cherish pregnancy’s possibilities… Instead, I was terrified to be responsible for such news.
Initially, pregnancy felt taboo. As if I was keeping the entire world from everyone and everything I loved. Suddenly, I felt alone. And I wanted to be kept alone. In one of the last scenes of Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp vanish into dust in the way of “accelerating the decomposing process.” That’s how I felt. In little shards, I was slowly floating into the atmosphere, swirling into unknown versions of myself and speeding up a disappearing act I didn’t want to be a part of. By not sharing this little secret, I felt like no one.
This pregnancy did not come by surprise, either. We were trying-but-not-trying to have a baby. I’d gone off birth control nine months prior. I admired pregnant women from afar: their globe, their glow. I became obsessed with them in a way, constantly trolling Chrissy Teigen and Blake Lively’s pregnancies, ogling their bumps and updates. I admired how they looked in dresses and mirror selfies. I wanted the looming of physical life, too.
My husband, Jake, came to me with baby name ideas, one for each gender, and we agreed that we loved them. I imagined Jake as a dad and his softness flooded me with glitter. We talked about children in the heat of every moment, late at night under the covers. We glowed like human-sized lightning bugs.
So when reality struck (there was a jelly bean with ear canals in the making floating inside me), I was surprised to discover shame at center stage. How could I feel like a grey orb for all the people dreaming to become parents in my life? The ones experiencing infertility? The ones struggling to adopt? I was fertile like a plush garden, spewing life and color like a Lisa Frank firehose, unable to bathe in its intensity. How could the potential of something so grand and singular transfer to a moment so diluted and unexceptional?
The Part of Pregnancy No One Talks About
No one talks about the moments of middle ground: the truth in the pregnancy test, the staying power guilt of selfishness and confusion and shock. Everyone acts like being pregnant, even if you planned it, is this perfect feeling. And it just… doesn’t have to be that right away.
In the weeks following, we kept the news to ourselves. The lack of physical change in my body confused me. Despite the invisible growth swirling in my midsection, I felt incapable of life, straddling a liminal space between old and new. I watched my body become a home for another body. On a walk, I wrote in my iPhone notepad (a treasure trove filled with emotions and to-do lists with no context), “I thought I would be ready to lose a part of myself, a past one. But we never are.”
Everyone acts like being pregnant, even if you planned it, is this perfect feeling. And it just… doesn’t have to be that right away.
One thing that gave me comfort during this time was oddly the dismal potential of loss. For a few minutes here and there, I forgot I was pregnant at all. Then I wondered, What if the baby simply disappears? That scared me. I realized if the single fear of loss could comfort me, it proved that the paradox of life offers hope, somehow. I was happy the baby rice grain inside me had the potential to break my heart. Being pregnant meant something to me then.
Love creates grief. And when we bust open the horizon with potential life, we’re opening ourselves to pain. Getting pregnant for many is saying, “There is so much love inside of me. And because I want to love more than anything else, I’m willing to risk losing a piece of who I was before.” If that’s not the scariest thing we ever do—unhinge the gates of grief to feel boundless love—that’s life’s beautiful truth.
How I Feel About My Pregnancy Now
Now, at nearly 23 weeks, sharing the news with friends and riding on time, I’m more at peace. I physically see my body changing. I have to drop barriers and ask for help. The rules have changed. Rachael Maddox writes it best: “Pregnancy is about letting your performative self die […] and so it begins. As you become a mother, your nearest and dearest become tasked with mothering you.”
My body doesn’t feel like mine anymore. I don’t mean this to sound like a bad thing. While gazing at that screen during our first ultrasound, my brain couldn’t comprehend it was my body, a muffled garbage bag of organs, putting life together like a beautiful puzzle. That’s why my body doesn’t feel like mine. The doctors fill tubes with blood. The doctors scribble down blood pressure, uterus measurements, my age. The doctors want to know all of its history—its mistakes, its pain, its sorrow, its dark corners.
My body doesn’t feel like mine anymore… While gazing at that screen during our first ultrasound, my brain couldn’t comprehend it was my body, a muffled garbage bag of organs, putting life together like a beautiful puzzle.
That’s the thing about women. One day, we have to tell everyone our secrets. We have to hand over our bodies to make life and risk loss. Motherhood is the ultimate sacrifice. Above all, the offering is us, a past self, a future self, the one we don’t know yet. We bare every secret. We scooch down the conspicuous tissue paper. We open our legs. We memorize our weight, the date of our last period, our health history, and the stories of our mothers. In a way, we are cut open for everyone to see. And our openness keeps the world spinning.
As I look forward, I know this experience will prepare me for motherhood. There’s comfort in variety, the range of who every woman can become. Motherhood territory spans far and wide; nothing is set in stone, sealed, or signed. Every pregnancy story is not filed into a single box—each is beautiful in its own way.