It was not shaping up to be a good day.
Initially it had shown promise: October 4, 2012, was a Friday, the beginning of Columbus Day weekend, and my husband had a half day, so we were planning to go out to lunch and run some errands. I had my quarterly CT scan scheduled for the following Tuesday morning, and the imaging center had called me that Thursday afternoon to ask me their regular round of questions:
“How much do you weigh?”
“Are you allergic to latex or contrast solution?”
“Do you have any problems having an IV put in?”
“What was the date of your last period?”
As to that last one, well. I hadn’t had my period in a couple of months, though I knew there was no chance I could be pregnant. My husband and I had tried for three years. We’d consulted with fertility specialists. I’d taken Clomid. I’d undergone six rounds of IUI, three rounds of in vitro, and all manner of hormone shots and supplements, all to no avail. And then, in early 2010, I’d been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and endured invasive surgeries and generous helpings of radiation and chemo. Given my wonky cycles of late, I’d undergone some testing and was told I was in the midst of perimenopause. Not exactly a shock to me, even if I was only 41.
So, not surprisingly, I hesitated at that last question. And then the person from the imaging center informed me that I’d have to get a blood test at my ob’s office to rule out pregnancy.
I was annoyed, to say the least. I was hoping to enjoy a nice afternoon with my husband, and instead, I had to spend it taking a pregnancy test, of all things? And because my CT scan was scheduled for first thing Tuesday morning after the Columbus Day holiday, I had to make sure my Friday afternoon blood work was rush-processed and the results were faxed to the imaging center by the end of the day. After the test, my husband and I went out to lunch and ran our errands as planned, but I had my phone out the whole time. I was in constant contact with a nurse named Bonnie, who was trafficking the blood work and subsequent paperwork for me at my ob’s office. What a hassle, I thought. What a waste of my time.
So, there I was, on the afternoon of October 4, 2012, wandering the aisles of the Hobby Lobby, of all places. (At the time, I didn’t know anything about the store, or their stance on women’s health, though I’m more than aware of it all now, including the irony.) They’d just opened near me, and I was looking for yarn for a scarf I’d planned to crochet for my mother for Christmas. My husband was looking for decal paper for a model car he’d been building, so he was somewhere else in the store. When my phone finally rang, I was relieved, because Bonnie had assured me that she’d call to confirm that the results were in and were being faxed. Finally, this whole stupid situation was going to be over.
“Hey, Bonnie,” I said, trying to hold the phone at my ear while wrangling an armful of yarn.
“Hellooooo, Kara,” Bonnie crooned. I laughed. I knew we were both glad we were getting to the end of the ordeal.
“Thank you so much for getting back to me,” I said. “And for running around for me all afternoon.”
“That’s OK,” she said, her voice still buoyant. “Are you sitting down?”
When she said those words, I just knew. I can’t fully describe my physiological response at that moment. It was a cross between my heart stopping, my stomach dropping, and nearly passing out.
“No, Bonnie,” I managed. “I’m standing in the Hobby Lobby with an armful of yarn.”
“Well…we got your results…and you’re more than five weeks pregnant!”
I never thought I’d hear those words. Though I knew it was happening, I also knew it made no sense.
“There must be some mistake. Are you sure?” I asked.
“We’re sure!” she said, laughing.
I seem to remember asking Bonnie, in several different ways, how this could have happened. She remained patient with me through it all, bless her heart. Finally, she said, “Congratulations! Go tell your husband!”
“OK…” I said. And then, my arms still cradling all those skeins of yarn, I started wandering the aisles, looking for Scott. If you haven’t been in a Hobby Lobby—and I hope you haven’t, even if they do have a decent yarn selection—it is downright labyrinthine, especially when you are in total shock. Thankfully, Bonnie stayed on the line with me until I found my husband, who was still considering the decal paper.
“SCOTT!” I yelled, immediately getting his attention. He would tell me later that my tone of voice and the look on my face made him panic, as he’d assumed he’d done something wrong. Au contraire, mon cher.
I put my hand on his chest—partially to connect with him, partially to stabilize myself—as I delivered the news. He blinked, numerous times, as he took it all in, and then his eyes grew teary as he hugged me.
We spent the rest of the afternoon engaged in a whirlwind of activity. (I did manage to stop and buy the yarn, the first and last time the Hobby Lobby will ever get my money.) Bonnie squeezed me in for an ultrasound at a hospital in Providence, and before we knew it, we were looking at our unborn child, not much bigger than a speck at that point. But it turned out I was more than five weeks pregnant. I was closer to six weeks, which meant that we were not only able to see the baby—on October 4, 2012, my husband and I were able to hear his heartbeat for the first time.
If you’d told me, that morning, how my day would end, I would have laughed in your face. But there I was, hearing that little insistent bell of life resounding in my body, the same body where malignancy had been discovered and removed and treated just two years before. It blew my mind. It still does.
“We’re having a baby,” my husband and I kept reminding each other, as we moved through the remainder of that day, and many more to come, in a fog of shock and confusion and joy. “WE’RE having a BABY.”