I sat on the toilet bowl, legs and hands trembling. The afternoon sun made its way through the slatted blinds throwing shadows that undulated against the cream colored wall. Dust motes danced in the air. In front of me on the tiled floor lay an innocuous plastic test. I watched as the urine traveled from one corner of the well to another moving slowly. I watched as the fabric of the test absorbed the liquid and changed color. It crossed the control line and worked its way to the test line. I watched with bated breath, my universe tied to it with a tenuous thread. The seconds ticked, its significance amplified by the closed bathroom where I sat. The control line darkened to a deep hue of pink. I turned to look at my phone which doubled as a timer. I had two minutes left. I turned to the test again. I looked but did not see. My mind was far away.
For years, I had sat like this, test on the floor, eyes wide open for fear of jinxing the result. I have imagined war whoops of joy. I have plotted innovative ways of surprising the husband with news of impending parenthood. When it did happen, parenthood I mean, it was over the phone. Both of us seated side by side, the social worker spelling out details and me typing away on the laptop. Putting the phone down, I turned to him and said "Twins!" He looked at me incredulously and pronounced me mad. From hearing about impending motherhood to becoming a mother, it was all of one week.
"Not one positive test result" I have often moaned to my sisterhood of fellow infertile women. They would nod understandingly. They knew. They had been there too. We would swap tales of miscarriage, chemical pregnancies, no pregnancies, protocols, prescription details and best ways to give shots ourselves. We would hold each other as we sobbed, pray for each other unborn children and send baby dust into the ether. When the odd person in the group reached the Holy Grail, we would weep and bid adieu and wrap ourselves tighter in the circle.
As the years rolled past and motherhood consumed me, the days of obsessively tracking my cycle, absently wishing for pregnancy, faded and in its place was nonchalance, a disregard for the monthly sloughing off. Often I would wish it away, cursing under my breath. So, one August when it appeared that my period was late, I was annoyed. I was annoyed that now I would have to remember to pack a pad in my purse. I was annoyed at the overwhelming exhaustion that consumed me. When one day became three, I hated that I was beginning to obsessively worry. One dizzy spell over a stove of stir fried vegetables had me calling my mom in panic asking about menopause. A look at my water logged, PMS-ing body in the mirror a week later had me sobbing.
Pregnancy remained a faint specter around the edges of thought. I was late therefore I could be pregnant. I had never once in 12 years of marriage or nine years of treatment and actively trying for a child had a positive test result, therefore I could not be. The battle raged in my head. The husband was blissfully unconcerned, dismissive of my hormonal swings. In one such a fit, I stormed out of the house in the early evening sun, my silver Prius glinting as it purred along windswept roads, my thoughts in a swirl. I marched inside the local Dollar Tree and walked out with one test. Yes. Just one test.
That test lay at my foot holding truths that would turn my world upside down. The timer went off, dragging me back to the real world. A world populated by twin four year olds who needed to be fed, cared for and cuddled with. A ghost of a line shimmered and danced in front of my eyes. Not the solid deep pink of the control. Not the white nothingness of an evaporation line. A pink line, pale and flushed marked where the test line was. I stared until I could no longer. I sat till dark welts scored the underside of my thighs. I sat till the episode of My Little Pony finished on the TV downstairs and the next one started.
The evening light changed direction and I rose, gingerly stepping over the test. I washed my hands wondering what I would tell my husband of twelve years. This was a moment I had imagined in many joyous ways. Yet, at the moment, I felt nothing. I felt numb. I felt empty. I felt devoid of emotion.
All I could see was a ghost of a line that could potentially change my life.