Finding Out I Was Pregnant in a Pandemic is the Wakeup Call I Needed

Jul 6, 2020

On the scale of things I had not planned to do during this global pandemic, taking a pregnancy test ranked at the blinking-red-this-is-absolutely-crazy level.

But I had been bleeding for three weeks; maybe something was up with my IUD?

A phone call with my doctor landed me here, nudging my boys — James, 5, and Charlie, 2 — out of the bathroom so I could pee on the stick in peace. 

This couple recently had their son during the pandemic. Here's how that went — read it here.

That March morning I had woken to snow falling; another cold Calgary quarantine day to navigate with the boys, one of whom — in full winter rebellion — put on swim trunks every morning and treated snow pants with the ire of a hated enemy. My freelance work had all but evaporated. The border had sealed me off from my American family. And now: two pink lines rapidly established themselves.

I ran to my husband, Dan, underwear still around my ankles: “WHAT THE F*&%?! This says that I am PREGNANT!”

My doctor booked bloodwork, an ultrasound and an appointment with an OBGYN. Dan pushed pause on work and took over with the boys. I spent the afternoon madly sanitizing my hands in eerily empty waiting rooms. 

The next day, an OBGYN with a tribal tattoo wrapped around his bicep introduced himself as Dr. Lee and offered his hand to shake. “I know," he shrugged, “COVID-19.” The humanity of a handshake in a moment of such wild uncertainty sent a current through me. He told me the pregnancy was either viable, ectopic or miscarrying. There’d be more bloodwork, another ultrasound and we’d know for sure in a week.

"'WHAT THE F*&%?! This says that I am PREGNANT!'"

At home, I collapsed into bed and cried.

Dan poked his head in. “Whatever you need,” he said. “Just let me know.” 

Whatever you need. How long had it been since even I had checked in with myself on that front? Somewhere between the kids, work, shuttling from here to there, laundry, dishes, house and meals (to name a few tasks), I’d scattered myself among all the doing. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was skating over the surface of my life.

But suddenly everything fell away around the one thing. There were non-negotiable appointments. And there was my confused, fragile heart.

I’d dream of holding a little girl and one day telling her how she surprised us during the strange times of COVID-19. Then, I’d think: Nope! Can’t go there! 

Some families may not be prepared for more kids. This mother argues birth control is a man's responsibility, too. Read it here.

One day, Dr. Lee called to say that based on the bloodwork, it looked like a miscarriage.

I bounced from shock to ambivalence to excitement to bewilderment to grief. I couldn't just go through the motions.

I’d ask Dan to jump in, leave breakfast cleanup for later or let myself put a cartoon on for the boys. The seas of doing would part and I’d find nuggets of time. To read. To write. To cry. To run. To stare at the ceiling and feel. Life, it turns out, can be rearranged.

"I don’t want to forget how to let things unfold rather than running so fast, my feet only skip over the surface."

After a week, I put on a pretty shirt for my appointment with Dr. Lee, ready to make the miscarriage official.

Instead, he told me: “You have a large ectopic pregnancy in your right tube. We’ll have to book you in for surgery. Today.” I burst into tears, covered my face with my hands, drove home in a blur.

We took the kids to my brother and sister-in-law’s. I pressed my face into Dan’s puffy coat at the hospital, where he was not allowed to stay. I followed the nurse to a bed in a small alcove, changed into a thin gown and asked the nurse to pull the curtain so I could unleash the tears.

I cried, of course, for the pregnancy that wouldn’t be. But my sorrow was just a drop in the bucket when it came to women and what comes with the possibility of bearing life — and when it came to what was happening in the world at that very moment. I felt connected to it all — the deepest place — in my lonely alcove where I cried and cried until four women in scrubs retrieved me, wheeled me into the vast operating room and pressed drugs into my veins that carried me away to sleep.

A young mother may have been pregnant for just five weeks, but her loss is real. She'd like to mourn. Read it here.

While I recovered, over a beer on our couch, I told Dan we had to make sure to ask each other: What do you need? Really. Because, as we fade back to a so-called normal, there are things I want to do differently.

I don’t want to forget how to let things unfold rather than running so fast, my feet only skip over the surface. I don't want to turn in the other direction when I see uncertainty, pain or fear; instead, I want to gather them close and hear what they have to say. I don’t want to forget to feel.

And I certainly don't want to forget to find pockets of time — like this one right now, writing in our loft — and claim them, shape them or simply be within them. 

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