Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oh, my blastocyst

It should be easier to pee on a stick. The little picture in the directions is so delicate and clean, and also assumes that the woman in question does not know the general area from which pee comes. In movies and on television, you don't see actresses spraying pee everywhere when they take a pregnancy test. Not to tickle the gag reflex or anything, but it was not pleasant. It got on my hands, on my legs, on the toilet seat, on the floor, on my sweatpants. I sat the test on the edge of the sink and cleaned up. By the time I was done with that and was wondering when the results would show, I glanced at the stick, and it showed those two pink lines. When I came out to the kitchen Pete asked when it would tell me, and I said that it already did.

"What did it say?"

"It says that I am pregnant."

My main reaction was bland. I was not surprised, but I was a bit surprised. I had thought that we might encounter some trouble getting pregnant. I had not expected that it would only take two months. In that respect, I felt relief. I was happy in there somewhere, but I think I was mainly stunned. It was December 29, I was one day late, and I needed to know as soon as possible. New Year's Eve was right around the corner, and that champagne toast was off.

I did the test because I just had a feeling. My boobs were big and sore, and I was exhausted. I was used to periods lasting 26-28 days. Sometimes 29. I figured Day 30 would be one day late, and that was enough.

They start counting off your 40 weeks of pregnancy on the first day of your last period. During weeks 1-2, you are not actually pregnant. Pete has had trouble wrapping his mind around this and accepting it: that first two weeks is the time leading up to fertilization. When the doctors say you are 6 weeks along, you have only been actually pregnant for one month. Pete keeps wanting to subtract those two weeks and won't just accept it and let it be.

At conception, the sex is determined. The sex of the zygote, not the sex of the participants, although that hopefully did consist of at least two parts determination, depending upon the amount of alcohol involved. In our case, it was probably a hangover the morning after Pete's birthday, for just a little more oversharing. But come on, we are talking about biological processes here at their most fundamental, so you will just have to bear with me.

For Pete's birthday, a Thursday, we got together with a few friends, after work, for "a pint." $75 dollars later, at 10:00, we went home and went straight to sleep. Friday was a rough day, lucidity-speaking. Mathematically, it was anything but rough: November 30-December 14. That's about right.

From conception, the cells double every twelve hours, not that I had any idea of these goings on. In three days, it's a tiny raspberry of 32 cells that is called a "morula." "Morula" is not on the list of possible baby names. This is when it arrives at the uterus from the fallopian tube. A couple of days later, it has hit the spot and is called a "blastocyst," which might be a good superhero name, if a superhero only consisted of about 500 cells. It clings to the wall of the uterus until it releases enzymes that eat away at the lining so that it can attach. Nice start! It all sounds a bit parasitic. 12 days after fertilization, it has set up shop. Merry Christmas!

We were in Massachusetts, celebrating with family, unaware that I was incubating. On December 28, it was about 1/25th of an inch long. The book is calling it "your baby," terminology that makes me wince every time that I read it. It offends my semantic and moral sensibilities. Were my "baby" to be a three-layered cluster of cells, I think it would be much less fun to show off to the family. My blastocyst has an ectoderm, a mesoderm, and an endoderm. Awww, how cute!

Don't get me wrong, I am happy to be pregnant, Pete is happy, we are happy. It is what we wanted. But this is a 40 week journey during which many things can go wrong. I don't have a baby. I have a blastocyst.