In March 2014, I did not get my periods a week or so after the date I was supposed to get them. Considering that we had had many disappointments with respect to pregnancy earlier, the OH and I did not want to get our hopes high. We bought a home pregnancy test kit, and planned to test early the next morning. I couldn’t sleep all of that night.
The next day dawned bright and clear and, as planned, I said a quick prayer and went into the bathroom with the kit. The test was done. I left the kit in the bathroom for the requisite 10 minutes, came out and sat with the OH on the sofa. Both of us were jumpy beneath our cool exteriors, discussing the events from the day’s newspaper. When the 10 minutes were up, I went to the bathroom to take a look at the kit and could see only one line. Negative. Again.
When I got out of the bathroom, the OH was waiting for me. I handed him the kit. He took one look at it and said – ‘It looks positive!’ I nearly fainted. When I took a closer look, I could see a second, very faint line. It was almost invisible, which was why I hadn’t noticed it before. Amma was called immediately, and she supported our decision to see a gynaecologist the very next day. So, off we went.
The usually friendly gynaecologist I used to see had a frown on her face while she checked me up. Then, she checked me up all over again. ‘I can’t see anything, ma,’ she told me. ‘Well…. OK,’ we thought. ‘I’ll write a blood test for you, though,’ the doctor suggested. ‘It is called Beta hCG, and can detect even very early pregnancy. Get the test done preferably at the same time on two consecutive days, and the hCG value should double if you are pregnant. Let’s wait and watch, all right?’ She did the best she could, but to us, then, everything sounded cold and clinical.
I gave a blood sample at the hospital the very same day and came back the next day for the other one. We could collect the reports a day later, but we could opt for getting them over e-mail too, the lab technician told us. The e-mail results could be delivered within a few hours. The suspense was killing us by now and we decided to lessen the wait as much as possible. We chose the e-mail option.
When I checked my mail later that day, I was in for a surprise. The Beta hCG level had more than doubled; in fact, it was a little over triple the original count. More confusion. We decided not to read up about this on the internet, but go to the gynaecologist again.
This time, the doctor congratulated us, and confirmed the pregnancy. ‘The level has tripled, huh? There might be….’ she said, and then her voice trailed off. When I worryingly asked her if there was a problem, she was quick to reassure me. ‘No, no, there is definitely no problem. Rest assured,’ she said. ‘Go for a scan in the Radiology Department after a week or so,’ she suggested.
Now, Radiology scans in our hospital need to be booked quite some time in advance, so we decided to get an appointment immediately. We got a date a week later. The receptionist took a look at the blood test reports, glanced up at me and asked ‘Are there twins?’ We had no clue, we told her, the doctor hadn’t said anything. ‘OK, we’ll see,’ she told us. Was that why the gynaecologist had stuttered and stammered earlier?
By the time the day of the scan arrived, morning sickness and hunger pangs had set in. Mornings passed with great difficulty, and I would spend the rest of the day – and night – hungry, asking for snacks and glasses of milk. The rate at which I was gobbling up food astonished my Amma so much that she predicted I would have twins. A cousin from the US of A added another vote in favour of twins. I was too hungry and tired and sick at this point to care. ‘Let it be. One labour pain, two babies,’ I would quip.
The radiology scan suggested that there *seemed* to be only one foetus, much to the relief of my Amma. The third-month scan confirmed that there was *indeed* only one foetus. ‘Why? Were you expecting more than one child?’ the radiologist asked me when I checked with him. ‘No, I just asked,’ I muttered nonchalantly. ‘Are things fine?,’ I asked him. ‘Yes, at this stage, they are fine,’ he told me. There was that cold and clinical tone again. ‘There are no obvious defects,’ he said. And that was that, for then.
At that stage, we didn’t know that Madame Bubboo was determined to enter the world, come what may.