It’s fittingly, laughably ironic that I, the world’s worst pill taker, am now required to take six of them a day. Seven if you count the prenatal vitamin. Six if you don’t count the prenatal vitamin which I don’t take nearly as often as I should, me being the world’s worst pill taker and all.
My OB gave me the package on Thursday, six months worth of six pills a day, all wrapped up in a smiley face plastic grocery bag reading HAVE A NICE DAY!
A few weeks ago, I tested positive for toxoplasmosis.
In layman’s terms, this is the reason pregnant women are not supposed to change the cat litter. In technical terms, it’s a fairly benign virus–unless you happen to be pregnant. In which case it sucks the big one. Again, technical terms.
If the virus manages to cross the placenta, you most likely want to terminate as you would with any fetus that’s blind, brain-damaged, and likely to be stillborn. So yeah, it’s not really a good thing.
I suppose I have an excuse for The 3 AM Crazies after all.
Now while you’re sitting there with your mouth agape and your open palm clutched to it, let me give you the good news: Contracting it in the first trimester means only a 15% of passing it onto the fetus. Doing so in the first six weeks means about a 2% chance. Even earlier and the odds are outstanding.
As of last week, the special lab who only charges $500 (please bring a check to your appointment) for the test, has put my estimated infection date around 4-8 weeks preconception. Which coincides rather interestingly with certain events around our household involving stray kittens who had yet to have their shots.
(And yes, I have composed the letter in my head to the vet a dozen times. I’m just deciding whether to take the angry “you fucked me” approach, or the stern, “don’t do this to anyone else ever again” route. Outcome TBD.)
So on one hand I know I can breathe relatively easy, with odds overwhelmingly in my favor. Even my high-risk OB, who is cautious in ways that I am now grateful for (i.e. providing a non-mandatory toxo test to her patients) is giving me the “you really have nothing to worry about” speech. But on the other hand, the odds were in my favor for not contracting the damn virus in the first place. It makes me wonder whether I’ve used up my Shitty Things Happen Odds for this pregnancy, or whether I’m like that William Macy character in The Cooler who has such bad luck, that he’s employed by a casino to sit down at the tables near big winners to bust up their streaks.
I’m hoping the former is the case. In which case, there’s a positive side to all this: I can eat that spicy tuna roll I’ve been craving, right? I mean, what are the odds of contracting listeria too?
Then, my OB–whose office is directly across the street from the 72nd Street apartment building hit by Cory Lidle’s plane a couple of weeks back–informed me that the one resident injured in the crash was also the woman who was sent to the hospital by a wayward Macy’s Thanksgiving float a few years ago. I suppose lightning occassionally does strike twice in the same spot.
Needless to say, lying awake at night wondering if my body is slowly poisoning the growing fetus in me is not exactly the ideal way to go through one’s pregnancy. And so I opted for a better course–denial. And it’s served me quite well so far. Or at least until this Thursday, when I was handed the bursting-at-the-seams smiley face bag jammed full of antibiotics; antibiotics that took one full month to procure, since they’re available only by special request from the FDA. Unless of course you live in any other country in the world, in which case they’ve been legal and readily available for twenty-five years. Antibiotics with the purpose of keeping whatever vile toxins in my body from entering the amniotic fluid, without harm to either me or the little 2 centimeter guy in there right now.
I rifled through the stacks of cardboard cards popping with rows of clear plastic bubbles, each bubble rattling with a chunky white pill, and that’s when I realized–I haven’t been in denial at all. Just because I haven’t talked about it much doesn’t mean I’ve been denying it. In fact, I’ve dealt with it in perhaps the crappiest way possible.
The prenatal vitamins, or the irregularity with which I take them is surely emblematic of the problem: I haven’t bonded with this growing being inside me. I haven’t thought about names or nursery colors or whether it’s a him or a her. I can smile and answer the questions (May fifth/22 months apart/Feeling better, thank you) when asked, but deep down, I feel like I’m less planning for another child than managing the affliction known as pregnancy. I’ve been more excited about keeping my weight gain 15 pounds below where it was at this point last time than anything else, really.
I can’t help but think By May 5th I could have a second child. Or by January 5th I could not be pregnant at all. But perhaps that’s true of every pregnancy, isn’t it.
And so I suppose what I’m really doing is biding time. Biding time until my amnio, three weeks from Tuesday. That’s when I’ll get the definitive answer, and that’s when I’ll be able to start looking at newborns with anticipation again, to start remembering the sweet newborn smells and sounds and squeaks and how those experiences will (in all likelihood) be mine again.
Until then, I suppose I just take the drugs, avoid the sushi, start peeking at this fall’s maternity fashions, and hope for the best.
I’ve never gotten hit with a Thanksgiving float in my life. I think that bodes well for me.