A walk down the Walmart aisle
‘It all started with a smiley,’ she said.
‘Yeah, a cute little smiley on the ovulation test. The one which shows your most fertile days,’ she clarified. We have been trying for two years then, casually. Nothing serious. We were young. 25 and a few months here and there. Then, just before holidays, I bought an ovulation test for myself. I picked it from the aisle in Walmart, close to the condoms section. I said, ‘gift me this for Christmas,’ and he agreed. Just like that. He agreed, picked a 10-count box and threw in the cart, along with sanitary pads and dental floss. I still remember. We laughed, made a few jokes and went to Roy’s home for dinner. It was there in the trunk of the car the entire evening. We picked it when we came back home. I didn’t use it that month. I was busy, very busy.
‘Hmmm… so you never get it wrapped and he didn’t place in under the Christmas tree,’ he joked.
‘No, no, no! He bought another gift for me and put that under the tree, instead,’ she continued. ‘It was a Kate Spade handbag. And, I loved it. In fact, I carried that 10-count box in it the next month we went for a winter trip.’
He smiled. The kind of smile you hear. Not a laugh, not a grin. A big smile with a sound.
She smiled that way too. ‘So, where was I? Yeah, we went on a trip. Actually, I calculated my ovulation dates using the online calculator. My peak days coincided with our weekend trip, so I carried it along. I threw it inside my Kate Spade purse, and made a mental note of taking the test early morning.’
‘Did you take the test early morning?’ he asked.
‘Oh, I did. I set the alarm for it,’ she answered. ‘I got up at five, peed in the cup they keep for coffee, and immersed the test in it. You know, it takes a lot of time for the result to show. Unlike pregnancy test, ovulation test takes a hell lot of time. Instructions say it takes 5 minutes. But at five in the morning, it seemed like eternity. I waited, and waited, sitting on the commode. And, it was disappointing to see - a big circle, instead of a smiley on it. Then, I lost my sleep. I went back to the bed, googled online ovulation calculator on my phone and double checked my fertile days. Something was wrong. I got worried. I knew many couples who had problems conceiving. Was I one of those? Thought hurt like a bee-sting. I dozed off later. But, something was definitely wrong.’
‘Oh, that’s bad. What happened then?’ he was quite interested now.
‘I took the test again next morning and nothing. A black outline of a ‘circle’ stared at me. I didn’t enjoy that weekend getaway. I am pretty sure, I spoiled it for my husband too.’ She said with a hint of laughter in her voice. ‘We came back. My 5 o'clock alarm was set for everyday now. The third day I closed the soaked tip with the cap, and it showed a positive result. I guess one has to close the soaked urine tip for the test to work properly. You know, so it doesn’t react with air or something. Anyway, I was elated. Actually, I was proud. I mean, what if I was non-fertile? I guess women too have that complex too. Like men are sensitive about their manhood.’ She chuckled. He looked seriously at her. ‘We made love that night. But I didn’t get pregnant. It took us five months. I mean, to get pregnant.’ She smiled and turned her head towards the window. She closed her eyes, felt the sun rays on her face and continued after some silence… ‘But we lost the baby. I started bleeding when I was eight weeks pregnant.’ ‘Oh, sorry,’ he said like he meant it. Like he could feel her pain.
‘It’s alright!’ It was a long time ago.’ She said with a poker face. They remained silent. She got up, poured herself a glass of water and drank it in one go. Placing the empty glass back on the table, she started again, ‘I still remember the way I wept, though. I was heartbroken. The doctor said it was normal. There was nothing to worry. I hated her for saying that. I cursed her while coming back home. That emotionless bitch!’ I was really angry, you see. He nodded.
‘We took a break for three months. Doctor said so. By the time, we were back in the mood to plan a baby, it was Christmas again. Can you believe it… a year passed and we were still a childless couple? It saddened me. I felt hollow inside.’ She paused. He could see some shine in her eyes. The one that you get one your eyes are wet with tears. He didn’t say anything. She didn’t say anything too. It was an empty moment in their conversation which was filled with a silent understanding.
‘But hey, that didn’t dampen our Christmas spirit. We attended a lot of parties that year. It snowed heavily. It was a perfect holiday season. I still have pictures on my laptop if you want to see,’ she changed the tone to a happy one. ‘Yeah, sure.’ ‘So, when did you get pregnant?’ He wanted to hear the complete story now.
‘I bought the ovulation test again in January. We tried, and it was in May that I missed my period. It was just a day over my due date, but I knew I was pregnant. I had similar signs that I had from my last pregnancy. I bought the pregnancy test from Walmart on my way back from Office. I took the test as soon as I reached home and well, I was pregnant.’ She said with a smile. ‘But I was scared this time. I didn’t celebrate it either. I kept it a secret till 4th month. Till the doctor said everything is ok and I started showing.’ ‘That’s good! You were pregnant, finally.’ He felt the story has reached a happy end… till she said, ‘No!’
‘No!’ he repeated.
‘Well, I was pregnant. But being pregnant and ‘delivering a baby’ are two different things. And there is a lot that can happen in nine months. I was nearing my fifth month of pregnancy, and I was in the office when I started bleeding. I rushed to the bathroom and there was blood. A lot of blood. I screamed, I cried. I was sure I lost the baby. Someone called the ambulance, and I was rushed to the emergency. I was crying and screaming the entire time. They told me to stay calm and I told them to fuck off. Yeah, I said that. They must be stupid to say ‘calm down’ to a pregnant-childless-bleeding woman. I was hysterical.’ Her restlessness was evident from her body language as if she could still feel the agony. He wanted to get up and give her a hug. He really wanted to. But didn’t get up. Instead, he looked away.
‘Do you want to hear the rest of the story?’ She felt he was exhausted from the emotional outpour. ‘Yes, yes. I want to.’ He said looking at her.
‘Ok. I was in the room and bleeding had stopped. They gave me injections. They did the ultrasound. It was retroplacental bleeding, the doctor said. Nothing major. It happens when someone is under a lot of stress. They recommended the bed rest and sent me home. Everyone was worried. My parents and in-laws rushed the next day. I took leave from office. It was a very tense time for our family. Five months along and bleeding. The fifth month of pregnancy is the safest, they say.’ She chuckled. ‘Ask me, fifth month onwards my real misery began. I was bed-ridden, off-work and surrounded by two pesky and over-caring mothers. Too love care can be suffocating, I tell ya!’ She said and flicked her hair.
‘My mother stayed with me throughout my pregnancy. It was difficult with each passing day. I bled when I exerted. So, I was in bed for the rest of the time.’ ‘Must be difficult for you.’ ‘Yes, very,’ she continued. ‘It was in the eight months that I reacted to the sudden buzzing of the cell phone and slipped. My water broke and I was rushed to the hospital. They did the C-section, and we welcomed a premature baby boy in our lives.’ They both smiled at the mention of a newborn. It was as if the news just broke.
‘So, that’s how our son came into the world. But, where was I the whole time?’ He asked with a hint of concern. He wanted to feel important. He wanted to be a part of it.
‘Honey, you were right here. After you met with an accident and discharged from the hospital. We brought you here. Try to remember. When I was recommended the bedrest, we had one extra bed right in the corner for me,’ she pointed towards the right side of the room.
‘Yes, I remember. You were always there.’
‘Right! See, you remember.’ she went close to him and adjusted the pillow.
‘I’ll remember it now. It started with a smiley and ended with a baby. I got it all here,’ he knocked the right side of his forehead with his index finger.
She collected the empty glasses on the tray forgetting the number of times she has narrated the same story in the last six years.