• Ashley

Pregnancy test bully

I can’t tell you the last time I took a pregnancy test. That might sound crazy considering we’ve been trying for over 50 cycles. The thing is...the test is a bully. It gets such satisfaction out of my sadness. When I used to take them, I would plead with them: Maybe you missed something; isn’t it worth looking again; can’t you try harder to find something?

Feeling like I was at the mercy of this inanimate object, I decided to take my fate out of it's hands and stop testing. I sure taught these tests a lesson: you can’t fuck with me anymore. I won’t allow you to continue to hurt me. I won't give you the satisfaction of making me read the words "Not Pregnant" repeatedly.

Side note, Clearblue: your word choice is way harsh.

But I made a promise to be hopeful this time. Crap. If I’m hopeful, and a day late for my period, that means I’d have to take a test. My husband and I talked about when and if to test. He helped me feel less afraid (have I mentioned how great he is?). So I made the decision to test in the morning.

After a restless night of tossing, turning, dreaming, anxiety, sweating, and more anxiety, I was hit with the realization that this feeling wasn't new to me nor was it specific to my fertility struggle. This sense of being vulnerable and exposed. Feeling out of control and childish. The first time I remember this feeling was twenty years ago when I became the target of a bully. Her name was Aubree (name changed because...she doesn't matter here). She was the leader of a gang of girls who made it their mission to destroy me. She mocked the clothes I wore, the size of my nose, the frizz in my hair. She wrote poems detailing everything that was wrong with me, why no boy would ever like me, and why no one wanted to be my friend.

She stole my sense of safety, trust, and comfort of being in my own body.

Every night before bed, restlessness and anxiety waited for me in my bedroom, lurking in a dark corner waiting for its prey. Every morning, I felt a sense of dread. On the drive to school, I prayed that the traffic light would stay red as long as possible so I could stay in the safety of my parents’ car. I longed for the red light only to prolong the inevitable truth that I would have to face another day getting emotionally assaulted. I didn’t share the bullying with my parents or teachers; instead I chose to remain silent, stoic, dignified in the face of torture. (Kids, DON'T do this!! Talk to an adult!)

So I knew what I needed to do, but I was hesitant. My refusal to take a pregnancy test was my way of avoiding her; staying at the red traffic light as long as possible. This morning, the light turned green. I had to face it. I went into the bathroom and unwrapped the test. I couldn’t even look at it; ashamed and embarrassed and feeling like a child. Terrified that bringing it out of the wrapping would just lead to shame, again. The test would do whatever it could to make me feel uncomfortable in my own body.

I wish I could say this morning had a happy ending. That I triumphed over the bully. Unfortunately, that happy ending isn't here yet. That awful digital test loved making me read “not pregnant”. How heartless. Doesn’t it know the damage it's causing? Doesn’t it know how painful it is to be mad at your own body? Can’t it just try harder to be nice?

Just as my 12 year old tears eventually stopped -maybe through the passage of time, maturity, moving onto high school and finding truer friends – the tears I shed now will stop. I look forward to a future in which all of this emotion and inner turmoil will pay off. Today, though, I am sad; for me, for my husband, for every person who has to deal with pregnancy tests which read "not pregnant" repeatedly.

This feeling cannot last forever and I will, again, learn how to be comfortable in my own body. Aubree is no longer part of my life but she will always be part of my story. No matter how our fertility journey ends, it will always be part of my story. The difference is, I’m 33 – not 13 – and I can ask for support instead of staying silent. This is me not staying silent. This is me sharing my sadness and welcoming support.

I'm forever grateful for the allies I've made through this online community. There's strength in numbers and, together, we're bigger than our bully.

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