“I hate to be the one to lay something so heavy on you,” the ultrasound technician began. “But it looks like you’re pregnant.”
Pregnant? Impossible. I was on Depo-Provera, the wonder drug, injectible birth control you only have to take four times per year. No periods, no hassle. After a year on it, I was in love. Or rather, up until that moment I was.
I had had some minor bleeding the day before. “It sounds like nothing,” my doctor said. “But why don’t you come in for an ultrasound and we’ll take a look.”
“This couldn’t be an early miscarriage, could it?”
“Oh, no,” she assured me. “No birth control is one hundred percent, but Depo is pretty close.” How close? According to the web site: 99.7 percent.
I lay on the table, shaking. Despite my earlier miscarriage question, I never really considered the possibility I might be pregnant. Grapefruit-sized tumor, sure. Benign cyst? Possibly. But pregnant? On almost-one-hundred-percent-reliable Depo? Never.
I thought back to my initial miscarriage question. “Is there a heartbeat?”
“Yes, there’s a heartbeat.”
She sent me out to the waiting room so she could take measurements from the pictures, and I sat and wept alone as the lone other couple in the waiting room watched me nervously. They were pregnant. They probably assumed I was crying because I wasn’t.
I was still shaking when I went back to see the nurse practitioner, who eyed me nervously and asked what I wanted to do. She knew nothing about me. I could’ve been unemployed and single. Pregnant from an extramarital fling.
I was none of those things. I was married, two wonderful sons, fairly young and fairly stable. I had no reason not to keep this baby. Except, of course, that I didn’t want it. I didn’t say that, however. I just looked at her evenly and said, “I’m okay,” even though I clearly wasn’t.
Reassured, the nurse read from my file, “Well, it looks like you’re seventeen weeks along . . .”
Seventeen weeks. Four months. I was four months pregnant and hadn’t known it. I was one of those women I always mocked when you read about them in tabloids.
The next few weeks were a slow blur. According to the measurements, I had received two Depo injections since conceiving the baby. No one knew, however, what Depo could do to a fetus. I was referred to a specialist, who of course couldn’t see me for two weeks because of the Christmas holidays. I felt frozen in time, fearing something was horribly wrong, and if so, wondering if I’d ever be able to abort a four-and-a-half-month-old fetus.
I didn’t have to worry. Ironically, Depo is about the best thing you can be on while pregnant. It’s pure progesterone, which is often given to pregnant women to help maintain a pregnancy. My ultrasound looked good, the fetus was exactly where it ought to be, and it was a girl. After my younger son Ronan was born, I had resigned myself to life without pigtails and prom dresses. But there she was.