“I think I might be ‘with child,’” I tell my husband, leaning hard against the kitchen island. I can’t bring myself to use the other word—it feels too biological, too real. He scoops wood-roasted espresso beans from a mason jar and empties them into the coffee grinder. “Should we get a test?” he asks, cranking the handle with one hand.
I have a test in the cabinet—one of those two-for-one kits I bought the last time this happened—but I can’t bring myself to tell him that. I listen to the sound of beans burring. It’s too early for confession.
The truth is, I don’t want to take the test. The truth is, I relish that swimming feeling of maybe, of being suspended in a situation with difficult consequences. I was beginning to forget all about my body, you see, which felt like a problem houseplant more than anything else—yellowing aster, or wilting oak, drooping from lost turgidity, roots decaying from rot.
I think about how I could let a baby grow, let my breasts get fuller, feel fabric shrink around my body, have my husband bring me breakfast in bed on a wooden tray—a cup of peppermint tea, a halved grapefruit—and maybe I’d let a Healthline article convince me to start eating eggs again. I could be the kind of woman who wears linen sundresses and listens to old jazz records, who holds up a set of headphones to her belly, feeling, desperately, for a kick.
Perhaps I could lose a baby. I could fall down the stairs of our stoop, I could gulp too much white wine with my Claritin. I could have a panic attack. I could bleed, and cramp, and expel tissue. I could make a thing that might exist inside of me, not exist.
Existing, not existing.
My husband looks worried. “What do you think?” he says, handing me a cup of coffee.
I blow at the wafting steam and take a sip, but I don’t answer. I just sip.
“I think you should take the test.”