I take a cab home. As the lights of the city flash by, I notice a late-night chemist that is still open. I ask the cab driver to pull over, my Kiswahili all over the place but understandable enough. The lady behind the counter looks bored. This should cheer her up. “I’d like to purchase a pregnancy kit please,” I say.
She smiles. I knew she would. Everyone always assumes you want to have a baby. “Good luck,” she says and she hands me my change.
I tuck the kit into my handbag and return to the cab. Am I pregnant? Girls are always so alone in this. Mr N snores away in blissful ignorance as I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. How will my family react? My friends? My mother will be so disappointed. She brought me up on her own and never wanted for me to also end up a single mother. She talked about it incessantly throughout my teens. “Do NOT bring a baby home!” she would say. A fatal flaw the average parent possesses:
Parent: I smoked weed when I was 18, but you unfortunately can't.
Daughter: Why not? You did it.
Parent: Because I said so. Now go study or you'll end up disappointing me with bad grades.
Daughter: Why? You disappointed your parents and dropped out of school. That’s total hypocrisy!
Parent: Just do it! I'm going to light up now but remember cigarettes are bad!
And so it will be for me too. She may have been a single mom, walked a mile in my shoes but she won’t embrace this baby. As for my dad, he left us to our own devices most of my life. He just wasn’t ever there. Why start now? He won’t care one way or the other. I get home and head straight to bed.
The next morning I’m ready to discover whether or not I’m pregnant with Mr N’s kid. I look at the pregnancy kit, quite intimidated by the thought that a small pee stick can change my life forever. The best time to take a pregnancy test is with your first morning pee. The urine is far less diluted than it is in the afternoon or evening after one has consumed numerous beverages throughout the day. I hold the stick in my urine stream. Crap, this is messy! I finish and place it on a flat surface. I’ll have to disinfect that later. The box says I have to wait three minutes. Great. This is almost like being at a VCT centre. You have to sit there and wait to see if two lines appear determining if you have HIV. Torture!
A friend of mine got a false positive once. It damn near killed her when she retested and was found to be negative. But that was an exception. They’re pretty accurate these things. They detect the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin. HCG is produced in the placenta shortly after the embryo attaches to the uterine lining and builds up in the first few days of pregnancy. So if I’m pregnant, trust me, this pee stick will know it!
I go and make some coffee to distract myself. I’m nervous as hell. Three minutes. It might as well be three hours. The seconds tick by slowly – all 180 of them. It will be fine. Just fine. Totally. Fine. I take a sip and scald myself with the hot liquid. Crap! I can’t do this! I can’t have a baby! I can’t be a mom! I put the coffee down and run into the bathroom. I take a deep breath and grab the pee stick. Here it is. The moment of truth.
Will I do a dance of joy having dodged a bullet? Or will I collapse in a heap? Is there… someone growing inside me?