For the life of me, I couldn’t tear my gaze away from that fucking pregnancy test strip. There was no denying it. The result band was at least twice as thick as the control. So what did that mean—I wasn’t just knocked up, but heavily knocked up? If that hadn’t been my urine that had colored the white field blue, I would so have cracked a joke about it.
Guess what? Joking? The last thing on my mind right now.
It felt like ages until I let the breath out that I’d been holding, feeling my shoulders sag along with my deflating rib cage. The resulting sigh was the only sound in the room, both Kara and I hesitant to break the silence.
“Shit,” I finally croaked out, echoing her sentiment.
Because when it rains, it pours, or how did that fucking proverb go?
I knew that my mind was slowly grinding back into gear when a slew of profanity wanted to make its way out of my mouth, but I swallowed it all down.
The best thing, really? I had no one else to blame but myself.
“Yeah,” Kara said, gnawing on her lip as she kept looking between me and that strip, her arms crossed over her chest. “Exactly how—“ she started, then cut herself off swiftly. “Let me guess. That pill strip that you dropped? Took you all of one week to forget you’d need to take one every single day.”
Her words burned like fire across my mind, dripping with scorn that I knew she hadn’t put into them.
All I could do was nod.
“Yup. That’s why you go to medical school and spend the next seven years working yourself to the bone. So you blow it all because you can’t even pop a pill every twenty-four hours for more than five consecutive days.”
I had excuses, of course—a schedule that often made it hard to gauge what time of day it even was, let alone what day of the week. More stress than was sane, or healthy. All the shit going on with work. And the guys. And changing my living arrangements. And the new jobs, plural. And the neighbors. But even as all that swarmed my mind, I immediately discarded it. I’d lost my damn IUD before most of that had come to slap me in the face with a vengeance. It had even been in the only slow, rut-like part of the entire last year, when it had been just me and Jack, with Simon away for a week and months to go in my residency rotation…
Months ago. Months in which I could have, any day, really, remembered. But, alas, no.
When I looked at her again, I found that Kara’s frown had deepened.
“Seriously, how can you forget?” Then she seemed to remember something. “Why were you even on the pill? As preachy as you are about permanent hormonal contraceptives, one would believe that one company or another had sponsored your education.”
I really didn’t know how to respond to that, and with my brain on autopilot, the truth was what actually came over my lips.
“I was up for a change, I guess. The fucking thing came out on its own. And, you know me, when I blew the doctor’s appointment that I got for the next day, I couldn’t very well call again and reschedule.”
Her snort interrupted me. “Yeah, I see where this is going.”
Shrugging, I glared back at the strip, although it felt more like a forlorn look. “So, I just grabbed a sample pack from the pool, popped the first one right there, and—“
“And because you never had to incorporate anything like that into your daily routine, you forgot the next time anything shook it up,” she finished my sentence with.
I nodded, feeling my cheeks heat up with mortification. “Switch to night shift, likely. Or back to day. Or Simon getting home from his book tour. It happened around that time. And the rest is history.”
Silence fell, of the really uncomfortable kind.
“So, let me get this straight,” Kara prompted. “You have sex with two guys almost every single day and you completely forget that you’re off contraception—for months. And then you don’t even realize that you’re pregnant until you find that damn pill strip again? You’re my new hero, Erin. I think that feat overshadows every silly thing I’ve ever forgotten.”
“Yay me!” was all I had to offer in response. Really, what else could I have said?
The way she kept looking at me turned to scrutiny now.
“You don’t really look pregnant. I mean, you’re what, three months along now?”
I gave another helpless shrug. “I have no fucking clue. That was back in, what, July? Early August? I kind of had my period when the IUD came out, so let’s say at least three weeks from that until the earliest date of conception? Yeah, something between one to three months.” I had not the faintest clue how early these tests worked, but while until ten minutes ago I hadn’t even considered the possibility, I couldn’t help but feel like this had been going on for some time now. “Besides, do you know how being knocked up feels?”
There was a pause before Kara replied, a pause that made my heart seize up, a wave of pain and sympathy coming up inside of me. Yet before I could say anything, she rolled her eyes and whipped out her phone, the “whatever” snort that she gave a clear warning to drop the point.
“Googling ‘first trimester signs,’” she narrated her action, her eyes remaining glued to the screen longer than perfectly warranted. “Well, you obviously don’t have any severe nausea, because I think that would have tipped you off earlier,” she commented.
I was about to shake my head, but then stopped. “I’ve had a kind of unusually upset stomach of late, but I chalked that up to everything else that’s been going on. I mean, how do you feel when everyone’s out to get you but you have to keep confronting them every single day?”
“Sorry, but increasing sense of paranoia’s not on this list,” she quipped, continuing on. “If you’re less than three months along, you’re probably not popping out of your pants yet. Although they looked a little tight when you came over earlier.”
Another shrug. “I’ve been eating a lot of shit of late. Could just be, you know, me actually getting fat independently of that.”
The fact that I didn’t get a snarky reply was more depressing than anything she could have flayed me with under normal circumstances.
“Okay, what’s next? Oh, this is a good one,” she cooed, then fixed me with a playfully stern look. “Tender breasts?”
I stared back at her. “You do know what Simon and I get up to? There are entire weeks where ‘tender’ is putting it mildly.”
Kara produced a lighter version of her usual sneer. “Well, I’ll take that as a ‘no,’ or else you would have likely kicked him into the stone age already.” She switched her focus back to the list. “Any unusual cravings? Swelling? Tit-unrelated tenderness or pain? Sheesh, this reads like anything could be a symptom.”
“Yeah, next you’ll convince me that this is almost like the end of my life as I know it,” I jeered.
Her usual temper returning now that she got over the shock, she rolled her eyes at me. “Like you weren’t thinking it.”
Gnashing my teeth so didn’t help. “There’s no sense in reading stupid blog posts on the internet. Until I have confirmation from a doctor, I’m not going to lose my head over this.”
“Too late,” Kara muttered, flashing me a fake grin when I flipped her off.
“It could be something else, too,” I pointed out. “Like an ovarian cyst. Or cancer. Or something else that makes estrogen or progesterone spike in my urine.” Grabbing for the instruction sheet, I started scanning it. “What does that shit even react to? For all I know it’s something in that fucking awful strawberry cake that I ate earlier.”
“You know, it says a lot about the kind of person you are that you prefer cancer to having a kid,” Kara surmised.
Dropping the sheet, I glared up to her. “Hello? Surgeon here. Any solution that involves cutting something out is always first choice.”
That fake grin of hers turned into an almost-jeer. “That’s always another option, too, you know? Just saying.”
With that, she left me sitting there on the closed toilet, but it took me all of two seconds to follow her—after discarding all the evidence in the trash can. That was not a thought I wanted to be alone with right now—or ever, I realized. Oh, somebody wasn’t going to get a lot of sleep tonight. Or ever again.