All My Imaginary Children


One of the cruelest ironies about life with ladyparts is that the same symptoms that you are about to get your period can be attributed to early pregnancy.  [To be fair, based on my personal history of Googling every weird thing my body every does, pretty much any physical symptom can signal pregnancy, up to and including bleeding out your vagina, which, you know, is supposed to be the "all clear" when it comes to these matters.  Totally unfair.]

I don’t get my period regularly because I have an IUD.  This also means it is incredibly unlikely for me to get pregnant; it is more than 99% effective.  So when I got tired and moody and my back ached and my boobs got so tender I couldn’t run even with two sports bras on, I figured it was PMS.

But then I didn’t get my period.  And my body started to do other things that the internet in all its baby-obsessed wisdom insisted might be signs of pregnancy.  Night sweats? Pregnant.  Watery eyes? Pregnant.  This Diet Coke doesn’t taste quite right? Pregnant.

And somehow, “there is a less than 1% chance that I am pregnant but my Google searches keep auto-completing with the word ‘pregnancy’” translates in the (hormone-addled, hysterical) ladybrain to “OMG I AM TOTES PREGTASTIC.”

So from the time that Imaginary Fetus is conceived until the time you get to the pharmacy to pick up a 3-pack of piss divining rods, you start to play out your Hypothetical Spawn’s entire life in your head, and more importantly, your own brand new Changed Forever Life. I’m sure I’m not the only person who does this [anybody see How I Met Your Mother last week?  This all went down last Monday.  My name is Robin.  CREEPY, RIGHT?]

So my brain goes into a spiral of baby speculation.  Will we still move to South Africa? What is pre-natal care like in Cape Town?  Will our baby forever annoy everyone by being the white brat who calls himself  “African?”  OMG, do I conceivably have the time to convert before the baby is born?  Oh god, will I have to appear before a South African bet din?  I’m I going to have to pull of Afrikaans-accented Hebrew?  I can’t do that! But I want Jewish babies! WHY DID I PUT THIS OFF!? 

Wait, oh my god, I’m going to have an infant to care for 8,500 miles away from the nearest grandparent?  I can’t do that. We can’t have this Imaginary Baby in South Africa! 

Which means this poor kid is going to grow up thinking he crushed his father’s dreams.  I can’t do that to my baby, to my new family.  Maybe we need to be strong and let Collin go to South Africa alone, and I’ll stay here to raise the baby.  It’ll be like he’s off at war.  Collin’s grandfather didn’t meet his first kid until he was 14 months old because of Korea.  God, remember that episode of M*A*S*H where B.J.’s baby calls Radar “Daddy”?  I’m already crying.  Oh man, I’m crying over the memory of a later-season episode of M*A*S*H.  I am SO OBVIOUSLY PREGNANT.

Spoiler alert: I’m not really pregnant. Yay! Sushi for everybody!

I’m glad they only sell pregnancy tests in multi-packs, because the next time a patchwork quilt of random body quirks morphs into a hypothetical baby blanket, I won’t have nearly as much time to freak out over  a baby that doesn’t exist yet.

Have you made Baby Contingency Plans during pregnancy scares and/or whatever-word-people-who-are-actually-trying to-procreate-use-for-when-they-think-they-might-be-pregnant (“pregnancy tease?”), or am I the only one with a whole brood of hypothetical accident babies living in my brain?  Does that make me crazy? Or is it just a sign that I might be pregnant?




  1. I always make baby contingency plans when I think I might be pregnant. “Ok, we’ll have to finish the guest room and change it into a baby room. How much do I have off work? We’ll obvisouly only feed it good food” I get way ahead of myself. There is a MAJOR freak out, then calming myself down (usually on the way to and from the store to buy a pee test) then the overwhelming relief of not actually having to figure any of it out.

  2. I have so done this. Complete with life planning.

    But because I’m SUPER crazy, in the time it takes me to get the damn test, take the damn test, and have the damn test confirm I am, indeed, NOT pregnant … I get sad that I’m not. As in overwhelming grief over an imaginary baby.

    Stupid brain.

  3. We had a scare two months ago. I named him (well, it was a boy, obvs).

  4. i have done this several times.

    the one time i didn’t do this? when i was actually pregnant. and *so sure* that i wasn’t.

  5. YES. All of this is yes.

    I’m not currently on birth control, due to medical reasons, so every time this happens I think back to that *one time* something with the condom went even a little wonky (or if it didn’t, I try to create in my mind a time that it might have gone wonky, because apparently I enjoy making myself crazy… well, crazier). I then start to freak out about every time I had a drink of any kind since that *one* time our theoretical baby *might* have been conceived that month, and obsess about what I have done to our poor fetus before it’s been born and we have a proper chance to really mess up it’s childhood. I may or may not nickname the possible fetus Theo-Baby — for Theoretical Baby — in my mind, regardless of gender.

    I go through all the things we’ll need to do to make space for Theo-Baby and worry about whether or not we’ll annoy/lose a roommate, one of whom is the husband’s brother. Then I’ll get cranky at said roommates because theoretically they are already annoyed by Theo-Baby’s possible presence, even though they both moved in with us knowing that we are a married couple wanting kids at some point. So neither roommate knows why I’m cranky/avoiding them for about a week and then all of a sudden fine with them the following week…

    I am awesome to live with, I’m sure.

  6. Oh, I know the world of over-crazy imagination.
    My husband’s best friend is married, his wife and I have been friends for over 5 years and always talk about trying to have our babies around the same time. (it’s really because baby A won’t have any cousins close to their age so baby F is the next best thing).
    ANYWAY, at dinner last night, she tells me that they’re going to start trying in 2013 for a 2014 baby. This seems SO far away until I did the math. That’s EIGHTEEN MONTHS from now that they’re hoping to get pregnant. 18 months is not that far away and I am freaking out. F and I always had the “kid by 28″ timeline but I’m starting to worry that deadline is coming up so fast.
    I own my own business, what if I can’t financially take the time off to have a baby? What if I can’t get pregnant easily? What if we get to that year and neither of us are ready? What if what if what if??
    I always dissolve into a puddle of worries and doubts, I swear I should have a Xanax every time I think about the future and have a panic attack.

    Also, I pretty much proclaim “tequila for everyone” when I get my period, does this make me an alcoholic?

  7. ha, I do this too. and I definitely haev leftover piss sticks for next time it happens. (why is it that occasionally PMS is so terribly intense as to cause such panic?!)

  8. HA! “Piss divining rods” might be the best phrase in the whole wide world.

  9. Oh I do this all the time, specially since we are trying kind of. Well we are actually. There were 2 times that I was so so sure, and it went exactly like you said. Sometimes I even think that maybe it is one of those cases where the zygote is reabsorbed before it implants, which can delay your period. But maybe I am just making myself crazy, with all the possible scenarios, like Amelie thinking about the boy she likes in afghanistan among goats.
    Thanks for sharing, if it is only craziness we can be united in it.

  10. Oh man, I do the contingency planning too! “We’d have to move back to Atlanta in order to afford to have a kid. Yay, we own property there and won’t have to pay exorbitant SF rental rates every month! But we really *like* SF… but I’d also have a very clearcut reason to pause grad school. But then I’ll lose my insurance. Could I get onto Jason’s insurance? Is pregnancy considered a pre-existing condition? Oh my God, I won’t be able to quit school. We’ll have to stay in the Bay Area. Far from all our parental support. And and and…” Probably better to just stock a few pee sticks, eh?

  11. I must be in a whole other class of pregnancy freak-outs, because my first thing is ‘where’s the nearest abortion clinic? does my health care cover that? google says it does. i need a day off work. oh god oh god please let this be in my imagination.’

    Yes, I’m married to a dude I plan to have babies with. I am playing for the majors in Not Ready for a Baby though.

  12. I’ve been doing this for the past 12 years–sometimes even when I’d been single and NOT SEXUALLY ACTIVE for over a year. I hate this shiznit.

  13. I HEART this post. Ummmm, pretty hard.

  14. I am so glad I’m not the only one who does this! I worry ever so slightly every single month, then realize it’s only been two weeks since last month, so I usually don’t run out for the divining rods. Every once in a while though, I go into full-blown panic mode.

  15. Ha, yes! I did this to myself *before I’d ever had sex with anyone*. Somehow, even knowing it was 100% impossible didn’t stop my mind from getting ridiculously carried away. How’s that for crazy?

    And now, I still do it occasionally–you are exactly right: every PMS symptom is identical to an early sign of pregnancy (at least according to the weird message boards I dig up at 2am via google). And this last time? Not only was I late, I was nauseous IN THE MORNING.

    Of course, my contingency plans are complicated by the fact that we’re fairly certain we don’t want kids ever… so the options I run through in my mind are limited and a bit grim (and no, these scares haven’t changed my mind on the not-wanting-babies thing). And then, of course, I think “goddammit, why haven’t we just gotten a vasectomy?” Though “we” isn’t exactly the right term. ;)

  16. I have taken two tests in my life. The first was after agonizingly putting off buying the test for like 2 extra weeks, telling myself it was just a wacky cycle (ultimately…IT WAS. But why did I wait SO LONG to check? Because neurosis, that’s why.)

    The second, well, I had that extra test lying around from the first purchase, so I had no excuse to avoid the question, and *boom* mind at ease.

    Thinking about this, I should probably just go stock up while I’m not in the midst of a freak-out.

  17. Pingback: All My Imaginary Children

  18. Oh yes, this. This same exact thing… that I happen to be going through RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE. Which means I’ve already counted forward to figure out when the baby would be due, and decided we need to move before then, and we’ll also have to cancel all the summer trips we have planned. Stupid imaginary baby! Ruining my summer fun!

  19. After an “oops” night with The Candyman (damn the Tuaca!), I’m playing the 8mm film of My New Life in my head. It’s on a loop.

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