“Where do you want to go to dinner tonight?” Jose asks me a few months into our married life.
“I’m not sure I still want to,” I admit.
“But it’s date night,” he says looking disappointed.
“I know, but I’m really sick. This stomach bug is something else. I can’t seem to shake it. There’s no way I can even think about food like this.”
Disappointment flashes across his face once again.
“We’ll see,” I say.
Despite his disappointment, we end up skipping date night. Instead, I spend the evening vomiting.
The following morning I wake up with a migraine strong enough to kill the devil herself. I spend the rest of the weekend in bed and when Monday morning rolls around, I don’t want to get out of it.
As my alarm clock does its job, it sounds more like a warning than a friendly notice. Unfortunately for me, I have a meeting scheduled first thing.
Dave will kill me if I call in.
Glancing at the clock on my nightstand, I know I’ll be late if I don’t start moving right now.
I hate wearing pants.
Reluctantly, I roll myself out of bed. My feet touch the floor and the laminate floor feels cold against my skin.
All right, let’s do this.
I get ready as quickly as I possibly can. Somehow, I’m on time for my meeting. After it’s over, I make my way back to the office. Before I can even make it to my desk, the urge to wretch consumes my entire existence. With my hand over my mouth, I bolt for the bathroom.
A week later, I’m wiping my mouth in the work bathroom once again.
I wonder if my coworkers can hear me vomiting? This is the flu that won’t quit. Wait.
“Flu that won’t quit,” I say aloud to myself. A wave of familiarity washes over me. It can’t be. I shake my head in disbelief as the possibility hits me. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My eyes look simultaneously sunken in and widely panicked.
You look like shit.
Another wave of nausea consumes me and for a moment, I think I’m going to be sick again. The sensation slowly subsides. I breathe a tired sigh of relief.
It can’t be pregnancy. Can’t be. Can it?
Panic sets in. I decide right then to take an early lunch, at the pharmacy. On the drive there, I’m so scared that I can feel my eyes inside my head. They feel larger than life and busting at the seams. I expect them to leak out of my eye sockets any minute. Pressing my foot on the gas, I pick up speed.
Sniffling along the way, I carefully flirt with the speed limit. The last thing I need is a speeding ticket.
Sniffling. Definitely the flu. Sniffling isn’t a pregnancy thing, is it?
Thirty-nine impressively long minutes later, I’m in my bathroom staring at a negative test result and breathing a giant sigh of relief. A second later, a hot, dull ache in my boobs demands my attention. I realize then that I’m clutching my chest. There is something unsettlingly familiar about this.
Clutching my chest a bit tighter to relieve the discomfort, I lean in to view the results of the test one last time. Relieved to see the single line still staring back at me, I toss the negative test in the trash.
Shaking off my emotions, I call Dave and let him know I need to work the rest of the day from home. He says he understands, but his tone doesn’t match his words. Like a good employee, I ignore this and begin cleaning up around the house. Deciding it’s way too quiet, I put in Kelly Clarkson’s CD, My December. As her voice floats throughout my home, I get blissfully lost in the process of cleaning.
A few minutes into my cleaning fest; my phone rings, interrupting me. Turning down the volume, I wipe my hands on my jeans and cradle the phone between my shoulder and my ear.
“Hey bitch! It’s me!” Noel greets me enthusiastically.
“Hey bitch,” I greet back smiling.
She begins filling me in on her latest and I happily welcome the additional distraction. To keep my hands busy while I listen, I resume my cleaning spree.
Moving on to the bathroom, I quickly wipe down the bathroom counters, stopping to admire their sheen. Satisfied with the way they glisten, I decide to take out the trash before moving on to the kitchen.
“Hold on,” I say quickly into the phone right before placing it on the counter to empty the decorative trash bin. Grabbing the bin, I stop in my tracks. I let out a small gasp and bring my hand to my mouth.
Ew, that’s your cleaning hand. Gross. Stop that.
Quickly taking my hand away, my eyes zone into the little window on the stick I’d pissed on only minutes before. Staring back at me is not one, but two pink lines. Blinking in disbelief, I put the bin slowly back in its place.
How can this be?
Still grasping the positive test in my hand, I slowly shake my head.
“Jessi? Jessi? Jessi?” I hear faintly through my forgotten phone on the counter.
Swallowing hard, I slowly pick up the phone.
“S-sorry,” I stammered. “Cleaning.”
“You okay?” Noel asks me. Her voice is filled with concern. My tongue momentarily ceases to move. When it does, I say the first thing that comes to my head.
“I think I’m pregnant.”
There’s a pause on her end.
“What makes you think that?” She asks uncertainly.
“Well, mostly because I just took a test and it’s positive but also the vomiting and the growing jugs. Stuff like that.”
This pause is a longer one.
“Are you excited?” She finally asks me.
“Not really sure,” I say replying honestly.
My stomach sinks and a wave of dizziness washes over me.
“I gotta go,” I say before hanging up the phone. It feels like I’m about to vomit.
“Ok, keep me posted.”
“I will,” I promise.
Setting the phone back on to the now glistening counter, I lean against the wall and sink to the floor next to the toilet. I take a deep breath and promptly vomit, almost as if on cue.
By the time I start vomiting blood a few days later, I know this isn’t just ordinary morning sickness. It’s its ugly cousin. Hyperemesis gravidarum.
This would make my third nightmare pregnancy. Memories of vomiting for months on end drift through my head.
The pregnant women that waltz through the room emitting a beautiful glow, with a smile plastered to their face while they gleefully rub their bellies? That’s never been me. I was always the one too busy puking. If there was any glow to me, it was either vomit or sweat.
How am I going to hide this?
At work, I do my best to hide my secret, but as I realize that I’m surrounded by men, the panic begins to set in.
They have never had to endure this so how can they possibly understand what I’m going through? How can they understand what it’s like to work every day, even though you have the sperm flu?
Each day, I show up for work later and later. With each of those passing days, I show up looking more of a mess than the day before with even bigger blobs of fresh toothpaste splattered across my chest.
Eventually, I have no choice but to break the news to them. When I do, I think they already knew and were just too polite to say anything.
Thankfully, I’m still managing to reach my sales goals. I anxiously hope the revenue I’m bringing in makes up for my lack of punctuality, but I can still sense my boss’s irritation with me. When he finally says something about my tardiness, it still surprises me.
I’m the highest-earning rep that they have. Doesn’t that count for something? I’m running circles around these dudes and somehow, it’s still not good enough?
I want to tell him that there isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t want to call in or quit, but I don’t. Instead, I hide my disappointment. I was looking for some compassion, but I quickly realize, perhaps compassion and business don’t mix as well as I thought they did. Outwardly apologizing, I can’t help but think how easy men have it.
I wish pregnancy upon them all.
Regardless of my feelings about it, I take the constructive criticism on the chin even though all I want to do is punch him in his. Refusing to play the victim, I finally ask for help at my next doctor’s appointment.
Having barely gained a pound, he prescribes me an anti-nausea medication. The listed side effects make me nervous, but with me now officially the breadwinner, what choice do I have?
From his office, I leave the doctor’s office and haul ass straight to the pharmacy.
This is going to be life-changing.
“That’ll be $400 the pharmacy clerk says to me.”
“What?” I ask uncertainly.
“$400. Well, that’s if taken once a day. If you need it twice a day, it’s $700.”
“Insurance doesn’t cover this?”
The clerk shakes her head. “I’m sorry, not for this.”
I can feel my shoulders fall with disappointment and I hope that she doesn’t notice. As another wave of nausea engulfs me, I decide that desperate times call for desperate spending, even if I don’t exactly have the money to spend.
“One dose a day then,” I say reluctantly.
As I hand her my card, I know that we can’t even afford this. Ideally, I need two to three doses a day putting the final monthly cost closer to $1000. We just don’t have it.
I start taking the medication the very next day. I happily swallow my dose each morning, letting the grape taste of death dissolve against my tongue. Truthfully though, even in full effect, it hardly touches the unrelenting nausea that continues to linger throughout the day. By evening my dose wears off completely and I find my head in the toilet every night.
I should have married for money. What was I thinking? If all I had to do was carry the baby and lay in bed, maybe the sperm flu wouldn’t be this bad.