Among the things one shouldn’t eat when they’re pregnant are raw eggs and shellfish. This week, I had both. I ordered a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp at a local café, and have been hiding the fact from my husband for three days. He’s been on me since the egg transfer: don’t lift this, stop eating that.
“Sunny side up eggs, over easy,” I told the waitress the other day at breakfast.
“You should get them ‘over hard.’ “ he said.
“’Over hard?’ What the heck is that?” I asked.
“It’s like over easy, but they’re harder,” the waitress said.
“They’ll be like hard-boiled eggs. I’m not eating that,” I said to my husband. “Over easy,” I told the waitress.
But not only did I have a Caesar salad and shrimp the other day, I ate the shrimp despite detecting a faint odor —one of those food odors that seem to say, “I might be off. I might be fine. But you won’t know til lay-ter.”
It’s possible the shrimp may simply have absorbed the smell of some other food cooked on the grill, I thought. And then it’s possible the shrimp didn’t really smell at all. It may have been my imagination. It reminded me of the Edgar Allen Poe story, “The Tell Tale Heart,” where a man smothers the old man with whom he lives because he can’t stand the site of the old man’s vulture eye. He chops up the old man’s body and conceals the pieces under the floorboards. When police investigating the murder arrive at his home, the killer says the old man is in the country and brings them into the old man’s room, chatting with them right above spot where the body is buried. Police suspect nothing, but suddenly, the killer begins to hear a faint noise that grows louder and louder. He concludes it is the heartbeat of the old man coming from under the floorboards. Fearing the officers also hear the sound and suspect him of murder, he confesses and tells them to tear up the floorboards to reveal the body.
As I paid my bill at the café, I considered asking the owner of the restaurant if it’s possible the shrimp was off, but I didn’t want to insult him. He’d just opened the place recently, and I didn’t want him to think I was accusing him of trying to poison his customers.
As I walked home, every time I thought about what I’d eaten, I felt awful. Well that’s just great, I thought. Now, if it turns out I’m not pregnant, I’ll always wonder whether I killed the thing by eating rotten shrimp. And then I realized that’s precisely why I ate them. Faced with the prospect of profound disappointment, it was better to stomp out hope. One has to wait nearly two weeks after an egg transfer to take a pregnancy test and find out whether you’re going to have a baby. The impending disappointment is almost too much to bear. A few days this week, I’ve thought, “Oh, just give me the fucking verdict already. It’s so mean to have me wait this long in hope when it’s only going to end in tears.” Sometimes it’s easier to just create your own verdict.
I think of the Friday afternoon we found out my father had cancer as the day we found out he was going to die. While he was given a decent prognosis at the time, I cried so much for the next few days that by Sunday morning, my eyelids were swollen like a boxer. But I always remember that while me and two of my siblings found out about my father’s condition Friday afternoon, my brother, Richie was incommunicado and didn’t hear the news until late Friday night. And I always thought Richie had about 12 extra hours of happiness with our father because he was completely unaware he was dying.
Despite everything I’ve said, I’ve wondered a few times this week whether I should just wait a little longer before taking the pregnancy test, maybe until next week or the week after, like someone might walk around for days with the envelope containing the results of their bar exam. That way, they don’t have to know if they failed. I wouldn’t mind the feeling that I might be pregnant for just a little longer. Sometimes the truth can wait until tomorrow.