It's far from the dreamiest way to find out you're expecting: alone in a stall of your office bathroom. But it's a reality for so many working women. Those digital pregnancy tests are expensive, and they expire; you can't store a bunch at home. So when a cheapie test in the house gives you an inconclusive answer, or you just want to see a smiley face or the word PREGNANT clear as day on a digital test, you go to work (oh, the thoughts you think on your commute in), swing by the drug store, stare at the surprisingly vast array of options, pluck the one with the happiest-looking lady on the box and hand over the most life-changing 20 bucks you can spend—or, if you're like me, somehow have the presence of mind to search for a coupon and charge the most life-changing $16.99 you've ever spent.
The trip from the drug store to the office is excruciatingly long. When you arrive, you realize you don't quite have a plan. First, you hurriedly bury the pharmacy bag under every other belonging in your pocketbook, just in case a colleague approaches you and demands to search the contents of your purse (hey, you never know). Then, you plot out the best route to a bathroom, one that involves passing the fewest human beings possible, as though making a beeline to the potty is a glaring sign you are with child. Or you decide to visit a ladies' room you've never before entered, figuring you're least likely to encounter a co-worker you know.
You push open the door, praying the whole restroom is vacant. You spend an inordinate amount of time debating which stall to choose for the big moment. The wheelchair-accessible one, so you have space to pace while you wait? Nah, what if a wheelchair user rolls in? The one with the little ledge on which you can rest your test? But there's no trash can in there and how will you dispose of the evidence? So you enter the stall about which you know the very least, thinking it has to be better than the other options.
You rip open the cardboard box and then the plastic wrap, noting how fellow bathroom-goers could mistake the sound for freeing a tampon or maxi pad. And then you read the instructions, even though you're acutely aware that you simply need to pee on the stick, something even scared-shitless teens do without having to analyze the directions. Your hands shake and you worry you've peed on your fingers. Perhaps someone walks in, and for the first time, you hope they assume your silence is a result of holding your poop until they exit, rather than your true reason: waiting the obligatory three minutes until your fate is determined. You take out your phone to get your mind off of the possible baby-growing-inside-you thing, and almost drop it into the bowl because you're so nervous.
Scrolling through your Facebook feed works like a charm, and you're so distracted, that you delay checking the test a minute or two longer than necessary. Then, the moment of truth.
Happy face. PREGNANT. 4-2 (the special indicator that I was too cheap to pay for that explains you are 4 weeks and 2 days along).
The above? Not reality for working moms.
Maybe you're thrilled. Maybe you're terrified. Probably a bit of both. But you may also be regretful. "Did I just find out life-changing news by myself in a bathroom stall at my workplace?" "What's my next step? Text my husband from the potty?" "Am I now going to go to my desk and have a regular work day?"
The answers: yes, maybe and good luck.
Like so much about pregnancy, a lot of it is glorified into moments perfectly packaged for social media. But when you work, it may not be practical or possible to set aside time and space to take a pregnancy test while your loved one anxiously waits on the other side of the bathroom door. It's good prep for the rest of working parenthood, a journey in which you're tasked with accomplishing so much in the most efficient way possible, even if it doesn't always unfold in the special ways your perfectionist self has envisioned.
While it may feel like it was a mistake to learn you're expecting alone in a pretty public restroom, keep in mind: It's not like many women side-step the less-than-magical peeing-on-a-stick part. And would you honestly want your partner standing beside you, gripping the hand that isn't steadying the test while you urinate? (You would? OK, we're different.)
No matter how you found out, you're a mom, and a damn good one, deftly prioritizing what's truly worth making a memory out of (your child's birthdays, family vacations) and what is just as important without fanfare, like taking a piss.