It’s True: Goverments Do Get The Best Drugs

It’s fittingly, laughably ironic that I, the world’s worst pill taker, am now required to take six of them a day. Seven if you count the prenatal vitamin. Six if you don’t count the prenatal vitamin which I don’t take nearly as often as I should, me being the world’s worst pill taker and all.

My OB gave me the package on Thursday, six months worth of six pills a day, all wrapped up in a smiley face plastic grocery bag reading HAVE A NICE DAY!


A few weeks ago, I tested positive for toxoplasmosis.

In layman’s terms, this is the reason pregnant women are not supposed to change the cat litter. In technical terms, it’s a fairly benign virus–unless you happen to be pregnant. In which case it sucks the big one. Again, technical terms.

If the virus manages to cross the placenta, you most likely want to terminate as you would with any fetus that’s blind, brain-damaged, and likely to be stillborn. So yeah, it’s not really a good thing.

I suppose I have an excuse for The 3 AM Crazies after all.

Now while you’re sitting there with your mouth agape and your open palm clutched to it, let me give you the good news: Contracting it in the first trimester means only a 15% of passing it onto the fetus. Doing so in the first six weeks means about a 2% chance. Even earlier and the odds are outstanding.

As of last week, the special lab who only charges $500 (please bring a check to your appointment) for the test, has put my estimated infection date around 4-8 weeks preconception. Which coincides rather interestingly with certain events around our household involving stray kittens who had yet to have their shots.

(And yes, I have composed the letter in my head to the vet a dozen times. I’m just deciding whether to take the angry “you fucked me” approach, or the stern, “don’t do this to anyone else ever again” route. Outcome TBD.)

So on one hand I know I can breathe relatively easy, with odds overwhelmingly in my favor. Even my high-risk OB, who is cautious in ways that I am now grateful for (i.e. providing a non-mandatory toxo test to her patients) is giving me the “you really have nothing to worry about” speech. But on the other hand, the odds were in my favor for not contracting the damn virus in the first place. It makes me wonder whether I’ve used up my Shitty Things Happen Odds for this pregnancy, or whether I’m like that William Macy character in The Cooler who has such bad luck, that he’s employed by a casino to sit down at the tables near big winners to bust up their streaks.

I’m hoping the former is the case. In which case, there’s a positive side to all this: I can eat that spicy tuna roll I’ve been craving, right? I mean, what are the odds of contracting listeria too?

Then, my OB–whose office is directly across the street from the 72nd Street apartment building hit by Cory Lidle’s plane a couple of weeks back–informed me that the one resident injured in the crash was also the woman who was sent to the hospital by a wayward Macy’s Thanksgiving float a few years ago. I suppose lightning occassionally does strike twice in the same spot.

Needless to say, lying awake at night wondering if my body is slowly poisoning the growing fetus in me is not exactly the ideal way to go through one’s pregnancy. And so I opted for a better course–denial. And it’s served me quite well so far. Or at least until this Thursday, when I was handed the bursting-at-the-seams smiley face bag jammed full of antibiotics; antibiotics that took one full month to procure, since they’re available only by special request from the FDA. Unless of course you live in any other country in the world, in which case they’ve been legal and readily available for twenty-five years. Antibiotics with the purpose of keeping whatever vile toxins in my body from entering the amniotic fluid, without harm to either me or the little 2 centimeter guy in there right now.

I rifled through the stacks of cardboard cards popping with rows of clear plastic bubbles, each bubble rattling with a chunky white pill, and that’s when I realized–I haven’t been in denial at all. Just because I haven’t talked about it much doesn’t mean I’ve been denying it. In fact, I’ve dealt with it in perhaps the crappiest way possible.

The prenatal vitamins, or the irregularity with which I take them is surely emblematic of the problem: I haven’t bonded with this growing being inside me. I haven’t thought about names or nursery colors or whether it’s a him or a her. I can smile and answer the questions (May fifth/22 months apart/Feeling better, thank you) when asked, but deep down, I feel like I’m less planning for another child than managing the affliction known as pregnancy. I’ve been more excited about keeping my weight gain 15 pounds below where it was at this point last time than anything else, really.

I can’t help but think By May 5th I could have a second child. Or by January 5th I could not be pregnant at all. But perhaps that’s true of every pregnancy, isn’t it.

And so I suppose what I’m really doing is biding time. Biding time until my amnio, three weeks from Tuesday. That’s when I’ll get the definitive answer, and that’s when I’ll be able to start looking at newborns with anticipation again, to start remembering the sweet newborn smells and sounds and squeaks and how those experiences will (in all likelihood) be mine again.

Until then, I suppose I just take the drugs, avoid the sushi, start peeking at this fall’s maternity fashions, and hope for the best.

I’ve never gotten hit with a Thanksgiving float in my life. I think that bodes well for me.


101 thoughts on “It’s True: Goverments Do Get The Best Drugs”

  1. Wow! I’m certainly sending lots of prayers and good thoughts your way. Here’s to a good outcome. Thinking of you,

  2. i know this is scary for you… and i’m keeping all my thoughts positive and hopeful and sending them ALL your way. i, too, had a new cat when pregnant with my first child, and was given reason for concern. i was fine, and i know you will be too. after the amnio, when you know for sure? THEN i’ll head into the city and help you kick that vet’s ass. (or sign the petition, whatever you have in mind). be well… and for godssake, take those pills *after* you eat the tuna roll, otherwise, they might make you sick. xoxo

  3. oh, I hope you’re done, too! Like pregnancy isn’t fraught with enough worries. I hope you get the all-clear soon and can get back to the regularly scheduled pains and concerns.

  4. Clearly the stats are in your favor. But I’m sure you’re anxious nonetheless. On top of all the anxiety, I hope you don’t feel guilty that you’re not “bonding” just yet. You know there’ll be plenty of time for that.

  5. My boys are 22 months apart and you are gonna have a great time, honestly. Hard? Mabye but so was calculus and organic chemistry but this is way more fun!

  6. Oh, that sucks. As if you don’t have enough to worry about. I hope the next three weeks go by as quickly as possible for you so you can have some piece of mind.

  7. you poor sweet mama!that’s not fair!your baby is so lucky to have such a smart, caring mother + (i am crying for you that you have to go through this. i’ll be sending you positive healing protective baby + mama energy).is there a color i can turn my blog for toxoplasmosis? keep your sense of humor + take good care of yourself + your car thief 🙂

  8. Liz. Of course this situation sucks. There is nothing I can say to make it any better. But I can share with you that I didn’t feel all that bonded to my twin fetuses for most of my pregnancy. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. And then it did, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes that couldn’t be controled by diet alone and I had to give myself insulin shots in the stomach three times a day and prick my finger five times a day.It sucked. But it also got me more in tune with the fetuses within. It was only after a few weeks of this hellish regimen that I realized how much I wanted them and how much I loved them. I’m willing to bet that something like this will happen to you too. It is the things you fight for that you value most.Love you.Hal

  9. Holy crap. That is a really terrible way to have to spend your pregnancy. I’m so glad the amnio is only 3 weeks away, so you can get your answer by December. I wish I knew what else to say.

  10. You’ve got my well wishes too! I remember feeling exactly like you do when my triple-screen test came back positive for Down’s Sydrome. It wasn’t until further testing that I could start the process of bonding. Big hugs until you can rest easy.

  11. Take the pills. Write yourself HUGE remind-y type notes and put them everywhere to make sure that you TAKE YOUR PILLS.The (fortunate? no, that’s not the right word…you know, something in that vein without being so chipper) thing that will help the three weeks go by faster is that you already have a little one to distract you. During my second pregnancy the time was just a-flying along (and really, I felt a little cheated, as I didn’t get much time to just lounge on the couch and enjoy watching the rolling of the baby belly as she did her cartwheels). Even when I got the blood test results that said that it was likely that I was *either* carrying twins OR there was something wrong with the one in there (what kind of options are THOSE??), I found the focus on Mark really helped the time go faster til the next tests. (and it turned out to be hidden option c: nothing wrong, no twins, just a f***up on the test)Hugs & prayers for you! mkp.s. Did I mention REMEMBER YOUR PILLS!

  12. shit shit shit shit shit.but…it’s going to be ok. really. easy for me to say, but it seems that if your high risk doc is telling you to not worry about it, then…the denial thing. i don;t think (personally) that this is necessarily unhealthy. one person’s denial is another’s way of not obsessing and becoming stressed and unhealthy. what can you do but plough on? i hear you on the “not bonding” thing, but it seems like you are creeping out sensibly on that one. seriously, what could you achieve by spending more time thinking about it right now? (mind you, i am one of those women who takes the minimal amount of tests–this might be my own form of denial, i realize).after my blithe post on drinking alcohol the other week, yesterday i was sitting listening to the BBC and there was a FAB story on fetal alc. syndrome and how it causes autism and ADD and and and and, and I FREAKED. (which is not like me). How could I be so cavalier? What is WRONG with me that I can’t resist a glass of wine now and then? Why why why?This whole magic of reproduction thing–it’s magic, but it’s for the fucking birds sometimes, you know?anyway–get yourself nice and fat, buy some big ass pants, and soak in all the positive vibes that are floating your way right now.

  13. My mom contracted toxo while pregnant with me, and as a result I have no central retina in my right eye. Other than hating volleyball and other ball sports, it isn’t a big mom got toxo from eating steak tartare (or rare steak), which is far likelier than from cats. but rare meat doesn’t get the same press as cats.I hope everything works out as well for your baby as it did for me, or better!

  14. My philosophy is don’t worry until you have something to worry about because it doesn’t change anything. I’m a huge believer that the mind is smarter than the body. So put it into your mind that everything’s fine. It’s hard to tell someone else not to worry but, don’t worry. I’ve decided to worry for you. My list is so long already that adding your situation to it won’t be a problem. xxoo

  15. You know I will be thinking of you for the next few weeks and praying for the best. What a rotten thing to happen to such a nice person and a great mama. Hugs and love.

  16. Totally sending positive vibes your way. I can only imagine the next three weeks are going to suck … hang in there, we are all rooting for you!

  17. I started reading this post thinking you had an overzealous pharmacist.Jeez, Liz, am sorry. The last thing a pregnant woman needs is more goddamned worry.Thinking of you, though, and also thinking it will all be OK.

  18. I know this is going to seem like the longest three weeks of your life, but a positive outlook goes a long way! It still sucks to have to wait it out, though. My prayers are with you. I’m sure as your doctor says, that all is fine. But, you don’t deserve this worry or angst, that’s for sure.

  19. That totally blows. The next three weeks will drag but then you’ll know. How long does it take to get the amnio results? If you are in the clear at this amnio, does that mean you are good to go for the rest of your pregnancy as long as you take the big bag o’ medicine? Oh, and will you be able to find out the gender from this amnio and do you want to know?Good luck, sending prayers your way…

  20. Wow. That’s a lot for one woman to take. Be strong, take the pills, and avoid the giant inflatable turkey.Sending you good thoughts and virtual cookies. Or how about chocolate chip banana bread? Apple pie? Just ask and it’s your’s.

  21. Oh my Liz. That is insane. I have noting really to say except I’m sending positive thoughts your way.

  22. Not sure what the vet situation is, but as a hothead I feel obligated to tell you that I’d go for the flaming bag of dogshit. A big bag. Like a Hefty Lawn and Leaf Bag. Catapulted through the front window.

  23. Ugh. So sorry, Liz. My doc ordered me to have an amnio w/ my first pregnancy (I was under 35) and the waiting just sucked. So I’ll be thinking of you and hoping you get great news very soon.

  24. im saying a little prayer … im sure it will be fine stay away from parades till january 🙂

  25. I’m sure this is scary, but you sound like you’re handling this as well as could be hoped for. Like your OB said, you should have nothing to worry about. But I’m sure the waiting is hard. I’ll be praying for good news for you.

  26. Not to take morbid pleasure in your situation (which sucks, ugh, I’m sorry), but it’s nice to hear that someone else feels less connected to pregnancy #2. It doesn’t make me feel better, necessarily, but at least I’m in good company.

  27. If you’re a worry wart by nature, then, YES every pregnancy brings an unmanageably long stretch of justified worry. But, add a real reason to worry? That’s a lot to take.Thinking of you…

  28. I’m thinking of you. But I know you will be ok …And that thanksgiving day parade lady? Maybe she needs to go to LA, too. (I would make sure not to move into her neighborhood, though).

  29. Fingers crossed for perfect results from your amnio. While I was pregnant, I ate a lot of spicy veggie rolls and used my imagination.

  30. oh mama, hang in there. I’m sending my very best, healthiest pre-natal vibes right in the direction of your belly.

  31. I think that’s just about the best excuse for the 3-AM-crazies I’ve ever heard, actually.Fingers crossed for this to be but a small bump in the road, darlin’.

  32. Wow. I worried about that one too…never actually caught it that I know of….but worried about it.You should send that vet a box of cat poop and anthrax. But have someone else pack it for you.

  33. Delurking to say, I am so sorry to hear this. And only you could make this kind of news both entertaining and humorous. I’ll be waiting anxiously to hear your news and hoping for the best.

  34. Aw, everything just has to be OK. Because the float thing is just too freaky.Don’t you love how no one tells you it’s not only cats that you can get toxoplasmosis from? It’s all over the soil, too.

  35. Oh Liz. I’m sorry for what you and Nate (and Thalia) are being put through.People always asked me if I would have rather known something was wrong with Shalebug while I was pregnant. I always said no, because the outcome would have been the same and there was nothing that could have been done to change it. I would have just been miserable for the entire pregnancy. It would have been difficult to find any joy in the pregnancy – what with all the nausea, weight gain, deformed child, etc…I’m sorry you have to face this terrible anxiety.I hope things work out the way you want them to and I certainly hope Thalia has a brother or sister on May 5 to annoy her in the oncoming years.Good lucks. My thoughts are with you.

  36. Ugh. I’m so sorry to hear that you have yet another thing to worry about. I’ll be thinking of you these next few weeks — good luck with everything!

  37. Good God, woman. Sending positive thoughts and all manner of prayer and good karmic energy and….ah… let’s see – Pixy dust, and white light? – your way.

  38. De-lurking to say, in an uncharacteristically serious tone, take care of yourself. I will be sending daily positive thoughts your way. And if you need help drafting any sort of letter to the vet, please let me know. Grrrrr.

  39. Hi liz,This sucks, but I have to let you know that I understand. My son contracted fifth’s disease (a bening virus except when you’re pregnant where there is a change of fetal anemia and stillbirth) and during the two weeks I had to wait to find out if I was vulnerable I literally “forgot” that I was pregnant. Just in case.Also, my triple screen with my first baby was disastrous. The 3 weeks I had to wait for the amnio were terrible.I hope everything works out for you too. There is no guilt in not “bonding” with a pregnancy, exp.. under this situation.

  40. I’m really sorry about the taxoplasmosis thing. That bites. I hope it has no impact at all.The bonding thing – it was so different my 2nd pregnancy, as I’m sure it is for most. I was a lot less “perfect” in trying to do everything “right” by the baby. And I had so much anxiety about having another child, which made me have no desire for the pregnancy to end, although ironically it did end more than 6 wks sooner than it should have. Anyway, I wish you luck. Keep popping the pills. May the amnio hurry up and get here, may the results hurry up and get here, and may you thereafter start getting all weepy and excited about the arrival of Thalia’s little brother or sister!

  41. So sorry, Liz. What you’ve been going through… ugh. I’m sending all the positive vibes that I can muster in your direction. And hey, I’ve never been hit by a Macy’s float either, so that must be a good sign?((hugs))

  42. At least you aren’t the Parade/Plane lady. What are those drugs, anyway?All through my 2nd pregnancy I was much more worried about my 1st child then I was about the imminent arrival of the 2nd. As long as you bond when s/he is born you’ll be OK. Meantime, choke down those pills and stay positive.

  43. Oh holy crap, what a lot of worry to be carrying around with you… I’m sorry for the awful stress you must be under, and I do hope all your (completely justifiable) anxieties are for naught.Thinking of you…

  44. well wishes from me, too. Pregnancy (and parenting) is such an ass-kicker of a lesson in surrender, isn’t it? sending all my toxoplasmosis-destroying thoughts…

  45. Oh, for fuck’s sake.I am pretty much just stunned; that sucks so much ass I can’t even verbalize it.And I imagine Nate’s just feeling super about it, right?I’ll be thinking about you guys and sending you ‘good vibes.’

  46. Oh, oh good luck and I hope the amnio comes back negative, and I hope you feel less anxious soon.My cat became very ill while I was in my second trimester of pregnancy and started pooping all over the house, and I was terrified for weeks that she had toxoplasmosis, and that I would catch it from her because she was leaving her damned crap everywhere (that is until the vet verified that she did not have it). Scary, scary stuff. But, like you said, if your paranoid doctor thinks you’re fine, then chances are you ARE fine. And the good thing is, if you had it before you were pregnant, you have next to no chance of catching it again during pregancy, because it’s one of those lifetime immunity type things like the chicken pox. So after the amnio, it will be one LESS thing to have the 3 a.m. crazies about, right?

  47. Here’s to hoping that the next three weeks positively fly by for you. I feel you on the unknowable right now. I’m in week 5 of a 6 week wait for a colonoscopy/endoscopy that will determine what my strange abdominal pain (which I’ve unaffectionately dubbed Abby) is caused by. And I’ll probably have to wait a week for the results after the tests are done anyway.You’ve also reminded me to get my damn ass to the vet and have our new stray-turned-family-member shot up with the drugs. Not that I’m pregnant or trying any time soon, but I have my own 3am crazies I’d like to avoid adding to. Good luck!

  48. so incredibly shitty. This whole parenthood thing is fucking hard. Why does the universe set it up so that you care so very much about something that you have so little control over? It really does sound like it’s going to be one of those things that you worry over needlessly, but still, I’m sorry.

  49. Whoa. As if pregnancy isn’t enough of an experience in fear and uncertainty even in the most low-risk of circumstances–add this to things, and denial becomes a pretty natural course of action. My logic is happily clinging to your OB’s no-worries speech, even though my emotions can very much relate to yours.

  50. Liz, I don’t even know what to say other than I am so sorry you’re in the midst of this and I will be sending every bit of strength and positive energy your way for good amnio results next week.

  51. I’m so sorry, Mom 101. We will all be keeping our fingers crossed for you. I know what it’s like to be hit in the face with something so unexpected.

  52. If your cautious dr says its ok, I think you’ll be fine. But sending you positive vibes anyway!

  53. Wow. Of all the weird things to come down with. Makes me slightly nervous to be cleaning out our litterboxes, but I’m the only one who does it. (But two of our three cats are purebred, and were tested for all diseases as kittens.)Hopefully everything will be fine, and you’ll be window shopping for a new layette soon. I know that feeling of disconnect, though. Even without something like this, I feel unconnected to this child. I’m sure I’ll feel closer to it once I feel it move, see it as a fully formed person on ultrasound, etc.Hang in there.

  54. I know this will be an unpopular sentiment but the vet is not at fault for the Toxoplasmosis. Cats are carriers for it and show no outward signs of infection. I am terribly sorry that you have to face this but try to remember that you were doing a loving and generous thing taking in those kittens — just extremely unfortunate timing.I’m pregnant also with my second, due just after you are (and ironically May 5 was my son’s due date!). I don’t feel very connected to this one yet either. I think it is just different with the second since you’ve been through it before, and are SO MUCH BUSIER and distracted this time around. I’m sure in a few weeks when the test comes back OK you will feel so much better about everything. I wish you all the luck and peace you can get during this stressful time.

  55. Wow. I’m practically speechless. Bonding comes with time and every pregnancy is different so it may feel different this time around for no other reason than that? Crossing all fingers and toes but not because I think you need it, just for moral support.

  56. Many finger crossings, my thoughts are with you and prayers have been promised – I am adding to all of them!And yes, keep thinking “May 5th/22 months apart/feeling better”!Carrie

  57. This post set off every goosebump on my body. Keeping you all in our prayers…

  58. Hoping that everything turns out for the best, Liz. We had some scares during my wife’s pregnancy as well. I don’t fondly recall all those days of anguish just wanting to know one way or the other. If you need to vent, chill, or want to hang out, let me know. I’ll bring you a box of Krispy Kreme donuts!

  59. You haven’t been hit by a float? Then you’re home free!Seriously though, I agree with your doctor- I think you and your little peanut will be fine. Keep us posted!

  60. Oh the things that happen when you go on hiatus. Mom-101 got pregnant (or “fell” pregnant as they say in Australia.)Congratulations. Sorry for your toxo worry. I had the same worry when my toddler ate cat poop from the litter box. (Yes, I called poison control.)Ever the optomist, I’m simply going to assume for you that all is well because that’s how I want it to be. Cheers! It’s good to be back.

  61. yikes – poor you! loads of people are infected with toxo – it’s far more common than people realise. but i didn’t realise they could date the infection that way. spose it’s daft to say, ‘try not to worry’ – cos you’re going to anyway. i think your ambivalent attitude is perfectly understandable – it’s self-preservation. i was a bit of a serial miscarrier so i know how that tightrope of luck to youx

  62. I’m praying that God keeps your baby free from toxoplasmosis and that this little one is healthy and that you have a much better pregnancy from this point forward.

  63. You know that I’m thinking of you, and you know that I’m sending the strongest possible anti-cat-bad vibes your way. They should be arriving any day now.

  64. Don’t worry mama…your baby is most likely completely fine. Still…what a bummer to have to go thru this.Ah…pregnancy’s no picnic, that’s fer damn sure! Sending some good vibes to you and your little bean from foggy California….

  65. whoa…i’m really sorry you have to go through this and i will say a prayer or many for you and your family

  66. Sending prayers and know my thoughts are with you. I’m sorry the vet fucked you like that- I’d show up there- fuck a letter. But thank god it was found and also that you have such a small chance of passing it on.

  67. Oh sweetie. I am sending you every beam of positive energy that I can muster. May 5th sounds so good. It is Boy’s Day in Japan – 5/5 – which is celebrated by flying fish kites. I hope there is a big happy fish kite in your future.

  68. now you go take those pills, and remember that the heart is the most elastic muscle with infinite capacity to expand. will with you for the ride.

  69. wow. well, that sucks sideways. i’m sorry.i’d start out business-like but firm with the vet. you can always go bitch on her, but it’s hard to convince ’em that you’re all sweetness and light (like, when you need ’em for something) after they’ve seen your head spinning in circles. possible, but difficult.and, this is probably an indicator that i am indeed single but… there’s no way in hell another animal would make it into the house. guilt in others is a good thing. use it wisely.sending happy karma thoughts your way…

  70. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, Liz; I am also sending happy, healthy thoughts and vibes your way. Take care; we are all thinking of you!!!

  71. I too tested positive during pregnancy #2. All went well.Wishing you the best.

  72. Sending really good thoughts your way… my second pregnancy was filled with vile diseases brought home by child #1 and it really sucks. I had pinworms (don’t even ask, but at least its not harmful to the baby), was exposed to Fifth’s Disease through her school which can be very dangerous to the fetus, and a whole host of other freaky things. I am quite sure all will be well. So take those freakin’ pills. I’m terrible with trying to remember to take pills too. I have to write it down.

  73. I guess my sister’s resonse to my positive tests applies to you too…she said, “just because they give you a test doesn’t mean you have to go ahead and be positive for it!” It made me laugh at the time. I tested + for gestational diabetes and GBS which really aren’t that bad in the whole scheme of things. I think your feelings are totally normal. I in fact did not really bond with the baby until she was born. Things will be fine for you! BTW-I sucked at taking the prenatal pills too and now have to take iron 2 times a day for 2 months. Not fun for recovering after birth to add upset stomach and poo problems!

  74. Sending so many virtual hugs your way.You’ll get through this. When we are pregnant, it’s like walking a tight rope, but you’re not alone. We’re all here to keep you steady.

  75. Liz, I’m sending good thoughts your way that everything turns out fine. I know it will.I don’t know if this helps (don’t you hate sentences that start out that way?) but when I was pregnant with Kira ten years ago I met one of our neighbors who had toxoplaxmosis. She delivered healthy twins around the same time as I delivered. So, 10 years = medical advancements since then. I’m optimistic about yours.

  76. Holy shit. Of all the consarned things… Try not to worry, girlfriend, I’m sure you’ll be fine. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  77. Wow! I kind of thought that was mostly a pregnancy legend or something… though I definitely jumped all over NOT cleaning the cat box during pregnancy.I pray all will be fine for you and the baby.

  78. Don’t blame your vet. There is no vaccine for Toxoplasmosis. Also, it’s not a virus, it’s a protozoan parasite.

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