There’s usually that one moment when a woman believes she ‘might’ be pregnant.

If this project has done anything for me, it’s brought some of these memories back. The truth is I realized I was pregnant fairly early on. My husband and I were trying to have a child and decided this should probably happen before I turned 40.

I had my daughter at 39.

Sometimes, I wish I’d had her earlier, but things often happen for a reason. She keeps me young at heart and some of the decisions I’ve made regarding my own health and leisure have been made because I think it’ll bring us closer together, or that I believe will serve as a good role model for her.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

When did I figure out I was pregnant?

It unfolded over the course of a weekend but, believe it or not, it starts with this image of a couple of cells.

It was October 2008. It was closing in on Thanksgiving long weekend (in Canada) and I was trying to finish up an experiment.  For months, I was trying to prove that my protein of interest (green) could be chased around the cell under certain circumstances. To be honest, I can’t even remember what I’d thrown on my cells (fibroblasts) three hours before taking this image. The red is actin (an abundant protein that provides cellular structure).  All I remember was that it was the first time I was seeing my protein ‘move’ in response to a stimulus.  I was convinced I was the first person (perhaps ever) to see this particular protein react this way.  For a scientist, this is a big deal, and I was pretty excited to see it…when I woke up.

I logged a lot of hours looking at cells through microscopes.  I literally have hundreds of pictures like this one.  I keep threatening to blow some of them up, frame them and put them on the walls because they’re beautiful in an abstract kind of way.

And, really, all you need to know about the science is that this is a fluorescent image and the chemicals used to produce it are light sensitive. That means the particular microscope I was working on that day was in an isolated room. The door was closed and the lights were off.  I remember being exhausted.  I put my head down on the desk for what was meant to be the amount of time it would take for this image to scan into the computer (roughly a couple of minutes).

I woke up two hours later.

That was Friday.  I was confused by the fatigue but managed to explain it away.

Saturday morning, my husband was at work.  It was a beautiful fall day in London, Ontario (where we were living at the time).  It was unusually warm and the sun was shining.  It would have been a perfect day to get outside, run some errands and play with the dogs.

I decided I needed to clean the house instead.

Like, who does that?!

This is the part where I admit to you that I clean only out of necessity…not because I find it particularly relaxing or enjoyable.

I’m not just talking about a little dusting, either.  I mean the kind of cleaning that requires you bust out Lysol and a bucket.

But, the nesting didn’t give it away, either.

There I was…cleaning.  The house was quiet so I decided there needed to be some music.  I have what I like to call an eclectic taste in music – everything from reggae and old-school dance and rap to Tom Petty and David Bowie (may they RIP).

But, that morning, I decided I needed to listen to Enya.

Google her.


And, as I listened, I found myself deep in thought.  Then came the tears. I’m not talking about getting a little misty-eyed, either.  I was crying so hard I could barely see and my face was swollen.

I’m not exactly what you’d call the overly emotional type.

That’s when I put down the mop, got into the car and drove to the drug store to buy a pregnancy test.

The nesting.

The emotions.


But, it started with blinding levels of fatigue that would follow me throughout my first trimester, and the image above, dated October 10, 2008.

Our daughter was born the following June.

I think most women have that ‘moment.’ What tipped you or your partner off is likely to be a little different than what sent me to the drug store that day. But, the amazing thing is how much has happened inside a woman’s body by the time she finds out.

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