Peeing on a Stick

Brianna Randall essays

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I always thought I'd pee on the stick in my own familiar bathroom, in my own comfortable home, at just the right moment. I pictured a sleepy weekend morning, rolling out of our cozy, king-size bed and pulling the pregnancy test out of a drawer where I'd cleverly stowed it for that perfect moment. Instead, I peed on a stick in a public bathroom in the Kingdom of Tonga. I was already seven days late, and I'm never late. Rob and I had taken my visiting sister to a remote outer island for a week of snorkeling and kayaking. The island had a population of 10 (including us), and no internet, cell service or store. I had strong suspicions all week that our first try was a success–either that, or I had a bladder infection.

The night before we headed back to the main island in Vava'u, I looked up at the moon during my fourth pee in as many hours. Orion was just below her, the only constellation that can compete with the moon's luminosity. I asked them if I was pregnant. And a shooting star sailed directly between the moon and Orion's belt, the brightest shooting star I've seen during this nine-month journey across the Pacific Ocean.

That celestial sign was almost confirmation enough. But I still ran straight to the only phramacy in town as soon as we got off the boat the next day. While searching out the cellophane-wrapped, shipped-from-China, flimsy-looking plastic device from the meager inventory, several Tongans watched passively from a line of chairs by the window. The two who knew me raised an eyebrow as I forked over ten pa'anga and bolted through the door toward the nearest toilet. 

So much for being surreptitious–the whole island would know in a day that the white palangi thought she was pregnant.

Someone walked in on me as I was crouched, cat-like, with my skirt down, trying to figure out how to fill the mini eye-dropper with urine to squeeze into the microscopic bullseye on the stick.  The intruder left quickly. Chinese tests are not the same as American ones. They're more complicated. And more tiny.

Before I even had my skirt back up, I could see the double band clearly forming. The blood rose through my belly to my heart, coming out in a whoop when it hit my mouth. Holy shit! My intuition was right. I was gonna be a momma.

I ran up the grimy stairs and took a left on the main drag to find Rob. He was walking toward me, striding away from the ATM, absently tapping the tilted, blue fence as he sang a song out loud.  Unlike the Tongans at the pharmacy, he raised both eyebrows as he saw me coming.

I nodded. 

He grinned. “Really?”


He wrapped me in a hug right there on the cracked, uneven sidewalk in the middle of the town that wasn't ours, in a foreign kingdom 10,000 miles away from our cozy, king-sized bed and familiar, comfortable home. “Let's go tell your sister,” he said, pulling me forward by the hand.

It turns out it was just the right moment after all.

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About the Author

Brianna Randall

Brianna Randall lives in Missoula, Montana where she toggles not-so-deftly between chasing her young son, running her own business, and fantasizing about sailing off to a deserted island (again). Her work has appeared in Scary Mommy, Outside, Backpacker, and several travel magazines.

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