The world seems awash in glowing young women announcing they’re expecting. I remember those days, not sure when (or how) to let everyone know. This dilemma was solved for me one morning in April, 1990 when my own pregnancy was revealed — unexpectedly and to my shock — on the Howard Stern radio show.
That day I woke with abdominal pain. Usually this isn’t cause for alarm, except I was three months along. I touched my sleeping husband. “Randy, I have cramps.” He propped himself up, bleary-eyed. “It’ll be okay. Try and relax.”
I sat up, placing my hands on my still-small belly. I’d been wary the past few months. Since I was in my early thirties, chances for miscarriage were higher. Another cramp made me wince.
I tried not thinking the worst. What if I lost this baby? Until now I’d only told our families and sworn them to secrecy. If anything happened, I didn’t want anyone else knowing.
The next few minutes I took deep breaths, sipped water and thank God, the cramps subsided. One trip to the bathroom was all it took. I came back, relieved but shaken, determined to keep this under wraps for as long as possible.
Meanwhile, Randy resumed doing what he did every day as we got ready for work. He tried dialing into the Howard Stern radio show. Under the best of circumstances I couldn’t fathom my husband’s fascination with this purveyor of fart jokes, naked chicks and phony phone calls.
“How can you even think of that today?” I asked as he reached for the phone. “You’re fine,” he said. “Besides, I never get through.” To prove his point, he hit Howard’s number on the speakerphone speed dial. We heard the usual rings and tones and then an unmistakable voice filled the room.
“It’s Howard. You’re on the air.”
Randy and I froze. “Say something!” I mouthed. He picked up the handset and stammering like a 7th grade boy, announced, “Hey Howard, when your wife was pregnant, did she drive you crazy?”
“Oh man, you bet,” Howard answered, warming to the subject immediately.
I clutched my chest as Randy described my morning to millions of listeners. “My wife woke up sick and crampy. We thought things could go bad, but it turned out to be gas. A trip to the toilet was all it took. ”
I kept making cutting motions across my throat. To make things worse, after a few minutes, an eerie silence descended with Randy only listening, giving the occasional, “You got that right.”
Curiosity got the best of me. I crept over, putting my head next to his and listened. Howard was describing his wife’s pregnancy. “Yeah, she got fat and bitchy, but what can you do? It’s all part of the deal, bro. Just remember fatherhood’s cool. Tell your old lady she’ll be fine.”
And with a burp and click, Howard was gone.
Randy beamed like he’d just had an audience with the Dalai Lama. “How cool was that?”
I admit, it was exciting hearing that famous voice on our line, but I was nervous. “What if someone recognized you?” He brushed it off. “No way. I never said my name.”
The phone rang. It was one of Randy’s co-workers. “Hey dude, I have to hear your wife’s knocked up from the Stern show?”
I gasped. “That was a fluke,” Randy said after hanging up, panic rising in his voice.
The phone rang again. It was my sister. “Laurie, are you the woman with gas? Is everything okay?” I assured her all was fine.
That morning, three more people called, congratulating Randy and me on upcoming parenthood. Ready or not, we were out of the closet.
Before we left for work, my husband turned to me, his face embarrassed. “I’m sorry, honey. The words just came. I didn’t know what else to talk about.”
I stood ready to feel angry, but instead felt something else – – relief, even excitement. I saw how the stress of keeping this secret was harder than the pregnancy.
Plus, I kept hearing Howard’s words. “Tell your old lady she’ll be fine.”
I gave my husband a hug and knew in that moment, things would be fine. We’d have this baby and become a family. It was like the universe had spoken to me through Howard Stern.
That was 26 years ago. Today I hear the excited announcements of expectant, young women and think of that April morning. Things could’ve gone horribly wrong. But instead they went wonderfully right – with the help of God, Howard Stern, and a well-timed phone call.
Have any good pregnancy stories? Comments are always welcome and if you like what you read, please share. Thank you!