I’ve sat down to write this so many times. It’s not often I stumble…but this is something entirely bigger than me.
I’m in a public loo, bent over myself in two, staring down at a small plastic test kit on the floor below me. Shit. I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. It’s only two days out from my bloods and we all know early testing is a bad omen. You don’t do that shit. Fertility rule number one.
But fuck it. It’s 3pm on a Monday. Something inside my head told me to go and buy a test. ‘You need to do it. NOW,’ it said. But I am so fucking scared. I’ve had few symptoms and the only ones I have had sure haven’t been good signs. Angry. Hot sweats. Headaches. Insomnia. But oh so much hinges on this. Our last two embryos. All we have left. Every-fucking-thing. The Vet didn’t want to use them up at the same time but I argued (because I am so ass-tearingly determined) that we needed to hedge our bets, ‘this is our last chance we need to chuck ’em both in and hope like hell they stick’, I convinced him. But now I’m beginning to regret that as I wait…my stubbornness might have just got the better of me. What if we’ve lost it all?
Fourteen rounds. That’s how many times I’ve stood here like this. Staring at a plastic pregnancy test hoping like all fuck two lines appear in that tiny pee-soaked window. For thirteen of them our hearts have been ripped apart. All except the one time it did work four years ago – only to be cruelly taken from us seven weeks later – just when we thought we’d won, we’d be parents again. Our elation gave way to grief. Loss. Again.
And I’m nearly forty-two. Like bloody ancient. Vintage, but not in a ‘everything that’s old is cool again’ way – more like a shit, you are seriously moving toward middle-aged way.
One thousand four hundred and thirty nine needles. And I’ve felt every single one of those fuckers pierce my skin. Over ten general anaesthetics – of which I’m terrified one day I won’t wake up from. Four surgeries. Weekly acupuncture sessions with my needle lady. I’ve taken Potions, lotions and all kinds of fucked up gravel-tasting ‘tea’ that truly does resemble something from the side of a dirt road mixed in with a few twigs and berries. I’ve taken that many ‘natural remedy pills’ I actually rattle like a tambourine when I walk.
I’ve had people tell me they can heal me. That it never worked before because I wasn’t seeing them. Bitch, please. I’ve been told to try this doctor, that specialist, another acupuncturist, a naturopath, stand on my head, pray, meditate, use mind control, fertility massage, this diet, that exercise…but in the end it all comes down to me. And only me. I am the one to hopefully some day carry another tiny being inside my belly and welcome it into the world. Another perfect mini human just like the 13 y o. No matter who else, what else, it’s all down to the baby caravan and I’ve made it as ready as I possibly can. There is so much pressure on me.
And if I’m honest with you, this shit has almost got me beat. Fertility, you’ve stripped me bare. You’ve opened up my soul and quietly, silently over the past five years, eaten it all away. The little strength I have left has gone into determination because by fuck I won’t let you win. I’ve been through bigger shit than this before and managed to escape intact, well almost. What you’ve done to my family, my beautiful human of a partner, how you’ve torn his hope and shattered his heart. What you’ve exposed our 13 y o to – far more than any child should have to see. How you’ve consumed our lives, my life for 1825 days – each week, each month throwing out tiny drops of hope only to turn them into shards of stabbing pain. I’ve been dangling from your clutches like a puppet on a shitting string all this time…even if I wanted to, I can’t escape you. And you know it. You get us all in that way like some narcissistic cult.
The test, the test. I can’t look. I really can’t look. I scrunch my eyes closed tight. My nerves are at their peak, adrenalin gripping at my throat like a hand. I open them slowly and look down at the floor. As usual, I expect to see one line…but no, holy snapping duckshit it’s two. ‘Two fucking pink lines, two fucking lines…there’s two lines‘. Yes I am screaming at the top of my lungs. Yes I am in a public amenity. Yes I look like a bloody nutter but you know what…? I couldn’t even give one fuck. I’ve got two lines. I dance a merry jig. I want to run outside and scream, ‘I’m pregnant y’all, look at it, proof right there, two pink lines. We did it’. But I realise as much as in my head I’m playing out a scene from Hugh Jackman’s The Boy From Oz, I need to get myself the fuck together.
I tell no one. Not a tiny soul. I really don’t want to upset the gods, not this time.
Like everything in fertility, my elation is short-lived. After I get home three hours later, I decide I need to take another test…shitfuck it comes back negative. I desperately email Dr Babies who, god bless him, answers my nutter emotional pleas at all times of the day and night. He asks me to send him a picture of the test. The first one with two lines. ‘That’s positive,’ he says. ‘No mistaking that. If a child can see two lines, it’s correct.’
Yaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssss (insert air punch here).
It’s worked. Halle-fucking-luleyah.
I need to tell The Vet. I’m not exactly sure you tell your husband who’s waited just as long as you for this so I set about making a photo video to send him of all we’ve been through – the heartache, the loss, the hope. It has to be something special, we’ve waited so long, we’ve wanted this so much. He will make the most incredible father – hell, he already is and if anyone in the entire world deserves this – it’s him…this whole journey has threatened to swallow him whole. At the end of the video, I tie a series of cards to our supermutt who gives him the news. The news we’ve waited for so long but been too scared to believe. We did it. Our battleworn hearts are healed. We are having a baby.
I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to say those words.
We decide it’s best if we wait another six weeks before we tell anyone but that means week-in-week-out I’ll go through the fear of losing our tiny baby all by myself. My visits to Dr Babies become more regular than they need to be, I’m so frightened the spotting, slight cramps, sleeplessness means I’ve lost our little miracle.
By seven weeks it’s time to go for the heartbeat scan. I hold my breath, I’m so scared. Last time we got this far only to find no heartbeat. I sit up on the gurney and nervously lay back. Dr Babies inserts the probe and brings the image up on the screen. He fiddles with the screen for a moment. ‘Ah, there we go,’ he says. ‘Heartbeat nice and strong, all looks good in there.’ We hear it’s faint thumpety thump like a tiny drum and The Vet squeezes my hand tight. Tears trickle down his cheeks. ‘It’s real,’ I whisper quietly. ‘That’s our tiny baby in there…we did it’.
But much as I want to be excited, elated, joyful I’m just too scared to let myself believe it’s true. Too much has been taken from us I can’t bare to have it happen again. All we’ve gone through, the loss, the heartache, the pain – quite literally. The many many thousands we’ve spent. The trips we haven’t gone on. The life we haven’t lived. Everything has been on hold until this point and I’m just too scared to be happy.
It doesn’t seem truly real until I see our tiny jellybean moving on the screen four weeks later. But even then, the journey, the fear that choking feeling doesn’t stop when you get two lines. It doesn’t stop when you hear a heartbeat. It doesn’t even stop at the 13wk scan. It will only stop when I hold her teeny self in my arms.
By 10 weeks and with a positive NIPT test, we decide it’s time to tell the 13 y o and our immediate families. I write a card for our boy and fix a tiny ultrasound picture to the outside with a paper clip. I tell him how kind and generous and thoughtful he is. How beautiful he is with little kids, how his heart is so full of love and that he’ll make a great big brother – one day. We give it to him in the car on the way up to see our family and he doesn’t quite realise it’s from me. He reads it slowly and then reads it again. ‘Mama,’ he squeals. ‘Mummy are you…’ he pauses before adding ‘pregnant…?’ He bursts into floods of tears and throws his arms around the front seat to hug me. I never knew, until that point, exactly how much he’d been wanting this too. How much this process has affected his life. My face fills with tears. ‘Yes buddy, we’re having a baby. You’ll be the best big brother ever.’
And our tiny jellybean is a pink one.
As we begin to share our news with all those who have waited just as long as us to hear those words, the tearful, emotional and utterly elated reactions from friends and family who’ve traveled this enormous journey with us is nothing short of humbling. I, we, have a village of support and love that has truly kept us going and our gratitude is far greater than my words can ever say.
To the tiny precious jellybean growing inside me, sweet angel girl we have prayed you would come to us for so long. Never could there be a tiny being more wanted, more loved. I knew one day you’d be sent to us, this tiny star of hope so this I promise to you, baby girl: I’ll spend my life making you the best you can be. Your daddy will dote on and adore you and show you how a woman should be treated with love and respect, you couldn’t ask for a better, kinder human. And your big brother, well he’ll be there to hold your hand the whole way. Always watching out for you, teaching you basketball and fishing and always having your back. Big brothers are good like that. I’m still scared, oh how I’m scared, I just can’t help it because I want you so very much. Stay safe in there, keep growing and wriggling and making our hearts full. Until we get to meet you…with all our greatest love, your mama, your dadda and your big bruv. Xoxo