Saturday 31st October 2009
Gestation: 5 weeks, 1 day
One year ago.
Today we move house.
The timing is perfect, really. Seven days into our pregnancy; it’s a new start to a new life. We’re moving out of our rental house – albeit a much loved rental house – and into our family home. How symbolic can it get? You wouldn’t dare write it like this in a script; it’d be laying it on too thick.
But sometimes life’s like that.
For the last three weeks we’ve been preparing for this. We’re more used to this than we are to being pregnant. Moving is old news.
We get up early. I drive to the station to pick up Suse’s mum. I spot her standing out the front of the station, a small suitcase on a lead by her feet, like it’s an obedient pet.
I jump out and take the case.
“Congratulations,” she says in her understated way.
“Thank you, Helen,” I reply, as yet still chuffed by the novelty.
We drive back, all cheer and good will. As we walk through the door, I see Suse, a look of alarm on her face.
“I’ve had a bleed this morning,” she says.
We all stand there, the news sitting there in the middle.
“How much?” I say, eventually.
“Not a lot.” She pauses. “It was altered blood. Dark blood. Like the start of a period.”
I feel it wash over me, like boiling soup. Bad news does that sometimes, burning on impact.
She looks at me, and then at Helen. Helen begins saying something, while I float off into a cloud. She puts her arm around Suse while I take her suitcase, putting it in the spare room. As if that will help.
* * * * *
I swim around in a quagmire for a minute or two, before re-entering the kitchen.
Suse sits there, while her Mum makes some tea. I walk up to her and hold her to me, hugging her to my middle.
“When did it start?” I ask, not sure what else to say.
“Just now. It did last night too, just a little bit.”
“What?” I say. I realise I’m snapping.
“Well, it was only a little bit. I didn’t even know if it was blood last night.” Her face continues to fill with fear. “I didn’t know.”
“It doesn’t mean anything, necessarily,” Helen says calmly.
Helen gives a smile, one of those complex ones that says so many things that I can’t even begin to interpret it. It’s a mix of calm, compassion, concern, and about sixteen other things. I swim some more.
I realise that they are both looking at me.
“Sure,” I reiterate. I feel totally un-iterated. “Sure, it probably means nothing. Nothing at all. Look, I’ll go and check it out,” I say, trying to be useful.
I head to the bedroom and pick up a book. I scan the index until I get to ‘Bleeding, vaginal’. My stomach settles slightly when I see a whole column of references; everything from ‘after intercourse’ to ‘when not to worry’. I flick from page to page, until I find a paragraph, the one that is most likely settle the troops.
I burst back through the door.
“ ‘It’s definitely scary to see blood down below when you’re pregnant,’ ” I begin, “ ‘But what’s not definite is that bleeding is a sign that something’s wrong with your pregnancy. Many women – about 1 in 5 in fact – experience some bleeding during pregnancy and a very large majority go on to have a perfectly healthy baby.’ ”
I look at Suse, who is by now standing. She looks as relieved to have heard it as I am to have read it.
“It’s going to be okay,” I say.
I hug her tightly, trying not to look concerned.
And then we move house.
* * * * *
The removalists arrive right on time. Alan is an odd, bald man who refuses to admit that anything is heavy. His partner, Gary, is a commodities trader who only works as a removalist on weekends to keep himself fit. There are easier ways to keep fit.
I show them through the house, a grand tour of our boxes. Each room elicits a grunt, or a groan, sometimes even a chuckle. Gary looks increasingly pleased the more he sees. Alan doesn’t.
“I don’t know that this is all going to fit,” Alan mumbles as he ambles through the house.
“Okay,” I say, “that’s great.” He looks at me like I’m mad. “We’re at least going to try, right?”
“I guess so,” he says.
They begin. In and out, back and forth, starting in one room, moving to the next. There are casualties along the way, a pot plant here, an old side table there. But as time goes on, they smash fewer and fewer things.
Meantime, Suse keeps busy. Her face betrays her; drawn and pale.
“You should sit down, Susan,” Helen says finally.
“Where?” Suse snaps, a tint of hysteria in her voice. We all turn to her. “There is no where to sit, Mum. My fucking chairs have already gone.”
The truth in this statement sticks.
There is literally nowhere to sit.
* * * * *
“I cannot believe that I’m having a miscarriage,” Suse enunciates, “and I’ve got nowhere to lie down.”
I look around, taking in the mess.
“We don’t know that you’re miscarrying,” I offer. Again, I look around the room, as if I’ll find the answer somewhere. Instead, all I see are squares of fresh paint framed by faded paint, right where the pictures used to hang. And cobwebs.
The excitement of this new start suddenly looks very different indeed. Like we’re being uprooted from all that is good and stable. Like we’re being from our safe haven. The symbolism laps at my legs.
“Woo hoo,” comes the sound from the hall, the voices of my Mum and Dad. Just now, in this cloud, even familiar things don’t fit right. I motion my head to the door, and Suse nods.
“Hi there,” I say.
“Congratulations, my darling,” my Mum says, leaning up to kiss me. Her face is beaming, her eyes sparkling.
“Thanks, Mum,” I say pulling away. Dad takes her place, hugging me tightly.
“Isn’t this great?” he says.
I pull back and out of his grip.
“Yeah, well…” I can’t look at either of them. “Suse has had some bleeding this morning.”
“Oh,” my Mum says. My Dad pulls his wincing face, like he’s just got a toothache from eating ice cream.
We all stand there, surrounded by boxes. Alan bumbles through, pushing his way past, almost bowling us all over.
“But it may be nothing,” I say eventually.
“Right,” they chime, nodding in unison. I feel grubby; like I’m peddling a lie.
My gut churns.
“Let’s go through and see how we can help.”
“Sure,” I say.
We all enter the kitchen. My Mum walks up to Suse and takes her in a hug.
“Hello darling,” she says.
“Hi.” Suse looks washed flat. My Dad stands there, gripping the basket, his awkward silence spilling out all of his unvoiced love and concern.
The four of us spend the next two minutes chatting about nothing, trying to keep light, balancing the dark. We each mumble, almost lost for words.
“I brought the quiches,” Mum says eventually.
“Great,” I say, my voice hollow. My Dad screws his face up some more. I almost offer him some Sensodyne.
The door opens from behind.
“Hello there,” Helen says as she enters, breaking the spell.
And so the parents begin to chatter, while the children stand mute.
* * * * *
TO BE CONTINUED AFTER MELBOURNE CUP HOLIDAY…
* * * * *