Monday 30th November 2009
Gestation: 9 weeks, 3 days
One year ago.
So I go back to work.
A bunch of parents line up, out the door, dying to tell me about how naughty their kids are. One after the other, they come in; some calm, some in despair. They are here to let me know just how hard it is to have a kid. That’s Behaviour Clinic.
I sit there, trying to be compassionate, trying to be concerned, trying not to feel ripped off. As I listen, at this very moment, my wife is on the phone to our Obstetrician, discussing our increasing inability to have kids.
I just Googled irony, and we were listed.
It’s a challenge having compassion for someone who’s complaining about the very thing you’re dying for. It’s like listening to someone bang on about how much their Ferrari keeps breaking down.
The phone buzzes in my pocket. Right in the middle of another tale of woe. I listen, nodding at the appropriate moments, looking the part, saying the lines right. I think I pass the audition. But all the while, I’m in my pocket. My mind is elsewhere. We also own a house in Woeville.
Eventually, the family rise to leave. I stand at the door, waiting, as they gather possessions, which include two small children. Wooden blocks and pencils lay strewn around. They apologise profusely.
“No problem,” I say. “No hurry.” I even smile. Waving goodbye, I close the door behind them, ripping my phone out. Missed call from Suse. I ring straight through.
She picks up. Before she even speaks, I know.
“Kath thinks I should come in tomorrow and have the tube out.”
Not much more to say. The game is up.
* * * * *
After all of this, we’ve finally raised the white flag. At everyone’s insistence, not least our own, we’ve tried to remain positive. We’ve kept our chin up. But yesterday, we took a big blow. Seemingly overnight, our ectopic rate increased five fold. Seemingly overnight, our chances of ever having an uncomplicated pregnancy went down the toilet.
We’ve poured a gallon of weedkiller on untilled soil, the land now leached for future use. And despite this, a single weed continues to grow. Despite this, body parts will be disposed of. I feel, and I know Suse feels, disposable. Two tubes? You only need one. God only knows why we have two. It’s bordering on excessive.
It’s a disposable age we live in.
We’re gonna take one of your tubes out. Hell, in future, we may want the other one too.
In fact, just quietly, you guys might like to start thinking about never getting pregnant.
It’s fucked. It’s just fucked.
This isn’t how it’s meant to roll.
* * * * *
I talk to Kath. Again, she speaks with reason, and with the very compassion I was lacking just a few minutes ago. She tells me about her impressions, her concerns, and her recommendation for laparoscopy tomorrow. And the likely removal of the offending tube. She understands our desire to hold onto bodily organs. But, the fact remains: this tube has stopped being an organ. Now, it has become a liability.
I listen. I comprehend. My medical brain hears. My rational side listens. But the rest of me acts like a hormonal teen. All I want to do is run away. Or defy. Or fight.
I ring and talk to Suse. We organise for her Mum to drive down. To help out; to just be with us. I wipe my schedule for tomorrow, unable to deal with anymore broken Ferraris while my own Corolla has blown its head gasket. I see the remainder of my appointments for the day, less angry than before. Soon, I’ll be with my wife. Soon, I’ll be home.
I take the tram. It is, as you’d expect, crammed full of kids. Jam packed. I switch to a train, and then walk to our home. I turn the key and open the door. There she stands. My stomach lurches at the sight of her. It’s gastric acrobatics for the heartsick. I hug my wife and I hold her.
And I start to simmer down.
* * * * *
Later, Suse and I crawl into bed. We hug each other tight. But after a while, the burner goes on, and the water begins to bubble. The rage sets in. I’m angry. I’m just plain angry. Angry at the injustice of it all. At the cruelty of the situation. At the shit that has landed and stuck. It’s been flung a lot this year – firstly, the dog getting run over, then Suse’s shoulder operation, then getting evicted, and now this. It’s been shit, and I’m done. I’m fucking done.
So I get up.
“Where are you going, love?” Suse asks wearily.
“To write,” I say. “I’ve got to write.”
I know that it’s nobody’s fault. None of it. Not the ectopic, not the methotrexate failure, not the fact that despite all of the bleeding and pain and everything else, the goddamned little parasite keeps growing, ruining an entire pipeline. And not the fact that at the end of all of this, we have to have surgery anyway.
I know it’s unbecoming to complain, but I think I just unbecame. The fact remains. This sucks. And I’m over it. I’m spent. I’m done with the positivity, with the choosing, with the bullshit hippy ‘try not to make it mean anything’ demeanour. This is fucked. Outright fucked. My wife is sick, and bleeding, and western medicine has acted like the perfect politician; promising the world and delivering nothing. I mean, it’s just a friggin joke.
And through all of this, I can’t make love to my wife. We can’t share our love. We are estranged. It’s a platonic-only-zone. Don’t get me wrong, hugging is great. It’s sweet. It’s nice. But I want my wife. I want to love her, and be with her, and to share with her. Not just hug. Jesus, if I wanted that, I’d buy a goddamned teddybear.
I want our lives to return to normal. I don’t want to deal with this bullshit anymore. Suse had her shoulder operated on just two months ago, and now this? For fuck’s sake, give the woman a break! Give her a second to breathe before you lay down the next calamity, will you?
Just give us a moment, a single shared moment, without providing the next surgically necessary Kodak moment.
* * * * *
I sit out here, in my rage, at 11.45pm. As I type, the door opens, and there is Suse. All angel and sweet and cute and dear.
“Please come to bed, honey – I can’t sleep. And I need you to hold me.”
“Five minutes, honey, five minutes,” I say.
I melt. This is the woman I love so much. More than anything else alive.
I’m just scared.
So fucking scared.
So goddamned scared that it spills over as anger and frustration and hurt and curdling blood. Shit and blood and everything in between.
I love my wife. I care so deeply for her.
And I just want her to be cut a break.
But now, to hold her.