Thursday 28th January 2010
Gestation: 17 weeks, 6 days
One year ago.
Over the last week, Suse has had appointments with the Chinese Herbalist, the Integrative Medical Practitioner and her Acupuncturist. Each day, I find a new batch of compounded mixture on the chopping block, a new bottle of pills, all ready for ingestion.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for herbs, I’m all for alternative therapies. After all, chemo wasn’t exactly our Holy Grail.
I’m all for regaining a healthy balance.
I’m all for clearing the blockage.
But it’s the whole focus thing.
I just don’t want to lose the balance for the herbs.
* * * * *
I watch as Suse stands there, dolling out pills onto the counter. She places down some little black balls, perfectly round, that threaten to roll away. They look like aniseed lollies, but something tells me they aren’t.
“What are they?” I ask.
“I know that, but…” She looks across at me in the shower. I stop.
“My period was supposed to have started again by the time I went back to see her today.”
“Oh,” I say.
“It’s like I’m ready, but it just won’t…”
“Sex always stirs things up a bit,” I offer, looking over, suds in my eyes. “Maybe we should…”
“…I’m in pain, Mark. Period pain. I’ve been aching for two days. I don’t really feel like it.”
“Just trying to help.”
She smiles, before falling back behind her thoughts. “Things just aren’t flowing like normal,” she whispers. “Like they should.”
I wash away at the soap, furiously, as if it’s taking all of my attention.
I resist temptation to say anything.
Not that I have anything to say.
But still, it’s a challenge for me.
* * * * *
I get home. As I open the door, I find Suse sitting there on the couch, a frown across her face. She is holding a book that I’ve never seen. The title says: ‘The Natural Way to Better Babies’.
“Hi hon,” I say.
“Hi, love,” she says, without looking up.
She’s already a third of the way through it.
Eventually, I extricate her from the book. We talk; mundane things that comfort both of us. We bustle around, getting dinner ready. And then we sit down. Suse waits at the table, her back ruler-straight, like she’s still doing yoga, while I walk across to the fridge. I pull out a beer, and crack it on the fridge opener. It gives out a satisfying hiss. I walk across and sit down. As I do, Suse’s eyes stay fixed on the bottle, all the way to the table.
She doesn’t say anything. But her eyes remain on the bottle. And then, her mouth opens. She takes half a breath. And then pauses.
Yep, here it comes.
“You know, there’s evidence now that it’s just important for the man to look after himself – diet wise that is,” she says, clarifying, “as it is for the woman, in the weeks before conceiving?”
“Yeah? Well there you go,” I say. I take a slug. A few seconds go by. “It’s only one beer, Suse,” I say eventually.
“I know, but…”
“Well, at Adam’s birthday?” She says, as if it’s self-explanatory. I shrug. “Men really shouldn’t have that many drinks.”
“Because it affects your sperm count.”
“Yeah? Well there you go,” I repeat. I take another swig in defiance. Again, a few seconds go by. I chew vigorously on my meal; steamed vegies give little masticatory satisfaction. “We did get pregnant first go,” I say finally.
“So there’s not a lot pointing at me having a low sperm count at this stage.” I take another gulp.
“But alcohol causes mutations. I’ve seen the pictures.”
“Every time I jooz there’s mutations, Suse. I produce about 200 million sperm each go. That a lot of craftsmanship. They can’t all be perfect.”
There is a pause.
“It’s one beer, Suse.”
“Sure.” She pauses. “It’s just that I’m being good. And I want you to be, too.”
“Great. And I don’t want it to rule our lives.”
We fall into silence.
End of conversation.
The balance for the herbs.
* * * * *