Monday 1st March 2010
Gestation: 22 weeks, 3 days
One year ago.
We drive through Melbourne’s dimming light, the rain clouds threatening overhead. As we navigate our way through side streets, we finally pull up at our destination; one of Suse’s old friends. Belinda and her three children have flown from Newcastle for the week. They’ve been here for five days, and in that time her kids have had gastro, and so has she. They are staying with another family, in a house with three adults and five children under the age of six.
We arrive to a regular menagerie. Children stream around out feet as quickly as snot does from their noses. You can’t move without kicking or tripping over a toddler, all of whom seem to have come down with the bug.
“How are you?” Suse says, cautiously welcoming her old friend into a hug.
“It’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” Belinda replies, holding back a cough. “I’ve never had as many colds as in the last five years.”
* * * * *
We sit down to a dinner of rice paper rolls and home-cooked pizza, attempting to avoid the mucus and drool. We fail. Suse and Belinda catch up, laughing and reminiscing while the kids run about, like a random off beat film clip, illustrating the stories being told.
It’s Melbourne’s first night of Autumn. And it’s cold.
The conversation moves naturally to family and children. The women sit and talk about what it means to have kids. What it’s like to have them every single day. I watch and listen, as Belinda and her host talk about how hard it still is. I realise that Suse is quiet too.
“And you’ve had a rough trot, honey?”
“An ectopic,” Suse says, trying to look okay with it.
“You poor thing. I had two miscarriages before these guys.”
“I did too,” adds the host.
“What happened exactly?” Suse asks, looking at both of them.
Belinda pulls a face, as if trying to retrieve the information. “It’s all a bit hard to remember these days.”
“Do you think about it?” Suse asks of the host.
“Water under the bridge,” she says, shaking a carefree hand. “Something that happened a long time ago.”
“I mean, don’t get me wrong,” Belinda adds hurriedly, “it’s a vital part of my history. And it helped to shape the person I am today.” She pauses. “But that’s all it is. A moment in time. That happened a long while ago.”
I look at Suse, and watch her smile.
But what I really see is going on in her eyes.
* * * * *
On the way home, Suse remains quiet. She peers out through the window, as the light rain continues to fall.
“Are you okay, love?”
“When women have kids,” she says, running a finger down the wet glass pane, “they get pregnancy amnesia. It’s like a natural hard drive wipe. They completely forget the traumas that they’ve been through. Have you noticed?”
“I see what you’re saying,” I say finally.
“They no longer remember how hard it was for them. No one does,” whispers, her voice hollow. “Not like you do when you’re in it.”
She goes quiet again, a little sigh escaping.
Outside, the rain-washed roads splash as we drive, providing a soundtrack to our mood. Suse’s fingers toy with the condensation on the window, willing it together in streaks.
And all the while, she stares out at the cold, wet street beyond.
* * * * *