Wednesday 16th June 2010
Gestation: 37 weeks, 5 days
One year ago.
“You’ve got to be joking,” I hear Suse say from the other room.
“What is it, love?”
I listen for an answer. Instead, I hear the flick of a page, a rough folding of it on itself. Thirty seconds pass.
“What is it?” I say again.
I hear loud footsteps approaching; louder than normal. For a petite woman, Suse has a deafening step, and it is often a meter for her mood.
She walks through the doorway and holds out a piece of paper. It take it, and then she turns, and walks back out.
It is a letter from Dr Fleischer. I’d noticed it when I brought the mail in, but hadn’t thought twice about what it might say.
This is what it said:
The routine testing of your urine test has returned, demonstrating the presence of Ureaplasma DNA. This is a minor bacterium that has historically been of uncertain significance, but in recent times has been implicated with respect to fertility, and in particular there is now clear evidence indicating an increased risk of premature delivery. Furthermore, it is one of those bacteria that tend to be shared. In view of all of this, we advise you and your partner have a course of antibiotics running concurrently. It is also recommended that you use condoms to avoid cross-infection whilst on the antibiotics.’
I flip the page to find two scripts for antibiotics, each lasting fourteen days.
Two weeks. Two more weeks.
I feel my heat rising in rebellion against this. I read it again, this time trying see the medical angle, rather than the out-and-out attack on my quest for a family.
Suse storms back in.
“What do you think?” she asks.
“I don’t know,” I say, without looking up.
“I say fuck it,” she declares.
I turn to her, and see that there is a slight smirk on her face. “I mean, seriously! The timing it’s just comical! I’m not going to Fiji and using condoms! What a fucking joke!” She clucks her tongue, and walks back out of the room again. “We’ll be boring old fucks when we get home. What a joke!” she yells down the empty house.
I return to reading it for a third time. Within moments, she is back.
“I mean what do you think?”
“…I mean, the letter says,” she snatches it from my hand, “we’ve found a bug – no a bug’s DNA in your wizz. Two years ago we didn’t know the significance of it,” she continues, a finger running over the page like she’s reading verbatim, “but now it means you have to delay having your family for two more weeks.”
She looks up, before reading the final sentence:
“Do not take antibiotics if allergic, pregnant, breast feeding or pissed off.”
She walks out of the room again.
“I’m sick of these fucking hoops!” she announces to the walls. “What a fucking joke.”
I sit there for a moment, waiting. A second later, she is back.
“If I did what all of these people said, I’d have had another chicken pox vaccine today. Firstly, I’d probably pretty much get chicken pox again, and secondly, I’d be told we can’t try for another two weeks. And then with this, I’m told I can’t try again.”
“Maybe they could both happen at the same time,” I offer.
“That’s not the fucking point, Mark! If I listen to everything every one of these people tells me, I’ll turn fifty before I’m okay to try. I’m pissed off!” She’s still smiling, but only just. “If I have to wait until everything is perfect, I…” Her face falls, and the weather changes. “It’s never going to be perfect with me…”
She turns, and I follow. Her head is bowed, her shoulders slumped. She lets her legs give way, her bottom falling heavily onto the edge of the bed. I look at her in the reflection, her face low, the last shadows of the day spilling onto her face.
She looks like Whistler’s mother.
“Why do I have to have this, Mark?”
“I don’t know, Suse.” I stand there, at the edge of the bed, watching her reflection as she pulls off her shoes. I try to think of something to say. “It could be worse,” I say. “At least you don’t have HIV.”
“Oh, fuck that,” Suse says. Fuck that! I’m sick of all this shit! Not a week goes by when something else doesn’t happen! Not a week goes by when there isn’t another medical condition that I’m diagnosed with!” She’s yelling. “Why does every other bitch out there just get to have kids, while I don’t? Why is every other bitch healthy? I used to be healthy. So why do I have to go through all this? Why do I have to have everything!” She’s screaming. “Why do I have to have everything,” she says, almost breathlessly. “Every day I have a good day, every… single… day – something else lumps on top of me.”
She stops dead, and the room falls silent. Two people walk on by outside. I hear them talking in muffled tones through the window, in the winter world beyond. I stand there, looking at Suse in the mirror, the shadows having now fallen. Her face is now dark, her head buried into the edge of my leg.
And I say nothing.
* * * * *
That night, she lies there still.
I walk to the kitchen, and I pick it up. I move to our stove, and hear the familiar clicking sound, then the hiss, and then I see the blue glow. I turn it upside down and the white stem touches the glow, pink drops landing on the silver stove as it lights. I turn it right-side-up, and walk back through the black house to the bedroom.
“You lit it,” she says softly.
“We’ve been meaning to,” I say.
“This pink one is for our baby.”
“I know. That’s why I did it. White ones were for cleansing the house, and then…”
“…the pink one is for the baby,” she completes. She stares at it for a moment. “I think we should say something,” she whispers.
I carefully get into bed, holding this candle on a plate. We sit it between us.
“This is a candle,” she begins, “as an intention for our unborn children. As a symbol, to signify that we are ready, we are both ready, to receive her spirit and for her to come down to us in bodily form.”
“And when this candle is burnt through,” I say, “we will have completed this process, understanding that once that happens, this house – our house – will have been cleansed. And with this candle, we signify that we are ready to begin our family.”
Suse looks at me over the yellow glow of the flame and smiles. I lean over it and kiss her, holding myself there, against her lips, feeling the energy that is there.
“Now where should I put it?”
“Over on the bureau,” she says, “where we can see it.”
I take the candle over to the French polished piece, something owned by her grandparents; something from another time. I place it there carefully, lovingly, and return to bed.
The candle burns brightly, the reflection from the vanity mirror making it doubly so. It bathes the room in an auburn flare.
And it is in that light that we commit to this intention. We forget about ureaplasma, and Chicken Pox, and condoms, and anything with even a skerrick of Western Medicine.
And as a couple, we commit to our family.
* * * * *