Monday 20th September 2010
One year ago.
I turn and place my hand on Suse’s rounded belly, spooning her. Even at the age of thirty-six she has remained slim, but over the last few months Suse has gained motherly curves, readying a house for our child.
We stay like that for a few minutes.
“I dreamt about periods,” she says finally. I lie for a moment, waiting for her to continue, but she doesn’t.
“What were you dreaming?”
“I don’t know exactly. Just all about periods. Having one, just starting one, dreading one. Whatever, you know? Just the fear that I’m going to get my period.”
We doze for a few more minutes, drifting in and out of sleep. As I hold her belly, I think about the cells multiplying, becoming a little form, currently smaller than a poppy seed. Yet, I see it, like a David Attenborough doco, growing in size, becoming a fetus, being born, growing into a toddler, a child, a youth, and then a young man. It’s the first twenty years in ultra-fast forward.
Each time I touch Suse’s belly I get the same reel, the same story, but with it, slightly varying images of joy: watching Suse as she breast feeds, swinging a boy and girl around in a wiz in a field of grass, a laugh erupting from Suse’s face as she watches our girl in a high chair, walking down the street with a son who is taller than me. It’s as schmaltzy as it gets, straight from a Disney loop. But each time, I feel a sense of joy tinged with sorrow. No, not sorrow. Yearning.
“What are you thinking?” Suse finally asks.
“That I want to have a baby,” I admit. I squeeze her tummy again. “What are you thinking?”
“I don’t know what to think anymore.”
I turn and pick up my phone, making an entry in the diary.
“What are you doing now?”
“Making a note for the pregnancy diaries.”
“I really hope today’s the last chapter.”
“So do I, honey,” I say, taking a breath, “so do I.”
* * * * *
We drive to the hospital, again a unified presence. As we sit in the chairs waiting, three other women give Suse the once-over. No one even looks at me. One of the women is biting her nails. She agitates over her phone, the lines under her eyes deep; almost drawn in place, almost theatrical.
This is how a Shakespearean actress would be made up to look barren.
We stand together, following the nurse into the phlebotomy room. Suse sits in place, rolling up her right sleeve, revealing her best vein. I sit in the chair opposite, waiting. I look around the room, noticing the sharps bin, the peeling propaganda posters on the walls, the tube trolley.
The needle is inserted and the blood collected. No banter this time, no small talk. Through cumulative visits, the small talk has gradually dried up. I imagine women in fifth or six cycle, under a vow of silence.
“Just hold that there for me, love,” the nurse finally says. Suse obediently places her finger on the cotton ball.
“How long will the test take this time?” she asks.
“Oh, it’s a Monday,” she says, as if by way of explanation. “Sometime between one and three this afternoon.”
“Do we ring to find out?”
“No, no, no. Shelley will ring you.”
“And is it just a quantitative beta-HCG today?” I ask.
The nurse looks around at me with a mix of surprise and annoyance, revealing that husbands are better seen and not heard. She looks at the pathology slip.
“Yeah, that and a progesterone.”
“Okay, thanks for that,” says Suse.
“No worries. Good luck.”
* * * * *
Suse has phantom period pains all the way home. I have a day off, practically a disappointment given the circumstances. We managed to fill the weekend by visiting furniture stores and purchasing hardware. I plan to fill the day with changing the taps in the bathroom. I’ve never done it before, but how hard can it be?
There’s nothing better than a new and potentially messy job to occupy countless hours.
As the day creeps on, I can’t help but feel a sense of dread. I’m annoyed at this admission to myself. I begin anticipating the worst, anticipating Suse’s crumpled figure, weeping on the bed; cradling her in my arms.
I’ve remained upbeat until now, ever positive. But I’m just struggling to believe today.
I’m struggling to believe.
* * * * *
To be continued…