a bit of honesty – on the subject of doing it
Last Saturday morning we were in bed, trying to steal another hour of sleep, when I heard Alice barrel down the hall. She stopped, right next to the bed, slightly winded but bursting with things to be said.Mommy, if you have to get all those needles again – I’ll bring you breakfast in bed. She was all dressed, (all on her own) and her little fists pressed straight down by her sides.
Oh god, I think, did we say too much? We raised the idea of a new baby with non-committal hints and zero promises.
How would you feel if we maybe had a baby? I’d say, while they climbed the stairs of the playhouse in our backyard.
I’d change its diaper. She’d say.
But we might not. I’d be sure to add
This time, I chose not to add in one of those maybes.
Thank you sweetie, that would be really nice. I say instead.
I know our way of dealing with this, might not be fair to them. Others, I’ve heard, keep it all a secret until they’re twelve weeks pregnant.
I do not, I’ll admit, buy into that farce.
How do you hide a yellow sharps container? How do you pretend that the wait isn’t slowly making you lose your mind? And what if something should happen early on? Am I a good actor? Hell no! So we tell them this in our wishy washy terms and together – we wait.
This is not how I imagined it.
In my baby making plans, a gourmet burger would definitely be involved. Or that’s what I thought, seven years ago….
It’s dark out now, when he gets home. It’s not officially winter but you can smell the sharp temperature drop in the air.
The house is quiet at four thirty in the afternoon. This is not a surprise. She’s been here all day. In her office, taking calls, writing emails, formatting one more resume. She is that person. And though she’d been known to revive herself by watching repeats of “i kissed a girl” (back when that was a thing), most of her daily socialization came from the cat.
But now that is all done. The laptop is closed, the phone – on silent. She’s wearing skinny jeans and blush and she waits.
Time is sticky then, inching along. They fill it with adult things like work, dinner parties and date nights.
At home, he kisses her on the cheek, grabs her hip to hip and she inhales.
She pulls on creamy gray boots and a black wool coat. She won’t be warm enough, but she feels good.
They drive down quiet highways and past winding canals. She peeks into light filled homes, soaking up their private moments.
The pub is all warm, loud and vibrant, amber pints and deep fried chips. He’ll order pints and she’ll peel off her coat. They wait for a table, in tight corners surrounded by strangers. There is something spectacular in those quiet moments of closeness.
The waitress refills beers and brings onion rings. The burgers take a full hour.
He peels her boots off while she clutches at the railing inside their front door. Her head falls back, swirling with liquor as she laughs at the absurdity of those boots. They were the biggest impulse buy she’s ever made while high on adrenaline, having just decided on her wedding dress – before they became husband and wife. He bolts the door, hangs his coat and then chases her up the stairs.
She walks to the window, looks out at the neighbour, smoking pot in their connected backyard. He pulls the blind closed and rips off her shirt.
six years ago…
She sits down on the couch, holds an ice cube to her bare stomach and waits. A pool of cold water drips down to her waistband. She hears the familiar flick and tries not to cringe.
Then he dances.
It’s spastic, ungraceful and purposefully so. It’s meant to distract, and it does the trick.
She doesn’t look.
He kneels down and counts and she disappears to a white vinyl bed, one hundred feet from the atlantic ocean. The tide, her distraction.
The first one always burns. The next two less so. He waits while she takes a breath in, recovers and then he sticks her again.
She opens her eyes when she hears the clang of the syringes in the sharps container. She replaces the ice, crosses her legs on top of the couch and waits for the reward.
Somewhere, someone else pees on a stick and sees a plus sign.
They give her horse tranquilizers. She swears on the table but then apologizes. It hurts, but it doesn’t. At home, she presses a hot water bottle to her belly and waits.
Five days of waiting. That’s sixty hours of not knowing.
They tell them there are three that are viable, over the phone that morning. Three out of eleven embryos – fertilized.
At the clinic, she changes into the crisp blue gown alone, in a tiny room.
They tell them they want the best two implanted.
They warn them of the likelihood of twins.
They cross their fingers and hope.
On new year’s eve, they watch as two little dots come alive on the screen.
And it’s okay that their conception was such a public affair.
It doesn’t matter that twenty people will be present for their high risk birth.
She’s not angry that something so intimate was replaced by something mostly scientific.
But sometimes she plays this game, where she pretends she is pregnant and that it is a surprise.
That she and he went out, had brie and pear filled burgers, came home and did it – and then there was a plus sign.
…..Where do babies come from? Isla asks sometime last year.
A list of places starts to queue in my mind. (When two people love each other…, adoption, accidents, one night stands, the fertility clinic…)
From a lab. I tell her, grinning.
Mommyyyyyy, I mean really, she insists, cocking her curls to one side.
Well sometimes they just take two people, on their own. Sometimes people need a little help, like we did – and they come from a little of me and a little of dad and then they put the sperm in this needle…
I want to make a craft. She shouts, as she runs down the hallway.
Tell us a story about when we were born. Isla asks, last night as we tucked them into bed. I don’t have to pause and try to come up with the right answer. She knows the answer to this one. But we tell her again, exactly how it was.