It was a Friday.
It was early. It was my first day of holidays.
My first well holiday in five years of sick ones.
There was a list on the fridge of things to-do: buy sunscreen and mascara, see a movie, go to the library. The list was soon to be replaced by more important things.
I’d known for days really, but had been waiting. Hopeful but doubtful.
Alone in the bathroom I waited a moment longer.
“You’re not going to believe this,” I called out to my husband, still in bed, half asleep. “There’s a line! Come and see! It’s faint but it’s there!”
Too scared it might somehow disappear if I move the test strip, I wait for him to join me and witness for himself what had failed to appear so many times before: a pink line in a white circle. An answered prayer at last.
We hug for an endless moment.
I cry—equal parts panic and joy. He shakes his head—equal parts disbelief and belief.
Both of us with inextinguishable smiles and pounding hearts.
A new list of things to-do will be written soon.
Doctor, blood tests—money for bruises—the needle always left its mark on my pale skin, a weeklong reminder for all to see and wonder at.
A new wait begins. It was a Friday after all. Irrational rationalisation commences.
Surely positive means positive? No blood equals pregnant? But still we would wait. Wait for confirmation of what we thought we already knew.
Saturday comes and brings with it visitors. First time Grandparents to-be, twice in one year! A baby to wear the jumpers and booties that the summer grandchild would find no use for. Grandmother to-be cries. Grandfather to-be is silent.
They are happy for us. They think it’s about time.
Baby discussions suddenly out in the open after nine months of trying in secret. Plans, things, money, names, books, cots, nappies. A weight lifted or a burden doubled? Only time would tell.
Saturday passes. Sunday follows in transit on a stopover to paradise. The phone mocks me with its silence. In my parent’s house I wait, 100 from home.
Morning passes, afternoon waves me goodbye for another day. The call finally comes. Ambiguous and confusing. The test is positive but low. A new test will need to be done. Urgently. Can I find a doctor?
We fly to paradise tomorrow. Our first “well” holiday in five years of sick ones. We fly to paradise tomorrow to share a friend’s perfect day.
Can I find a doctor today? A cancellation clears a space. Fate or fortune?
A window opening as a door begins to slowly close. It’s funny how life turns out sometimes.
Doctor, blood tests—more money for more bruises.
“Urgent” in red letters on a piece of blue paper. Home in a daze. Still smiling, still happy, still oblivious to the truth.
Dinner guests arriving. Phone ringing for the second time that day. All the family together. Grandchild to be—not to be after all.
Tears and hugs and eyes that don’t know where to look and mouths that don’t know what to say. Dinner is consumed under an umbrella of small talk but I drift off to sleep unprotected from the rain.
Tuesday arrives. An airplane to paradise awaits. An old friend greets us. I cry, my husband explains.
I don’t want to ruin anyone’s holiday. I bottle my tears and keep them close to my heart where the pain is sharpest. A few leak out occasionally, the seal is easily broken. I choke them down and smile with my eyes so that no one will notice. I wait for it to leave me. I wait for the pain and the flood of red. I wait to say goodbye.
Wednesday comes and goes. A boat ride keeps the sadness away for a while. That night it creeps in through my window, like a whisper in the darkness, to snuggle up beside me as I sleep in saddened slumber.
Thursday dawns. A perfect day for a wedding. An imperfect day for a loss. Tears in paradise for the beautiful couple. Tears in paradise for what was not to be.
The best and worst of days. Simultaneously glorious and devastating. I swallowed some pills for the pain and pasted on a smile that quickly became real.
I picked it up and carried it to my paradise home.
A starlit swim to end the day that would remain both best and worst in my memory. A bottle of tears, waiting to spill over, floating me off to sleep. My husband’s love that knows no bounds wraps around me like a cloak. It stays there still, though weeks have passed, he vows it always will.
Some things simply aren’t meant to be. I would be a mother one day. He would be a father one day. This was not that day.
No one can know what tomorrow might bring. A pink line in a white circle. A wife surrounded by her husband’s love. Both hopeful still for next time.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Katie Mickleborough
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock