Before he was born

We made a decision to have another child. I remember the moment so clearly! We were at his cousin’s wedding, drinking cider and eating the odd combination of soggy meat pie and rubbery samosas. We were happy. It was the day before half term was due to start and i had just completed my first seven weeks as a newly qualified teacher. By this point, I had the dream house, the beautiful daughter and the posh, grown up job. All that was missing was the next baby and then all of a sudden the idea was out there, slapped on the table like a gleaming twenty pound note, daring either of us to laugh and say, ‘no, surely we can’t… can we?’

But we didn’t. We wanted another baby. We imagined warm, cosy times and snuggling with a bouncing bundle of joy. We imagined it would be as rosy as it was with E and we were excited about the prospect.

Five months later and the whole thing had changed; soured slightly with the erosion of time. Why wasn’t I pregnant? What was wrong with me? Had the section damaged me somehow? Why was I feeling so utterly desperate, like a failure? Why had the idea of another baby seemed so easy and why had nobody told me that, in fact, having another baby was not a simple decision to make? We couldn’t just come along like kids in a sweet shop, demanding more of life’s perfect pleasures as and when we liked. Obviously, we had to endure dark questions about whether or not we deserved this, or we were destined to thold another baby in our arms. At times, it seemed like the past was about to catch up with me. At night, I imagined ‘the past’ creeping like an old man in slippers, sneering and whispering with vile breath, ‘You messed up once, we won’t let you do that again. You don’t get another chance..’

We didn’t mess up with E, of course. Peeping in on her sleeping in her bed, thumb in place and hair over her face, she was still there, still perfect. It was the baby before her that we messed up and now, finally, I was being punished. Or, we were being punished. I forget which.

So by February, five months after the heated and rushed decision that we will now have another baby, please, we were still a family of three and we were losing faith rapidly. I became one of those women I never wanted to be and I was now taking my temperature on waking, recording it and other unpleasant facts about my  uncooperative body. I was obsessing, pure and simple. I was not me. It became like a game, almost. If I cross the road after this car, I will get pregnant. If I count to twenty before I get to the top of the stairs, the second line will appear. If I take this tablet and that multi vitiamin and drink that pineapple juice… you get the idea. I forgot to enjoy what I already had, just focussed on what I didn’t have and how unfair that was. I was a bit of a shell compared to what I used to be. I remember looking at our daughter, our lovely home and every little ‘important’ thing we had chosen to fill it and I remember thinking… it’s not enough.

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