Ah, I have debated whether to publicly talk about any of this, but it’s been such a gigantic headfuck that writing about it all may actually help.
First off, I have been feeling constantly nauseous for about a fortnight. This, combined with the dizziness it has brought, has been added to my irritability (much calmed down, I’m back to taking a full dose, but it is zonking me very badly in the morning, and I am late for work and not sleeping enough still, and I largely think my, “Argh!”ness is down to a totally new routine rather than any mental things). It was so bad that I began to vomit on the bus on the way to work on Monday and had to go home. I had wondered, in a stroking chin fashion, is there another possible reason why I am snappy and nauseous?
Yes, apparently, according to 2 Sainsburys tests. From two different stores- digital, too.
And here, remembered and always, is the moment we can never return from. My running from the bathroom shouting his name so loudly he woke up, naked, wide eyed and shouting right back, “What is it? What is it? Is it the rat?” (A very large- but suspiciously healthy and brown-furred as to possibly be an adventuring pet- rat we saw scurrying outside and who we have been worried about burrowing its way into our bedroom). I threw open the door and was babbling, “Oh my god, oh my god!” I told him I was pregnant. He leapt out of bed, gasping in disbelief. He said, “This isn’t how I wanted to look at this moment”. And then, “You need to stop smoking”.
We went into the living room, me with my hands still a little bit damp from urine. We started talking about what was going to happen now. I can defer, that’d be okay. Both of us laughing and smiling, repeating, “We’ll manage!”
I’m on the contraceptive implant. I know that it was unlikely. I also know how rare false positives are. So I asked Robert to go out and buy more tests. I thrust my debit card into his hands. “Buy them all! Go! Go!” As the door closed behind him, I added, “And chocolate!”
He came back and three tests later, all negative. It was confusing. It was expected. What I didn’t expect was the way my stomach dropped into my shoes. Crumpling, shrivelling disappointment. I know now’s not a good time, I know. Robert’s job is insecure, I am a temp and a soon-student. But we have a spare bedroom…
We ate fish and chips and I smoked out the window- why not. He went to work and I couldn’t sleep, again.
I couldn’t concentrate in work. It wasn’t just the thought of a maybe-baby, but the still-sickness I couldn’t shake. At lunchtime I crept away and walked to Trafalgar Square and took another test in the toilets of Charing Cross station. Negative. That afternoon I had training for updating the intranet. I knew how to do it anyway (most CMS is very similar) so while the fluffy haired trainer trained, I was minimising and maximising windows of a pregnancy forum, wondering where I would fit in, and where I did.
At the bus stop on the way home I rang my surgery who offer “holistic medicine” but don’t offer pregnancy testing. On the way home, I bought another pregnancy test from Sainsburys. There can’t be two false positives from the same test, I reasoned. I tested again. It was positive, again. As a control, Robert took a test. He was without child. I had no idea what to think.
My nerves were stretched to snapping point. When Robert went to work I sat in the living room and cried. Then remembered I could text the sexual health clinic near where I work for a slot the next day. So I did.
I kept a smiley face on all day and said I was leaving 10 minutes early for college (which I missed, again, and my tutor is losing patience with me) and then met Robert. I’d asked him earlier to come with me. “To a baby appointment? Of course!” he’d texted back. I wrote back to chastise him. And by this point, I had begun to suspect that I was not pregnant, I was just stupidly unlucky to get two false positives.
Which I was! Doctor’s test was negative, and so have the 5 I’ve done since from the cheap medical ones from eBay that arrived on Friday.
So that, that. We’ve been very quiet since Tuesday. While I was at the clinic I got my implant out- not only do I feel irrationally distrusting of it now, but I want more control over my own body. So I’m on the pill instead.
Is it strange I feel a sense of loss? Pregnancy and motherhood has always been a spiky topic for me. I’ve always wanted to be a mum. My sisters and I raised our little sibs due to my parents being- well, not good at being parents. I like to care for people (in part why I want to be a nurse) and I love children. I grew up in a close family. Our child-selves were lost when our dad died, and so was the family, in a way. Dysfunctional as it had been, it was ours. We love each other fiercely. I couldn’t imagine growing up an only child, and couldn’t imagine growing older without a family. I became more broody when my dad died, for obvious and natural reasons. At the dissolution of the family I had known, I wanted to create another one to love, too. I wonder if my recent broodiness has something to do with my dad’s anniversary (spent quietly, in silence, as though the silence on that day was more meaningful than all the other silences, when it isn’t. But I’m sentimental about anniversaries, as it’s the one day you are allowed to feel whatever you like about something you are informally banned from talking about on every other day of the year). With every year since his death, my past with him becomes more hazy, and that’s scary and sad. I think of all the things he won’t be there that. Despite his drinking I had never imagined, except in moments of anger at him, that he wouldn’t be there at my wedding. But he won’t be, and he won’t there for his grandchildren, who I wonder if he would bounce on his knee the way he did us.
More than anything, though, it’s a want of a family with Robert. We were estranged for so many years, and we both share the feeling that we belong together. Everything has come naturally to us (and in the initial stages of our meeting again, that naturalness was something I fought viciously against) and this has, too.
When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder I was warned very strongly against getting pregnant. And I understood that warning, even as a twenty year old, because I saw the lady in the hospital who thought her fetus was eating her feet, and I saw my mum descend into rats-in-our-bath madness when she had my brother. I grieved, a little then, but still took the, “Never take in pregnancy pills” and thought little of it until I did become pregnant three years later, and aborted it, partly due to that warning. A year later a psychiatrist told me I had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder instead- and had been at the time of my abortion (worse, much worse still, was the thought that occurred to me afterwards, that the abortion would be considered an, “impulsive” act due to my “reckless” sex with the man I was in a four year relationship with. That was a thought I couldn’t deal with, as if it were a symptom of something I stopped having symptoms of when I was 22, and not something that broke our hearts). He also told me not to self diagnose bipolar disorder, despite my being treated for it, and despite those omnious warnings. When I burst into tears in the office he assumed it was because I had been so “invested” in bipolar disorder since I wrote a blog about it. It was nothing to do with that. It was because I felt as though I had gone through that under false pretences and spent the years beforehand fearing pregnancy and wondering if I would ever be a mother because of it all. I walked home in complete bits and confided in Robert, who came afterwards and had had to cope with the fall out of it all. At the beginning, talking about children at all was something we avoided.
I had asked- I had double checked- what my diagnosis and was always told the same thing. And it was after that I decided to wrench myself free from the power of labels (and from the power of medication, which did not work out so well) and never self-describe as, “bipolar” again (as for diagnosis, I have no idea where we are now- back to the start, I think, or both). And never describe a symptom to a doctor again, for fear of being told I self-diagnosed the illness I was medicated for and which made me put on 3 stone, lose lots of my hair, made me tired, ill and shaky. And that includes during pregnancy, which may or may not be dangerous.
Although that decision was the right one (and I am comfortable with admitting that now), I wish I hadn’t factored my health in. I wish I hadn’t let that shitty diagnosis the shitty scare tactics of doctors sway me in any way. It was true that then I could not have handled it. I feel like I could now. If I get pregnant again, my mental health diagnosis or lack thereof will not factor in. It will not have anything to do with any of my decisions unless I’m given reason why it should do. It wasn’t the first thing I thought about this time. I didn’t even think about the last time. It was a moment completely in itself- and now, the next time, I am going to have that moment in my head, and worry.
It’s hard to go back from this. From happy jumping around to planning and discussion. In a way, I was glad this decision was taken out of our hands. But it wasn’t! Bollocks. Now I have at least another 5 years if I’m being sensible about it. We look at parents with their prams and whelp. Both of our bodies seem to have kicked into, “BABY NOW” mode. Despite how much we like our lives as they are, it’s a hard feeling to fight. And we will be sensible. But I won’t lie and say it isn’t with a heavy heart.