In the five weeks following Stel’s news, my usually hectic life got even more hectic. I travelled to Atlanta, to Arizona, and to Oktoberfest in Munich – all work trips, although Munich was more of a ‘work’ trip – and celebrated Dan’s birthday and the opening of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery. I also threw a celebration dinner for Stel and Philpott to celebrate not only their pregnancy, but their engagement which took place a few weeks after in Central Park, New York. The ring was perfect (he’d been hiding that for weeks previously), the setting was perfect (despite Philpott being in a wheelchair, a result of a broken leg…We joked that Stel was pushing him around the Big Apple like Lou and Andy from Little Britain) and the fiancée was perfect – I truly couldn’t dream up a better man for my best friend.
So I was running around, and packing and re-packing my suitcase, at a hundred miles an hour. Whilst I understand this is many people’s idea of hell, to me it’s just normal. More than that, I thrive on it. Rather than indulging in a rare blank page in my diary, I’ll strive to fill it within minutes of discovering it. It drives Dan crazy – he has never understood my almost limitless energy and desire to socialise at every waking moment.
During my time in Arizona, I started to notice that I just wasn’t feeling right. I was suffering from heartburn and waking up in the middle of the night with pain in my stomach and being unable to sleep. If there’s one thing I’m normally excellent at, it’s my ability to sleep, deeply and soundly. It’s how I re-charge my overworked batteries.
I suspected that I may be pregnant, and mentioned it to Dan when we spoke one evening. “Let’s do a test when you get back,” he suggested. When I flew home, I was greeted by Dan and a pregnancy test. It wasn’t the first time we’ve done a pregnancy test, and it wasn’t the first – or last time – that I’d moan at him for buying the cheapest test in the shop. I ran up to our bathroom and took the test right away. I set the timer on my phone and covered the test so as not to peep before the time was up. I was convinced it would be positive.
When I saw the negative result staring back at me – which, on a cheap test is just the absence of a second line – I felt my heart sink. As I said, it wasn’t the first negative test I’d taken, but it was the first one which left me feeling gutted. I shook my head at Dan when I came out of the bathroom and he gave me a big hug and said “one day we’ll do this and it will be positive, Treacle.”
I moped around the house for a few hours, but started to feel a strange sense of comfort in my sunken heart. The road to being ready for pregnancy had not been an easy one for me, and had at times, caused a disconnect between Dan and I. Whilst I’ve always known I desperately wanted to be a mother one day, and am really quite maternal, I struggled with knowing when the time would be ‘right’. “It will never be right, you just have to go for it,” I remember a friend reasoning with me.
Dan, much like Stel, has been ready to be a parent for a long time. His best man endearingly declared him “the oldest sixteen-year-old I ever knew” at our wedding in his best man speech, and there’s certainly truth in that. Four years my senior, Dan has always been more mature than me, more reasonable than me, and more realistic than me.
Having married young, I was twenty-five, our family and friends seemed to expect babies to follow in a conventional “timely manner”. I think, perhaps, that Dan did too, and whilst he didn’t pressure me, this was an unspoken elephant in the room at times.
But rather than beginning to feel like I was getting closer to being ready, I seemed to be slipping further away. I love my job, I love my lifestyle, I love to travel, and I love to party. None of these things are particularly compatible with pregnancy, and I was scared that I just wasn’t ready. I was adamant that when I fell pregnant, I wanted to be one hundred percent ready and able to be the very best that I could be, and I wasn’t willing to compromise that for any external pressures.
So following the negative test, as my heart sunk and the moping kicked in, I recognised the sense of longing that meant I was ready.
That evening before we went to bed, still unable to shake the feeling that I was pregnant, I pulled the test back out of the bin to double check. If I held the test at a very particular angle next to the light, the faintest line was visible, but so faint that if you moved it ever so slightly it disappeared. I was clutching at straws. I showed Dan, and he smiled sadly at me, shaking his head. Although I couldn’t help but notice a sparkle to his eyes – I guess he’d picked up on my moping and what that meant too.
It was just a shame that the test was negative. Or more accurately, as we’d later learn, a shame that the test was so cheap it was incapable of detecting a viable and very real pregnancy…