That’s what they say, isn’t it? About so many things. About whether you should be marrying that man. About whether that’s the right dress to get married in. About whether you’re pregnant.
When people have said that in the past about marriage, I’ve always (usually silently) disputed that. Always thought I never just know whether I’m putting the right clothes on in the morning, let alone whether I should be spending the rest of my life with one specific person. I don’t think you just know, I think you just hope. I think you take a deep breath, jump in with both feet, and hope you’re making the right decision. But what would I know? I’ve never been married. I didn’t say yes to the ones that asked and the ones I would have said yes to didn’t ask, but again, I digress, where were we? Oh yes, that idea that you just know. Or, as I’d have it, just hope.
Because I think that’s true when it comes to being pregnant. I don’t just know I’m pregnant. I don’t just know that I’m not. But I don’t think I am. Is that because I’m trying to cushion the blow if it turns out I’m not? Is it because statistically it seems unlikely? Is it because I don’t feel any different? Is it because over the last two weeks I’ve had at least two incidences of, what people euphemistically call, “spotting”, but is actually blood? (Although naturally I’ve googled and found that spotting isn’t a predictor either of pregnancy or of not being pregnant. In fact some people claim that spotting during this time is a good thing and call it “implantation bleeding” but opinion is divided on whether that’s even a thing.)
If there were a collection of letters that represented a sigh, that’s what would be here. I’ve spent the last few weeks swinging between resignation that it won’t have worked and optimism that it might have. The fact that my period seemed to be late (my cycle is normally bang on 25 days) was a cause for cautious optimism…But I reminded myself that nothing means anything, and that has to apply to positive signs as well as negative ones — as an actress I know once said, you have to pay as much heed to the good reviews as you do to the bad i.e. None. Then I googled (yeah, I did, several times, despite knowing it’s probably not a good idea) and realised that taking supplementary progesterone can delay your period — of course it can, it’s basically what the combined pill does, isn’t it? (Starting to wish I’d not ditched Biology at GCSE.) So that really did mean nothing.
I’ve fantasised about telling my friends. And then mentally calculated what social events the next cycle will coincide with. I’ve spoken to friends who have done multiple rounds of IVF. And those who “got lucky” first time. I’ve thought about whether I’ll have a glass of champagne if I’m pregnant (probably not) and a vat of gin if I’m not (probably not.)
I’ve consoled myself with the thought that if I’m not, I can do a bit of the heavy lifting around the house that I’ve not been doing, and actually get that room straightened out. I can go out for dinner tonight and not worry if I order sushi or chicken liver pate, I can start using salicylic acid on my skin again, do a punishing exercise session and follow it with a scalding hot bath. I can stop using those fucking Cyclogest pessaries.
I’ll be honest, all of this is scant consolation. Stuff I’d happily sacrifice.
I’ve been promising myself a consolation ski holiday — or at least a weekend, if I’m not. But that too seems like a bit of a hollow victory. And for skiing to seem like a hollow victory, well, I guess I do really want this.
Because I’ve worried — of course I have — whether I’d end up like this woman, giving it go after go after go and realising that that’s not what I wanted. I don’t think I’m her. I hope that if this doesn’t work out I won’t rewrite history (I’m not saying that’s what she’s done, but I know enough women in their late 40s and early 50s who have.) I won’t forget that this was something I wanted — want — an awful lot. There’s no other explanation for the fact that I’ve suddenly become hyper-superstitious, my pockets jangling with dropped pennies I’ve found, and red nails and red underwear “to ward off the evil eye.”
So, do I know? Logically, no, of course I don’t. I won’t know until I get a phone call this afternoon telling me the results of the blood test. And obviously I’m hoping against hope that this will be like the A-Level Chemistry exam I left in tears, not just knowing, but utterly convinced I’d failed and ruined the rest of my life. (I got an A.) But until I actually get the call telling me, I don’t know, I won’t know.