It’s the fifth of February. I’m laying on my back, thighs parted and held apart. And I am trying to steady my breathing; I feel as though my lungs are leaking. There is something about this position that makes me feel small, that reminds me of the frogs that Persephone and Magnus used to startle from the detritus around the pond, the frogs that would lay prone and still upon their backs like little, breathing corpses. I am trying to remind myself that this is consensual, that I was excited for this; I am telling myself the story of it as though I am a small child, the way that my heart thudded like horses racing as the bus took me from the stop by the Dorchester Hotel all the way to the Lister, how just ten minutes ago the embryologists beamed like children receiving a commendation in assembly as I took the photograph of the blastocyst on the screen and immortalised the before-you-were-human forever. The doctor between my legs is explaining what she is doing, she is apologising, I can feel my lips mouthing ‘fuck’ over again and just as my body begins to twist away from the pain it is over and she is retreating, with a scraping sensation and a platitude that I barely hear.
My body feels like a bruised apple. It feels like an apple that has been thrown against the wall until the skin has split and the flesh is mashed. I replace my tights and my shoes, thank my medical team for the ordinary, beautiful miracle of science that may have occurred and accept their image of the blastocyst who resides now in my body. Outside of the clinic, I snap a photograph of myself holding it; I look slightly dazed, jaw clenched and lipstick smudged. I’m holding the image so tightly; deep down, I am afraid that it has already fallen out of me and is withering to nothing in my underwear. I am already in love with the human it could become.
On the bus, I whatsapp a photograph of the image to everybody I know. A friend remarks that it looks like the moon; it is beautiful, it is mysterious and remote. I am carrying the world, and it is microscopic.
Saturday, the tenth of February. 5dp5dt. All morning I refuse water and cross my legs, and after lunch I pee into an espresso cup that I can clearly never use again. My sons are playing with their trains in the living room; I can hear them chattering with each other, squabbling and then making up and laughing together. My daughters are rousing; Kirsty talks softly to them as she changes their nappies and dresses them. At five days past a five-day transfer it is early to test, but we saw a positive at the same point in gestation with the girls and I am eager to try again. We had promised ourselves and each other that we would wait until Monday but I think we both knew deep-down that we were lying. Yesterday, I was afraid of a negative test; today, I think that it will be positive. My breasts feel heavy in a way that they have not since I was feeding the girls, they ache in a way that feels sharply familiar and oddly comforting. All morning I have felt queasy. All the same, my hands shake as I take the test. We are recording the experience for our channel; I am trying to reassure the camera that it doesn’t matter, that if this test is negative then we will just try again but in my heart I don’t want another baby, I want this baby, this blastocyst that has rested in cryopreservation like Sleeping Beauty since the round of IVF that conceived the girls, whose fate has weighed on my mind for two and a half years.
And then I see the line. Somebody is screaming, and my cheeks are wet.
We are having another baby.
There is so much that I cannot wait to experience again; my heart feels full of magic and wonder. I’m gripping that pee stick so tightly, but in my mind I’m holding the baby; my head is full of first meetings with damp and slippery newborns, with gorgeously intimate early-hours-of-the-morning breastfeeds, of my partner doing the dishes with the baby in the sling. I want to feel my fingers gripped by a tiny hand again, to rest my face in a head of baby fluff and to inhale and think, I made that. I want to know my sons as even bigger brothers, to revel in their pride and their excitement, and to make big sisters of my dolly-loving daughters. I’ve been reading through blog posts from when the girls were new. I tried so hard to document the love that I felt for these new small people; the swell of my heart. And I am so excited to have all of this again, if this pregnancy goes well.
Please let it go well. Please let me be lucky one more time.
P.S. I’m going to try really hard to document this pregnancy on my YouTube channel. Please would you pop over and subscribe? I’d love to hit 2k subscribers before March.