After the first test

I have no idea how far along I could be. Aware that, as an older woman, I need to address certain risks, I call my GP the morning I find out I’m knocked up, to give him the good news and ask for a referral to my lovely obstetrician. Now three of us know. It’s Saturday. It’s a weird Saturday. We go to a dinner full of hard-drinking dentists and I skull mineral water. I drive drunk people out to other bars.

First thing Monday morning, I make the calls. I’m worried now that I might be more pregnant than I think, and that I need to think about tests, etc. My doctor’s rooms suggest a dating scan, my GP refers me, and I find a clinic only 25 minutes away that can fit me in today. I drink water for that fetching ultrasound bloat.

The clinic is full of women at various life points: half-pregnant girls and older ladies courting mysterious later-life ailments. I am seen quickly, and the radiographer asks “Surprise?”

I haven’t practiced my witty responses yet; I’ll need to work on some.

I ask her how old the oldest woman she’d done this scan on was, hoping to hear “50” at least.

“44 or 45, I guess” she responds.

Shit. “Were they IVF?” I ask.

“Oh yes” she replies, “You’re quite the exception.”

She spreads her goo, waves her wand, and hey presto, there’s a little… something. With a flutter.

“Oh, that’s a good heartbeat,” she says.

Shit.

I remember something. Twins are more common in late-life pregnancies. Something to do with your body having a last tilt at reproduction, I guess. The radiographer concurs, telling me it’s true, often both ovaries will “fire at once” in the peri-menopausal. Guns blazing! Fortunately, this is not the case with my otherwise rampant ovaries.

I am 6 weeks and 3 days along (amazing how they can pinpoint this); she can tell me which ovary the egg came from! She shows me the “ring of fire” around a bit of the ovary. The smoking gun.

Don’t go shopping for a pregnancy test at your local pharmacy.

It’s time. The symptoms are getting clearer: my breasts ache. I am irrationally anxious. My last period was barely noticeable. My stomach is a little fluttery.

Of course, it could be the beginning of early menopause.

Or I could be pregnant at 43.

My boys are at a friend’s house, and I have to pick up a prescription for antibiotics for one of them, so I have to go the pharmacy anyway. And I need to know…

I walk in; it’s crowded. Drop off the script. Leave and take some things to the op-shop next door. Return and skulk the aisles, looking for the tests. I plan to locate them, and quietly grab one when they call that my script is ready.

And there he is: the father of my sons’ friend. A neighbour who lives in the next street. A little merry, dropping by to pick up something after a work lunch. He stops for a chat, my name is called, and he walks to the counter with me. Opportunity missed.

I drive to a pharmacy in the next suburb. In some strange kind of downplaying of buying the pregnancy test, I grab some head lice treatment, which we don’t actually need. May as well be embarrassed on two fronts. I also pick up some Betadine, perhaps to appear more responsible.

A customer is having a chat about her various health issues, and leaves the store throwing this gem over her shoulder, “Well I had to do something about it. I couldn’t be walking down the street scratching my bum all the time, could I?”

I don’t feel so embarrassed.

I have to collect the kids straight away, so the test sits in a paper packet in my handbag, waiting. Smouldering.

The next morning, I wake and I KNOW. I send the boys on an errand to the shop up the road. It’s lucky we’re out of milk.

I casually tell my partner, I think I might go pee on a stick. It’s the first he’s heard of my suspicions.

I sit on the toilet, so nervous it takes a little while to get any action. But when I finally make contact, the test is so bloody eager to tell me I’m knocked up, it starts colouring the “positive” section faster than a dividing zygote.

I walk out and hold the pee-soaked stick in front of my partner. He’s smiling, the bastard.

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