I knew before I took the first test, before a missed period, before any other physical signs. Something in me had already told me it was so. Still, as I watched the strip change colour my heart pounded, my mouth curved into an irrepressible grin and a choked on my chuckle. I photographed the result before throwing it away. I rested my head against the wall and took a deep breath..."not 100% accurate" I whispered.
My husband was waiting for me outside the ladies toilets in Walmart. Yes, Walmart. My English husband and Australian self were living out of a van as we travelled the United States and I took my first test in the ladies room of a Walmart somewhere in Iowa. He looked at me with eyebrows raised and I just grinned!
I was going to wait 48 hours before taking another test but my excitement got the better of me and the next morning at another Walmart I tested again. Positive again! For the next few days every time we looked at each other we would both say "havin' a baybee". At a Walmart outside Chicago I took one more test before calling my mum with the news. Still positive!
We celebrated between ourselves and tried to resist the urge the tell everyone we met how happy and excited we were. We carried on traveling, I felt well and happy and strong...and then I started to slow down. Started to get hot despite the approach of winter at Niagara Falls. My energy ebbed away and a heaviness crept over me.
The next morning I rushed out of the van vomiting...this can't be morning sickness already
I realised I must take better care of myself. As we scrambled to buy super healthy foods I experienced a vague sense of panic creeping in. We stopped for fuel and I went to the ladies. Blood. My heart raced and my eyes filled with tears as I avoided the cashier and slipped out the back exit. I knew some bleeding was normal but I was frightened. We stopped again to use wi-fi and see what we could find out about implantation bleeding. I wanted so badly to be convinced that was what it was, but the blood kept coming. Heavier and heavier.
I cried for two days. I don't remember where we went or what we did. I remember anger. I was angry at my body for letting me down. I was afraid, what if I can't have children? A tight restrictive pain gripped my body like every muscle had tensed and wouldn't release. My hands shook. On the third day my leg was swollen and so very painful I had trouble walking. As we sat in our van outside Washington, D.C.
In painful silence I suddenly raged! I screamed and screamed and sobbed till I felt empty. And then I just stopped.
My husband drove us to a hotel and I stood under a hot shower for what might have been hours. I've always known that a hot shower, a freshly made bed and a cup of tea are among the greatest comforts in the physical world! I will always remember that hotel room as the place I left the biggest part of my grief behind. The rest I carried with me in the form of fear throughout my second pregnancy which came terrifyingly soon after the first.
My girl is now 8 months old. Beautiful, healthy, happy.
People may try to tell us that at 6 weeks after conception a baby is not yet a baby. They may encourage us to view the whole pregnancy as a "trial run" or just the body gearing up. I don't believe this. I had life in my body, life other than my own.
My baby, you were real.
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