July 2007. This time, nine years ago, I was pregnant for the first time after our first round of IVF. After three years of trying every natural therapy we could get our hands on, we’d done it. There, that wasn’t so hard I thought, and I literally skipped back to the office after the lunchtime phone-call to say ‘it had worked.’ By the time I was on the bus home, I was already in the midst of working out my due date, planning my baby shower and thinking about what colour to paint our spare room, which would now become the nursery.
August 2007. Hubby and I took an hour off work and met up at Sydney IVF on Kent Street for our 8-week scan. I’d been feeling great, not tired, no morning sickness – just ravenously hungry, constantly. Surely a good sign everything would be ok. We swanned in, smiled at the receptionist, flicked through magazines and waited to see our baby for the first time. I jumped slightly when the sonographer applied the gel, the sensation similar to an ice block being swirled in a figure of eight around my bellybutton. But we were all relaxed and looked at the screen in anticipation of the blurry image soon to appear. Within the first 30 seconds, I knew something was wrong. She didn’t say anything and I gripped hubby’s hand tight.
‘Please hold on a moment. I need to get my supervisor,’ she said.
All I remember when she returned is being helped up off the bed, my legs no longer could support my body, and my stomach, brain and heart seemed on the verge of a major explosion. My tears dripped onto the linoleum floor and hubby helped me stand. They ushered us towards a room, reserved for moments such as this, away from all the other expectant couples in reception. I sat still, sobbing into a growing bunch of tissues and I cursed, my earlier, smug self. This was hard. This was going to be very hard.
July 2016. I watch my two boys – now six and nearly eight, playing their new, nightly game in the bath. Oh yes – the game is ‘who can kick each other in the nuts, the hardest.’ Such fun. I think back to those years when my whole being yearned for a baby. At times like this; when I have to pull them apart, so no real long-term damage is done, when a play wrestle on the floor turns into a full-on fight, and when they do a hundred laps of the kitchen before 7am in an attempt to burn off all their endless energy – I think about those days when I sobbed in the toilet at work. When, all around, all I saw were pregnant women, or new mums pushing prams and how I was convinced it would never be me. But that’s the funny thing about time. We never think the time we’re in now, is going to end. We never think about the next chapter. I assume my boys will be six and eight, and we’ll be a family, living in our house to the end of my days. In the same way, nine years ago, I assumed I was never going to have a baby.
Mindfulness – the art of being in the now, has latched onto this in recent years. I’m not really one for fads, and they’re certainly onto something, but it’s not easy is it? We all have moments when we’ve prayed for time to speed up. Exams, bad dates and bad hangovers, long haul flights and pointless bureaucratic queues (don’t get me started on our local council office) but then, there are those once in a lifetime moments – when you want to repeat the whole thing again, when you want time to crawl on by… very…very slowly and maybe miss you altogether. The moments you daydream about, for weeks, months, and years after they occur. Landing in a new city for the first time, a belly laugh with a new friend, your wedding day, the last time you saw someone you loved, the first time you kissed someone you love, the birth of your children, their first words or when you won something (even if it was the egg and spoon race when you were 5 years old). Time stopped and implanted the memory in your head. It’s something that’ll hopefully stay there for you to pull out, look at and enjoy, in full on movie quality until you’re very old.
Time seems pressed on fast-forward. My dad turns 70 next January – surely his 50th was only a few years ago? A friend’s mother-in-law doesn’t want to leave her home and go into care. Well, would you? I’m noticing mothers and babies again, from school pick-up to groups clustered in the park. They hold and protect these tiny people, and my chest aches in the memory of cuddling my own boys. My trips to the hairdressers have increased, blond hair disguises many a white random hair but the random hairs are becoming more frequent. My oldest boy, yesterday, sat on the sofa and read a book, by himself, for half-hour. A miracle, but also a sign, he’s growing up. I’m trying to wallow more, in this thing called ‘time.’ The memory of everything: the IVF, my parent’s divorce, moving to London, moving to Australia, the death of my first boyfriend, becoming best friends with my sister, meeting my husband, climbing Machu Picchu. Whatever it was. Whatever it is. This is it. This is all we’ve got. So, today, it’s 12.16pm. I can see two girls outside this window, arm-in-arm, laughing and walking, the sky is bright blue with no clouds, the air conditioning in the library is humming, a man just sniffed, and a lady next to me is wearing really cool, huge, bright red earphones.
And, as always, Dr. Seuss is spot on.
‘How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before its June.
My goodness. How the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?