I spent the weekend in London, where I had meetings all day Monday. I stayed with my friend M, in whose flat I once spent a summer. I lived in London for about 4.5 years and then flitted back and forth for a year and a half or so.
The city has changed a lot: there’s WiFi on the Tube now; several of the mainline train stations I used to know have undergone major facelifts; and there are statement skyscrapers puncturing the skyline (slightly randomly, if you ask me). In my day, the Gherkin was as crazy as it got but now there’s the Walkie Talkie and The Shard, plus a few I couldn’t even name. M and I had tickets to go up to the top of The Shard just after sundown. It’s overpriced at £25 a pop and a bit cheesy, with green-screen photos for sale and champagne at the top, but the views were spectacular. Tower Bridge looked amazing.
London is bittersweet for me. It has an energy like no other city and so much going on. But every visit brings back memories of a time when I was settled in a flat I owned with the man I thought I was going to stay with, until that fell apart. Even the sound of the Tube arriving brought memories soaking back through me.
M doesn’t know about my plans and is one of the people I feel particularly guilty about not telling. I was tempted to spill the beans but the time never seemed right. She supported me when my relationship imploded (which was why I ended up living with her that summer) and would have understood completely what brought me to this point. I had planned to buy a pregnancy test at the weekend and to do the test with her but I just didn’t get to that point.
We parted on Monday and I lugged my suitcase up and down London Underground station staircases from north London to Mayfair, and later from Mayfair to the City of London, and later again from the City of London to Gatwick Airport, all the time thinking I shouldn’t be dragging this bloody case up these bloody stairs.
I had a meeting at 1.30pm near St. Paul’s Cathedral, close to where I used to work. On my way to have a quick bite to eat beforehand, I stopped at a Boots chemist and bought a pregnancy test (and got a second one free, away from me Satan Boots with your two-for-one offers, that way lurks testing madness).
So it was that in the toilet of a Turkish restaurant I didn’t know called Haz, surrounded by the lunchtime City crowd and on my way to a meeting with a client I have been working for since October but hadn’t yet met, I peed on a stick and got the magic two lines.
Any of you who have at last got that magic positive after a while trying probably know how I felt. A mixture of disbelief, fear, excitement, happiness and caution. I found myself involuntarily smiling at the stick in the toilet, yet my hand was shaking as I sat down at my table. I had to keep sneaking a look at the test in my bag to make sure the lines were still there. I took a sly pic of it on my lap under the table so I would remember the moment.
I rang my parents and got my Dad. He had a stroke several years ago that affected his comprehension and speech (eg he has said before that the videos of my embryos being fertilised made him feel “crinkly,” which I think is a great description for his discomfort), and I wondered had he understood properly, so quickly did he finish the conversation. I think he had just become emotional though. My mother subsequently told me he had had an upsetting dream the night before in which he found me crying because I had had a negative result. She also said he got weepy, in a good way, when she came home and he told her the news.
I texted the 10 or so people who know about my plans, explaining it was early days but I had got a +++ result. Responses ranged from:
- “:-) :-) :-) :-) They are all my best smilies. Why shouldn’t good things happen. Lucky embryo” (from my sister)
- “I presume three +s is pregnant and not triplets!?” (from my brother)
- “Holy sh*t!!! Yay!!!. Oh my God…soooooooo excited for you!!! Holy sh*tballs!!!” (from T, one of the SMC-to-be crew)
My meeting passed in a bit of a blur but it’s amazing how you can compartmentalise when you need to. On my way to the last one, I stopped off at St. Paul’s Cathedral, planning to get 10 quiet minutes to settle my head but underestimating the number of tourists who had paid £16 apiece to tour the galleries. I lit a candle among the throngs and focused on being thankful and calm. Then, as I walked through St. Paul’s Tube station on my way west, a busker with a guitar was singing “Layla” in the corridor and my eyes filled up. Fair to say I was a little emotional and being on my own didn’t help.
I was meeting another friend, M, after the day’s work was finished. M knows about my plan to become a single mother, so it was a relief to be able to pull the test out of my bag and tell someone the news in person. M isn’t interested in having kids but understands where I’m coming from. Another friend of hers has also got pregnant with Danish donor sperm and is due any day now.
On the train to Gatwick, a fatality on the line meant I arrived at the gate in a sweaty mess and absolutely spent but I made the plane. I got home at 11.30pm after what seemed like the longest day ever and slept like a log.
I peed on the second, free stick this morning and was completely discombobulated when the positive result appeared immediately. Only when I brought it into the bedroom did I realise I had peed on the same stick again and left the new one unused. I was really just looking for the thrill of seeing a positive again, in calmer circumstances, and knew what the result would be. I might allow myself that indulgence tomorrow morning.
My blood test was at 10am and the clinic rang back at 3pm to confirm what I knew: a measurement of 280.35, which is so strong I don’t need to do a second test. They’re happy with a measurement over 100 at this stage. Next steps:
- Collect one month’s meds (now to include aspirin once a day – I’m going to be black and blue)
- Book final intralipids for 3 April
- Book viability scan (what a horrible name) for 15 April – included in the cycle price
- Book an optional 10-week scan with them or do it at my maternity hospital (maternity hospital?! I haven’t thought that far)
I’ll continue on all the meds for 12 weeks, weaning myself off the steroids gradually.
I told my parents (who were on tenterhooks) about the blood test and got hugs and kisses, and Dad got emotional again. They’ve been fabulous about all this. My mother had a card and some flowers hidden away for me and said she’d been composing the wording of the card for years.
I’m only four weeks and a few days, so I’m pleased of course, but cautiously so. We all know what can happen. But the practical part of me is satisfied that, at the very least, they’ve sorted out what was stopping me getting pregnant. And, though I don’t feel anything except the odd mild cramp, I’m so happy to be properly pregnant for the first time in my life. I can’t believe it’s taken me 40 years.
I haven’t done a scrap of work today and I’ve loads to do after the trip, but, judging by my debacle with the pregnancy test this morning, I was probably better off not trying to use my head. Tomorrow is another day.