Talk about being stopped in one’s tracks. As I opened the front door, I saw Mrs R (my wife if you haven’t read the “About” page and think this is some stranger!) standing there at the bottom of the stairs, a bemused look on her face holding a small white plastic thing!
Rewind 10 minutes and I can set the scene.
It was Friday night, we were due to go on a boozy holiday with a group of friends early the following morning, so I had dropped some keys to our next door neighbour. Not that I expected some vigilante activity in the event of burglars, more so to let the emergency services in should water start pouring out from under the front door or to deposit the plethora of Amazon parcels that they took delivery of on a daily basis on our behalf.
I’d only been out of the house 10 minutes, and in that time Mrs R had decided to do a pregnancy test – her cycles were pretty erratic so it hadn’t even registered she was late. But something in the back of her head must have pushed her to do a test before a week of heavy drinking.
As i saw her standing there, I think my initial thought was complete confusion, i just stopped dead in my tracks. I can’t really recall the moment I opened the door – it was kind of a fuzzy memory. I don’t know how long it was until I spoke but when the fuzz cleared and my head started to decipher the situation, the other emotions running through my head were of surprise and joy (probably more of the former, quickly wiped out by the latter).
My wife’s mother had difficulty conceiving and Mrs R (in her pessimistic wisdom) had always told me it would “take years”. So, whilst we were not desperate to have children so soon, we decided to start ‘not trying’ in case her pessimism crystallised and we were still trying at 40. Hence my surprise that we were so fortunate that it happened almost immediately as this was month one, we hadn’t started the routine of monthly tests and outcomes.
I think the joy was just about nudging its way past the surprise when we both spoke for the first time… almost in sync “it must be a false reading”!! What should we do? Head off to the nearest supermarket, thats what we should do to celebrate this monumental milestone that had bestowed itself upon us! One thing on the list…. more pregnancy kits. On the drive there, we decided the rules…. “best of five”, best leave no place for tie-breakers at this critical stage.
We navigated our way around Tesco like some sort of stealth special agent, fearful of bumping into someone we knew. How would we explain this? Couldn’t exactly say they were for the neighbours or “a friend”. We quickly put them in the basket and bought some other random bits and pieces to cover it up. As we neared the cashier’s desk I began to feel like a naughty teenager must trying to buy alcohol underage or one of those magazines that had the cover blacked out on the top shelf. I don’t know why, I was thirty for gods sake, I was married. Why should I feel weird about buying pregnancy kits? Not that there is anything wrong with children outside of wedlock (where we are located you are sometimes lucky if you know who the dad is!), but to be on the safe side and save any erroneous conclusions being raised we both ensured our wedding rings were clearly visible to the cashier.
We retuned home and Mrs R waltzed off to the bathroom to pee on a stick (surely in the 21st Century there must be a more glamorous way to find these things out?!). Sure enough the “Positives” took a 2-0 lead… then 3-0… unassailable… take that “Negatives”… we had a Baby R on the way!
I think at that point the joy, excitement and smiles broke out. Whilst I had always wanted children, I knew that it was wrong to assume that this was a right that we had as humans. We were so fortunate to conceive and extend our family to three and I will always be grateful for that.
By the time the results were in, it was about 10:30pm and reality quickly slapped me in the face. In five hours time we would be meeting up with people from whom we had to keep this amazing secret… for a whole week! There was no time to tell our families so we spent the next week (in hindsight rather appallingly) trying to hide the truth within the confines of a holiday villa shared with eight others.
This also meant that we had little time to talk about it between ourselves and what little time we did have alone we spent talking tactics, thinking of vaguely feasible reasons why Mrs R couldn’t drink, carry her own luggage, jump around in the swimming pool, or do any of the other things you generally associate with a holiday. I’m pretty sure they all knew!!
On returning from holiday, we arranged an early feasibility scan at the local hospital at the earliest opportunity. Sure enough, there was a second heartbeat (thankfully only one!) inside Mrs R. Until this point, some 10 days after the initial discovery, we had remained quite blasé about it – alcohol consumption aside – thinking that it could just be that we had three rubbish test kits. But once we got that little piece of paper from the sonographer, we knew it was real… still a long way to go (it was only just 5 weeks) but we had a little one on the way!!