The Christmas season exploded as we waited for the arrival of either a baby or a period. I was feeling joyous and positive – certain, in fact, that the festive season was the change in scene that my egg and his sperm needed to reinvigorate their lethargic relationship. My period was due on 23rd December so I figured I could fit in a few Yuletide dances and weightlifter-strong cocktails if pregnancy was just around the corner.
I attended the annual office Christmas party for the first time in three years (usually avoiding it like syphillis), knocking back vodka cocktails, doing The Locomotion with my boss and making nice with the accounts department over tequila slammers. Why not? I thought to myself, drunkenly. This time next year I’ll be in my third month of maternity leave with better things to worry about than my Office Nemesis and her clear yet unproved link to the fact that my office was painted the colour of a turd rather than the fuschia I had requested.
I planned a big 33rd birthday party for myself to take place in the week before Christmas, on the basis that this time next year I might have a three month old baby to deal with and that Ripping It Up on the dance floor might not be something I had the energy for. In my head, this party would be a farewell celebration to my younger, less mature self, and a welcoming in of maturity and motherhood. It didn’t phase me one bit that at 10pm all my pregnant friends had left the restaurant to go home and sleep, leaving me, their husbands, my husband and my sister belting out 1980s power ballads while we drowned ourselves in Peroni and red wine. Who cares! I thought drunkenly. I get to party THEN have a baby!!
When my period hadn’t come by 23rd I started to plan when and how I was going to tell the two families that they had a grandchild on the way. Should we give ourselves some time to get used to the idea or capitalize on the good will of Christmas and make it one to remember by handing out mince pies shaped like rattles?
On the night of Christmas Eve, when my period still hadn’t come, my Beloved Husband and I chinked champagne glasses and toasted our unborn child.
Come Christmas Day I was cock-a-hoop. Still no period! I had a fry-up for breakfast with three runny eggs and extra sausage, a full turkey roast at lunchtime with my husband’s family and a full goose roast plus trifle and cheese with my family that night. What did it matter how much delicious food I ate? Morning sickness would soon dissolve the Christmas pounds and a baby was going to make me put on weight on anyway – might as well start getting fat right away!
That night, as Beloved Husband and I lay awake in the spare room at my parent’s house, we conspired to do a pregnancy test as soon as we got back to our flat the next day. Beloved told me he was no longer keen on the name Zeus and anyway, he was sure we were going to have a girl so we should really stick to the original plan of calling it Cliche.
Three hours later I was woken by the infinitely recognisable, throbbing cramps of my period. Desperately shuffling around in my wash bag I realised I’d not even brought tampax; so sure I’d been that I wouldn’t have to use them until I’d stopped breast feeding… some time in 2011.
When I’d fashioned something crude out of cotton wool and toilet roll, I climbed back into bed. I held onto the back of my still slumbering husband and cried myself to sleep.