I could tell something was up.
H was on the phone, talking to our friend V, and making slightly heavy weather of being pleased about something. And then he said ‘hang on, I’ll just pass you over to May’. I frowned at him extravagantly, but he gave me a significant look and nodded, so I, reluctantly, took the phone.
You see, V has been our friend for, crikey, fifteen? sixteen? years. She and H met at university. She often stayed with me and my family when we were both studying in Italy. We were delighted when, after a few frogs, she met a prince. They came to our wedding. We went to theirs. And then things became a little awkward. She and her husband became obsessed with renovating their cottage, and would talk of little else. H and I were obsessed with getting, then staying, pregnant, and could think of little else, which made us somewhat… underwhelmed… with the DIY saga. She didn’t really know what to say when we lost Pikaia. She was clearly flummoxed when we lost Flash. She did send us a card when we lost Zombryo, but was coming up with, to me, laughably poor excuses for not accepting various invitations we’d sent. I was, I admit it, angry and pissy and totally not in the mood for another long chat about joists.
Oh, you all know very well what she wanted to talk to me about really.
And it explained so much. Barely two weeks before the Zombryo saga started, she had been in a similar position – pain, collapse, terrified she was pregnant and about not to be. After that, as she waited and waited and waited to be sure her baby was OK, there we were. We may as well have been sitting on the roof of her cottage shrieking like banshees and shooting the Dark Mark up into the night sky accompanied by a male wolf choir and Dracula Organ-of-Doom recital. I’m not in the least surprised she couldn’t face us. I’m not in the least surprised she needs to stay at home and rest, or that she couldn’t tell us until she could be sure what, exactly, she was telling us.
Mark this, we are among the first people (barring her parents) that she has told. Now that she’s safe. We won’t be blindsided by Act of FaceBook or Mutual Acquaintance With Big Mouth.
And I instantly split into two people. On the phone, a cheerful, concerned, happy, excited May made jokes about bootie-knitting, and re-iterated that the prince was to be doing all the heavy-lifting and cottage-renovating solo, right? And was so pleased. So relieved.
Meanwhile, my right fist kept clenching and raising itself as if to punch the arm-rest, or the wall. May-on-the-phone kept an eye on it. Shhh, little fist. Shhhhh. Patience.
Then, because I have an iron-hard inner core of Sensible, I carefully put the phone down, and went to have a pee before falling onto the bed like a felled tree and weeping hysterically. You don’t want to weep yourself into hiccoughs on a full bladder, you know.
H lay down beside me and stroked my back, and we talked a little. And I am, I swear to God, happy for V, and very much relieved it didn’t end in disaster for her. And I am relieved V wasn’t Being An Arsehole, but only looking after herself and trying to be tactful, as best she could. I like V, and feeling I was losing her as a friend over all this woe-bollocky-dreariness of infertility and miscarriage was really stabbing me under the nails.
But I can’t help but think, over and over, her baby lived. Mine didn’t. None of mine lived. And her baby is very nearly the same age as Zombryo. And at the end of August, when we visit the new mini-V, how shall I keep from crying? We could have shared pregnancy. We could have shared new Mum. And she will have her baby in her arms, and I will not.
And I said to H, I just want my baby back. Any one of them. I just want one of my babies back. And we both cried.
And then H went out into the night to buy Strong Drink from whichever God-forsaked off-licence was still open at bat-shit-o’clock. The evening ended with a large glass of Grahams’ Late Bottled Vintage Port. Which, in retrospect, is hilarious.
Any port in a storm.