I am surrounded by pregnant women. It is mid February many years ago, my friend is getting married and we are throwing her a hen party. J is in Switzerland. It has been 5 months since I said goodbye to him at the airport after three weeks of being together. I have visited him twice and he was home for Christmas, but our relationship is still mainly built upon phone calls and emails.
They have these huge round bellies which scare me. They have husbands. They have jobs and places of their own. Most of them are a couple or five years older than me. I am still just giddy with new love and when one of them asks me “if he is the one”, I blush and don’t know what to answer.
When the night is over I am dizzy with baby talk and bellies. I am left feeling unsure about my own relationship because I cannot relate to any of the things the others are talking about. I don’t see myself marry yet; I don’t see myself having kids yet. I see myself getting to know the man I am very hopeful about, I am wishing for the days to come when we will wake up next to each other – the days when phone calls will be short and the number of goodbyes will increase, but the time spent apart will be considerably shorter.
Late April, recently. Another bride to be, another hen party. There is only one pregnant belly, but a handful of mothers. At some point I am walking between two of the mothers. They get to talking about their husbands and running and baby joggers and I am literally stuck between them not knowing what to say and where to look.
“What about you?” she – my age, mother of one – asks me in a bubble bath that is scented with something the guy said would resemble “a walk in the forest”. I react like I always do. I feel caught of guard and give the “oh, you know J needs to hand in his PhD and get a job and our situation is just so unknown”-speech that I am used to giving. I wonder if she can hear the falseness of the story. What would she say if I told her that though I have known for a week it was this very morning my body showed me how not pregnant I am. Luckily she doesn’t ask further questions and finds another topic to talk about.
Later I survive an unstoppable list of “he and his wife have two children; she is pregnant with number two; they got their first last week,” when I – lack of anything else to talk about – asks if one of the girls at the party knows how the people we once both knew are doing. I know you shouldn’t ask if you don’t want to know, but I didn’t ask about the kids. That was just the answers I got. Years ago I would have been told where they worked, if they had gotten their degrees yet, now apparently we have reached the “age of having babies” and though you don’t ask about that specifically, it is the information you get.
“I just need to know if they will hire me permanently. The minute they say yes, I say go. Then we are going to have children,” she says with determination. The mothers surrounding her are nodding their heads. No one mentions the “what if it doesn’t happen right away”, but I wonder if I am the only one who thinks it. I remember back to last year when I got my first job and we talked about how it would be perfect if we could try for an April or May baby so that I could go straight from my temporary job to materntiy leave. Life turned out in such a way, we never even tried for that spring 08 baby.
“It will cost you,” I tell him when he asks me to proof read. “I know, I know,” he says. He is laughing and something in his voice surprises me. “A combination, it is going to cost me a combination of you and me,” he says, his voice as sweet as ever, and I can’t help but smile. However bumpy the road feels and is and will feel and be, we are still on it – together.