When the Nursery was Black

This is how it goes:

Pee on a stick.

Wait anxiously for a bit of plastic to tell you if there’s the beginning of a real life human inside your stomach.

If not, try again. Buy double the number of tests and pee on it once every week.

Finally, it tells you what you want to hear. You run to the bedroom screaming ‘it said yes!’ as if the pregnancy test were your new fiancé.

Each time this happens you get less and less excited.

Each time you can’t decide if you can handle another yes that turns in to a no at some unspecified time in the future.

You live with that yes for a month, maybe two months, once for a whole six months before it turns in to a no. Like the pregnancy test’s decision had only ever been temporary.

You take your time sorting through drawers of tiny clothes, move the white crib hand-carved by your father into the garage, turn the light off in the room with walls every shade of purple, and shut the door.

One day your husband comes home and the nursery is black. The walls are black, the purple shag carpet is cut into pieces and the hand carved crib that you’d slept in as a baby is smashed into pieces in the garage.

The next day, he leaves. He can’t take it anymore. He’d gone through it too, you know, he’d lost her too. This happens to a lot of people, he says. You should, I don’t know, I’m sure there’s a group out there you could join?

But they didn’t lose your baby, those other women. They don’t know how it felt.

For the first two months, you had refused to imagine her.

By week twelve, your baby was the size of a plum, her bones were beginning to form, and you would see her in your dreams.

By week nineteen, now the size of a mango, she began to kick. Jamie took this as a sign that baby didn’t like mummy’s jazz music and instead played eighties RnB through headphones placed on your stomach.

By week twenty, you would see her every time you closed your eyes. You saw her blowing bubbles in the garden and squealing as they popped against her face, strutting around the house in daddy’s shoes, jumping into bed with mummy at five am and gleefully demanding a story.

In a matter of weeks, the ‘yes’ became another ‘no’.

Now, for the first time in six months, you are truly alone. The future in your stomach is gone and your house is empty.

He packed a suitcase, not a rucksack, a suitcase, and left in your car.

Your fairy-tale man left you. You screwed everything up.

Sometimes, you go out seeking other people’s happiness, aching to watch, to absorb some of that feeling.

You sit in the park at the bottom of your street, on the bench dedicated to a loving mother, sister, grandmother and friend. You watch the mothers stood in a huddle against the cold, cradling the warmth of metal flasks against their glue chapped fingers and paint splashed palms. You watch a father run in slow motion, his daughter five feet ahead of him, her crazy, delighted giggles carried to you by the wind.

by Bethany Russell


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