Recap: Jake suggests they follow the 104-day preconceptual care programme to improve their health in general, but insists they postpone the final decision on having a baby to the end of that period.
So, we are well on track. What has been bothering me a bit, though, is that we never talk about the elephant in the room – that the aim of all of this is a baby. I wonder if Jake has forgotten or even changed his mind? What if he just eats like that when he is with me? These thoughts and similar ones pop into my mind every now and then, but lately this uncertainty has grown, opening the door for the trio to enter.
I’ve made a copy of all my own research and given it to Jake bound in a neat file, and then also copied his document on lifestyle changes and added that to my own file. I read it all every single day, highlighting key words and doing more research on the areas that still seem unclear. It really freaks me out to know how many things can go wrong, which in turn breaks down my resistance to Dread, Anxiety and Fear.
When I wake up one cold Saturday morning, Jake has gone cycling with his buddies. I decide to take the file and notebook and go to the Two Tarts to see if just being there can help me rekindle the joy I had felt the last time we were there. Vee spots me as soon as I settle at ‘our’ table, and comes over to say hi.
“Hi, welcome back! I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch your name last time …”
“Zani. Hi, Vee.”
“Are you warm enough out here, Zani? It’s cold out. Don’t you rather want to come inside and sit close to the fire? I’m just about to take out the last batch of muffins from the oven. I can bring a couple, if you like?”
The interior of the Two Tarts is as bright and colourful as the outside area. Works of art are on display and cover just about every bit of wall space. The tables and chairs don’t quite match, but somehow that only serves to create a more homely, inviting space in which to relax. I settle in at a corner table right next to the fire, and am about to pull out the file and two books on pregnancy I’ve brought when Vee makes her way over again.
“So, what will it be today?”
“Well, the muffins do smell delicious, but I think I’ll just settle for a fennel tea for now, if you don’t mind.”
Despite the tempting aroma of piping-hot muffins, Vee is determined to keep her customer happy, so she dashes back to the kitchen to fetch a pot of tea and promptly delivers it to my table, along with two health rusks. I thank her and pour the golden liquid, making a special effort to ignore the milk and sugar. I dip a rusk into the tea and settle into my reading. In fact, I get so carried away, so caught up in my research, that I linger too long before hoisting the dunked rusk to my mouth and it falls – all soggy mush and crumbs – and splashes tea over the tablecloth. Vee is there in a jiffy to save the situation. I am so embarrassed and keep apologising.
Until now I’ve been trying desperately to hang on to the last shreds of self–control that I can muster, but her concern has me teetering on the edge.
“I don’t want to pry,” she says, “but I’ve noticed that you’re very anxious. Do you want to talk about it? I have a minute, if you think it’ll help to chat.”
And that is that. I burst into tears and flee to the ladies’. Weeping like a baby, I linger there as long as I can before I start to worry that Vee will trail in after me. Finally, I manage to compose myself and make my way back to the table, looking shamefaced at the clean cup and fresh pot of tea with rusks. Vee is nowhere to be seen, so I sit down and pour another cup. I don’t touch the rusks.
I am the only customer, so fortunately there have been no witnesses to my little scene, other than Vee. She has returned and is making her way around the room, leaving little posies of fresh herbs and garden flowers at each table. It is clear that she loves what she is doing and I feel drawn to her warmth and generosity.
She looks up and catches my eye.
“You feeling better?”
“Yes, thank you.”
I am about to apologise when she comes over and settles into the chair next to mine.
“When a woman’s pregnant,” she smiles gently tapping my arm, “her emotions can run a bit haywire at times. It’s absolutely normal.”
“But I’m not pregnant.” I am a little taken aback.
“Oh! I’m sorry – I saw the books and assumed you were! I’m very sorry. Are you battling to fall pregnant? Or is that hunk of a man of yours not ready yet?”
I chuckle. Bingo, sister! “He is a hunk, hey?” At least that drew a smile from me. “But no – and yes, actually. No, I’m not battling to fall pregnant, and yes, Jake isn’t ready yet. But I don’t think that’s the biggest problem.”
“So there’s a problem? What’s that?”
And before I can stop myself, my usually controlled and very private self, which fends off personal contact (a tried-and-tested defence mechanism to protect myself from hurt or rejection), gives way and I lay it all out on the table. I leave nothing out – the ‘hollowness’ I feel, Jake, his reservations, our ‘negotiations’, the 104-day programme – all my concerns and anxieties about whether this is the right thing or not.
Finally, I come up for air and take a deep breath.