It was a Thursday in October, almost thirteen weeks into my pregnancy when I had the first scan. At last proper confirmation that this nausea wasn’t for nothing – there really was something inside me, something human. I was still being sick every evening but the misery was now tinged with hope and excitement: hope that the nausea might end fairly soon, and excitement at the knowledge of the life inside me. Meanwhile, a tiny being reclined comfortably in my womb as if relaxing on a sun lounger. It looked so laidback, so collected – so different from how I felt. And tiny, yes, but not a bit vulnerable or needy. Not like it might scream for hours, appalled at the shock of life itself.
It was time to go public, although by this time it was only really a secret to people who lived far away and hadn’t witnessed the pathetic sight of me gnawing miserably at half a breadstick in between gulps of Gaviscon. We’d been nervous about telling our parents – I wasn’t sure how mine would take to our method of conception, involving a man from the Internet masturbating in our bathroom, but their desperation for a grandchild, the extent of which I hadn’t truly realised, apparently overrode any concerns they may have had. When I was little over seven weeks gone, my mum took the opportunity while the neighbours were on holiday (since it was still early days) to get my old baby clothes and Terry nappies out of the loft, through the wash and hanging on the line in the garden. This child was either going to look ridiculous, dressed in clothes over thirty years old, or like a supercool 70’s retro baby. Close friends either already knew our method of conception or, if they didn’t, were quick to ask. More distant friends and work colleagues tended not to ask and, while part of me wanted to correct their probable assumption that we’d been to a clinic and used anonymous donor sperm, I also felt that the quite intimate details of our child’s beginning were best kept as distant as possible from staffroom gossip. We left our parents to spread the news to the older family members still surviving, and I still experience a slight discomfort when I wonder exactly how much they were told and what their understanding is of how lesbians go about these things; it horrifies me to think that they may be under the impression that I had sex with a man – but perhaps I’m insulting the intelligence of a generation that we have actually found far more accepting of our relationship than the post-war baby boom generation that followed them.
Meanwhile, my body was changing. It was around the fourteen-week mark that a sliver of tummy was starting to emerge between tops and trousers. Keen to avoid both a November crop-top look and the risk of catching a chill, I had to reassess my wardrobe. A similarly proportioned friend had very kindly leant me a mound of maternity clothes, and my forage into the bag heralded a revelation: the comfort of maternity jeans with a shrewdly practical elastic-and-button adjustable system on the waistband.
There was really no hiding the emerging bump now and one break-time, a group of Year 11 girls cornered me; clearly aware of the delicacy of the issue, yet determined for answers, after a little skirting around the topic they ventured to ask whether the rumours were true. I hadn’t anticipated the screaming that my response inspired, and the anxious educator in me was a little perturbed at their complete lack of concern that their English teacher would be leaving a month before the GCSE exams.
A couple of weeks later, one of the girls – interestingly a student who was rather too relaxed where her work was concerned – presented me with a hat she’d knitted for the baby. I was very touched by the effort she’d gone to, and felt a surge of guilt: my knitting needles hadn’t surfaced since the last charity blanket square I’d produced twenty years ago as a Girl Guide and now my baby was reliant on sixteen-year-olds for its wardrobe. I hastily consulted Amazon and ordered a copy of Vintage Knits for Modern Babies, some wool and needles, and hoped I’d be able to find a YouTube video on how to cast-on. Meanwhile, I was unaware that around the country a hum of clicking needles was already picking up tempo; the post-war generation may struggle a little at first with homosexuality, but news of a baby is well within their comfort zone and the automatic reaction of many of our mums’ friends and friends’ mums, it seemed, was to reach for a couple of balls of Baby DK and a pattern.
By mid-November, I’d reached seventeen weeks and the misery of the nausea had been replaced by a renewed appetite for evening meals which I could now keep down. My weight started to increase – until now, despite the emerging bump, with two and a half months of minimal food and no exercise, both fat and muscle had been dropping off from the rest of my body. We started to socialise again; I was still rather prone to more severe travel-sickness than I was used to, but we managed to visit relatives in Wales and on the South Coast and for the first time in over twenty years in my family, talk was of babies. We went for an Indian meal with friends, one of whom was two months ahead of me, and we were able to share both the exasperation of being told for the fiftieth time that ginger could solve the sickness problem (it wasn’t even slightly effective for either of us) and the excitement of what we both had ahead. The fact was, that pregnancy was starting to become quite good fun.
And all this time I was still only just beginning to get my head round the miracle inside me. I was reminded of the> colourful Russian Dolls I had as a child, especially when I learnt that if our child was a girl, she would already have a full complement of eggs ready to produce her own children: another two generations there, inside me. I was almost ready to don a bright yellow headscarf and paint my lips bright red. But if only birth was as easy as a brief twist and pull of two bits of painted wood…
Article: by Lindsey, West Yorkshire 6th July 2013
Read more blogs following Lindsey’s Pride Angel Journey at www.prideangel