my sisters and i arrived at the hotel laden with bags and dresses and made our way to reception, where two of her friends were waiting for us. i know them both, she's been friends with them for years. i haven't seen them in a long time. i was looking forward to catching up with them.
except. i looked closer at one of them. she had a white top on, fairly sheer, and it looked...
it looked like her belly was sticking out.
it looked like she was pregnant.
pregnant enough for her baby to be moving round inside her. for her to be feeling it. while i was standing next to her.
but she can't be! there's no way my sister or my mum would have left me found out like this. they would have warned me before. i must be imagining things.
... but isn't that a B0unty pack sticking out of her bag?
then the other girl picked up the bag with the B0unty pack.
both of them?!?!?!?
at this point i went to queue with my youngest sister, who was waiting to check us all in.
'do you know if S and J are pregnant?'
she didn't know.
by this time the third and final group of people had arrived, and i realised i was going to have to ask. because if one or both of them was pregnant, i needed to make sure they didn't talk about it, or at least not in my earshot. i needed to make sure that i could pretend it wasn't happening.
i went up to S. i asked if she was pregnant, and she looked at me with concern and nodded.
'please can you not talk about it?'
and then i burst into tears before i could even explain 'at least not within my earshot'.
she's a doctor, which probably helped. she took me up to the bar and sat down with me until i'd managed to stop crying. 'i didn't know,' i said. (i'm pretty sure she'd realised that already.) 'i couldn't even see my best friend from february til july because it was too painful to see her while she was pregnant.' she winced sympathetically.
turned out she was 22 weeks pregnant. i told her that the only way i'd be able to cope with the weekend was by pretending it wasn't happening. she was very understanding. told me how upset she'd been to hear about what had happened to me. it helped.
then she asked if i knew the other girl was pregnant. 24 weeks. i'd been hoping i was wrong, but i knew i wasn't. i asked her if she would tell her the same thing and she agreed, said she would explain.
i'd managed to stop crying by this point, so we went back down to where the others were, and i went up to my middle sister, the one who's getting married, and i said 'i didn't realise that S and J were both pregnant.'
turns out she thought that my mum had told me. when i spoke to my mum later, i found out that she'd been planning to tell me, but that with various things that had been going on it had slipped her mind (and given all the stuff that's been going on, that is understandable).
so i went along and kept smiling, even though when the jealousy and the grief threatened to overwhelm me.
it was the next day, at the races, that they did.
there were a handful of people coming to the races who hadn't been there the day before. it was nice to see them. i hadn't seen most of them for a long time either. and mostly it was ok.
until the moment, during a conversation about how cold it was, when i heard one of them say to S,
'at least you have a baby to keep you warm...'
from that point it was just a matter of time until i had a meltdown.
my mum had come over for the races. she wasn't around at that moment, but when she saw me again she knew something was wrong. she kept trying to talk to me, to look after me. i knew she knew i wasn't ok. but i was barely keeping myself from sinking to the floor and sobbing as it was. all i could do was talk slowly, deliberately, and as little as possible.
in the fourth race there was a horse called Snow Bay. we never named the baby, but i think of it as my little snowflake.
most of my bets i put on each way. but i bet on Snow Bay to win.
and i stood, watching the race, my heart in my mouth. my fingers on my snowflake pendant. as Snow Bay took the lead. kept the lead.
i thought it was a sign. i thought my two pound bet was going to win me a nice chunk of cash.
i thought it was a sign. i thought that maybe there was hope for me and D.
and then with seconds to go something went wrong, and he came in somewhere around eighth.
if it was a sign it wasn't a good one.
the night before, on the lottery, i'd had the number next door to every single number that was drawn. seriously. every.single.one.
all my omens are shitty.
i lost a shedload of money. nearly everyone came out better off than they'd gone in. i came out by far the worst off. i won 30p on one bet and 3.50 on another. that was it.
by the time we got back to the hotel i was losing my grip. i said goodbye to my mum and my dad who'd come to pick her up. i went in with the others, wondering how long it would be before i could just go back up to my room and cry and call D. my middle sister saw me. she asked if i was ok. by this time i couldn't hold back the tears. i said, quietly, that i was going up to my room. she wanted to come with me. i told her i needed to be on my own.
walking down the corridor to my room, someone saw me crying and asked if i was ok. i didn't know how to answer, but i thanked her for checking.
in my room, i cried. i howled. i ached. i called D. but what could he do from hundreds of miles away? it wasn't even that i wanted to go home. i just wanted to crawl into a cave, a nice dark cave, and hide until the pain went away. it must have been horrible for him to listen to me cry like that, to be unable to comfort me.
my youngest sister came in (we were sharing, she didn't have much choice). then my other sister texted her. i told the youngest to say the other one could come along. she did. they sat with me. middle told me that when she saw my face the day before, she had expected me to leave, straight away. but how could i have done that? how could i have missed my sister's hen do?
she asked if i wanted to leave then. or if i wanted our parents to come back and pick me up later. no, i told her. i had to stay.
she told me i didn't have to. but i did. it took me a while to figure it out, but i couldn't let it win. the grief. the depression. i needed to be the stronger. i've always been stubborn.
but since then, i've been bad again. i've been anxious. i've been depressed. on thursday night, after work, i cried for hours.
i talked to my mum on the phone. we agreed that much as i'd wanted to stay, that actually, leaving might have been a better plan. refusing to put myself through that torture.
it hurts, not to be able to talk about people's pregnancies. not to be able to ask them how things are going.
i don't want to be like this. i want to be happy for people. i want to hear about how it's going for them.
i don't want to feel like a bad omen.
i don't want to feel like a portent of doom.
i don't want the sight of a pregnant woman to feel like a knife through my heart.
but i am. i can't. i do.
i usually double my dose of antidepressants in the run up to my period. in the high and the happiness of barcelona, i'd decided to leave it a little later. see how i managed.
since that day, i've been on the double dose. i'm sticking with it for another week or two. because since then, i'm not coping so well.
not pregnant again this month.
we've been referred for fertility testing. the appointment is in a couple of weeks.
i cannot believe it's come to this.