I have to write one more post because Anonymous came back and responded in the last set of comments. I guess I should explain a bit more what set me off, because it certainly wasn't just one belly-rub, or one little comment, and I think this will help show where I'm coming from.

We all dislike an exhibitionist. We all think it's rude when someone has a "me me me" attitude where their needs come before anyone else's. It's unfortunate that these people exist, but the truth is they don't exist that often. Human society just wouldn't work if they did.

The problem is, a minority of women think pregnancy gives them a unique license to drop all they ever learned about basic courtesy. It does not. Pregnancy gives women special needs - it makes them big and heavy, puffed, sick, uncomfortable, emotional, vague and stupid, clumsy, or sometimes all of the above - and those needs deserve consideration. It's the women who want special consideration above and beyond those needs who are in the wrong. Above and beyond those needs, they are only due the same consideration as the next person on earth.


The first comment that raised my eyebrows was so blatantly shocking that it was impossible to get annoyed about. A woman expressed frustration that her own mother was refusing to be "relegated to second tier" within the family hierachy now that she, the daughter, was pregnant. Clearly, this woman had it in mind that the moment she conceived, the whole, extended family would stop in its delicate orbit and gravitate towards her. The former matriach, meanwhile, was to be stripped of her title and cast to one side. Thanks for everything mum, but I've got these two lines on a stick say you're obsolete. This seemed so insane, my reaction was almost scientific. "That's fascinating," I thought. "The human mind is actually capable of that pattern of thought. Just astounding."


There was a "why should I take care talking about my baby around my sister-in-law who is infertile and just had a miscarriage after IVF?" comment. You know the type - where the person posing the question asserts that it's their right to enjoy pregnancy in any way they please and bugger everyone else. I would hope that if her sister-in-law had lost a live baby after birth, or been diagnosed, perhaps, with some form of cancer, she would understand that the situation deserves respect. If so, then she is simply ignorant on the subjects of infertility and miscarriage, and should ultimately - after having things explained - be forgiven her folly. But there's a cynical little piece of me that wonders whether that would make any difference. Perhaps, I thought, she would insist on her "right" to act in any way she pleased even in the face of overt and universally recognised grief. Because, you know, she's pregnant.


A woman turns up at my sister's vet clinic. "I'm pregnant," she says, pushing to the front of the desk, "and I have an appointment with my obstetrician. The cat's got blood in his poo. I'm just going to leave him here." As she turns to go, the stunned receptionist says, "Wait! We need you to sign him in!" "I haven't got time for that," she replies. "Here - take this business card. Call me."

My sister rings the number on the card and the husband answers. "Well I don't know what's going on," he says. "Do we have your permission to run tests?" my sister asks, but the man refuses. "I don't know anything about it. You'll need to talk to my wife. No, I don't have her number." My sister smiles sweetly and requests a phone call from the dear woman. "She's pregnant at the moment," says the husband, as if this is relevant, "but I'll pass it on."

At 8pm my sister, none the wiser, hands the case over to the emergency clinic. The next day the woman is furious that her cat hasn't been cured and magically returned home. "The cat seems normal on examination," explains my sister. "We don't know how to treat without at least a proper history and we need your permission to do further tests. I did phone your husband, but I was told I'd have to wait for your call, which I have been doing." "Well I'm pregnant!" the woman says, as if that explains anything, and continues to complain long and loud. She gets cranky when someone asks her to pay the overnight hospital fee, basing her argument on the fact that she's with child. My sister asks the other staff if this is reasonable behaviour. They confirm it is not. But why did she have to ask?


The stars of Juno (in the top video on the page) muse about what it would be like if they were expecting. "Pregnant women are treated as these, like, Holy Vessels," they joke. "You could really lord that over people." They laugh. But in real life, some people don't seem to appreciate it's just banter.

I can see why - the Cult Of Mummy glorifies a woman's maternal role to an unreasonable degree. To the Cult, pregnant women are Holy Vessels, and not just people, like they were before, but with temporary special needs. No wonder a few women get sucked in to thinking of themselves as Godlike during pregnancy. They've been brainwashed. And it's high time that brainwashing was undone.


Mr Bea asks me what I think of the view that women become selfish in pregnancy. "We do a little," I reply, "but mostly it's just a new-found willingness to assert ourselves for the sake of our child, and in the face of our new set of obstacles. Yes, I do need to sit down. No, I can't wait another forty-five minutes before eating. You're asking me, at six o'clock, to do an impromptu three hours of extra overtime? I hope you're kidding. It can be quite disconcerting when former doormat types suddenly start standing up for themselves, but it's perfectly fair, and in some cases long overdue. Unfortunately, we all get a bad name from those women - the ones who cross the line."


Finally, there was an article in a parenting magazine along the "it's not my problem other people can't conceive and you can't make me show any sympathy towards them" lines, and then I walk with a woman who rubs her belly, which is fine at first, but it just stretches on and on and on as if she doesn't feel she can move her hand away for a single moment of the waking day... and at that point I snap, and I write the first post.

And then I get a comment that really sets me off, and I really snap, and I write the second post.

So you see how it happened.


Today I am calm again. The world mostly knows that there are limits to decent social behaviour, even for pregnant women. The Cult Of Mummy, I believe, is once more on the wane, and after its damage is repaired, I look forward to a future where women are celebrated in all their roles - as daughters, as wives, as friends, as productive members of the workforce, yes - as mothers, but most of all, as people who deserve respect like anyone else around them.

Anonymous - I appreciate your coming back to make that comment. Too many people won't reconsider their words, once said, and I have more respect for that than I can express. I do appreciate your view. I was harsher and more sarcastic in the first post than was warranted, and I hope things are clearer now. As for the future, I wish you nothing but the best.

Short Version: a post about basic human compassion, following on from the comments of last post.

**I wrote this when I was still feeling riled by the sheer tone of entitlement in anonymous' comment. This attitude was exactly what I was objecting to in my post (moreso than the belly-rubbing itself, truth be told - a few different things culminated to set me off and I've kind of latched onto belly-rubbing as a focus). Other comments that followed were much more respectful and balanced, even if the author's didn't feel they agreed with me all the way. Knowing the authors, I doubt they're who I'm talking about in any case. Actually, most pregnant women - fertile or not - know how to behave with respect. It's just a few don't.

I've written this followup post to clarify, but in some places it's even angrier than the first, which might not help. The tone aside, I stand by what's written here. I don't think I'm asking for much - perhaps not as much as you thought I was asking for, in fact. But the idea that you can do what you like and everyone else has to lump it because it's your right and it's their problem if they don't like it just gets right up my nose. And I'm feeling really pregnant about biting my tongue today, so watch out.**

Let me tell you something my mother taught me, because it seems a lot of people in this world haven't had the benefit of a proper upbringing.

My mother taught me not to openly eat lollies in public. You have to be careful eating lollies in public because not all the children around you have lollies. Some of them can't afford lollies, others come from homes where lollies are not allowed. A few may be on special diets. And yet others get as many lollies as I do - and more - but they just don't happen to have any right now even though they want some. The point is, when you have lollies, you should remember that not everyone around you also has lollies, and therefore you should eat them quietly and without fuss, preferably in a descrete space, but certainly not as far out in the open as you can possibly manage, with a big, smug grin on your face, looking around at the other kids and getting indignant if they don't immediately smile back at you and say, "Hey! Good for you! Lollies!"

It's not about diminishing my enjoyment of lollies, she was careful to explain. It's not actually about me at all - only a self-centred person would think it was. It's about basic courtesy, and we all owe it to our fellow human beings. This is a lesson I learnt when I was in kindy. How come other people missed out?

Your actions, in public, affect the public. Therefore you cannot do what you like with your own body in public because it's your body and no-one else has any business over it - in public you must restrict yourself to those actions which show due consideration for others. This basic courtesy applies to all facets of human interaction - walking through a crowd, getting into a lift, queuing at the cash register, working at your desk, comporting yourself during pregnancy, and yes, for the four-year-olds, eating lollies.

If you're fertile, you probably don't know about belly-rubbing. You have some vague idea that infertility is "hard" and that infertile couples are "easily upset", but you probably have trouble realising exactly how hard, or what upsets them. You might not even know who these infertile couples are. That's ok. No-one truly expects you to.

So I say this now for your edification: belly-rubbing can be upsetting. When an infertile woman sees a pregnant woman in public, it gives a little pang. But pregnant women are expected - the world will go on, even without us. When an infertile woman sees a pregnant woman touch her belly, it's like a little kick to the gut. But pregnant women will touch their bellies from time to time - for reasons of comfort, or in conversation, or in response to a movement or a flutter, and almost always in ignorance of the pain it's causing someone else. It's life, so we deal with it, and we remind ourselves that the pregnant woman isn't trying to hurt us deliberately. But it does hurt. Now you know.

Twelve and a half percent of the population is infertile. One in eight couples. You will pass someone at the shops today with fertility problems. You will take the train in to work today with someone who knows that pain. You will be seen today, during the course of your half-hour lunch break at the hawker centre down the road, by a man or a woman who struggles to conceive. You won't know who they are, but I can guarantee you - they will be there. Infertility and pregnancy loss is a fact of your life, just as it is of mine. Not every kid has lollies at any given time. We all have to adjust to live with these realities.

So belly-rubbing hurts infertile people, like a kick to the gut, and infertile people are everywhere, every day. If you're belly-rubbing for a laudable purpose, you will be understood. If you're rubbing in ignorance, you will be forgiven. But when you know that infertility is everywhere and that belly-rubbing causes pain, what you don't do is claim a right to glue your hand permanently to your belly and wander around with a smug grin on your face, looking to see who's watching you and getting indignant if not everyone smiles. This lacks basic human decency and is very, very self-centred.

I am not suggesting every pregnant woman should wear a burkha or shut herself indoors. I am suggesting that when you go out, you refrain from insisting that everyone should look smilingly at you and arrange their lives around you. This means that if you want to pat your belly, you do so without fanfare. Strutting along in a self-satisfied way with your hand permanently attached to your bump and your eyes sweeping from side to side to gauge who's watching - that's fanfare. A gentle touch between you and your baby when you're tucked away in the spice aisle of the supermarket or seated at your desk clicking away on your computer is different. That's like eating your lollies quietly and without fuss.

This is a lesson I was taught when I was freaking four freaking years old. It's a pretty minimum standard of behaviour I'm asking for. Please don't tell me you're "entitled" to act in any other way.

Short Version: a post about publicly touching your own, pregnant belly.

"There's nothing wrong with touching myself. If I want to rub myself in public, why shouldn't I? Besides, it relieves my discomfort." Are these the words of a pregnant woman, or a sexual miscreant?

The other day, after yoga, I walked to the station with one of my classmates. She kept her hand on her belly the whole way. After a short while, I could feel my face contorting into this expression of helpless apology to the population around us. Twelve and a half percent, people - someone along the way was infertile, for sure. But given she's visibly pregnant and can't hide that fact, what harm does the belly-rubbing do? And, more importantly, should she really have to stop?

The plain, simple fact is this - it's showing off. It's not that I want her to apologise for being pregnant - I don't apologise myself. I put in a few hard yards along the way, of course, but even if I hadn't, I would still deserve to be pregnant as much as the next woman, which is to say not at all, since fertility is one of life's gifts, like being born to decent folk in a nice, middle-class neighbourhood of a modern, wealthy country with a proper welfare system, instead of to a mentally-unbalanced and destitute AIDS victim amongst the rubbish piling into a third-world gutter. No, it's not that we deserve to be pregnant, or don't deserve to be pregnant, or need to feel guilty and ashamed of being pregnant. It's just that "smug" is out this season, and nothing says "smug" like having your hand permanently glued to your belly, especially if you're constantly surveying the crowd to see how much attention you're getting for the act.

I'm aware of the argument, of course. Pregnancy is uncomfortable, and sometimes you have to rub things to ease that discomfort. For my part, I've found that it itches all over my abdomen and sometimes I just have to scratch. On the other hand, sometimes when I'm out in public my crotch itches, or my underwear rides uncomfortably into areas no underwear should go, yet I don't tend to stand in the middlest middle of wherever I am, clear my throat loudly and wait til everyone's watching, then scratch my girly privates with a flourish or pluck my panties from the depths of my arsecrack whilst looking around to make sure everyone's got a good view. No, I make any adjustments quickly, quietly and discretely, and then I get on with my life.

Some will roll their eyes at me. They'll say, "Rubbing a pregnant belly is hardly the same as fingering your bum," and to this I agree. It's often considered polite to duck into the nearest ladies' toilet if your intimates need attention, whereas I don't think a quick belly scratch demands the same, high level of delicacy. Nevertheless, my point stands - it is discourteous to draw unnecessary attention to yourself and your body, especially when that attention is likely to bother others around you.

So next time you're swollen with the wondrous and extraordinary gift of a fragile, new life*, just... tone it down. We can see you're pregnant and we think that's very nice for you. But there's no need to keep rubbing it - quite literally - in everyone's faces.

*I know, it happens to us all the time.

Short Version: I discuss anxiety, especially - this will shock you - in terms of infertility and subsequent pregnancy.

I was talking to my mother about the GTT. She said, "Well, it's true - there's no need to worry about asking. He already knows you're over-anxious."

"I'm not over-anxious," I replied indignantly. "I've been very calm."

My mother starting making harsh choking noises over the phone. It was most juvenile and undignified.

Besides, I have been calm. Take this last week, for instance - The Foetus didn't seem to be moving very much, but did I freak out? Ok, but let me ask you this: did I totally freak out? No. I freaked out in a very quiet, contained manner, until Caro and Cibele posted identical concerns, and then I swapped from freaking out to something more in the line of persistent worrying, and then last night I felt several almighty kicks and today The Foetus seems to be moving around more than ever. I think he may have turned. And one day, he is going to get such a hiding for being around the wrong way in the first place, he'll- well, in time-honoured fashion I shall just end with dot dot dot.

Also, I think I deserve credit for all the things I have not worried about during this pregnancy:

Will childbirth hurt?
What if I end up with a caesarian scar on my abdomen?
Aren't I getting a bit behind on my Master's degree work?
Should I be buying any baby stuff or booking any prenatal classes?

Arguably, I probably should be worrying about some of these things, or perhaps not worrying, but actually just dealing with them. The Master's degree work, for example. I am actually just about back on track with that now, by the way, but I really should keep up this pace for a couple of months yet, so forgive me if my travels around blogland are a little slow. As for the other things, I don't need to worry about them because I already know the answers. For example, the first two answers are, "Yes," and, "I'll get over it," whereas the last one is, "Meh."

There's a lot of talk about infertility and its ongoing gifts of doubt and apprehension, but I wanted to stop and point out the concerns it takes away.

For the rest, in a surprising turn of events, there's my Grandma. I haven't seen my maternal Grandma in years. She's been dead, you see. But over the last few months she's been appearing to me in dreams - something that's never really happened before.

"You look well," I said when I saw her the first time, and I then I cringed because really, what sort of greeting is that for your long-late Grandmother? But she just smiled an amused smile and replied, "So do you." Then she glanced at my abdomen and added, "It's good to see you like this."

The last time I saw her she did seem distracted, and I asked if something was wrong. "No," she said, but it sounded unconvincing, so I pushed a little more. "Nothing you should be worrying about," she told me firmly, and I knew this was her last word on the matter. Her insistence had an amazing effect.

The thing is, I don't do soothing. Logically, we all know how much could still go wrong, and that it's possible things could go wrong for us. If you tell me otherwise, I will know you're lying. So the soothing approach never helps at all - in fact, it hinders. It dismisses my legitimate fears, magnifying them without helping me accept and deal with them. When my grandmother spoke I felt, not as if I hadn't any reason to worry, but as if I was simply not permitted.

Only Grandmas can set rules like that. I hope she comes again some day.

Short Version: I risk offending everyone who's parenting or looking to parent through means other than their own pregnancy by harping on about how much value I place on the process, but I don't mean it like that, really. I also give brief updates on where my current signs, symptoms and plans are.

My memory may be skewed. A number of you have described the GTT drink as "not that bad", whereas the way I remember it, only my determination not to have to start drinking it all over again kept me from vomiting onto the phlebotomists' floor. More than that, I am worried about getting a three-day-long migraine as a result of the test, which seems to be my current response to anything high-GI, but in the end I am most worried about doing everything I can to deliver a healthy baby, so I will ask again about the test. Thanks for your comments - they have helped a lot.


So here's a story. The other day, I was waiting for the train to pull up at the MRT* station when The Foetus starting pushing on my bladder. And I leaked a little, and I thought, "I really hope there's a seat for me, otherwise I am just going to empty myself all over the floor of this carriage and it won't be pretty."

As the train pulled up, I saw with relief that, indeed, there was a seat free. But then the doors opened, and my fellow platform-waiter - a woman with her standing-age son - leapt forwards in a great rush to claim it. I stood in front of her on the train, thinking, "You know, perhaps she adopted him, or used a surrogate. Or she could even be the infertile Aunt." Which is interesting on two counts.

1. Holy crap, I'm leaking urine now. In public.

2. Obviously I still think it's all worthwhile.

Because when I consider the fact that she may not have been through what I'm going through, I think, "That's ok - you take the seat. I got the pregnancy." And then, somewhat less charitably, "If I piss on your son, we'll all know whose fault it is."

A young man offered me his seat after a few minutes.


I have some new belly pics up at the picture site. Email me if you want to see and don't have a clue what I'm talking about.


We are getting storage shelves delivered this afternoon. This is because the apartment is inefficiently organised and therefore less pleasant to live in than it could be. It is not because we are preparing for the arrival of our baby.


Pelvic floor exercise suggestions gratefully received.


*Underground/tube/subway/mass rapid transport/you get the idea.

Short Version: I debate whether to insist on a test for gestational diabetes, conclude yes, and ask for any info you have.

So here's a thing about the last appointment. We all know that, if I was in Australia, I would be due for my routine gestational diabetes screening in a few weeks, right? Well, they don't routinely screen for it here.

"Your urine glucose seems to be fine on dipstick," said SOB when I asked him about it, "so I don't see a need. I always recommend my pregnant patients don't eat too much refined carbohydrate anyway - you shouldn't be eating a lot of cakes, biscuits, sweets, that kind of thing. In moderation is fine, but not to excess."

The thing is, I haven't been able to eat any of that stuff at all for months. Neither have I been able to eat rice, potatoes, breakfast cereals, white bread, pizza, pastry, green peas, or sweet drinks (including fruit juice and flavoured milk), and I need to stick to a strict eating, sleeping and exercise routine. If I don't, I end up with nausea, often vomiting, the type of headache that lingers - quite literally - for days, and an inability to sleep through the night due to excessive hunger. Oh, and P.S. - a positive urine glucose dipstick.

I also have a family history of type two diabetes, and although myself and my sisters are currently nulliparous, a significant proportion of my close cousins have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes in pregnancy. I have no official diagnosis of PCOS, just a somewhat irregular cycle, a suspiciously crazy response to stims, and a mysterious history of recurrent early pregnancy loss.

Would you test me? I'd test me.

At the appointment, however, I was too seduced by the idea of not having to drink that horrible glucose solution to argue. Besides which, I reasoned, what would it change? I'm already on a fairly strict diet, and it appears to be controlling my blood glucose quite well. "Appears", that is, according to the urine glucose dipsticks I do every few weeks, and the fact that I feel fine as long as I don't misstep at all.

I'm not really into self-diagnosis. One lesson I've learned over the past few years is that, if sufficiently worried, I can even convince myself I have the plague. The story above seems almost definitive enough to suggest we bypass testing and just go straight to the treatment phase, but it doesn't mean I actually have the condition. I have, after all, on two separate pre-pregnancy occasions, had a glucose tolerance test and a fasting insulin and glucose test, and everything came up normal. Still, that was then, and in any case it's not like an amniocentesis or a laparoscopy, with risks as well as rewards - it's just a little blood and a nasty drink. Why wouldn't I do it?

I'm going to have to ask again at the next appointment. In the meantime, what can you tell me about gestational diabetes? What is the actual diet and how does it differ from what I'm eating at the moment? What are the exercise recommendations? What sort of monitoring does it need (in terms of glucose levels and also pregnancy progress)? I might as well occupy myself by reading up in advance.

Short version: everything fine with appointment, I get smug at a fertile woman.

So there's this woman at yoga (I've been once, but check out how I say "at yoga") who is only a few weeks behind me in terms of gestational age. In terms of outlook, she's lightyears away.

Take, for example, the conversation we had about birth plans. Ok, for a start, she brought up the topic of birth plans with roughly half a pregnancy to go. Secondly, she mentioned that she was considering an elective caesarian because she was afraid of the pain.

"What about you?" she asked.

"I was going to deliver the baby in whatever way the obstetrician thought was safest," I replied, trying desperately not to screw my face into some sort of superior expression. I guess you can't take the "smug" out of "smug infertile" after all.

I tried to explain, without using the words "dead baby". I gave her a one-sentence summary of the IVF, the OHSS, the D&C... "The thing about physical pain," I concluded, "is that you can never really remember it after it's gone. Not in an actual, visceral sense. Not in the same way that emotional pain lingers on. I find it hard, these days, to be afraid of something that fleeting, especially this far in advance."

She nodded thoughtfully. "You're right. That's a good way of looking at it." She didn't seem to hate me for my high-horsedness. I came home feeling old, battlehardened, and soul-weary. And smug. Really quite smug.


This morning, the universe decided not to slap me for my smugness, instead giving me a very smooth appointment. Measurements all fine, normal, fine, plus I got this cute ultrasound picture which I can't show to anyone unless I want them to know the gender, but here it is exclusively for you. Blah blah more clexane, blah blah see you in four weeks blah blah how I love blah when it comes to appointments. In celebration of this, plus its being annual bonus week at Mr Bea's work, I bought a pair of funky, red, orthopoedic sandals (for my tired feet and the slightly achey back I sometimes get now) and a new top on the way home. I think I might wear them out to our Viability Day festivities tonight.

Twenty-four weeks, people. Fuckin' yeah.

Short Version: I'm alive! but with sore muscles.

My excuse for not posting is that, as I work my way through the Creme De La Creme of 2007, it occurs to me that everything must have already been said. Wowee, are there a lot of posts up there. Good ones, too. Seriously - have you checked it out properly yet?

Nevertheless, since you've been sweet enough to ask, let me reassure you that I'm ok. Well, I'm ok apart from some sore muscles, which doesn't really count. The Foetus seems ok, if that's what you're asking, and we all know it is.

My right calf muscle is sore from the leg-cramp-to-end-all-leg-cramps several nights ago, and yes, I am still limping from it. Holy fuck that was some leg cramp. It was intense enough to wake not only me at about two in the morning, but also to bring Mr Bea from his peaceful slumber and into a state of instant panic, until I managed to force the words, "Leg... cramp..." between shuddering gasps of pain. Plus it woke The Foetus. Poor little guy was hit with a sudden dose of adrenalin and it took him some time to calm down. At least now I have an extra trick up my sleeve for those times when the Dead Baby Thoughts start to overtake me - I can just slam one of my least-cherished body parts in a door somewhere, or cut off one of my fingers. Voila! Instant live baby feedback. And you can email me for more handy pregnancy tips at the usual address.

Anyway, I decided a nice antenatal yoga class might help ease the cramping, so that's where I was earlier today - doing antenatal yoga with a woman whose ideas about the limits of the human body are very, very different from mine. I'll let you know how everything shapes up tomorrow after the twenty-four week appointment.

Short Version: Talking About It part two, baby kicks and Daddy tales. And to everyone - but especially if you're feeling fragile today - let me wish you strength and good things in 2008.

Christmas may be over, but panto season has remained in full swing at the Bea house.

"There he is! Feel him!" I say to Mr Bea.

"Where? Over here?"

"No, over there!"

"Over here?"

"No, he's gone again. Wait - look over there!"

"Behind me? Oh no he isn't!"


We went to a New Year's party on the weekend, and I wondered how Talking About It would go.

"I bet you spend every night reading through a whole stack of books on pregnancy and parenting," began the first conversation.

"We haven't really got to that yet," I admitted.

"Really? His sister's just a few weeks behind you, and it's all we ever hear!"

"Well," started Mr Bea, "we've had some medical issues and..." But he trailed off, noting his audience's attention had shifted elsewhere. We shrugged at each other and dropped it.

Over the course of the evening I learned that the biggest barrier to Talking About It is not figuring out what to say - it's that few people Actually Listen. As the pregnant couple, our part is confined to providing a focus for conversation, whilst making appropriate noises at intermittent points. Tales of infertility and loss don't fit into the script, and so Talking About It is really quite simple. We will do it, in full, whenever the chance arises - ie. occasionally, and sometimes not at all.


I asked Mr Bea if he had strong preferences about anything baby-related. "Yes," he said. "Yes, I do. I think we should have one. Preferably this one."

"Beyond that?"

"No preferences whatsoever."

So we discussed a few things, like nappies and feeding and sleeping arrangements and so forth, and somehow ended up throwing ideas around for the tea shop in the mountains we're "definitely" going to buy with our retirement funds, so we can while away our golden years in a picturesque location in the countryside, serving cake and Dajeeling to couples on Sunday drives and maybe solving the odd murder mystery or two. It felt liberating to plot these alternative futures again, instead of going over the same, oppressive lines that punctuate each act in the long drama of infertility.


Mr Bea announced a desire to buy a parenting book, which we did on New Year's Day. In the bookshop cafe, he gave it a good leafing through as I munched on my sandwich and blinked back a sudden prick of tears. Later, I was putting my feet up on the couch at home when The Foetus started to move again. "Hey!" I called out. "There he is!"

"Over here?" said Mr Bea, placing his hands as directed, ready to perform the pantomine once more.

But we both stopped short before the next line.

"Oh yeah..." he said. "I can feel him."

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