Wednesday, 9 December 2009 - 6:42 pm

Examination by an unfriend

I didn’t entirely trust the pregnancy tests. I wanted them to be wrong, or at least unreliable. Not just because it’s terrifying to think about having a child; there’s also the After to consider. Pregnancy is dangerous and birth is worse. Sally is lying in the campervan, pale and wasting, and possibly on her way out. As births go, she didn’t have an awful one, and she’s still in trouble. No-one’s sure if she’ll recover, even though it’s been days now.

There was only one thing left to do. I had to see a doctor and get myself checked out.


I screwed up my courage and went to speak to Masterson late last night, after the rain had stopped. He looked like hell, like he’d barely slept in days. He stays in the campervan at night with Sally. The girls who ride with him bring the baby out to be with the rest of us, so that his mother might sleep. The little one still new enough that none of us mind, though being woken up by that shrill crying isn’t fun for anyone.

I don’t know if it helps. The girls said that Sally misses the baby when he’s not near. I know the doctor can be a cruel bastard, but never when it comes to someone’s health. We have to believe that what he’s doing is for the best.

Masterson doesn’t usually come inside at night, but he’d come for some food after the rain had stopped. It wasn’t exactly the best time to go and ask my question. His girl is struggling at the end of a pregnancy and I’m starting one. Maybe. I couldn’t think about that.

I could see his shoulders go all tense when I approached him. As if he was expecting trouble from me. I’ve done my best to leave them alone! I gave them space, even though I didn’t want to. I haven’t visited Sally lately, though I said I would, because it’s what he wanted. It’s never good enough for him. As if I wasn’t nervous about this already, seeing him prepare for a battle with me made it worse.

I grabbed my courage by the throat and lifted my chin when I spoke to him. I nearly choked off my own words but I got them out. I think I might be pregnant. I need to know for sure. No pleasantries, no wasted breath. Just business.

His look was full of edges and I thought he’d throw it back in my face. I braced myself for whatever he was going to spit at me. How long? Seven weeks. How late? I’d missed two periods now. Had I ever missed them before? Never. Sometimes it varied by a few days, but they always happened. Before now. And I’m only thinking about it now? I’ve been too busy to notice. It’s not something that I thought to worry about.

He started on a lecture about ‘how these things happen’, but I cut him off. I know. I know all of that. What I need is to know if I really am pregnant, and if I’m okay. That’s what I need from him.

He grumbled and took me into a back room where we could have some privacy. What followed was one of the most uncomfortable, humiliating experiences of my life. I’ve been examined by doctors before, but I didn’t know any of them. I wasn’t painfully aware of any bad feeling between us before.

With Masterson, I was vulnerable and at his mercy, and we both felt it. I had to close my eyes for most of it, trying to think of him as a doctor and nothing else. Certainly not a man, with troubles and feelings and a grudge against me. Even when my eyes were open, I couldn’t look at his face, and all I could manage was single-word responses to his questions.

He didn’t do anything untoward – he was very professional. That almost made it worse. Afterwards, he gave me a moment to dress and then told me that everything looked fine. I asked him if I really was pregnant – I needed to hear it, I needed someone else to put it into words for me. I thought that being given those words by a doctor might make it more real.

“Did the pregnancy test come back positive?”


“Then you’re pregnant.”

“They’re that accurate?”

“They’re accurate enough.”

That made me feel worse, too. He could have said that to start with.

I thanked him awkwardly and we went out separate ways. The episode didn’t mend anything between us. If anything, he seems more put-out than ever. I don’t think anything will make our relationship pleasant, but at least I know that he’ll be a doctor for me. He hasn’t ever refused to treat someone and I guess that’s what’s important, for all of us.


I thought I’d feel better once I’d had it confirmed. I don’t. There’s a weight on me, pressing all the air out of my lungs when I least expect it. I’m pregnant. I look at Sally’s baby and try to think about something that tiny being a part of me, and my body doesn’t know whether to yearn for it or run away. It feels like it’s doing both.

I think I wanted Masterson to tell me that I was mistaken. There was some other problem and that’s why I had skipped periods. Maybe it was the hunger or the stress – it can do that. I wanted him to tell me it wasn’t true. Trust him to tell me exactly what I didn’t want to hear.

Then I catch sight of Matt and feel awful all over again. He still has that look about him, wanting to ask me what’s wrong. He asked me once and I couldn’t answer him. I didn’t know what to say to him. Now he’s trying to give me space because he can see I need it, but he wants to help. He wants to be with me. It’s cruel to keep him in the dark like this.

At first, I didn’t want to tell him in case it wasn’t true. I didn’t want to worry him – or get him all excited – about it until I was sure. Now I am sure and that excuse has gone away. There aren’t any more reasons not to tell him.

So that’s the next step. I don’t know why I’m waiting – I should just do it. He deserves to know. I have to tell Matt he’s going to be a father.

What if he’s furious with me? We’ve never talked about the possibility of children. We haven’t even talked about settling down together. What if he doesn’t want this? What if he leaves?

I guess I should find out, one way or the other. Get this over with. I’ve had all day to get used to the idea, but I don’t feel any better about it. I wish my hands would stop shaking.

Deep breath, off we go.