The coco pinchard boxset.., p.53
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       The Coco Pinchard Boxset: 5 bestselling romantic comedies in one!, p.53

           Robert Bryndza
 

  ‘No…No…’ he shook his head. ‘We’ve been using… Condoms.’

  He sat on the sofa. I sat beside him.

  ‘There was that one time we didn’t, remember? Before The X Factor Live show,’ I said. Adam picked up the test and stared at it.

  ‘Bloody hell. We’re going to be parents!’ he grinned. It shocked me, the ease with which he said it.

  ‘Hang on, hang on, hang on… We are?’ I said.

  ‘Aren’t we?’ said Adam, his face clouding over. ‘When did you find out?’

  ‘When you were out.’

  ‘Do I have a say in the decision?’

  ‘I haven’t made a decision. All I’ve had time to do is pee on a piece of plastic and freak out!’

  ‘You don’t want it?’

  ‘I don’t know… I’m forty-four, I’ve had a son, you’ve got a daughter already.’

  ‘Coco. Having a child is such an amazing experience!’

  ‘Oh, you’re an expert are you?’ I asked. ‘You’ve done your bit, ten minutes in front of the X Factor and that’s you finished.’

  ‘Hang on!’

  ‘No. Adam. Are you mad? Me, have a baby?’

  ‘Why not?’

  ‘Why not? I’ll get fat, and have piles and stretch marks on top of the ones I’ve already got. And when I’ve been through the agony of childbirth, it’s not over – there’s years of clearing up poo and being responsible for a life. Then we’ll finally wave it off to college – if it hasn’t become a drug addict or a porn star – and I’ll be…’

  ‘You’d be sixty-two,’ he said helpfully.

  ‘SIXTY-TWO! Being a man you’re going to get more and more sexy, and they’ll think I’m your mother when we walk down the street… I’ve got a career I’m just starting to make work, and I want to go on some nice holidays.’

  I gave a heaving sob and burst into tears. Adam pulled me into him for a hug.

  ‘Okay, it’s okay,’ he said stroking my hair. Rocco barked and put his paws on my leg.

  ‘Let’s do another test,’ said Adam. ‘They aren’t 100% accurate…’

  ‘Ok,’ I said hopefully.

  We dashed upstairs, and I peed on the second test. PREGNANT 9 WEEKS showed up again.

  ‘How accurate are these things?’ I asked.

  ‘Pregnancy tests are ninety-seven to ninety-nine percent accurate,’ said Adam reading the leaflet. Clinging onto that two percent chance, I sent Adam back round to the station to buy more.

  Several pints of water later, we were both in the bathroom perched on the edge of the bath and staring at a row of eight pregnancy tests lined up on the radiator under the window.

  They all read: PREGNANT 9 WEEKS.

  ‘You should make an appointment with the doctor,’ said Adam, who was now quiet as things were sinking in.

  ‘Do you think there’s a problem?’

  ‘Course not, but you’ll need to have a check up and a scan, won’t you? Was ultrasound invented when you had Rosencrantz?’

  I turned to him.

  ‘What?’ he said.

  ‘Of course it was invented, it was 1989!’

  I’m going to see the doctor tomorrow. Surely it’s not natural that I have to wear reading glasses to find the surgery number and book a pregnancy consultation?

  Wednesday 4th January

  I can’t remember the last time I went to the doctor. And I certainly haven’t been to a pregnancy clinic since Madonna was young, fertile and singing Papa Don’t Preach. Although, this time round I have no father to judge me, just the whole world. These days no one bats an eyelid at an unplanned pregnancy (which is a good thing), but being an older woman having a baby seems, I don’t know, needy? Greedy? I had a whole speech prepared if anyone asked me why I was at the surgery.

  ‘Bunions.’ I was going to chuckle. ‘Years of wearing designer shoes and partying!’ and I’d stroke Adam’s arm which would indicate that I only want the bunion sorted so I could carry on partying. Although quite why I’d attend a pregnancy clinic with a bunion, I don’t know.

  At quarter to eight in the morning, the surgery waiting room was like a zoo. I don’t remember toddlers being so wild. At least I don’t remember them having so much stimulation. Mothers never used to bring along the whole playroom, plus a miniature DVD player. Several were serving chopped fruit from Tupperware to their disinterested darlings, and the kids – they were so damn fashionable!

  ‘His trainers are really cool,’ said Adam pointing at a five year old who was being fed papaya whilst selecting an episode of ‘Postman Pat’ on his iPad.

  ‘Don’t do the high street. Those trainers are cheaper online. Although they might not be your size,’ smiled a frazzled looking mother two seats away. She was clad in a huge coat, leggings and trainers. Parked beside her were two buggies, and a wreckage of soft toys were playing tunes and beeping. Two toddlers sat at her feet watching ‘Finding Nemo’ on a phone or a tablet – something with a big screen. Dotted around them were six or seven bags of shopping. The woman looked exhausted, but I could just see the person she used to be, the busy witty professional peeping out from behind her tired eyes.

  ‘I’m here for bunions,’ I said. ‘They really hurt.’

  ‘Do you want some mummy petrol?’ asked the little boy turning from ‘Finding Nemo’. ‘It numbs the pain…’

  ‘Just watch out for Nemo, like a good boy,’ snapped the woman and turned to face us with a pained smile. The little boy ignored her, leaned forward, and pulled a bottle of chardonnay out of one of the shopping bags.

  ‘Mummy says her mummy petrol takes away the pain,’ said the little boy. He strained to lift the bottle towards me with both hands.

  ‘Be quiet and watch the bloody film!’ she roared, snatching the bottle out of his little hands. The little boy started to cry; it was a low whining sound, like a plane coming in to crash land.

  ‘No, please. Mummy didn’t mean it…’ pleaded the woman.

  Thankfully my name was called out.

  We went into the consulting room and the doctor, an elderly chap, barely looked up when I told him I was pregnant. He didn’t check. In fact Adam could have said he was pregnant and this guy wouldn’t have noticed. He clicked a few things on his computer and said,

  ‘I’ve put you on the list to see the midwife, please go back outside and wait.’

  We trudged back out into the waiting room. The mummy petrol lady was called in next. She scuttled off, as quickly as a woman with two children and a playroom of toys can.

  A little while later I was called in to see the midwife.

  ‘You stay here,’ I said to Adam. ‘We haven’t been married long and I don’t want the illusion shattered by me being put in stirrups.’

  ‘They don’t do that on your first appointment, do they?’

  ‘I’ll probably have to wee in something though…’

  ‘Okay hun,’ he said kissing me. ‘I’ll be here, and it’s going to be fine.’

  A perky young midwife, who can’t be much older than Rosencrantz, saw me. What is it with this new generation of professionals? They use this singsong way of speaking. Very bright, yet condescending, and they emphasise certain words for no reason. I feel like I’m on a radio phone-in when I talk to them. Midwife Day insisted I call her Justine, and then made a big deal of it not being a big deal I was old, assuring me she would use the phrase ‘older mummy’ rather than ‘geriatric mother.’

  I was still reeling from the phrase ‘geriatric mother’ when she held up a cup saying,

  ‘Could you do a little wee-wee in this for me?’

  I went behind a curtain and managed to fill the cup almost to the brim.

  ‘Well done!’ said midwife Day when I handed it back. She undid the lid and tested it with a little stick.

  ‘The good news is you are pregnant,’ she said dropping the testing stick into the bin and washing her hands.

  ‘Right could you answer a few questions for me?’ she asked, drying her hands and si
tting down at her desk. She rummaged in a drawer and pulled out a little green book.

  ‘You need to carry this around with you always,’ she said. ‘It’ll be the record of all things about your pregnancy, and I’ll write in it right up until you go into hospital and have your little baby.’

  ‘Hang on, I don’t know if…’ my voice trailed off.

  ‘You don’t know if?’ Justine had a large manic grin, a bit like one of those Plasticine characters from the Wallace and Gromit films.

  ‘I don’t know if I’m going to have the baby,’ I said in a small voice. Because midwife Day was young and new she didn’t hide her look of disappointment.

  ‘Oh. Right,’ she said, her pen in mid-air. ‘Well, I always say that…’

  ‘What do you mean, you always say? What are you, twenty-two?’

  ‘I’m almost twenty-three,’ she said.

  ‘My son is twenty-two! I can’t have another baby. I don’t want to have another baby!’

  Midwife Day looked shocked and moist-eyed at being shouted at.

  ‘I’ll remind you we have a no tolerance violence policy,’ she said in a reedy voice, pointing to a poster on the wall behind with her pen. Her pen had a tiny purple-haired troll on the end.

  ‘I’m sorry.’ I said. ‘You’ll know what it’s like in a few years. You have kids, you care for them and then you get your life back and you start to have a career. Well you’ve got your career; you’re a midwife. I’m a writer, which is a little less straightforward to navigate… Have you got a boyfriend?’

  ‘Yes,’ she said.

  ‘Always use contraception. Don’t get carried away and think, Oh just this once won’t hurt. Even if The X Factor is about to start and it’s the first of the live shows. Even if he’s just so damned attractive that you have to have him there and then… amongst the packing boxes…’ Midwife Day regarded me nervously and bit her lip.

  ‘Maybe one of my colleagues is better equipped to deal with this,’ she said picking up her phone. I wondered if she had a big red button she could press if she was stuck with a particular lunatic.

  ‘Hang on. I’m sorry. It’s just a big shock to be pregnant.’

  She gave me a sympathetic nod, replaced her phone and flipped open the green booklet.

  ‘Do you smoke?’ she asked.

  ‘Yes.’

  ‘Drink?’

  ‘Yes.’

  ‘Have you stopped?’

  I realised that I hadn’t. Then I recalled just how much I had drunk and smoked over Christmas.

  ‘As long as you stop now, it should be fine,’ she said.

  ‘Could you be a bit more scientific?’

  She said she couldn’t. She asked more questions about my health, and Adam’s health and then booked me for a scan.

  ‘Can I have a scan earlier?’ I said. ‘I’m worried I’ve made my baby deformed.’

  ‘In two weeks’ time you can have your first scan and we can see if everything is okay.’

  ‘You just said everything would be okay.’

  ‘We can’t be sure until the scan.’

  ‘I don’t want this!’ I announced. ‘I don’t want this thing inside me!’

  ‘Mrs Pinchard. Do you wish to pursue a termination?’

  ‘I don’t know… I just want things to be normal, like they were before,’ I said in a small voice.

  When I came out to the waiting room it was even more crowded with rioting toddlers. Adam was sat pressed against the wall shielding himself with an old copy of Men’s Health.

  ‘So? How was it?’ said Adam.

  ‘She’s got a pen with a troll on the end.’ I said sitting down heavily in the seat beside him.

  ‘What?’

  ‘Nothing… Well, she says I am pregnant.’

  ‘And?’

  ‘I’ve got a scan.’

  ‘And?’

  ‘And what? I’m pregnant Adam. We were on the brink of a new chapter. Me and you, childless and loving life. I wanted to go and hire a house in Italy and do nothing but drink wine, smoke cigarettes, eat unpasteurized cheese, and write my next book, but we can’t.’

  ‘There’ll be other summers,’ said Adam. I looked at him. He wanted to be a dad; I could feel it almost resonating from his kind eyes and warm smile.

  ‘What do you want to do Coco?’ he asked, gently, taking my hand. I thought about the woman with the kids and the Chardonnay.

  ‘I want one final glass of mummy petrol,’ I said. Adam, to his credit, didn’t look disgusted by my lack of maternal instinct. We skirted round the toddler chaos and came out into the cold street. I was about to take a left into a Wetherspoon’s when Adam grabbed my arm.

  ‘If this is going to be your last drink, at least let me take you somewhere decent.’ He hailed a taxi and we drove round for a bit until he spied a posh looking pub – the rustic type that has its own website and Facebook page, and does sharing platters. It had only just opened, and we were the only customers. There was a polished wood floor and comfy chairs.

  ‘This is lovely,’ I said.

  ‘I wanted to bring you here when your book gets published in April. Now we’ve got something else to celebrate.’

  I scratched my head awkwardly. We went to the bar and Adam asked for two glasses of red.

  ‘Red?’ I asked.

  ‘Yes, I read it has fewer toxins.’

  We took two seats by a picture window looking out onto the busy street and sat in silence. The only sound was the click clack of the cleaner winding up the power cord on her hoover. Several bar staff were standing around, trying to work us out. Why else do people neck wine at ten-thirty in the morning, unless they’ve just had terrible news?

  ‘What do we do?’ I whispered.

  ‘Let’s just sleep on it,’ Adam whispered back.

  All too soon our glasses were empty and we left. I had a warm feeling in my stomach; was it the wine, or the baby?

  Sunday 8th January

  I’ve been picking fights with Adam all week. I don’t want to say anything to anyone about the baby, so we’ve avoided all contact with people and stayed in. Marika is back in London, but I haven’t returned her calls. We still haven’t unpacked and are navigating the maze of boxes. Every morning I’ve spent three hours in the bathroom, throwing up my guts. Adam wants to hold my hair back. In defiance of this, I have taken to wearing it in a ponytail, something I haven’t done since I was eleven. This morning I couldn’t find my hairband, and when Adam offered to help, I told him to piss off. He said it was okay to swear at this difficult time, and reached out to hold my hair. I grabbed my nail scissors and went to hack it off so he couldn’t hold it back. Luckily I was stopped by another wave of nausea.

  I despair that I’m going crazy. I have terrible cravings for cigarettes, and I succumbed this afternoon. I lit a rogue Marlboro Light in the bathroom and hung out of the window to smoke it, but Adam shouldered the door and burst in breaking the lock. He was furious, and then I started crying because he’d scared me… He was mortified.

  Ugh, so much emotion. It’s most unlike us. We should be talking sensibly, but I’m not sure what we can discuss. Adam wants this baby, and I don’t.

  Saturday 14th January

  I’ve been stationed on the sofa all week; close enough to use the downstairs bathroom for my ongoing morning, afternoon and evening sickness. This morning Adam called a truce.

  ‘Cokes. I don’t want to talk about anything to do with, well, you know. Let’s go for a walk. Me, you and the… Me and you, together. Fresh air and sunshine will make things better.’

  ‘So we’re trying not to mention the elephant in the room?’ I snapped.

  ‘You’re still looking very slim,’ said Adam. Then he realised his mistake and busied himself dressing Rocco in his coat. The word ‘walkies’ gets Rocco incredibly happy and excited. I just wish it could do the same for me.

  Regent’s Park was bright and sunny but very cold. The ice was starting to melt on the lake, and there were a lot of
Londoners all enjoying themselves whilst trying to avoid eye contact with strangers. We walked past the coffee house, still boarded up for the winter, and through the trees to the sports fields. I had Rocco on the lead and he looked very handsome as he trotted beside us in the new tartan coat we bought him for Christmas.

  ‘How are you doing Cokes?’ said Adam. I realised that I felt more maternal towards my dog than my baby.

  ‘The air is so cold,’ I said.

  ‘But it’s fresh! It’ll clear your lungs out, now you’ve given up smoking.’

  I found a bench at the edge of the big field and sat down. The sun was glinting off the curved windows of the Sports Hub centre and a few people were dotted about.

  ‘Come on Cokes, you can’t stop!’ he said. ‘You need to walk briskly, get your blood flowing… What’s wrong?’

  ‘Didn’t I ask you not to talk to me about smoking? Now I’ve got cravings on top of the nausea.’

  ‘Isn’t some maternal instinct meant to kick in, so you don’t crave them?’ Adam said jogging on the spot and stretching as Rocco ran around in circles barking.

  ‘So I’m not normal?’

  ‘I didn’t say that. I just thought biologically you’d be concerned for the baby’s welfare…’

  I went to protest but noticed a pair of runners moving rapidly along the path parallel to where we were sitting. It was Marika with her new boyfriend Milan. She had on leggings and a pink sporty jacket, her long dark hair was tied back in a ponytail. Milan was wearing a shiny red tracksuit. He looked handsome and athletic, but also endearingly gangly. Marika saw us and they came over. Adam and Milan shook hands. Marika leant over and pecked me on the cheek with an inquisitive look.

  ‘Are you okay?’ she said. ‘I’ve called you five times…’

  ‘I dropped my phone down the toilet…’

  She looked at me sceptically. ‘Since when do you run?’ I added.

  ‘I always run,’ she said. ‘I’m even thinking of doing the London Marathon!’

  We were so obviously lying to each other.

  ‘Cool,’ said Adam. ‘I’ve always wanted to do the marathon.’

 

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