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I found myself wanting to board a roller-coaster in hopes it might terminate the pregnancy. It came to me in dreams, this rickety roller-coaster made of white, wooden planks, held together by rusted bolts and nails. For two weeks, I craved the momentum, the shock to my body, the accelerated rise and fall and the jolting from side to side. Maybe I wanted someone, or something, to shake me awake.
The more I read about pregnancy, the more terrified I became. I wanted to run. Perhaps it was the thought of giving up alcohol for more than nine months, or maybe it was the promise of severe labour pain, or even the thought of what comes after pregnancy: the loss of sleep, the loss of friends, the loss of travel, the loss, the loss…
I thought maybe I was afraid that I would want this more than I already did, and then I would be devastated by the likelihood of a miscarriage. Maybe I would carry my baby to term and love it too much. I imagined how my hormones would change me biologically and how I wouldn’t even miss the independence I once had because I would be so consumed with love. And then I’d find myself wanting to ride that old roller-coaster again, my hands raised above my head, my voice screaming in exaltation.
The night before my husband and I tried to conceive, I confided my lingering doubts to him. We lay side by side in bed, drunk in our pyjamas.
“Maybe I should finish school first,” I said, “or at least wait until I have some more clarity.”
My husband sighed in relief. “I’m so happy to hear you say that. I’ve been freaking out this whole time, thinking I was the only one. You seemed so sure before. What changed?”
I paused in thought.
“I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel like the right time anymore.”
The truth is that I really did know. The past several days, my mind was plagued with many doubts. I thought of the life I could no longer live, uninterrupted. I thought of the trips I wouldn’t be able to take, the nights I wouldn’t be able to go out, the early mornings I would spend nursing a baby. I did worry about finishing school, but that was only a small piece of the puzzle.
My husband and I went to brunch with some friends. As they each proceeded to order multiple mimosas and Bloody Marys, I settled for one cup of coffee. I was feeling a little jealous of the others until this woman and her baby walked into the restaurant. Her hair was in a messy bun, she was wearing sweatpants, and her baby was wearing a cute, striped onesie with a bow in its hair. She handed her baby to another woman sitting at their table, and the jealousy within me surged with even greater intensity. I wished that I was one of these women who got to hold and cradle the baby. I felt a sense of longing that I’d forgotten I had. I placed my hand on my stomach and sighed.