Essays On The Emotional Man. No.2: Need

Conception…
The Trials of Life as experienced with the trousers round the ankles while wanking in an NHS toilet facility. By Simmy Richman
The stages of man can be mapped by the things we want: from gadgets to show off to friends when we’re at school, to bikes, to girls, to cars to – if such things take your fancy and you read the wrong kind of men’s magazines – statement watches and nice suits. The stages of man can be mapped by the things we want, but one stage of woman is defined by need. 
We’re talking babies. And lately, we’re talking babies quite a lot. She wants one. I want one too. But, well, me being a bloke and all, I have the desire but she has the need.
The it-would-be-funny-if-it-wasn’t-so-unfunny bit is that, growing up, seeds and eggs were meeting up and doing their thing as they pleased. Situations would be considered, options looked into, terminations – the word we would use maturely in such matters – arranged. Now, we can’t get our microcosmic bits to do the merry dance for love (and there is love) or money (there’s a bit of that too, though we haven’t gone down that route… Yet).

So we head to the GP’s: NHS, slightly useless. He suggests we start with a sperm test and hands me a tube. “Take it to the hospital within two hours of filling it,” he instructs. Sounds easy enough. A forgivable wank. A guilt-free, medical wank. I plan it meticulously. I’m upstairs with the laptop, trousers round my ankles, tube in one hand, todger in the other. The front door opens. The woman who spends two hours a week pretending to clean the house has decided to come in the afternoon rather the morning. She comes, so I don’t. What to do?
The hospital. Bound to have a room I can use. Might even be some magazines there, if the stories I’ve heard are true. They’re not. Not even a room. I’m in the depressing, stinky, strip-lit harshness of the toilet at my local NHS hospital. There are people coming and going outside the cubicle. Some are talking to themselves. I’m squatting on the bowl trying to think sexy thoughts. Trying to will my ageing, spliff-slowed sperm to burst forth into the tube. Suffice to say there is a trickle rather than a flood and I wonder if this will affect the results.
A week or so later, I’m given the all-clear. Relief.
So where’s the problem then? We are booked in for an appointment at a specialist fertility clinic. Not quite so simple to check her bits. Tests are arranged. Meantime, in the perverse way of such things, her period is a day or two late. She can’t wait and does a pregnancy test. It’s positive. We hug and cry and dance a little in the kitchen.
The next few weeks, as any couple who want a baby will know, are some of the happiest of our lives. She glows and I bask in it. It’s our little secret – our little pea, slowly growing along with a deep sense of intimacy and contentment. Ah yes, the disconnected man part of me that watches my life as an out-of- body experience is thinking, I see what the fuss is about.
The bit that follows is too sad to go into without getting mawkish. Long story short: there’s a bit of blood, an emergency visit to the hospital, a scan that shows nothing in her womb and the blunt delivery of the devastating fact that there has been a miscarriage of baby, a miscarriage of fucking justice. There is grief, but there is also the unmistakable medical proof that we can conceive. We did conceive. We will conceive again.
Meantime, almost everyone we know has a baby. If we go out with the few people we know who don’t have babies, we feel too old. If we go round to the houses of people we know who do have babies, we feel too young. We are out of both loops.
So where to now? Well, back to the fertility clinic for follow-up talks and then who knows? In the meantime, we just have to keep doing naturally what is supposed to come naturally and hope that nature is on our side. And all the while, the want hardens into need. At first, it was just the need to fulfil her need, but now it’s a fully fledged need in its own right. And perhaps this is no bad thing. Because now that now I’m at the stage where I have pretty much everything I want (including the kind of life partner I’d always dreamed I’d end up with), it feels somehow nourishing to have one little thing that I actually need.
Simmy Richman

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