I once had to sit quietly, in the heat and the dust and the hot wind and wait a long time for a train.
My mum and sister were passengers and they had been away for about 3 weeks.
To an 8-year-old, 3 weeks felt like forever.
A tiny train station with a tiny platform, on the outskirts of our tiny dirt road town.
Its main purpose was for long, brown coal trains – loaded up with sparkly, black coal to be switched from one rail track to the next as they clickety clacked their way through the village in the dead of the night, shaking all the houses in their rows.
The small yellow bricked train station was also sparingly used as a lightning fast whistle stop, for locals to hurl themselves and their weathered possessions on or off the incoming or outgoing train as fast as they could, before it churned itself along to bigger towns and bigger platforms.
So there I sat on a late Saturday afternoon, pressing the bright blue pleats of my skirt down with my hands; pushing away the crinkles that my Dad had not been able to iron out..not the same way mum would have anyway.
Squinting and straining as far as my eyes could manage, hoping to catch a glimmer of the train as it snaked its way towards me. My hands were sticky and hot, legs dangling over the edge of the deserted platform. I craned my neck till it ached.
The heat caused a mirage of water across the melting tracks the further I looked, yearning to see my mum after being so hard done by and missing out on a trip to Sydney with them. Waiting to hug and kiss her and pull her home hurriedly to make up for all the bad dinners Dad had cooked in her absence.
Waiting until everything was normal and ok again.
I sat there for almost 2 hours – sucking on a sticky, sweet lolly I spent 5c on at the corner shop. I mooed back at the cows across the field, I played hopscotch with imaginary squares and I picked paper daisies growing in the cracks of the cement, dodging green ants skillfully as I played.
Finally, the glimmer of steel approached and the ground vibrated and the wait was over.
Mum was home.
It was hard though and it was hot and it stretched me further than I had ever been stretched before. Longing for something so strongly, burning for my mother to be back home again. Back where I could curl up with my head resting in her lap, cosy in my flannel pyjamas as she stroked my hair. Listening to her cup of tea gurgle it’s lovely, warm way around her tummy as I felt her chest gently fall and rise to her breaths. I would slowly drift off to sleep – wait over, happy, safe, loved. Content.
All of that waiting and destitution of a hard done by 8 year old and it didn’t come close to the waiting I have had to somehow navigate through the past few months.
I had always prepared myself, once we decided to take the plunge into IVF, knowing that it was going to be tough. I knew it was not going to be a magical, instant solution to a heart stretching problem. I knew it was going to be a lot. Daily blood tests and nightly injections, awful side effects and mood swings. I knew about the surgeries and the terminology like a second language they used when discussing every single iota of this process and I was ready for it all, eyes wide open.
What I wasn’t prepared for at all, was the torture of constantly waiting.
Waiting for a sign, waiting for a stimulation to work and move us to the next stage, waiting for my follicles to do what they were supposed to – months and months of it all, crammed up in my head for me to swish around over and over again like a bunch of odd socks in a clunky dryer.
Trying so hard to push away any over-excited thoughts of what pram to buy and baby names and little feet and hands. I was simply not someone who could allow myself to day dream so foolishly until the wait was over.
It has been hard and hot and it has stretched me further than I had ever been stretched before.
Waiting. Constantly in a holding pattern.
It became everything and nothing and everything again each and every day. It didn’t leave my head for one moment. I wanted to scream at people going about their day not knowing the fear surging through my body. Not getting what a huge deal this all was under my smile, my clothes, my skin.
I wanted to push over anybody who decided to fan awful advice and empty sentiments my way. Weeks felt like years until our little dot on the screen happened just like that. Wishing with all of our might for it to stay with us forever. Willing for our beautiful, perfect and healthy embryo to attach itself physically and chemically and with every sticky cell it could manage.
I have again somehow, made it through another two weeks.
The wait at a train station 30 years earlier, now a total a walk in the park.
Too scared to move; to go to the toilet; to eat anything that would risk its attachment to me. Not wanting to scare it away.
Not wanting to attach myself to it either, just yet.
I have done nothing but wish and pace and day dream and cry and sigh and be very quiet and still and wish some more.
To finally lift my head and get to the end and be told, we have some good news and bad news.
Ectopic pregnancy. Our little embryo is fighting its way out of me. Hearing words like abortion drugs, surgery, potential permanent infertility, suddenly it all feels like the roar of the coal train with time running out and I am going to miss my stop. I want to hurl out our bags and leap off.
I have never been great at sharing any of this. The shame; the guilt; the worry; the stress.
I do now though because all of this waiting is very lonely and tiring and I wish it ended with my mum gently running her fingers over my hair and telling me everything was going to be alright.
For now, I cradle my little embryo inside and I whisper to it. I tell it to stay warm and still and sorry it will never be.
Then more waiting comes.
I wonder if I am the only one or are others in a holding pattern too, constantly waiting for things to be OK?
I also wonder while I wait, what I would have done if my mum and sister didn’t arrive on that train that day? If they decided to spend another night, or two or three, away from me?
I dare say I would have probably thrown a tantrum, pouting at poor Dad. Telling him his lumpy, mashed potato stunk.
But I am not 8 anymore, so will have to do the only thing I really can.