S T Vasectomy Clinic - 9
By Jane Hyphen
Wednesday was a late night opening at the clinic, for professionals who were too important to take time out from their working day. Cece usually popped home in the afternoon to refresh her make-up and perfume and to stick pins in pictures of St John, something she did with increasing regularity. At times she stuck them in so hard that they bent and popped back up only to prick her fingers. She just got so livid with him, with his lack of conversation, they way that he relied upon her for everything. And now she was having second thoughts about having used his sperm to make their baby but it was too late.
Perhaps it would have been better to have used the genes of a beautiful young man but she had to remind herself about the money, the financial side of things. It was highly possible that, if they did split, St John wouldn’t support a child who wasn’t biologically related to him. That’s what some men are like, she thought, especially ones with big heads and matching egos.
St John did have a rather large head, both physically and metaphorically. Occasionally Cece worried about the sort of birth Yulia might have. It occurred to her that maybe they should pay for her to have a caesarean section but after doing so much reading she had concluded that natural birth was better for the baby. The child would benefit from being pushed through the birth canal, it was an important part of the development of the human mind, the first part of the human struggle. Although she’d also read that it could potentially cause claustrophobia in adulthood whereas a C section could cause a fear of sudden change and an innate shyness.
The whole thing was confusing, filled with conflicting theories but Cece had always believed that knowledge is power, she read everything and she’d been reading books about babies for thirty years. She’d witnessed all the various trends and theories, seen them being picked apart and then sewn back together by various experts, they’d all gone full circle. Without the tiring distractions of a newborn baby she had been able to view the information from afar and considered herself something of an expert herself on babies.
She didn’t really care about Yulia, the young woman was simply a vessel for their much longed for child. Also there was a part of her which was jealous of Yulia. They’d never met her but she had seen a brief video of her, introducing herself, she was ordinary looking, shy and she seemed nervous although it had occurred to Cece that this could have simply been an act.
They had received Yulia’s health profile, criminal records and information about her family who were poor. Since the successful IVF they had seen photos of her smiling and holding her small bump. St John remarked how young and pretty she appeared now that she was pregnant. It was a relief to Cece that they had used an unknown donor’s egg to produce the embryo using IVF.
Sometimes Cece pictured her husband travelling to the Ukraine to see Yulia and the two of them getting to know one another, hitting it off and setting up home together. He was often affected by the plainest of young women, she’d seen it in action many times over. Yulia was like a blank sheet of paper and just the type to charm him. It was a scenario which she often tortured herself with; St John sitting holding the newborn baby and Yulia standing behind, leaning over him, the two of them kissing and looking like the traditional new family she’d always wanted. How she would be left alone and humiliated, rattling around in The Driffold.
Cece sat at her dressing table looking at her reflection, flexing her nose down, pulling a strange, fixed face she always wore in front of a mirror. She topped up her mascara and highlighter, re-arranged her short hair and applied shine spray since she believed, quite rightly, that dull hair was a tell-tale sign of middle-age. It meant plummeting oestrogen levels and old eggs. She held down the nozzle on the spray can until her hair caught reflected the sunlight from the adjacent window.
The thought of her changing body and loss of fertility often made her feel wasted and very angry. Time had passed by so quickly and it seemed to her that St John had eaten up all her time. He’d had the best years of her and what had she to show for it? A large house, a nice car, a wardrobe of beautiful clothes but increasingly all of that stuff seemed meaningless. People identified her through her husband, she was St John’s wife and she’d once been so proud to be his wife but now she felt ashamed at having ever felt such pride. In short it was beginning to feel as if St John had duped her, cheated her at life.
During their engagement and the early years of their marriage, everybody used to tell her how fortunate she was, all the time. Her colleagues at the hospital where they both worked, especially the young women of around her own age, had been jealous and resentful, always making snarky comments about how Dr Hughes might stray with some of the beautiful nurses.
Old friends from school and college gradually distanced themselves from her when they saw what her new life was like as a doctor’s wife, the size of her house, the holidays abroad and cars they drove. They made insinuations about how she thought she was too good for them which wasn’t the case, not back then at least. And her family couldn’t cope at all with the elevation of her status, her connection to them simply dissolved under the sour crystals of resentment.
She was trapped now, at least that’s how she felt. It would be a real struggle for her to live frugally after so many years of luxury and she wanted the best for her child, a comfortable, stable life. It was possible that she would make new friends after the baby arrived but then she would be an outsider too, being older and without the experience of giving birth, perhaps other mums would view her as a fraud.
Life felt so frustrating sometimes. She wished she’d been clearer about the things she really wanted from life instead of being lulled into a passive state, gaining shallow fulfilment from her husband's achievements. The anger she felt was partly directed at herself, partly at St John. Whatever the source of it, she knew that anger itself was ageing and bad for her physical health and she needed to be healthy for the baby.
Cece had learned the importance of releasing anger. As a release she grabbed a pair of nail scissors and cut a tiny little hole in his trousers or the front of one of his shirts, a minute little hole. He might not even notice it at all or he might complain that his favourite shirt had somehow developed a hole and ask her to sew it up to which she would answer calmly that she might do it later.
Recently she had been looking back at photos of him, thinking about how their child might look. Sometimes, in the ones where he appeared smug, she blurred his face away with a cotton wool bud soaked in nail varnish remover. It was an acid attack in miniature and it made her feel momentarily more relaxed.
The master bedroom was her sanctuary. It was all hers now, she’d basically turfed St John out on account of his snoring and the endless yellow staining he inflicted on their very expensive white bed linen. He was invited to sleep in their marital bed a couple of times a month, the rest of the time he was barred. She’d moved all his clothes and toiletries into a smaller room at the other end of the house. Recently her master suite had been redecorated and extended to include a dressing room to house her many pairs of shoes, Italian coats and accessories.
She was frequently struck with sudden and uncontrollable urges to change things, it helped her to relax and gave her a sense of satisfaction, a sense of control. It didn’t seem appropriate to change her outfit part way through a working day but jewellery and accessories were always an option. Cece removed her large leather jewellery box from the dressing room and turned over the contents. Diamonds had never let her down, they were always pleased to see her, never ageing or losing their shine, twinkling with enthusiasm as she greeted them.
St John purchased a new engagement ring for her every three years. They rarely got to sparkle trapped inside that dark box but she enjoyed the sense of just knowing that they were there. Some were highly valuable and owning them gave her a small sense of power. She pulled out some marquis diamond studs, removed the gold hoops from her ear lobes and swapped them over.
It was the little things that kept her going, little changes in her clothing and jewellery, shoes and handbags. At work she enjoyed seeing the changes in the pallor of a man’s complexion, from pink to white to grey, she’d even seen green faces in the clinic, men became martians in the waiting room with no spaceship to lift them out of danger. It didn’t matter what colour a man’s skin was when he entered the clinic, it usually went through several changes in hue during the course of the consultations and procedures.