A train of thought

Dot writes:

7.10am. Dot abruptly gags on her piece of toast.
Ken: “Hmm. What if you’re pregnant?”
Dot: “Not likely. The coil is supposed to be pretty reliable. And what on earth would we do if we had another one at this point?”

8am. On the way to work.
Come to think of it, I retched unexpectedly on Sunday morning too. Admittedly I was emptying Hugh’s potty at the time, but I should be used to his excretions by now…

Maybe I should get a pregnancy test, just to be sure.


2.30pm approx, encounter heavily pregnant colleague in the loo
(Brief conversation with heavily pregnant colleague, who is expecting her third child)
What if I’m expecting my third child too? Would I ever get back on my feet again academically? Thank goodness it’s not very likely. Anyway, too late to get that test now – I’ve got a class at three.

5pm. On train home
My breasts feel achey. That’s another pregnancy symptom. What if I am pregnant?
I’m already horribly behind with my research after two maternity leaves in three years. It would be the end pretty much. I’d have to leave. And Helen [colleague who would get dumped on with my teaching] would kill me. But what would we live on?

This article about Anglo-Saxon booklists curiously fails to absorb me.

Coils do fail. My doctor told me she’s known it to happen. The coil normally emerges in the placenta.

Our house is too small for five. We’d have to move. Maybe we could get a house in the North County somewhere – Skerries perhaps – maybe we could afford room for five on my salary up there – if I can ever show my face at work again. Good thing it’s really unlikely I’m pregnant, right?

Ken is talented; we’ll be lucky and there’ll be a job for him. Perhaps UCD will miraculously advertise something. Then I can stay home with the kids. Poor Frank. Talk about middle child syndrome. It’s hard enough paying attention to two when one of them is Hugh. What will the age gap be? Well, I guess this one will be due in [calculation involving fingers] June or July – oo, another July birthday – so Frank will be less than 22 months – good God, we’ll have three children under the age of four. Imagine the sleeplessness. We’ll just have to be ruthlessly efficient and have an extremely effective routine.

Who am I kidding?

5.20pm. Dot leaves train at Dun Laoghaire, walks to pharmacy and buys pregnancy test.
Can the woman behind the counter tell that I WANT THIS ONE TO BE NEGATIVE?

5.25pm and various times on the walk home
My Head of School is very nice – I would be able to tell him – maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe people would forgive me and I could just push through and start doing proper research in 2012. And get lots of martyrdom points because I’d have been at the university over six years without ever getting my turn for research leave. And Ken could start his brewery business and the children could play happily together among the vats of beer, hardly ever falling in and drowning.

We sold/handed down/freecycled all the baby clothes, the infant carseat, the baby bath, the co-sleeper cot, even the hooded towels. How stupid we were. Maybe Aura could let me have Maya’s hand-me-downs. Maybe it’s a girl. Poor girl, to come along when I don’t really want her. But I would want her by then, of course. Oh dear, how will we afford it? Will we need a bigger car?

Maybe we should just give up and move to New Zealand and start again. Reinvent ourselves, be brave. Academia is doomed; the UK is proposing to slash and burn the whole sector; so is Ireland, probably; and let’s face it, Old English is scarcely at the forefront of the knowledge economy. And the Irish aren’t going to give other jobs to a kiwi and a Brit. New Zealand is a good country for children. Though possibly not for Old English specialists or philosophers. What would we live on?

Maybe it would make more sense to move to Norfolk. How rotten for my mum to lose her grandchildren just as number three was coming along. We could live in my village and Mum could help with the babysitting. Wouldn’t she be thrilled. What exactly do the people who live in my village do, now they aren’t farm labourers?

Ken could start his brewery in New Zealand and sell the beer to his brother. Or not.

What if it’s twins?

5.45pm. Arrive home
“Hello boys! How are you? Mmm, Frankie, have a cuddle. Have you had dinner? I just need to go up and change.”

5.47pm. Wee on stick. Wait.

5.50pm. Negative.


Well, it was never very likely. I have an IUD and two small, loud, ever-present human contraceptives. Should I be aiming to focus more on the chronicles aspect of my research or the emotions, or alternatively this idea of working on Cotton Tiberius B.i?

Did I actually manage to hold it in the stream for five seconds?

4 thoughts on “A train of thought

    1. kenanddot

      Please don’t say it… really, the coil IS supposed to be a pretty effective device. But I get these panics now and then.

      Two is enough for us, at least at the moment!

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