For many couples, there can be nothing more stressful than the female of the species suffering from monthly mood swings, hot flushes, irrational behaviour and did I mention mood swings? That would be PMT (Pre-Menstrual Tension). For us males it’s a time to show patience and support and ride the storm (it won’t last for ever). However, for most couples there’s something that is even worse. And that’s the sudden absence of the above. I’m referring of course to a missed period.
More often than not it’s harmless and nothing to worry about. The contraceptive pill can play havoc with the menstruation cycle and missing a pill can totally mess the cycle up altogether. A missed period can throw up all kinds of things that you don’t give a second thought to normally. Thoughts like: “I’m not ready to be a father”, “I’m too young to be a father”, “well there goes my fantasies of sleeping with other women – I’m going to have to get married” and of course “my life is over”. There may even be some positives but I’ll dwell on the negatives for now as it aids the narrative.
The first time this happened to me (well, to my then girlfriend of course) was when I was about 19 (making my girlfriend about 17). I was absolutely terrified. It’s one of the few memories I retain from being that age and I remember thinking things like “if it’s negative I’ll never have sex again so I never have to feel this scared again”. Fortunately it was a false-call and I quickly forgot the fear and blind panic.
But this month my girlfriend missed her period. And my reaction was not what I’d come to expect. First of all, I started joking about the whole thing. I’d send her text messages saying I was off to Mothercare to look at infant clothes. I ask her if any of her relatives had any prams / cots / sterilising equipment they didn’t need any more. Of course my dry wit soon made her a bit tense so she went off and bought a home pregnancy test. While she was away getting it I thought seriously for a moment about how I’d feel if she tested positive.
And you know what? I decided that I didn’t mind either way. We’ve spoken about having kids and how we’re knocking on a bit and if we’re going to start a family we want to be doing it soon. But we’d decided that – selfish as we still are – we’re just not ready to do it. And to be honest, we didn’t know when we ever would be. But we’d still love kids.
But it became clear to me while I was waiting that we aren’t going to be just wake up one morning and decide that we were ready. It would have to be forced on us and we’d have to deal with it and make the switch to putting ourselves second in our lives after our kids. And this could be it. This could be it being forced on us. And the scary part was that I wasn’t scared at all. I thought to myself “if she’s pregnant, then I’m going to be a father”. And I felt fine about that. I really did.
And as she took the test and came up negative, I swear to you I felt a pang of disappointment.
Maybe it’s because I’m rapidly approaching 30. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spending time with my girlfriend’s family including two nephews (even the Easter weekend). Or maybe I’m coming to realise that there has to be more to life than this. Still, the test kit claims only 99% accuracy. Which means 1 in 100 results are wrong…