My father once told me that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I used to believe him. Now I wasn't so sure.
I don't know why I couldn't sleep. In theory I should have been exhausted. The Brighton sea air should have been enough to knock me out, especially when combined with the huge dinner Dan and I had shared and the several glasses of wine that had washed it down.
He was snoring beside me. Gorgeous, naked, looking like he didn't have a care in the world, and yet here I was sitting up in bed, staring at the illuminated digits on the hotel clock and counting the hours ‘til morning.
This bed was huge. Dan had joked that we would have had room to invite a couple of friends in for an orgy and still had room to sleep well all night if we had been so inclined. I had laughed, pulling him close to me, and had told him I wanted him all to myself. He had kissed me then, and for the first time in months I felt like he really and truly meant it.
I knew he loved me. I didn't doubt that for one second. It was just that lately acts of physical intimacy had become about much more than just being in the mood for a snog or a romp between the sheets.
I shook the thoughts from my head and got out of bed, padding to the bathroom. I could not allow those thoughts in my head now. This was not going to help. I had to stay positive, remain calm and relaxed and not, under any circumstances, get myself into a whole state about how my world was about to change and how everyone was about to learn just what a complete bitch I really was.
Aoife hadn't planned to get pregnant. I knew that. The rational side of my brain – which I do have despite being an airy-fairy-head-in-the-clouds type most of the time – knew that this was not in her plan. Her relationship with Jake had never been secure. I'd given up trying to warn her off, learning that sometimes it is better to stay quiet about a relationship than risk destroying a good friendship over it. I had been supportive. I'd even held her hair back when she threw up in the shop toilet as waves of morning sickness swept over her. I had chosen the most gorgeous pram I could find for the baby and had helped design and decorate a nursery for it. I had even offered to hold her hand when she gave birth, something I knew could happen at any time.
Dan thinks I went a little overboard, but perhaps he doesn't realise just how much I was trying to convince him, and myself, that I was absolutely 100% okay with the fact that Aoife got pregnant with the drop of her knickers while I . . . well, I didn't.
Apparently twenty-three months is not that long, really, to be trying for a baby without success. I'm pretty sure a man came up with those statistics. After a year we had gone to the finest consultant money could buy and had a series of invasive and painful tests. (Well, mine were invasive and painful, Dan's simply involved a porn magazine, a plastic cup and his hand – he had been mortified but at least he didn't have to expose his undercarriage to complete strangers.)
They couldn't find a reason. Our infertility (how that word hung over my head like a badge of shame) was unexplained. I got really, stupidly excited that month. If there wasn't a reason then surely it was going to happen for us any time now. I imagined Aoife and me shopping for prams together, rubbing our expanding bellies and secretly I planned hiring a nanny to work for us both to share the childcare costs. And of course the nanny would bring our babies to Instant Karma every day so we could coo over them. Two proud mums together.
I cried for two days when my period arrived that month. Aoife never knew. I phoned in sick with a stomach bug and spent two days in bed, berating the unfairness of it all.
I'd come over all melodramatic and told Dan to leave me for a woman less barren and he had smiled and pulled me close.
"There is no reason why we can't have a baby," he soothed, "so you are stuck with me, Betsy.”
He then fed me chocolate and Nurofen until the worst of my hormonal surges had passed and promised to shag me senseless for the coming month. This was not going to defeat us.
I sat in the bathroom of our hotel in Brighton and took deep breaths. Maybe this month it would happen. After all there was nothing wrong with us. Nothing at all.