I was pregnant again. But when the doctor produced a graph I knew that something was wrong

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Women’s bodies are very peculiar. I was pregnant and, because I’d had two children already, the feeling wasn’t exactly new: that metallic taste, a strange lightness, the sensation of one’s own flesh being somehow unaccountable.

I also knew something was wrong. The doctor confirmed it with blood tests. When she got out a graph, I knew it was bad. What good news ever came in a graph? Where the pregnancy hormones should be sloping up, mine were a zigzag. “You’re pregnant. But not in the right place. It’s ectopic.” This was no surprise. The surprise had always been that anything could make its way through my Fallopian fortress and turn itself into a human being.

“There’s a new technique,” she said, that meant I wouldn’t have to be cut open. But the day I got to the hospital the pioneer of this technique was off duty. This was a shame because as they were trying to put cannulas into me, I started to feel very cold.

“She’s tachycardic,” I heard them say as they banged me on to a trolley and waltzed through miles of underground tunnel to an operating theatre. “Get some plasma in her now!” they yelled. Christ, I thought, they’re behaving like something off the telly. Internal haemorrhaging, you see, is why ectopic pregnancies can be so dangerous.

I woke up crying, full of tubes and in a mixed ward. A male nurse rushed over and said, “What’s the matter, love?” I pointed over at the bed opposite. “Men,” I blubbed. He rolled his eyes. “Tell me about it. Don’t worry, they’re just cardiacs. You were an emergency. And look . . .” He showed me how to work the morphine syringe driver. “I need to talk to you,” he said.

I imagined perhaps he would offer me counselling, as I’d lost a baby.

“I read your notes and I just have to ask you one thing. Do you know Julie Burchill?”

Weeks later I went back to see the surgeon who had operated on me.

“Thank God,” he said. “I wasn’t going to lose you. I lost the last one in your state on the table.”

“I’m just too old to have any more kids, aren’t I? It’s unnatural.”

“You want natural? That would be having your first child at 16 and dying in childbirth at 26.”

Then he told me he considered it part of his job to help his female colleagues get pregnant.

“None of them want that until they’re consultants. And so usually that’s not till about 38. That’s why my research is on the Transmigration of the Ovum. If you want another baby and you need help, you know where I am.”

I looked up at him. He was gorgeous, a living god of fertility and promise. I did not scream, “Just impregnate me now!” I thanked him for saving my life and got the bus home.

Suzanne Moore is a writer for the Guardian and the New Statesman. She writes the weekly “Telling Tales” column in the NS.

This article appears in the 30 January 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Class Ceiling