"I picked a donor last week."
He suddenly removes his black suit jacket and places it on his lap, then rids his cuff links that's engraved with OH, putting them in the pocket of his slacks. The neck tie was loosened, then the top two buttons of his dress shirt were made undone.
Sensing the rising temperature of the man sitting next to me, I quickly add, "I never thought it'd be so much fun shopping for a sperm donor. Green eyes, blonde hair, six feet four. Do you know that green eyes are dominant compared to my blue eyes? My baby's gonna have green eyes!"
He does't say anything but watches Pao plays with the nanny. I'm starting to feel awkward because this is the first time he doesn't say much. Normally he'd be playful and joke around.
When he left me five years ago, I was so afraid I caused him his personality. But our brief meeting at the cruise ship has made me feel relieved, thanks to Hugo he's back to his old self.
The tension between us is starting to overwhelm me so I continue in my cheerful voice, “I've always wanted to have blonde hair. If my baby does end up having blonde hair, we're gonna be matchy-matchy like you and Pao. Hihi."
"What happened with him?" Finally. He finally says something.
When I started dating again three years ago, I didn't know I had trust issues; I hop from one guy to another, barely made it to the fifth date.
My psychologist dug deep and concluded it was because of what happened with us- Owen and I. According to her, I was too scared I'd be left alone again so I always took the first step to break things up.
I got better as time goes, instead of five dates I went to a month of dating, then two, then with Karl, I agreed to be his girlfriend for a few months though as soon as we left the cruise, I broke up with him.
But hey, with Santiago, I made it to a year. He was the first guy I met when I moved to New York and we stayed together until two weeks ago, when I freaked out knowing Santiago will never be my baby daddy. I didn't want to string him along any longer so I broke it off the next day.
But I'm not gonna share that with him. I don't want him to feel guilty I have commitment issues or trust issues or abandonment issues, whatever issues there are I don't want Owen to know about them.
"I don't think we agree with each other much these days." That part is true.
Santiago knows about my infertility; he doesn't mind adopting, even suggesting we can start with fur babies since I'm hesitating with real babies. But that's the thing. I want my own baby. From there on, we fought regularly on other matters too.
"Pretty sure Hugo and I disagree more than you two. If we're considering that as our excuse, we would've been divorced before New York."
I chuckle remembering how Santiago, Pao and me were feeling hella awkward whenever Hugo and him start to brawl which is not just at the dinner table, but all over the place.
"Nevermind, I'm better off spending my energy battling IVF than fighting with him. It's better to put a stop to it before it's too late, before we share a baby together. That would be chaotic. A donor would be much, much better in my case."
He fiddles with the sleeves that he folded to his forearms. I watch his mindless action, then stare at the ring on his fourth finger. I wonder if he still keeps the one from our wedding?
Because I still have mine in my jewellery box. I don't know why I still keep it but I just can't let myself sell it or repurpose it.
"What else do you know about the donor?" His voice definitely knocks the thought out of my mind, and I'm glad he did that, before I start to wander, imagining the future that is too impossible to reach for.
"I know that he's European, same age as me, and works as an architect. So my baby will be smart in Maths like me, but still have artsy brain like daddy dearest."
"So you're gonna raise the baby alone?"
"If I can be female figure in Pao's life, you and Hugo can be father figure in my baby's life."
He undo another button of his black dress shirt, sighing. What's up with him?
"Why do I get the vibe that you are not approving my decision to go for IVF?" I have to get it out of my chest, "I thought we're besties? Kimmie and Cleo support me, because that's what best friends do. Tell me, are you onboard as well? Or there's something you'd like to say?"
But the sound of Pao calling him as she runs towards us cut our conversation short. We spend the rest of the day without talking about it again.
Oh well. It's my body, my baby, so I can do whatever the hell I want.
Being a couch potato is not something I fancy, but for the sake of my baby, or should I say, for the sake of my future pregnancy, I force myself to again, like I've done for my previous three IVF cycles, to take time off from work.
Today is my third check up at the doctor's office to check the condition of my eggs, also my 8th day of being injected with needles to mature them, to ensure their readiness for the retrieval.
Cleo has been a great help at keeping me company, injecting those drugs into my body, going to the doctor with me, we basically do everything together and I absolutely love having this temporary roommate; remind me so much of our good old days in London.
Can I pick up Pao today?
I read the text I sent Owen earlier before I left home. It's been five hours but he hasn't replied me, though there's the word seen staring at me.
I've texted him for so many times since our last meeting three weeks ago, called him to facetime with him and my sweet Pao, but he never picked up or replied me. I had to resort to calling and texting Hugo to finally able to see my baby Pao.
After the doctor's visit, Cleo decided to do some shopping before our lunch date so I walk alone to the kindergarten while sipping my healthy, organic juice. Hugo has given me permission to pick her up today so I'm all set to meet my little bestie.
"Tiaaaaa!" Pao shouts excitedly the moment she sees me.
The man who has been avoiding me left and right is currently holding the handles of her school bag, just waiting for his daughter to put them on her shoulders.
But Pao has already run towards me, with wide arms wanting to hug me.
"I miss you so much!" She hugs me so tight I swear I'll never not meet her again. From spending time every week to none at all since the past 23 days -yes I counted- I swear I won't do it again.
"I miss you more, Princess Pao."
Owen takes her school bag and approaches us with a tight face. I quickly stand up after letting go of Pao from our hug.
"I thought Hugo told you I'm picking her up today," I give him a huge, friendly smile as I stroke Pao's silky hair, "Should we have lunch together? How about sushi?"
"Sushiiii? Yay!!!" She jumps in happiness but Owen remains stoic. What's up with him? Is he still mad about my IVF?
"Are you still mad?" I ask him once we've ordered our drinks.
Cleo's off for another round of shopping spree right after lunch, Pao's in the studio next to this cafe for her karate lesson, so there's just the two of us. I bluntly asked him if we can sit here right after Pao went into the class; we need to talk.
Because I need all my besties at times like this.
"I'm not mad." He answers curtly, but throws his gaze to the outside view instead of looking at me.
"If you're not mad, why haven't you replied any of my texts? Or return my calls?"
He runs his fingers through his hair, though still keeping his gaze to the crowd outside this cafe.
"Is it because of my IVF?"
He doesn't look like he's about to say anything, just like he had been since we saw each other at Pao's school three hours ago.
Even during lunch at the Japanese restaurant, he kept quiet, didn't participate much into our conversation despite Cleo or Pao's effort trying to rope him in.
Seeing how passive and lack of interest he is to entertain me, I don't press further because it's not my nature to force people to talk. But I'm not having it either so I pick up my Birkin and stand up.
"I'm gonna go home. At least I know the wall really can't talk."