So, after all the stuff with his ex girlfriend, we soon moved forward. The lease on my flat was about to expire, and the Swedish girls I was sharing with were both about to move onto their next adventure. I talked to Roger about what next, I knew I hadn’t made the cut at vet school, and I felt maybe I should try something else I was planning on a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, or stay enjoying the job I had, there were career opportunities there that I hadn’t first thought of. He was very encouraging, and said I needed to find my passion, and follow that, not feel I had to finish a degree I started, or one I hated. Then he, half-jokingly, said, “why not move in with me – at least until you decide?” I looked sideways at him, and laughed. “Be careful what you wish for, buster!” So, we discussed it, and I told him I wasn’t the kind of girl who “moves in” with a guy, that if I did, it was a lifetime commitment, not a convenient place to stay! He just said, “let’s do it!” So. We did. Five weeks. Fast moves!
Things were amazing, from the start. We clicked so well. It was like we were some kind of yin and yang, that just fit together, we balanced each other out. It was so much fun, and we just adored each other. He loved it on my rare weekends off (I worked crazy hours and rosters) when I would come out and help him on the farm, particularly in springtime, with cows and calves. We had four years of this utter bliss, we still had disagreements, great fights that usually ended in amazing sex! You know the drill, young love, throw a passionate, opinionated redhead into the equation. Then I knew I needed to stretch myself again. He could see it coming. I felt like an appendage. You see, he asked me to marry him probably seven or eight times, but I explained that marriage wasn’t for me. I apologised, and told him I was totally committed to him, but that I didn’t “agree with” marriage – not for me. I saw so many of them disintegrate, it seemed that it meant very little in the long run, married people still split up, and plenty seemed so trapped by unhappy marriages. I told him that I wanted to be with him, as long as he wanted to be with me, and I hoped that was forever, but that marriage would make it harder to end things well, if they needed to end. My thinking was that if and when we fell out of love, we would have a very adult talk, and work out how to let each other go, kindly. Mmmm. Remind me of how old I was again? We saw a lot of cheating going on around us, lots of divorces, lots of acrimony. His older sister, who cheated with her husband, on his first wife, had married him, and had two small children, he was a serial cheat, had cheated continually on his first wife, and cheated on his second. She kicked him out, they lasted less than seven years, three and a half living together, just over three married. You do tend to reap what you sow. Roger had been very close to this sister, but never agreed with her “stealing” another woman’s husband, another little boy’s dad. Although we all accepted it, it was never thought to be ideal. It was like an epidemic. I was glad to have found a good one. His parents seemed reasonably happily, kinda, married for over thirty years (when we met) – they still are, more than 55 years later. He seemed to have the same morals as me?
Back to the thoughts about my future. I felt I was never really involved, or fully accepted as his equal partner, legally, and by his family. They were nice to me, I was close to one of his sisters, and his parents were really good to me. However, I knew I had to forge my own path. So, I planned an OE. We Kiwis love to travel. It is a rite of passage, and I had partnered up young and almost missed it. Roger had lived in the UK for over a year when he was just seventeen and eighteen. He had a great time, and learnt a whole heap of life skills. It was my turn. We agreed that we loved each other, but that when I went, on a one way ticket, we would separate. I left, a very teary goodbye, he drove me and kissed me very passionately goodbye. My lips were singing for the entire 36 hours I was flying, or in transit. I had hardly any money, just a couple of job contacts in the thoroughbred industry, I was off to the UK.
I arrived in London, staying with a friend of mine for a few days, time to do a bit of clubbing (I was very aware I had next to no money, thanks to an English grandfather, I had patriality and was able to enter the country on a work visa with such a pauper’s purse.) Thankfully, I quickly landed a job on a good farm, preparing yearlings for the upcoming sales. It was in the Cotswolds, how beautiful! I got to work. Four weeks into the contract, I broke my arm, and was on lighter duties, frustrating, no money, so I just pottered about, taking in the local sights, and hosing legs, doing little chores for the team at work. Roger and I stayed in touch, he rang me a few times, and we wrote constantly. Things were good, I missed him like crazy, but knew I had to do this, so did he. He was moving on, living the single guy life, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Around four months into my contract, I thought something was up with me, I was exhausted all the time, and, my gosh, my boobs were sore! I thought it best I take a pregnancy test. I had been diagnosed with PCOS not long after I had moved in with Roger, as I very rarely menstruated. The specialist I saw reassured me there was no way I could get pregnant, as we monitored me for about a year, and I never once ovulated. I would be needing IVF to help conceive if I was ever that lucky, he said it was perfectly fine to go without contraception, particularly considering I was in a committed relationship. So, we had never used any contraception those four and a half years. You can all guess what happened next. Turns out, the pregnancy test is positive, I think. It is pretty faint. I take another one. Mmmm, same. So, I make an appointment with a local GP, take his test. Inconclusive. Okay, he sends me off to Banbury to have a scan. My friend who met me off the plane in London was now nannying for a family not too far from me, and has the use of a car. She drove me to the appointment, sworn to secrecy! The scan shows I am 16 weeks pregnant! I must have conceived within days of leaving NZ. Good lord! I wasn’t too fazed, a little shocked, but obviously I had been thinking this was a possibility for a couple of days, and had run through some plans. 16 weeks! Too late to terminate, but I had already decided that I would keep the baby, as with my fertility questionable, I didn’t want to risk this being my only opportunity to be a mother. I had very little maternal instinct, I was not quite 25, and life had a lot more in store for me before I even thought about whether I even wanted children! But, I rang my Mum, and nervously told her – and she was AMAZING! She said, “oh, Paula, how wonderful. Come home, and we will help you, you can go back to uni, or get a job near mine, you can stay with us if you need, we will help you out.” I really thought she would be horrified and a little afraid, but she was incredible. My mild panic was over, I was, or rather, we were little baby, going to be okay. I couldn’t tell Roger over the phone, so I wrote him a letter. I told Mum. I asked her not to say anything to anyone for a few weeks, while he was informed, and I found out when I could book tickets home.
Roger and his father had a combined annual bull sale for their beef studs coming up. Mum rang him on the night of the sale. The sale had been a slashing success, he had had a couple of beers with clients to celebrate, and when Mum said, “congratulations!” he replied with, “oh thanks, that was an unexpected result, but we are really pleased with the prices.” Mum immediately realised that he had not received my letter yet, and chatted away with him about his success. Whoops!!! A bit later, he thought, “hang on a minute, how the heck would that city woman even know it was our bull sale day, let alone that we had done so well?” The cogs were slowly turning in his head. Then he rang me, early the next night, my time. “Hi, how’s things going?” Me: “good, pretty good, you? Have you had a letter from me lately?” Him: “no. But I had a phone call from your mother last night. That was interesting.” Me: (nervously) “oh. That’s weird, what did she have to say?” Him: “oh, she was congratulating me. The bull sale went really well. But, I don’t think that was what she was congratulating me on, was it? Ummm, do you have any idea what she was meaning……..” Me: “oh shit! I wrote you a letter.” The end result was, he had kind of worked it out in his head, I told him I was expecting his baby, but that I was okay, and was prepared and happy to bring it up with the help of my family, he was off the hook. He was lovely, and said to take care, that he would be in touch soon. A little later, I don’t know how long, a few days, a week, two? He rang me again, and asked me if I wanted to give “us” another go, he had been thinking about it a whole lot, still loved me desperately, and wanted to make a go of us. I told him I only wanted to do that if that was what he REALLY wanted, and he was SURE, and he wanted ME, not the baby-and-mummy package. He said he wanted to ask me back when I first told him, but that he knew he had to think it all through properly, really make it sure in his head and heart, not just blurt that out in the emotion of the moment.
So, I booked a flight home, for the last possible moment that I was allowed to long-distance fly pregnant. He met me at the arrival gate, with a huge bunch of flowers, and lifted my swollen seven months pregnant body (I wasn’t too large, had even kept it a secret from my boss until the last minute) off the ground in the most welcoming hug I could have hoped for. Then we drove home in fairly awkward polite conversation.