It was the end of February in Melbourne, which meant it was hot on the day I first went to visit Dr Chris. The enormity of what I was about to do would have had me dripping with sweat even if it was the middle of winter.
I had caught an air-conditioned tram most of the way to my appointment and switched to a stuffy tram for the last leg. With a few stops to go before we reached the hospital, I started shifting uncomfortably in my seat, pulling nervously at the hem of my shorts.
I had checked four or five times by that point that I had all the referral papers in my handbag. I checked once more - yup, still there. That meant I didn't have a good excuse to turn around and go back home. Damn.
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My breath caught in my throat when I noticed I was the next stop. I blamed the tram for my shaky legs as I walked to the door. My sunglasses went on to shield my eyes from both the bright sun and the other sets of eyes around the hospital.
I took a deep breath and threw my shoulders back with false bravado. I crossed the street and strode up the steps into the hospital lobby, with as much fake confidence as I could muster. Once I was in the dim lobby, though, I realised I had no idea where I needed to go.
With my tail between my legs, I asked the receptionist for directions. I took the lift up to the first floor, and suddenly felt so warm I thought I'd melt.
Another deep breath, and I forced my legs to move me down the bright, white corridor. I found the right room, checked in with the beaming receptionist, and took a seat.
The waiting room was gorgeous. It had elegant black seats arranged in a horseshoe shape against the walls. Behind the seats hung boldly coloured BALLY posters, lit up by modern industrial hanging lights.
It could have been another of Melbourne's cafes. Except for the strip of wall next to the counter.
The wall that stared me in the face for what felt like an eternity that afternoon, and every other visit after that. It was a wall strung with thin wires dotted with little pegs. Each held a birth announcement. Every peachy little face seemed to be mocking me.