(Yes – that was my first and only thought as I looked down at the pregnancy test. And yes, I see the irony.)
Wait. Does the ‘+’ sign really mean positive? Because for someone in my position, pregnancy isn’t a positive, per say. It’s clearly a negative. Positive conjures up feelings of joy and happiness – feelings I most certainly do not have right now.
I knew I shouldn’t have slept with him. I knew it was a mistake. Goddamn Conservatives can’t keep their things zipped up. For people who spend their time flouting ‘abstinence only’ policies, they sure manage to have a lot of sex. One of their many, many charms.
Okay, I’m shaking. I’m one of the brightest political minds in the country, if not the world, and this little ‘+’ sign has me more nervous than a meeting in Russia with a former KGB operative-turned Prime Minister who could (and would) easily lace my soup with some poisonous substance that would kill me within seconds. Shit.
Oh god, I’m going to throw up. This has got to be the fastest onset of morning sickness in history. Breathe in, breathe out. Great. I’m acting like I’m in a Lamaze class already. Don’t think of food. Think of debating that asshole, Stanwood. Yes. That’s better.
Or not. I need gravol. Now. Aw hell, that’s probably not going to help. I’ll probably throw it up. Where’s my purse? There’s always gravol in my purse. I get motion sickness so easily, and combined with morning sickness – Lord, my first 100 days are going to be pure hell.
My purse. Gravol. Damn it, my purse is in the other room with my team. Can’t go in there looking for gravol. They’ll think its nerves. Can’t look weak. That is akin to committing suicide in my profession.
“Hey, you okay in there?”
“Yeah, I’m fine, Josh. Just touching up my makeup and taking a moment.”
“Well hurry up. You’re on in five. Stanwood is wrapping up.”
“I’ll be right out.”
Let’s look in the mirror. If the public hates weak women, they hate ugly weak women even more. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I look like a ghost. Just great. A deer in the headlights. Nice cliché. No wonder I leave the speech-writing to others. Well, let’s just get through this and then we’ll think about what to do next.
Since when did ‘I’ become ‘we’?
Right. That ‘+’ sign.
“Liv, it’s showtime! We’ve gotta go – now!”
“I know!” Take a deep breath, open the door and kick some ass out there.
“God. You look awful.”
“Thanks, Josh. That’s exactly what I needed to hear before I go address the country.”
“You’re not going to faint on national TV, are you? You know that Stanwood would have a field day with that.”
“No, but I might hurl.”
And with that, me and my entourage made our way downstairs. I remember walking into the Renaissance Ballroom, the crowd roaring, signs frantically waving back and forth. The motion made me a little dizzy. I made my way to the podium at the front, shaking what seemed like a million hands on the way there. As soon as I stepped behind the podium, the bright lights of all the cameras caused my nausea to sharpen. I took a deep breath, smiled and waved. There was no way in hell that I was going to give up this moment, a moment I’d wanted ever since I formed my first informal political party in grade six on the kickball field – the Kids’ Democratic Party (I was a real Roy Romanow fan back then).
I flipped to my prepared speech, knowing the movement of the teleprompter would not help my queasy stomach. I looked back up at the crowd, and once again gave them my best ‘Olivia Knight’ smile, the smile that charmed many into voting for me.
“Thank you! Thank you, Canada!” The noise in the room was deafening.
“Thank you!” I was practically yelling to be heard above the pandemonium.
“I am honoured, thrilled and humbled by your support! Together, we are beginning a new era in Canadian politics. But the revolution is just beginning!” Revolution. These people have no idea what kind of a revolution I’m going to unleash on the Canadian political scene. A completely unplanned revolution.
“As leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Canada, and your newly-elected Prime Minister…” More noise. My head is pounding. “I pledge that I will…”
Everything became fuzzy and moved in slow motion. I saw stars and fiercely blinked my eyes.
Spinning. Head is spinning. Not good.
And right there, on live television, in front of the entire nation which just elected me as its first female Prime Minister (elected being the key word – sorry, Kim Campbell), I threw up.
Let’s just stop right there, shall we?
It’s been 15 years since that crazy June night. Can it really be that long ago? It’s really quite difficult to remember my life before then. Everything changed that night – me most of all.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’m sure you know more about me than you care to. A prairie farm girl from small town Saskatchewan who grew up to become Canada’s first elected female Prime Minister. I’m one of those candidates that campaign managers dream about: girl wants to do good in the world, pays her own way through college, goes overseas to work with a non-profit organization for a couple of years, comes back, gets into politics, works her way up through the hierarchy, overthrows the ‘old guard,’ embodies the whole Obama hope and change thing and brings ‘the people’ back to the fold.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? The only problem? I’m a woman.
Ah, yes. The fact that I can’t take a piss while standing up almost ended my political career on numerous occasions. If I had a loonie for every time I’ve been told to get back to the kitchen or ironing board, I’d have been able to pay down the debt of a small African nation. Canadians think they’re so progressive.
I found out I was pregnant the night I was elected Canada’s 28th Prime Minister. The Americans were on their 51st President and we were still back at 28; that Harper bastard was in office far too long. But you know that and you regret it. He was our George W. Bush. More on that later, too.
Anyway, I found out I was pregnant and then I threw up live on national television. It was a rather auspicious beginning to my mandate. However, I was rather disappointed in the headlines the next morning. The Globe and Mail wrote, “New PM Has WRETCH-ed Beginning.” Yawn.
I remember the discussion in the hotel room later that night after I’d recovered. My campaign manager, who then became my Chief of Staff, Josh Zimmerman, somehow got the press to believe that I’d been fighting the flu the last day or so (though he didn’t believe I was sick for a second). Besides worrying about the horrible press we’d receive the next day, we feared that people would think, “See? Not even sworn in and she can’t handle the pressure.” All campaign we’d fought the conservative base and its sexist attacks against me, and spewing my guts on national TV gave them more ammunition for the next round. That night I really thought I’d become Kim Campbell, Part Deux.