When I first counted the dates, and counted them again, I didn’t admit to myself what a difference one week could make. But I drove to the shops anyway, to pick up the test anyway, because what were the chances anyway.
Then, as I stared at those two little lines I held my breath for what seemed like all of eternity, blinking, and hoping, and not admitting that the impossible could be possible. Pregnant, the lines announced, whispered, shouted.
With shaking hands and hearts in mouths, we hugged and hugged and kept checking those lines were still there as we basked in the bliss of our new names: Mama- and Papa-to-Be. A mum and a dad. Baby, you made three.
I said, I don’t know how to do this, and he said, We’ll figure it out together, this perfect new reality of ours.
And so head-first we fell into what we thought was a given. They provided us with urine tests, blood tests, leaflets, a due date. And I did not admit to the fear that had crept into the corners of my heart that, while our due date would come and go, just like all of time does, it would not look the way we wanted it to.
As we gazed in awe at your tiny flickering black and white heartbeat, our hearts started beating in time with yours. That’s your baby, she said. Everything looks perfect, she said.
Except it wasn’t perfect. Not even close. Or maybe it was, and this is just a different, more painful kind of perfect than the one we had imagined.
When my world turned red and it just wouldn’t stop, I squeezed shut my eyes, started building a wall around my heart, and whispered no no no to a god that wasn’t listening. For a whole day and night and day I didn’t admit what I knew to be true. I couldn’t admit that I was losing you.
I tore apart my body in search of the strength I knew I had to find to utter those terrible, awful words that never should have to be said. I didn’t admit that I was too scared to call the midwife, too scared to hear what she would say, but I knew not admitting would not be enough to stop this train that was determined to derail itself.
This happens all the time, she said. Lots of women experience this and they go on to have healthy babies, she promised.
But promises are just words and, oh baby, words can’t save a life. Can’t save a mother or a father. Can’t save a future imagined either.
And so we drove or walked or swam through an ocean of grief to the hospital, and all the while I hoped I could find the courage I needed to lose sight of the shore and swim into this new world that I didn’t want to belong in.
The pain spread from heart to my soul to my body to you. It blurred the white walls and the white bed and white everything, and I couldn’t admit that, even as I begged for the morphine that entered my blood, I wanted to scream at them to stop. If I didn’t feel pain, how would I know you were ever even real?
I shut my eyes, or maybe they shut themselves, to block out the feeling of cool gel on my skin, and listened instead to the screaming silence that filled all of the spaces that were once filled by you.
I think I should get the doctor, she said. What we are seeing is consistent with a miscarriage, he said. We can’t see a fetus, they said.
My baby is gone my baby is gone my baby is gone.
You have options, she said.
Options? How could I have options when the only option I wanted is no longer an option? Surgery, a pill, just wait it out. These are your options when you have no options.
I opened my eyes to another white ceiling, to murky voices and a second of normality before the memories crashed their way back into my heart, jamming themselves into every corner of this body I used to trust. Into this world I trusted.
This new reality is not the one we wanted but maybe, just maybe, one day we will be able to see that it’s exactly the one we needed.
Some lives are very long, and some are very, very short, but they all leave their mark. And you, our beautifully imperfectly perfect baby, have left your mark all over our hearts.