It was the strangest thing. Nothing had really changed. People went to work, took their children to school, met with friends, cleaned their homes, went to the cinema, drank wine the list was never ending. And there I was going about my day as if nothing had changed for me either. But it had. I had the most profound feeling of loss. But it was not a loss I felt or even feel I can really share. Was it even real to anyone else? I couldn’t see that it was. They went about their day’s. They went about their lives. They had kind words for us. They made phone calls, and checked in. But was it real for them?
It was real for me……. it was real for us. We had discussed names and gender. I had thought about hair colour, eye colour what features they would have. I imagined having one toddler, one baby. I imagined school runs and lazy days in the garden. I pictured Christmas and trips away. I imagined telling our friends, maternity clothes, sleeping arrangements, child care. It was happening. It was all real, until it wasn’t.
I became a little confident. I had one child. She was here, alive, healthy. I had done it before. The second would be just the same. Of course I knew the percentages and statistics. Of course I did, but I had a child. Bad things happen to other people. Even writing it down I see how naive I was to imagine that I could be immune. But in those early day’s of tiredness and nausea and sore boobs and hunger you place any doubt to the back of your mind, remove the thought that you are as vulnerable as any other woman. We had started to trickle our news out to those who were closest to us. We felt safe. We were happy to share with our nearest and dearest knowing they would be as pleased for us as we were for ourselves.
I was one of the first appointments that morning. This made us happy. It meant that my husband could be there before going to work. It meant no long waits as the day pushed on and appointments ran over. It meant we got to see our little baby sooner. It is a very strange thing a “booking appointment.” Before you even meet a doctor you have had conversations about breast feeding and 20 week appointments. You have signed forms and taken blood. Its real. Its happening…….. and then the scan. I wish I wasn’t so shocked. I wished I could have asked more questions. I wish I could remember every single detail and word that she used, but I cant. What I remember are the words “I can’t find a heartbeat” looking at the screen, I knew. There was no blinking dot. My baby did not have a heartbeat. I was not having this baby. I did not cry. In fact, I am not sure I had any reaction. I was cold.
I left the hospital and it was the strangest thing, I felt as though I could hear sound for the first time. It was as if I could hear in HD. Every sound was sharp and clear. Car horns, doors closing, children laughing, the pedestrian crossing, the sound of the church bell. I felt as though my body was empty and was filling up on sound. I wanted my mam. I was a child again. Something was going wrong and I was hurt and I wanted my mam. I cant remember what I said, I cant remember how I told her, I cant remember what she said to me. I just know I needed to tell my mam. I needed her to tell others so I would not have to. I wanted my bed. I wanted to go to bed and pull the covers over my head and stay there for all eternity. I wanted to cry…….. but I couldn’t.
I am a mam. It was lunchtime and I had a hungry toddler. I needed to make lunch. I needed to be a mam. I set about my day, doing what I knew needed to be done. I put on a wash. I made lunch. I filled the dishwasher. These jobs were all I had. These jobs are still all I have. My mobile rang, his mobile rang, the landline rang. All noise and sympathy. Offers to look after our daughter, offers to come and visit. Offers and noise and sympathy. I didn’t want any of them. I wanted my daughter here. In fact I never want her to be anywhere else again. I didn’t want sympathy, I wanted a baby. I didn’t want noise, I wanted silence to match what I felt inside. I wanted my day before. I wanted it to be Monday again. On Monday I had a husband at work and a daughter who spent her morning painting and I was having a baby. I wanted to rewind and for it to be Monday again and again and again.
Nothing looked different. I looked the same. I know I looked the same because I checked. I looked in the mirror to see if I looked different. I didn’t. I was the same. There is something very quite about losing a baby, without losing a baby. I had no pain. I felt well. I felt the same. I just had to wait. Wait for the inevitable. Wait one week to confirm what we knew. What they left us in no doubt over. Just wait. So we waited a week. And our phones got quieter, and the offers were less and the sympathetic words were already said and people lived. They went shopping, and went to dinner and cleaned their homes, and worked and all the while we stayed waiting. Was it ever real to them?
By day 7 I knew all I had to know about the next steps. “Dr Google” is great for information that others are too afraid or too sensitive to discuss with you. By day 7 I sat in the waiting room again. Waiting on a plan.What would happen now. What would be the next steps. I didn’t have to wait long. By day 7 my body had stepped in with its own plan. After confirmation scans and more information, we started out with 2. Only 1 ever grew. More heartache. I was again sent home to wait. This wait was different. I had pain. I was glad. Something physical to mirror how I felt. I waited and 12 days after our booking appointment I was back in the maternity ward. Walking into that lift I was reminded it would have been the same route I would have taken if I was dealt a different hand. The same lift that day after day mothers take full of apprehension and excitement. I was taking it full of fear and dread.
Hours past and Saturday night turned into Sunday morning and Pethidine took the edge off. We sat mostly in silence and waited. By mid Sunday morning it was all over. It was over and I was relieved. I didn’t want to feel relieved but I did. The wait was over. And then the reality was there. We had nothing. We walked away from the hospital with nothing. All the pain, for nothing. I had nothing to hold. I would never know what our baby looked like, how it smelled. How its skin felt. I would never feel the weight of our baby in my arms. Instead I felt the weight of a baby that never was.
And back home, life was going on. I logged on to social media and saw that nothing had changed. They were sharing jokes and posts about dinner. They were making plans and taking pictures of family days out and again I was reminded that it was only real for us.
We will always remember the 12th as the day we didn’t hear a heartbeat. We will always remember 12 days of waiting, the last 12 days I carried my baby. We will always remember that on the 12th day we said goodbye without really saying hello. 12 weeks that allowed us blissful highs and the darkest lows. Only a few would know about our baby that couldn’t be. Only a few would ever remember that for a few moments in time our baby existed. They would remember but they would forget too. They continue unchanged. Was it ever really real for them?
We will remember. We will never forget. We will be forever changed. It was real for us.