I hate how true it is that life can change so quickly in a heartbeat. Or one not beating, as the case so often is.
We are who we are surrounded by, and I am lucky, because I am surrounded by family and friends that are true rock stars. And, this is completely unbiased and a fact obviously, my children win all the contests. They are the best. I am a realist: they would often win the accolade for best tantrum too. But I know our third child had this untapped potential too. And she certainly shifted my axis left of centre.
When I felt that rush of overwhelming fear and devastation on Thursday, it was made all the worse by knowing truly that I hadn’t even reached the nadir. That we had not yet reached the end even though she had.
Somehow I got through the intervening time to take the first tablet, that would strip me of what my body was telling me. It was going to take away the desire to eat my body weight in salt and vinegar chipsticks and squash. Then the following day, feeling hollow and disconnected. And yet living the day reality of having my other children. School runs and toddler rage when asked to hold my hand. Knowing that Saturday could be the next day, or a week, or a month away. The day was coated in treacle.
By Friday afternoon, I had that burpy nausea that my instincts were telling me was more than anxiety. We went to the hospital, only to meet one of the incredible team of midwives that would make this journey nowhere near as I feared. She made both my mum and I feel that we were able to describe this as a bereavement. Previously, my baby, having died around 14/15 weeks, and yet been carried until 20 weeks straddled a divide of early and late miscarriage. Not that it should matter. But sadly, it does.
It wasn’t time though, but lifted by her soft words and concern, I went home rationalising that when the time came, I believed I would receive such compassion. And I wasn’t wrong. Bradford should be proud.
Just before bedtime I had a bleed. My incredible parents jumped to action, coming to stay with our children and kindly driving us to the hospital given we’d suddenly forgotten the route.
Just a procedure now, we knew that. Sat in an overly bright room, I studied the cot in the corner. Too big. The cupboard knobs that didn’t match. The NHS ice cream yellow walls that have become part of our lives. We shared little jokes. Looks that needed no words.
The next few hours we were treated with unbelievable kindness. In a fug of pain relief I slept fitfully through contractions, not realising the time had come. Careful and hushed conversations about what we wanted to happen. I didn’t want to see straight away. And calmly and quietly our baby appeared with a few light pushes. The midwife spoke to her carefully just as any other baby. Told her what she was going to do, where they were going. Gracefully administered my medication and cleaned me. Took her away, where I knew she would be cared for.
She arrived back in a bread basket sized Moses bassinet. Carefully wrapped in two hand knitted hanky like blankets. She looked degraded, that was true and otherworldly. But also peaceful. And as the midwive gently folded back the blankets we saw that she was perfect. She had the long fingers, legs and feet of her siblings.
And that was enough. Hand prints and foot prints were made. We had that delicious post labour tea and toast, talked about how the grief felt at that point and fell back asleep. The fear had gone. The grief had shifted. The overwhelming sadness remained but the anxiety had dispersed.
Now I am here, allowing normality back in. Being caught by grief. Waking up and having to remember I am no longer pregnant. Dealing with the reminders that I was; blood, engorgement, medications and f*cking compression stockings. Knowing that people can’t see the scrambled egg that sits where my heart should be from the outside.
October: the month of anniversaries. Our wedding. And now the births of all three of our babies, due dates irrelevant.