The night RD lay between wolf and I, taking three breaths, missing three. The night when each time he paused, I paused, my mind raced. It ping ponged: how could this really be happening, don’t rush it, breathe it in, take away his pain, now. Time hung on elastic- too painful to live through and yet not wanting it to conclude.
To cope my brain tried to float: what day is it? When is the first day of school term? When is DD due to start preschool? When is my period due?
I knew the answer to the last one: tomorrow. You see, we had booked a last minute holiday for all of us when RD’s bloods had given us that last breath. I did it almost to test myself; never quite sure that we’d make it but enough to show hope in the future. The week when he declined I’d been thinking about packing on the Monday, for the following Monday, in the way we always had to with RD.
Monday 5th September. Feeds, sleep- how, where, new medicines, creams, swimming costumes. Ah, swimming. Must remember tampons.
RD passed away early that morning. He was cleaned, dressed in fresh pyjamas, and wolf and I carried him down the corridor to the little room. My mind had calmed, hit by shock and sadness. And I thought, oh, today is the 5th. That unmistakable ache wasn’t there, the regular as clockwork start.
Later in the morning, wolf and I decided to take a walk. Except we knew our destination- buy a test, take it, put our minds at rest, move forward. There, bright and strong, two vibrant fuschia lines. Fuck.
There was an overdue pause as neither of us knew what to say. Congratulations? More expletives? Do we tell anyone? Do we need to contact the hospital, to see if the doctor who saw us after Tiny and their sibling remember us? Remember the potential strange condition they mentioned and what should we do? All on the day, within the morning, that our eldest son had died. I’ll say it again, Fuck.
Each week that has passed with him gone has been the passing of another milestone of life for this baby. I live in sphincter clenching worried ambivalence. Make no sense? More of my hormones later.
I had this thing, this weird thing, a thread that played on repeat on my mind when pregnant with Tiny. One In, One Out. The connection to that pregnancy, or being pregnant again, always felt somehow intrinsically tied to RD’s life. I can’t explain this. I don’t have faith to rely on. But I do question whether everything is actually mapped out for us and we’re subconsciously following.
So when we lost her, at 20 weeks, or in fact at around 15 weeks unbeknownst to us, I thought that’s it! I was right to be worried. And then falling pregnant again so quickly after felt like hope, like things might get back on track, only to fall further with that miscarriage and RD starting his kidney failure journey so soon after.
And then this, altogether shocking and yet somehow not. There’s a little seed in me somewhere that is grounded in this and believes in being able to hope. And then there’s bastarding life experience which has ground me down, and makes me couch every sentence with “all being well” and “if we get that far.”
I’ve wondered whether to come clean about this pregnancy at all. In fact, until today’s scan, which I went in fully prepared for them to tell me my baby had died, I thought I’ll never really tell. Because somehow speaking your hope and joy out loud gets you smacked back down again. And I still have 24 more weeks of pregnancy to get through.
But here’s what I feel I’ve learned: that all life, from conception, deserves to be recognised. Deserves to be treasured. Needs to be talked about. Because love starts the day those two lines appear and continues way beyond death. It will continue for my entire lifetime. I am mother to five children.
Now, about those bloody hormones.
Here’s a list of things that have made me cry:
- John Lewis Christmas advert. Not the ACTUAL advert, but the very notion that they had made another one and it would be coming soon. The actual advert, meh.
- The Ikea advert with all the lights. Half an hour of heaving sobs. Every time.
- The dog pooing in RD’s bedroom. Oh, I’ve mentioned that before.
I hate all smells. Wolf was especially pleased with his likening to “smelling like a charity shop.”
I have convinced myself this baby is dead because:
- I’ve been sneezing too much
- My bump isn’t quadrupling in size every second
- DD accidentally kicked me in the privates, hard, when playing our ‘chase each other round and kick each other’s bum’ game*
*disclaimer, it’s a very gentle tap, not an actual kick….