Chapter Twelve: Drifting

I listen to the ocean sing
and dream
of who you could have been.

As specs of sand are endless
So too
are the possibilities of you.

And with every wave
the dreams of you grow greater
and the specs of me
drift out to sea.

An open letter to my Midwife* who told me it would “just be like a heavy period”.

*not all midwives 

I was 12+3 weeks pregnant in January 2021 with a long-awaited IVF rainbow baby when we went to our scan at the clinic.

The gentle, “I’m so sorry sweetie, it’s not looking good” punctuated what we had already guessed, once again, from the too-long a silence.

I will never forget his guttural scream in the car.

For three days afterwards I sat on towels in bed, waiting helplessly for support from the clinic or the hospital, wishing for morphine and anaesthetic to wash the devastation away like last time. I didn’t even think about what drugs would be available to ease the pain for him. We sat and held each other, surrendering to sadness. And waited.

But no call came.

Having stopped all the fertility drugs, my body took matters into its own hands and I contacted you for help. I wanted advice, I wanted to know what to expect, I wanted pain relief.

“It will just be like a heavy period. Paracetamol should help.”

A text.

What followed over the next 20 hours was very much the labour and birth of a 13-week pregnancy that was deeply loved, desperately wanted, and devastatingly lost.

That was the moment we both split in two.

Because when you lose a baby your life exists from that moment on in two worlds. There is an Alternate Us living somewhere with a baby that didn’t die. She is 36-weeks pregnant today. And He cradles her belly with a smile so wide it breaks my heart.

And I think this is what’s hardest to come to terms with: being forever haunted by the alternate life we should be living. And the life left is empty in comparison.

I stare agog at pregnant women because that is a feat now utterly incomprehensible to me.

I gasp for air as the endless stream of, seemingly effortless, pregnancy announcements puncture my lungs.

I wake in the night, heart pounding, from panic attacks that pepper my sleep with the haunting of the ultrasound room.

I kiss my fiancé with the full force of my heart every time he leaves the house because the fear that he’ll be taken from me too makes my legs buckle.

I cry at good news because I’m terrified it will all of a sudden turn to bad news.

This Me that is left exists without trust that joy is mine to keep.

And through it all, he holds me, keeping me afloat.

And the grief is so suffocating, the current so strong, I barely notice that he is drowning too.

Nothing feels safe.

Nothing feels real.

Nothing feels like ours.

So no, dear Midwife, our miscarriage is not “just like a heavy period”.

A flat stomach which is not 36-weeks pregnant.

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