Loss is a part of life
A touching column in the Citizen today about pregnancy loss. The author asks that we stop hiding these things, because they are very much part of our experience as humans, especially if we happen to be female, obviously, but the guys can and do suffer as well when a pregnancy doesn’t go as expected so here goes.
It was going to be my second baby. My first one was 10 months old, and I was eight weeks pregnant with “Thing 2”.
It was a beautiful sunny day, early September. Still warm. I don’t remember what I was doing or where I was going at this time of the morning, not long before lunch, but I was holding a future big sister in my arms and going down the front steps of the house.
My flip-flop caught in something. Or it slipped. Not sure which.
My legs flew upwards in front of me and I landed, hard, on the path. I couldn’t even hold on to my little girl, who flopped out of my arms, bounced on my legs and landed — much more softly, but still — a foot or so in front of me.
Was she hurt? She was crying, but that’s not always a sign of anything. Maybe she’d just got scared? I scrambled to my feet and picked up her, turning her over like a maniac, looking at every inch of her. She had a small scratch on her head but it didn’t look like it would bruise. Still, I rushed inside to put a cold cloth on it, just in case.
She was fine. She just had a scare and a tiny scratch. I threw out the flip-flops and took a deep breath.
I was just starting to relax when the bleeding started… and didn’t stop. At first I thought, maybe it’s just a little spotting. I’d read in many pregnancy books that spotting was always possible and didn’t usually mean much of anything. I hadn’t experienced any of that during my first pregnancy but as they say, no two pregnancies are the same.
Half an hour later, in tears, I was forced to conclude that this was not spotting. This was period-like bleeding. I was losing that baby, right there in the toilet. The coldness of it all overwhelmed me. As it did again, two weeks later, when I went for an ultrasound to make sure all the “products of conceptions” whom I still, to this day, refer to as “Thing 2”, had safely left my body. They had. I was, in the immortal words of the technician, clean as a whistle.
She made me hate whistles.
I grieved. I still do. You never forget a baby, even one who left so early. My doctor insists I did nothing wrong and deserve no blame. I believe him but I never really did.
Four months later I got pregnant again with a beautiful, loving baby girl (I would go on to have another beautiful baby girl two years later; I only make girls, apparently). She’s always known that there had been another baby before her (other than her big sister), a baby who had died in my tummy, and that she was the rainbow after the storm. She always liked that idea.
What stays with me is this: If “Thing 2” had made it, my middle daughter would not exist. And I can’t imagine the world without her now. But of course, if “Thing 2” had made it I would have no idea such a person as Middle Daughter could exist. To say these things are complicated would be a gross understatement. We all grieve in different ways, we all react in our own particular manner. No reaction is wrong, no grief is more genuine than the next.
I have not kept this story secret, but I have not talked about it all that much either. Maybe I should. If only to tell those now struggling with recent loss that they are not alone and that though they may not believe it, it’s not their fault.