5th of February 2020

Folks, in this post I am going to talk about something very very personal, but also a topic which a lot of people cannot handle. So if you are squeamish, or if the topic of miscarriage hurts you, please do not read any further.

On November the 18th, about three months ago (almost), I took a pregnancy test which came out positive. I was shocked, of course. My baby was almost 9 months and while we had wanted two babies close in age, we did not expect to get pregnant so fast.

I was over the moon, of course. Another little baby to keep my little almost-one-year-old company. Two cute little voices and two simultaneous childish peals of laughter in my home. My husband was over the moon too but we were both scared, because it was hard enough with one baby, let alone two! Two sets of night wakings, two sets of nappy changing, double the exhaustion!

I had my three-month ultrasound scan scheduled for Tuesday the 4th of February. We were so excited. I put makeup on for the first time in a year (literally). I did it because for my current baby’s first ultrasound scan I put makeup on too, and my husband said ‘why are you wearing makeup for this?’ and I said, at the time, ‘because I am meeting my little baby for the first time.’ So I did it this time too, because I can’t show favouritism between my two babies, can I?

Anyway. We took our little boy (let us call him ‘E’) with us to the scan so he could meet baby too.

The technician was lovely when she welcomed us, and then she told me to lie on the bed. She put the gel on my stomach which was already starting to protrude. And then she put her device on my stomach and pressed in. I gasped, because a sharp pain ran through my abdomen when she pressed down. She asked if I was alright, and I nodded, feeling uneasy.

On the screen I could see my uterus, and a little tiny baby lying in the corner of it. I held my breath in anticipation. Oh my goodness. My baby.

The technician was quiet and she began doing some measurements. She checked in with me how far along I was, and her face seemed a little serious.

The little baby on the screen wasn’t moving, and I began to feel anxious. I told her 13 weeks. She checked again, and then turned to me.

‘I am really sorry, Lenora, I can’t find a heartbeat.’

My own heart felt like it stopped.

‘I need to call another technician to make sure, I am really sorry sweetheart.’

I kind of lost it, folks. A huge sob that I didn’t even know was sitting in my chest pushed its way forcefully up and exploded from me, I had to put my arm over my face, my body was shaking in shock. My husband, carrying E, rushed over to my side and I put my face in his jacket to compose myself while the other technician was called in. They did more checks, and she too confirmed that there was no heartbeat, and there hadn’t been one for two weeks, according to the baby’s size.

It was a very hard day that day. I zoned out when the midwife was telling me about my options, and if my body did not expel the …. (she literally said ‘the ..’ and then paused), the hospital would require me to come in so they could medically intervene to stop me getting infected.

But I guess the hardest day was the next day. The fifth of February. My husband had to go to London urgently for work. He did not want to but at the time I was feeling physically fine so I made him go. London is about 4 hours from where I live up ‘north’, so it would have been very hard for him to come back in an emergency.

I was cramping a little but I had had a miscarriage back in 2015, so I knew what to expect, or I thought I did. I really thought I did. But back then I was only about 5-6 weeks along, this time I was 10-11 weeks along. Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come next.

Please do not read further if you are squeamish.

I’ll summarise it for you but it was a blood bath. Nothing like my first miscarriage. I couldn’t go anywhere in the house. I had to take care of a roaming 11 month old who needed feeding, nap times, changing, playing with, and I was all alone and in agony. I was having contractions, and I know this because I have experienced them before. Waves of pain that made me sweat, and just blood everywhere. And I won’t even describe or explain the most gruesome and panic-inducing details of the rest of my miscarriage. I caught my barely formed baby in my hands and in my panic that I would lose it, I had to fish for other things, clumps of what would have once protected and fed my unborn child, the size of my hand.. goodness.

When it was all over, 7 hours later, I was shaking and exhausted.

I still feel shaky and exhausted and I still cry to think about it, five days later. I was expected to drive for two hours to visit my in laws yesterday but my mother called me and told me sternly that I was not to go anywhere, and she drove up herself with dinner cooked and took care of my baby while I rested.

I don’t know, folks. I write this all down here as here is a place to write and record and keep things for me. I feel very sad, but I know this is part of life. This was not meant to be at this time. I am very lucky to have a little baby that lived and made it through. I hold him and hug him tighter these days, and I think of all the women who go through what I went through and worse, later miscarriages and no babies for years and years and I grieve for them too.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve to feel sad because others have it so much worse. Women have felt their babies move, and then stopped. Women who have had to give birth through labour to babies they know will never breath, will never look at them with open eyes. Women who can never even have their own children. So why am I so upset when I have a baby already. Is it selfish?

A life was still lost, in my eyes. I held it in my hands. I felt my stomach expanding to accommodate it.

I know I will heal and move on. I know life goes on. I know time will erase much of the panic and anxiety and sorrow. But I still need to give myself the space to feel it as much as I need to, because I will never ever forget.

Love Letters #48

This photo

Gives me a strange ache

In my chest

Some would say it is my heart.

But does a heart have feelings? Or is it just the brain projecting?

And why do the most emotive of sensations make themselves felt in the chest?

I don’t know why this photo has such an impact on me.

Something about summer, and roses.

It reminds me of my grandmother. She had a kaleidoscope of roses in her garden, plants all over her home. Silence ringing through rooms, interrupted with the soft tick-tick-tick of a clock, gentle chirping outside, the distant buzz of a lawnmower. Sunlight flooding through tall windows.

Knitting needles, clicking.

One leg crossed, over the other. Face knotted in concentration, but never frowning.

All that hurt in her heart, but always a smile.

All that pain in her body, but always patience.

Now I am going through a very similar physical pain, and I don’t know how she managed to do it. To give so much, so effortlessly, with all that burden on her heart.

So when I came across this photo today, my heart thumped painfully in my chest, probably because my brain told it to.

Because it reminds me of my childhood in her garden, her love and patience and life,

Enveloping me in warm comfort.

She was a mother to her own children, and a mother to their children too. A mother in the deepest, most emotional sense of the word.

And what is lost can never be returned.

IMG_9225.PNG

The credit for this image goes to this blog on Tumblr. 

Poppy

Resilient.

That is what I would call her. She flounders, sometimes, in the shallows of life. Her heart may seem weak, but I secretly know she is just sensitive. She thinks too deeply about things.

He says she is drowning in ‘her vortex’.

Why, she asks, do they write about sad things, and try to make jokes out of them?

I think about what she means. She means those dark comedy sitcoms. You know, where the family are poor and there are lots of rude sex jokes, and dirty people saying filthy things, and jokes about mental instability and emotional unavailability.

Those are dark things. She says, Things you should keep hidden away. Things you mustn’t make light of.

Why?

Because the world needs to see happiness and hope. Not misery accompanied by obnoxious music. If I am unhappy, why would I want to laugh at other people’s unhappiness?

It’s just a TV show.

People drink too much alcohol and are seen as ‘party types’, adventurous and daring. People have ‘daddy issues’ and are blunt and rude about other people. People joking about the pills they pop to hide their deepest pains. People unconscious because of intoxication. When did this become a norm in society? What happened to living and laughing and talking genuinely about real things?

It’s just.. a TV show, Poppy.

She dances quietly in the rain, sometimes. Her movements, although rhythm-less, have a certain cadence. The way her arms move around her head, the way her bare feet touch the wet grass, gently kissing the sodden blades before moving on to another spot. The way her throat supports her face, craned towards the pregnant, grey heavens.

I think, sometimes, that you have to let life into your skin.

I don’t know what that means, Poppy.

When she works, she is vigilant. She is furious. When she sleeps, she is restless. Her eyes are always wandering.

Once she saw an old lady outside with no stockings. She rushed indoors and brought her a cape. The old woman, pushing her trolley before her, shook her away irritably.

What do you think I am, senile?!

Poppy stared as she hobbled away down the road. I couldn’t read the expression on her face.

She was vibrant, alive. But there was always a heavy sadness clinging to her. In her eyes, sometimes, when she thought I wasn’t looking.

I feel lonely, Sebastian.

I’m here, Poppy.

I .. know.

Your life, always, over mine, Poppy.

 

220px-poppies_in_the_sunset_on_lake_geneva

Love Letters #26

Did you know, you can remember things you have never experienced?

Or that sometimes, you can have a ‘false memory’, where your brain mistakes things you have imagined for things you have actually experienced? It’s amazing, some scientists did an experiment about it a while back and they managed to convince a group of people that they had a similar traumatic childhood experience when in actual fact they did not.

Sometimes, I think that our story was a false memory. Something that never really happened. It wasn’t so long ago that we were walking down the cold autumn streets, your fingers warm inside your red leather gloves. You convinced me so artfully that spending £100 on them was a great investment.

The minute we left the shop, with the gloves wrapped delicately in expensive tissue paper that you would only throw away, you turned to me with a smile and said, ‘Ooops.’

I remember everything in such vivid detail. The way your eyes looked when you were cross, and your mouth would set in one corner only. The way you would shove spoonfuls of cream into your mouth when you were mad, or sad. Pour it into a big mug and squeeze chocolate syrup on top. That was disgusting. I remember it fondly. I remember when you used to sleep sometimes, you would curl your fingers like a child. It was so odd. Maybe you felt safe?

I remember when you used to write, you would press the pen down so hard your fingernails turned white with the pressure, and your face would go right down so your nose was touching the paper. Sometimes you would come down and there would be ink spatters dotting your face like literary freckles.

When autumn came you blossomed. Cheeks red, hair alight from the summer sun, you would stay out for hours collecting leaves, and be so disappointed when I didn’t want to come with you. I wish I came with you, and collected leaves with you until my fingers were raw with cold.

I can’t see the dying trees outside now without curling into myself. I can’t look at all the leaves you collected and framed and piled around the house without my heart breaking into a hundred dead pieces. Over and over again.

You were so warm and full of life. I don’t know how somebody so alight with fire and passion could be so cold and still. It makes no sense to me. As all these thoughts rush through my mind, I begin to think we never happened. I just dreamed you up.

But the red gloves dangling over the edge of the dressing table, where you left them by mistake before we left home that fateful day, are a stark and painful reminder of what I have lost.

Can I Buy a Jar of Mental Regularity?

I have pushed and pushed and pushed.

Everyday is a battle.

I have come to the point where I have to mentally prepare myself before I do anything.

Mentally cheer myself on before I walk into the gym. Mentally tell myself I have five seconds. Then five more seconds. Then five more seconds. Each day my energy wanes more and more.

I really don’t think its physical.

Mentally force myself to summon a grimace before I enter the house.

Mentally stop myself saying anything cutting to my family who love me.

Mentally assemble my thoughts and mould them so they are in a position to study and analyse.

Mentally absorb the fury and frustration towards my husband. He tries. But not hard enough. Sometimes all I need is a few moments of eye contact.

Today I smelled a perfume I used to wear up until a few months ago and suddenly I am back in a place of pain and shock and I know it was only five weeks old but I didn’t really talk about it or think about it, I pushed it to the back of my mind and carried on because that is what Damian did but smelling that strong white musk reminds me of the little blob that caused me so much pain and I am not mourning its loss, I don’t know what I am mourning, but I need to mourn. I need to cry. I need to… something.

I think the scent of this perfume is triggering all sorts of thoughts that I have kept hidden without realising, and I am not thinking these thoughts but my emotions are in tune with them.

Mentally push myself to drag the remaining congealed dregs of physical energy to play with the baby. Last night I collapsed in the bed and cried a little, and after a few moments I heard her little feet patter into my room as they frequently do.

I heard her pause for a few moments.

Then I heard her tiny feet patter cautiously, slowly, towards my bed.

A little clamber.

I felt her warm chubby cheek on mine.

“You otay?” her baby voice whispered. She then proceeded to stroke my hair and give me sloppy two year old kisses. I couldn’t open my eyes. I felt as though lifting my eyelids would make me topple over the edge into oblivion.

My stomach was a ball of slowly unfurling knots. I was queasy and weak.

She stayed with me for a good half hour, lying next to me and tracing the outline of my face, her tiny finger going over my eyebrows, along the bridge of my nose, along my lips and over my ears and hairline. Her little voice rose and fell as she told me stories of monsters and spiders and Peter Rabbit. She told me about not hurting spiders and holding them gently. She told me she went to the “libey” with Mama and “dot lotsa books”. She analysed my face and told me I have “flee spots” (three spots).

She soothed me, this little two year old ball of love, with her fluffy golden hair and her pink cheeks. She told my husband he was “bad” when he walked in at 9pm, and said he should leave me alone because I am tired.

She can be very observant and compassionate. She let him kiss me, though, then pushed him away and pulled the covers over me, tucking it just below my chin.

All this while my eyes were closed.

“I love you baby,” I murmured.

“I lub you too” she said, patting my nose.

How I long to be tranquil.

lg_Tranquility.jpg

 

Of Buns and Ovens and Dictators

A lot of my ‘friends’, or perhaps I should say acquaintances, now that they know that I have been married for quite a while now , keep asking dreadful things like, “Is there a bun in that oven, yet?”, or, “Any good news to tell me yet, Lenny?”

Or perhaps the worst, “When will I be an aunt, Len?”

It is the worst because it comes from a young lady who I don’t like, and who isn’t even remotely related to me.

You must be aware, of course, that these young ladies are not frugal with their vulgarity. They find it perfectly within reason to ask me distasteful questions about intimacy and deem it more than appropriate to speak about my sex life as though, now that I am married, it is a completely open topic.

It just puts me under such pressure.

I think it’s wrong for people to ask questions like that. I think it’s completely inconsiderate of their feelings, because you don’t know what is going on with them. You don’t know what their situation might me.

I won’t lie, folks, I feel a little sad when I see pregnant ladies walking by, their hands resting on their protruding stomachs protectively. A little twinge of pain rustles in my abdomen when I see a mother picking up her child kissing said child on the cheek. It’s not that I think I will never have that. I think, and hope, that I shall someday. It’s just that I haven’t yet mourned my loss, no matter how small it was. It was so early, and so tiny, just a ball of cells really, but it gave me so much hope for life and to lose it is to feel like a small candle has been blown out, never to be relit again.

There will be other candles, of course. Hopefully small flames that will grow into roaring fires of life and hope and vitality.

But in the meantime, spare your questions. Spare asking people things that don’t concern you. You don’t know what they are going through, it is not your place to pry.