For One Who Never Was…

Dead Leaf

This is the first in a series of posts I’m currently writing. I can’t give you any more information on number and content. I just need to write them. When that stops the series will be at an end.

 

A Fork In The Road

 

Do you believe in parallel universes? Where all the other options that might have been our life play out in their entirety? It’s an absorbing idea and one I’ll indulge in the coming days as an indelible date marks seven years since one reality, packed full of half-imagined future, became irrevocably reversed.

My firstborn was almost one and a half when we found out she was going to have a brother or sister. She was a wonderfully easygoing baby and eighteen months in on life’s parental odyssey, K and I were looking forward to continuing the warm and fuzzies with an extra player.

My second pregnancy started like my first, unobtrusive – a little fatigue, nothing more. Playing it by the book, we waited for twelve weeks to pass before excitedly sharing our secret with the world outside. Phonecalls and emails passed to and fro between parents and siblings, and work colleagues and friends beamed along with us. We were bathed in bliss, insulated by good fortune – life was good.

The day of the scan was sunny and clear; the kind where shadows and darkness scurry for cover in crevices and cracks, unable to bear the unremitting brightness, the endless potential in the wide blue sky. At the hospital I went ahead to the waiting room while K tried to find a parking space that wouldn’t cost him his lunch.

Something I mistook for luck meant mere minutes after checking in a nurse came over to say they were ready, would I like to come through. K still hadn’t appeared but I thought he must be on his way and the receptionist could show him in when he arrived. Like a small spill of water from an overfilled cup, it was that most innocuous of moments that I wished afterwards I’d done differently.

The nurse introduced the sonographer as I got comfortable on the table, the cool gel was applied and still no K – I expected him any minute. I dragged my eyes from the door to the monitor. As the probe slicked over my stomach, I searched for recognizable outlines onscreen instead of in a doorframe.

I squinted and scrutinized and the sonographer did too. Moments stretched out, empty of the usual uterary tour guide spiel. Then she asked the nurse to fetch Dr.#. I remember feeling like I’d just driven over a humpbacked bridge too fast before Denial, disguised as the acceptable, nay desirable, Refusal-To-Panic censored my mind, ‘Don’t worry until there’s something to worry about, right?’ But all thoughts of K had vanished – frozen out by a nameless, teetering alarm.

The doctor arrived, introduced himself and strode over to stand beside the sonographer and the two spoke in conspiratorial tones as their eyes went in tandem to the screen.

Another elongated minute and the doctor looked at my face, apologized and said I’d lost my baby.

How is it possible that you can know and not know something simultaneously?

The people in the room melted out of view as I grappled with the meaning of those words. I don’t know what else was said to me, I felt as though I was watching from the footlights of a stage missing some of the dialogue as I focused on the stitching of a hem or the play of light on the floor, but I do remember the doctor remarking, “Your shoes are very nice” as he passed the end of the gurney on his way out – in that moment I lost all certainty of what was real.

Refusal-To-Panic took the reins and I sat in the waiting room where the world continued as though nothing had changed and I numbly played along. I looked around me at the pregnant women, half expecting them to edge away from the talisman of tragedy I’d become. I cradled my awful secret and waited for K holding the words that would crush him behind my teeth but when he came they poured out a stream of grief and sorrow with no punctuation or pause emptying myself of the weight of those words and their meaning that brought delight to despair in less time than it took to flip a coin.

The overfilled cup – the cup that up until now had ‘runneth over’ – rolled empty on the floor and we slid together on the spill, fighting for traction in a place spinning out of control.

Memories of a grainy abortion video – exposed thighs bearing the undignified vibrating of something akin to a Hoover – meant my convent education informed my decision to forgo a D&C. I elected to let Nature continue on her course.

 

K and I went home and over the following weeks slowly, inexorably fell apart.

 

Related Posts: Story Of A Miscarriage (Part 2) What No One Tells You