November 15th is hard day for me. I can’t ignore it but I can’t openly be upset about it, because if I was nobody would know how to manage me, and I would have to remind them why I am upset. You see, November 15th is my baby boy’s “date”.
Those of you who read regularly will know that I only have the one child, a daughter. This is because I lost my baby boy at 14 weeks, six years ago.
I was underage, mentally ill, and had fallen pregnant completely by accident. By which I mean, not everything that led to that conception was consented to. My Mother (who, as mentioned in a previous post, didn’t do the best job of parenting at times) was understandibly horrified, but not because of the way I ended up pregnant. No, just by the fact that I was. She told me there was no way I would cope with a baby, and promptly got on the phone to an abortion clinic. It was my turn to be horrified. I had been caring for my mother for years – a task I have now learned was just as gruelling if not more so than being a parent – and regardless of how he got there I was happy about this baby. I wanted him. I can understand why that sounds strange, and I can’t explain my reasoning; all I know is that my next move was to snatch up the positive pregnancy test I had shown my mother and yell “I’m keeping it!” before running off to my room.
Through morning sickness and sore breasts and the nerve-wracking doctor’s appointment to confirm my pregnancy, I made sure not to complain once. I repeatedly reassured my mother that I would cope, I would have to. I wanted this baby. My mother was relentless. She scoffed at my efforts, and eventually arranged for her friend to ambush me and drive me to aforementioned abortion clinic. The bit that she didn’t know was that you are required to see a counsellor at those clinics, to make sure that you understand the decision you are making. If they are in any doubt that you want to go ahead, they will not let you, and boy oh boy did I let them know I didn’t want to! I was sent home, and my mother informed that it was my choice, not hers.
Then it happened. 14 weeks into my pregnancy I was in agony. There was blood. I was scared. I headed to our nearest emergency gynae unit – unaccompanied and afraid. They put me in a quiet corner room all of my own before explaining that I was losing my baby. I cried. I begged. They told me there was nothing they could do. I called my mother’s friend, who had come round to the idea of me having the baby after seeing my protest at the clinic. I told her what was happening; I asked if she could come and stay with me. I was afraid.
She arrived very quickly, but to my shock she had my mother in tow. I expected her to be gloating, making this experience more painful. She wasn’t. She had brought me a small teddy for comfort, and held my hand dutifully. Before long I was in more pain than I had ever felt; curled up in the foetal position crying and already grieving. A nurse came in to check on me and promptly shot me in the thigh with some morphine. The room faded to black.
I don’t know how long I was unconscious for. The next thing I remember was hearing my.mother’s friend telling me, “wake up, it’s happening”. It was so hard to open my eyes, but when I did all feeling returned. I could feel something wet on my legs, and glanced down the bed to see a pool of blood gathering through the sheets. As a nurse helped me get up I saw my mother, leaning forward from her seat and eyeing the huge pool of blood. She did not look upset, to say the least. I had no time to feel anger as pain shot through me again, and the nurse led me away, hushing my sobs and telling me not to look. No matter what you do, do not look. It will be very upsetting.
When the whole thing was over I was told to drink a litre of water, given a strip of heavy painkillers and a leaflet, which informed me that my baby’s ashes would be scattered in the hospital grounds, and that there would be a monthly service I could attend. I proceeded to throw up violently, collect my bag and leave the hospital with my mother, who had already moved on to talking about normal things like the weather.
We arrived home and I passed out, remaining that way for around two hours. When I woke, my mother requested that I make her some coffee and get her tea time medication. She never, ever mentioned that day again. She never mentioned my baby again. She never even asked if I was okay. I wasn’t.
So every year on the 15th my grief is completely misplaced; I don’t want to be visibly upset for fear of having to explain why. I don’t want to act like I’m fine, because I am not. I lost a baby. That’s not fine, and it should be acknowledged in some way. The problem is, I never really learned how to acknowledge it properly. Is there a protocol? A proper way to feel this mix of emotions? I don’t know. What I do know is that if someone you know has experienced miscarriage, at any stage, they would probably appreciate that you don’t brush it under the rug and pretend it never happened. Because you see, that’s the most upsetting part for us: the part that never happened.