15 years ago I had a miscarriage.
It’s still really hard to say that.
It still hurts.
It still feels like it was my fault.
It is something I try not to think about.
It is something I think about every day.
Dear girl of my dreams,
I remember everything about you.
I knew I was pregnant. My body told me I was. I felt that familiar nausea, the loss of appetite. And of course, my period was late. I was never late, but now I was, first by one week, then two, then four. I did a test but it came out negative.
But I knew, I knew.
We were due to travel. This worried me, but without a positive test to show for it, I couldn’t really make a case for cancelling the trip.
So I travelled. One week into our vacation and there was still no sign of a period. I allowed delight to creep in. This pregnancy was unexpected, but that seemed miraculous. Something good and positive in the midst of all the confusion.
One day when I was strolling through a mall, with my son in his stroller, I stepped into a maternity shop. I bought a couple of tops I could be sure of growing into. I also bought a soft, floppy pink bunny with kind eyes.
Pink. Because I knew you were a girl.
I did the math, you would be November baby.
A little Scorpio girl no less.
I still think that if only I had stayed at home. If only I hadn’t got on that plane, you would be here today.
We took Trou to the zoo. Such a huge, fascinating place. He was delighted. I was feeling ok, a little tired, a little icky, but ok.
At lunchtime we stopped for something to eat. I said I would have ice cream. It was the only thing I felt I could stomach.
We sat down to eat and suddenly I was in pain. Horrible pain.
What was happening?
I made my way to the bathroom. Locked myself into a stall. I was sweating, and afraid that I would faint. I couldn’t speak. It hurt so much. I sat on the loo, panting, tears rolling down my face, and I felt something give way.
I felt you leave me.
What kind of woman loses a baby in a public bathroom? What kind of woman looks between her legs and sees a toilet bowl full of blood and decides that she will think about what that means later on. What kind of woman rummages in her giant handbag and finds the emergency sanitary towel she was still carrying and gratefully puts it in place. What kind of woman flushes and walks away?
There is a picture from our visit to that zoo. Trou loved giraffes and we paid for a special souvenir shot. I am smiling in it, clinging to my son. My face is pale, but beyond that, you would never know.
I look at that picture now and think of how I kept walking, kept going like I couldn’t stop like if I kept on the path, everything would just be normal, that the nightmare in the restaurant bathroom would never have happened.
And that is the story of how I lost you.
Lost. Such a terrible word to use really. As though I put you down somewhere one day and just couldn’t quite recall where that was. Like I was strolling along and you fell out of my handbag. As though you slipped through my fingers one day, and I wasn’t quick enough to catch you before you disappeared.
Two days later we flew back home. I left the maternity tops in the bottom drawer of the wardrobe in our hotel. I carried the pink bunny in my handbag till we got to the airport. I knew I couldn’t bring it back home with me. I was leaving you behind. The bunny would have to stay too. I left her under a seat in the departure lounge. I hope someone nice picked her up.
Sometimes I dream about you. In my dreams, you are not the no doubt challenging teenager (you are my child after all) you would really be, but a little girl with a warm slightly sticky hand and a wide smile. We are usually walking together, hand in hand, and I look down at you and you look up at me and you smile. And my heart, oh my heart.
Maybe the truth is that I feel like I didn’t deserve to have you. You weren’t intended, your father and I were chin deep in our problems. You would have come into a marriage that was already under stress. I would have had two children to take through the divorce instead of one, none of that would have been what you deserved. Maybe you knew that. Maybe you took one look at the situation and said ‘Sorry Ammi, but I’m outta here’.
Your father won’t accept that you ever existed. He would rather think that I was never pregnant, that it was all just stress. That my period was late, no more, no less.
I used to tell Trou that babies were stars in the sky. That when two people loved each other and wished with all their hearts, a star fell to earth and became their baby. I don’t know where you fit into that story, my little fallen star. Does a divine power pick you back up? Give you your place in the sky again? Are you there still? Is there a life in which we stay together? A life in which we see each other face to face?
Of all the things I have missed out on, you are the one I regret the most.
We were together for such a short time, but that does not change the fact that I am your mother, and you are my child.
I will wish for you in the next life.
I love you.