To The Woman Who Lost Her Baby,
I have a history of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
I say the right thing at completely the wrong time; to myself, in my head, about an hour or two after the occasion arises and the person to whom the words are intended are at home, possibly fuming at my ill placed words, but probably pouring themselves a glass of something cold having completely forgotten about it.
So now I tend to play it safe and say nothing at all.
Except today. Today I am going to say something and it might be the wrong thing but for some topics I think saying the wrong thing is better than saying nothing at all.
After all how can you say the wrong thing to someone who has lost a child.
My words simply cannot make things worse, there is nothing worse. Or, in the words of my five year old, ‘there is nothing worser’. (Although in fairness she was discussing the properties of Shepherd’s pie, not child loss. So she has definitely inherited my ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. There are many, many, many things ‘worser’ than Shepherd’s pie, least of all Cottage Pie.)
Ignorance was total bliss, it’s true.
My concerns during my first pregnancy consisted of whether my ankles would swell (they did) whether I could pull off a maxi dress (I couldn’t) and whether I would still be able to hang out in trendy places in London and look hip whilst pregnant (I hope you have come to the obvious conclusion that given that I used the words- ‘hang’, ‘trendy’ and ‘hip’ in that sentence- I absolutely couldn’t).
And I had my fingers secretly crossed behind my back that I was having a boy (I had a girl).
Back then I was 24. My concerns centred around the pain I would feel in labour and how quickly my vagina would go back to normal. None of my friends had babies. I was yet to turn up at my NCT meetings bubbling with questions about me, my birth, my body and my baby.
And then, as my journey through motherhood whizzed past my eyes and I tried to focus on the foreground something kept flashing past in the background like the scenery when you’re going very fast on a train.
And it was you.
In all your guises.
It was you, in the first few weeks of a fresh, new pregnancy going into hospital with a dull ache and a heavy bleed.
It was you, with your baby carried to full term and then born sleeping.
It was you, with your sudden cramping and reduced foetal movements at 20 weeks.
It was you, carrying a baby in your belly that you knew was no longer alive. You were just waiting, waiting to miscarry or be made to miscarry.
It was you, making impossible decisions about your babies ill health.
It was you, grieving the loss of a baby that just wouldn’t materialise, a baby wanted so much that the idea of it’s future existence left a baby shaped hole in your heart. The hole getting bigger with every tampon inserted and the loss cutting deeper with every sodding period.
And now I see you. And I wanted you to know. Now you are very much in my foreground.
And I am so very sorry.
With subsequent pregnancies people say you become more laid back and complacent. I didn’t because I was thinking of you. I had less time to worry but much more to worry about.
Ignorance was bliss. But that’s just a cliche, overused and unoriginal. So however blissful it was, it didn’t feel it because I didn’t know any better. And I should have done, I needed educating and still do.
But I will never secretly cross my fingers behind my back about the gender of my baby again.
Because now I know that I am sitting opposite someone who has secretly crossed their fingers behind their back for life.
And then, even if the words are the wrong ones at the wrong time, I will take my effing hands from behind my back and use them to write you a few words to say, I am so very sorry.