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Some pieces are hard to write. I should know. I’ve been trying to get this post published for almost a week now. I know how it feels. I’m a mom, after all.
I’ve known the nine months of endurance, of the way I had to waddle around in four of those months, of checking my blood sugar levels every day since I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
There are things I remember with shocking clarity: being rushed to the hospital twice: once in the third month and again in the fifth month, because the baby appeared to be in distress. Both times, my anxious family hovered outside the waiting room, pacing up and down and then sighed in relief as the obstetrician came out to confirm that the baby and the mother were fine. It had probably just been some mild bruising in the uterus which had caused it.
I recall exhaling with relief as I heard that and tears welling up in my eyes as I saw the tiny sac move around on the ultrasound after both scares.
9.20 pm, Monday, July 17th
My shrieks rent the air and coupled almost miraculously with the first wail of the most incredibly beautiful thing I’ve ever held in my arms. Pink, wide-eyed and curious, I held Gy in my arms for the first time. Pain and pleasure have never been more alive than in that particular moment. As long as I live, it will be embedded in that corner of long-term memory, forever retrievable, eternally precious.
Somewhere I knew that this was meant to be. Me and her- bound inextricably, come what may.
I never believed that I’d yearn for something as much as I did before I conceived Gy. Many doctors had seen me prior to that. The diagnosis, although worded differently, was unanimously negative.
“You have PCOD. It’s very difficult.”
“You could try fertility treatments. But they’re not always effective.”
‘Try this procedure. I can tell you what’s wrong.” (It did nothing but cause agony)
“You may have to consider never having a child.”
“You’re overweight. Maybe that’s the reason.”
After giving up hope and accepting that this was what it would be, V and I were shocked to see the pregnancy test turn positive in November 2005. Miracles do happen. There IS a God!
Almost as if in a daze and except for a couple of scares, the pregnancy went smoothly and we have this amazing bundle of joy and exasperation called Gy, 10 years later.
I stared at the pregnancy test in a mixture of disbelief and joy. It was there. The positive! I rushed to tell V and we smiled, thinking of the sibling that Gy would pamper with all her love and ‘older sister’ attitude. I began to plan how to save up all of Gy’s baby clothes and wash them, put them away for the baby to use. Toys! Oh, she/he would love those tiny board books and the animal-song toy from Fisher Price that drove me nuts!
The doctor saw me, congratulated us and asked me to meet her 2 weeks later. I came home, beaming with a glow on my face at 12.30 pm.
By 4 pm, it began. The cramps hit me in waves and I couldn’t stand. I decided to lie down but that’s when the unthinkable happened. The pain got worse and so did the slow, determined loss of a baby I hadn’t even managed to hold in my arms or my womb for more than a few hours.
I lay down, hoping that by some miraculous last-ditch effort, I could stop this baby from leaving my side. But it wasn’t to be.
A chemical pregnancy.
The doctor’s voice sounded hollow as she tried to help me cope with the loss. Numb, I sat there and chided myself: This isn’t a miscarriage. It’s not a loss. People have gone through worse. Don’t you dare give in to this and make yourself a martyr. How can you lose something you never had? Stop feeling so sorry for yourself. Get over it.
But, there are days when the heart doesn’t listen to the head. A loss is a loss.
I love having a sister with whom I can talk about anything under the sun, gang up against my folks and celebrate the whole sisterhood thing. I just know that Gy would have enjoyed it, perhaps far more than I would have. She’s such a people person and thrives in sharing every minute detail of her existence with me. Imagine what she would have done with a sibling.
I wrote a note about it a while ago and while many people empathised, there were those who scorned my pain. Attention seeker! Holier-than-thou mom! Weakest person ever! These were some of the nicer epithets thrown my way.
I’m human. I don’t begrudge people their happiness and I try to feel compassion for their pain. Perhaps it’s too much to always expect the same in return.
As the years pass between the incident and my memory of it, you’d think the pain would abate. You’d assume it would all evaporate in the humdrum existence that we inhabit.
But it doesn’t. In ever so tiny ways, it ruptures that suppressed membrane of feeling and thrusts itself to the surface. And just like that, every second of those 48 hours plays itself back in excruciating slow motion.
So, I try to distract myself with chores, work, blogging, writing, talking to friends, even laundry if that means I don’t have to relive that experience in my head all over again.
Most days, it works. Other days, it’s a mechanical way of going through the motions of life, without stopping or pausing to let the pain touch you for longer than necessary.
Then, I cry.
And in that moment, I am that woman who lost a baby. All over again.