Three Strikes

June 10, 2008 at 2:39 am (Uncategorized)

After all my pledges to get a new post out each weekday despite the failed technology at home, plain old life ended up getting in the way last week. Last Thursday, I actually got as far as the internet cafe I am sitting in now. I sat down and stared at the computer screen and thought about what to tell you, how to describe my feelings to you, and weighed up whether in fact this was something I even wanted to do. Did I want to invite you into this event? I wasn’t sure. So I sat here for a while longer, staring at the computer, and then I got up and walked away without having been able to type a word.

But in the end it’s precisely what’s on my mind, and what’s happening in my life, that I so often share with you as the readers of this blog, and so it seems counter-intuitive in the extreme to keep it from you, since what I am trying to create here is predicated on transparency. For this blog to continue to be worth the time it takes you to check in and read it, you have to know you can rely on me to be honest. In turn, that honesty is difficult sometimes. There is a cost involved. I pay a certain price for inviting you into my world, but I started this blog with a view to the development of my writing practice, and I am striving to build that practice with everything I am. One of the things I am striving for is an authenticity that I believe is a direct result of vulnerability. I expose myself here to an extent that sometimes makes people uncomfortable., and certainly there have been posts that have been very confronting to write. This is one of those times, but I feel I would be compromising everything we have together were I to pretend that last week didn’t happen. It did.

Last Wednesday I woke up bleeding. This was devastating, because just eight days before my doctor told me that a blood test confirmed that I was pregnant. I had my second very early miscarriage just a couple of months ago; this was my third in fifteen months. I was just three weeks in, and I can’t tell you how far away, how remote, the concept of nine months is when you can’t hold onto anything for longer than 28 days (my personal best). It means I have so far been spared a miscarriage when there’s a developed foetus -I can’t imagine what some of my friends have been through, how crippling it must be to lose a pregnancy at an advanced stage – but I haven’t been spared the sense of loss and the brutally extinguished surge of hope and excitement. In fact, this time it was pretty bloody awful, I guess because despite trying to keep my own and Llew’s feelings in check, we both thought this time would be different. I’d stopped running, drinking coffee and drinking alcohol before it was possible to even check – I wasn’t even late when I had my blood test, so eager was I to catch it at the very earliest interval and adjust my life accordingly. I didn’t want any room for error this time. I wanted to make sure there was no way, absolutely no chance, that I could accidentally contribute to something going wrong.

But there you go: it didn’t make any difference. It still wasn’t viable, and it was still gone a week later. How to describe Wednesday? Um, I was a total wreck. A sobbing mess. I could not stop bawling. Llew took the day off work, and together we presented at the nearest specialist clinic of obs and gyn because my doctor’s surgery is closed on Wednesdays. We didn’t have a referral or an appointment, but the specialist kindly agreed to fit us in anyway. I sat in the waiting room sobbing as pregnant women and prams with toddlers and new mothers feeding teemed all around me. On the walls were children’s paintings and photos of happy, healthy deliveries. Outside the rain lashed against the windows, as bleak as my own broken heart.

There’s nothing anyone can do for you in this situation. So early, it’s all over, and I knew that. I just wanted to know why. At three, it gets harder to hear and to accept and to tell others that it’s just one of those things. No it’s not. It’s three of those things. But Dr Ferry, kindly Dr Ferry, told me that indeed this too was in all probability just bad luck. I’ll say! I told him about my careful eliminations and he said that I’d been excessive. Well, better safe than sorry was my thinking, except of course it made no difference at all. I needn’t have loaded up the pantry with coffee alternatives after all. I could have been for that run. I might have had that glass of wine. I can barely stand to think about those herbal teas and the tin of Milo and the unwanted bag of decaf sitting in the cupboard above the kettle. They’re only there because I knew – for one week I knew – that I was pregnant, and I didn’t want to risk even my usual one cup of coffee a day.

Blood tests afterwards. Loads of blood tests. Lots of vials of my (B negative) blood. Just like the last time. They tested me again to look, again, for a possible explanation, for an underlying cause, for something concrete that will make sense of the fact that I can get pregnant easily (we’ve never tried as such with dates and thermometers and things) but can’t hold onto it for quids. So far there’s no such evidence, but I’ve been in to the pathologists this morning for a two hour test and once those results are back, I’ll go and see Dr Ferry again, with a referral from my doctor this time, and we’ll see what he says about all that blood. My blood narrative. Eyes are not the windows of the soul, it turns out, because it is our blood that reveals everything.

Wednesday was a stunned, bruised blur. I could not stop weeping. We skulked off to a matinee, and then another, the escapism of a darkened movie theatre absolutely the perfect and only remedy for the sadness of the day. Everywhere I turned there was a Truman Show obstacle course of babies and prams and toys and pregnant women and small children; they teemed all around us as we variously averted our gaze or helplessly stared after them, the wonder of life so abundantly created elsewhere and with such apparent and breathtaking ease. My actual physical being felt fractured and failed. The sense of having failed in some tribal, essential way was absolutely profound. It was shocking, the intensity of my disgrace.

Nearly a week later, the sadness lingers in some remote corner of my mind, but the debilitation has cleared. I am not built to dwell on things over which I exercise zero control. I do not like being sad, or feeling bad, or harbouring negative thoughts. I can’t help it: something in me simply moves on.  I’m very grateful for this inbuilt mechanism because it means I let go of the very worst of life’s viciousness. This is still a small thing, I know that. It may not be the last of its kind. Indeed, a friend told me someone in her family had seven consecutive miscarriages before having two healthy children. There could be more of this. And I have not had a later miscarriage, so in many ways I have been spared a whole other level of hellish pain. I know that. But it’s still my loss, and my third, and it wasn’t easy knowing as I sat there that it was already gone. I’d kept the home pregnancy test with its two blue lines, full of promise and possibility, and I just couldn’t bear to think of it, the way I’d felt when both lines appeared, the hopeful, shy presentation I made afterwards to Llew, the precious start of something that in the end wasn’t meant to be. But maybe I haven’t been able to bring myself to throw it out because in a way it remains a symbol of hope for the future – that’s the way I prefer to think of it, and that’s how I let go of what’s happened in the past. Three strikes, but I’m not out. Not by a long shot.


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