The night before I miscarried for the second time I dreamt of a plane crash.
It was horribly beautiful. The plane flew through the middle of the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, appearing from nowhere between the gap in the iconic roof. Its nose caught in a voluminous red velvet theatre curtain at the side of stage and gracefully, in slow motion, it flipped backwards and fell to the ground. I anticipated a violent, explosive landing but there wasn’t one, instead the fuselage remained in one piece and quietly caught fire.
It was a strangely perfect metaphor for what happened in the following days because, although it felt as though I might explode and cease to exist at any moment, somehow…somehow I stayed in one piece.
When the bleeding started, the world kept turning but I was moving at a different speed somewhere in a space between existences. My hands trembled uncontrollably as I held the phone to my ear and the moment I spoke, the moment I named the loss, I broke down, sobbing and struggling for air. I kept saying, “why, why, why? Why is this happening again?” over and over and over.
After those first awful, overwhelming waves had broken, I found my breath and drew myself together and, for a little while, I didn’t really feel anything at all. I walked out of the office and got on a bus, my thoughts occupied with practical things, train times, painkillers, phone calls to midwives. My prevailing state was one of resigned numbness. This wasn’t the first time, I knew what was happening and I knew what would happen. I just had to keep going.
But when I got off the train and saw Bart waiting for me, the numbness was replaced by a sadness so great I couldn’t even hold myself up. I remember saying, “I can’t bear it, I can’t bear it” and at that moment I didn’t think I could, not the pain or the loss or the shattered hopes. So we stopped still for a time, breathing in and out, in and out….until I could bear it, until we could bear it. Until renewed strength materialised from nowhere and we could put one foot in front of the other.
At home life went on. Time ebbed and flowed. The sun rose and set, punctuated by endless TV and tea and pain. Agonising pain that ripped through me, tightening every fibre of my being, forcing me to my feet with gritted teeth to pace and pant like a caged animal.
But the pain was not the worst part. There are worse things than physical pain.
Like knowing you have to relinquish your deepest desires. The idea of a warm, milky, contented baby in your arms. The sensation of soft, fat rolls of skin, silky to the touch.
These daydreams bring a bright clarity to existence, a sparkling sharpness that isn’t normally visible to the eye, a certainty that you are doing the thing you were put on the earth to do. It’s hard to let them go. Impossible really.
But you have to. You have to let it all go. And when you do, the feeling of loss, the sadness that comes with it, it comes from a place beyond you. A place so big it feels as though it will swallow you whole.
I held the tiny being in my hand. No bigger than a broad bean. On my hands and knees I buried it in the comfort of the warm earth and covered it over. I laid my palms flat on top and kept them there to let as much of my love pass through me and into the soil as I could and I whispered the poem because my voice would not come.
Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.
Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.
Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.
Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.
Carol Ann Duffy
It is harder this time, to make sense of it all and be philosophical but I am trying. I am still in one piece, I am still hopeful and I am oh so grateful, for family and friends, for love, even for the hardship itself because with difficulty comes opportunity.
The opportunity to see things with fresh eyes, to learn that you are stronger than you could have ever imagined, to know that although you might crash and burn you won’t necessarily explode.
I've found it so comforting to speak to other women who have experienced miscarriage, if you want to share your experience with someone, then I am here firstname.lastname@example.org