Flashing. On. Off. On. Off.
Waiting. On. Off. On. Off.
I am writing the same email I have written more than 10 times this week, explaining to friends and acquaintances I know through work that our baby is gone.
These are people I know well, and people who knew I was pregnant. They do not know, until I email them, that is not the case anymore.
Each time, I stop at the same point, fingers hovered over keyboard and emotions suspended in mid air.
“Apologies, I have been away for the past three weeks on unexpected sick leave. We actually lost our baby, so it has been a...”
On. Off. On. Off.
It’s been a what? “A terrible time?” “An awful ordeal?” “A period of time where we have been physically crippled with sadness?” “The worst, most fucking unfair situation I have ever faced in my life?” “A truly horrific experience I would not wish on my worst enemy?” “Pure hell?”
Any word or possible combination of words does not seem enough.
I can think of nothing to say to sum it up, and I kind of resent the very nature of email for forcing me to.
How have you been, long time no email, kind regards, looking forward to the next board meeting, we should catch up soon, when are you free for coffee, our baby died.
So, why tell them then? Firstly, I feel duty bound to explain my sudden absence because it’s the polite thing to do; and of course it’s a self-preservation tactic so I can get in first and drop the bombshell so I don’t have to risk responding to a “how's the baby bump growing?” question later.
This way I am in semi-control of my emotions.
And that’s a laugh. Each time someone asks me face to face about it, I react differently. A work friend rang me a few days ago and I couldn’t speak in response to her consoling words, so choked was I with grief. I squeaked, literally squeaked, a thank you, before I hung up and went to the loo for 10 minutes to cry.
But then a girl I work with came up to me at my desk yesterday and asked how the amnio went, and I despaired at the eager hope in her gaze.
But suddenly I was calm and sounded like I was telling her what I was having for lunch.
“Oh, love,” I said as I patted her on the arm. “We lost the baby. It was Downs Syndrome, plus a major heart defect. I’m only back at work this week...I’ve had the past three weeks off. I thought you knew.”
Someone else rang me today and asked “how’s the pregnancy going”.
The question hung for a mere moment in time...but it froze in my mind for longer than that as I took a deep breath and allowed myself a split-second fantasy that I could deliver the expected response.
“Great,” I longed to say, and smile while saying it. “I am really huge now and last weekend I had to go out and buy all these new clothes.
“We are due to have a scan this week and hopefully we will find out the sex.”
A pang of hurt instead brought me back to earth before I blinked and responded, giving her a glimpse of my reality.