Yesterday morning I was pregnant. This is not the post I am meant to be sharing. Yesterday morning I was preparing to publish “Pregnant in Cape Town (Again)”. I was sharing the crazy amazing story of how unbelievably unlikely the magical little being inside of me happening was. How I woke up on May 14th and knew without a doubt that I was pregnant. How I had to wait 2 weeks to miss my period before the test would pick it up. And then how I took the test and watched the line appear… Yesterday morning I was 5 weeks pregnant, I was sure it was a boy and then I lost my baby.
Yesterday morning I dropped Charly at school. I was laughing about my hormones making me ragey… how I had sent my family a pregnancy refresher with a bunch of links. My family were rolling their eyes at my symptoms convinced I was being dramatic… (They actually said that to a pregnant lady!) Because I was “too early” to be having symptoms. Heads up people, pregnancy symptoms can start as early as 2 weeks from conception. At 5 weeks the hormones are doing their job well and properly. In a week, my magical body had turned a poppy seed into a grain of rice. And we were nervous we might have twins.
Yesterday morning I was laughing with my friend Kelly in the school office and then I had a horrible cramp. I thought I had eaten too fast running out of the house to get Charly to school on time. There was a moment I considered going to the bathroom there, but then thought, nah, I’ll be fine. I just needed to collect the laundry from the laundromat and then I could go to the bathroom when Brett and Thembe unpacked the laundry from my car. And then I was off for more blood tests.
Yesterday morning, two robots from home, I knew I was bleeding. I knew it was too late to do anything. These weren’t cramps, they were contractions. I flew into the house barely breathing, I may have been crying already the way Thembe reacted. I sat on the toilet and then I was no longer pregnant. No more baby. I couldn’t breathe through the sobs. I felt like my soul was bring ripped apart as my body worked at cleaning out any trace that this ever happened.
Yesterday morning I was pregnant.
And then I was not. I couldn’t breathe at the thought of telling Charly. My little girl who has been exploding with excitement and proudly telling everybody how she was going to be a big sister. Less than half an hour before, she had flown down our driveway and leapt into Thembe’s arms to tell her the big news “I am going to be a big sister!”
We told her because we are not a family who keeps secrets. Because she is incredibly in tune with me. I told her because she talks about me having babies all the time, and when we were in Plett she told my Katy that I had a baby in my tummy. Before there was a baby in my tummy. I told her because I knew how excited she would be and I wanted to share every moment of it all with her. To include her from the very beginning of this journey.
After we lost my granny, Charly really struggled. If I got sick, she became anxious. And, just like when I was carrying her, I had symptoms straight away. My chronic reflux moved to lava proportions, severe nausea, headaches, sore boobs and all the mood swings. I told her because I wanted to be sure that she wasn’t worried about me all the time. And we talked about how babies grow very very fast and use up a lot of your energy and vitamins, so sometimes mommies feel very sick. But even though mommies feel sick, they are really fine, because they know it is for the baby.
Yesterday morning I was an incredibly happy and excited mommy of 2. Charly brought “us” breakfast in bed that she made herself. She whispered things to the baby and kissed my belly, and if I asked what she was saying I was told to mind my business… It was between her and her baby. My heart exploded as I amusedly, slightly worriedly, got a glimpse into our future.
Yesterday morning I was planning for our future.
Not in the pen-and-paper way… In the way your heart does when it jumps ahead of the now and sees what could be. I saw Charly’s face the first time she heard the baby’s heartbeat, that look of absolute awe she gave us when we told her she would be a big sister. It was so clear, the excitement she would feel when she first saw the baby on the scan.
She has made me read to her from the Pregnancy week-by-week book every day and made me show her the amazing images in it. She was so excited that week 5, our grain of rice baby was the shape of a C – JUST like her name. As I squeeze my eyes shut right now to try stop the tears, I can still clearly see the very moment she would find out if she was having a brother or a sister. And through the blur, I can feel exactly what I would have felt as Charly got to hold her baby brother or sister for the first time.
Yesterday morning I was pregnant and now I am not.
Yesterday morning my baby girl was the most excited big sister in the world and now she is not. I hate myself for breaking her heart. We lied to her. Because mourning being a big sister is hard, but mourning a baby would have been so much worse. So, I held her in my arms and told her that when I went to the doctor yesterday morning, they were very sad to find that they had made a mistake. That there was no baby, that I had just had a very bad tummy bug. And that we are all very sad because we all really wanted a baby. And I had to hold her while I watched her little face crumple and watched her react the same way as she had when we told her my granny died.
This morning I am raging
Against the fact that I have to endure pregnancy symptoms as the hormones that had been growing a baby work their way out of me. It has become the focus of my emotions… The soul-deep unfairness that I have to continue to experience it all alongside the bleeding that is a constant reminder that the baby that has consumed my planning for my life is gone.
Yesterday morning I became 1 in 4
I know that miscarriage is not rare and that 1 in 4 women will lose a baby to miscarriage. But I never thought I would be that 1 in 4. Although, receiving the rush of stories from just my closest souls, I suspect that number is hugely underreported. From my guilt for the massive number of things I did this past few days that could have triggered this… And my gut instinct to hide and not tell anybody – the opposite of every single thing I am – I am guessing there are hundreds of thousands of women who never go to the doctor after early pregnancy loss.
Yesterday morning I knew that I had friends and families who had miscarried… Who have lost babies that had already captured their hearts and their dreams of what the future holds. Nothing made that more clear than when I sent out the message that it took me hours to write… And received an outpouring of love and support and recognition of the shattered state of my soul.
One of my very closest friends
Tamarah, became one of my closest friends when I interviewed her for this article. I hadn’t re-read it until yesterday. I don’t know exactly why, but I went straight to my other friends’ blogs to read their sharing of this experience recently as well. I’m not sure if I was looking for comfort or advice, but I was immediately grateful that I could look and find that I wasn’t alone.
I remember reading Tracey and Shanté‘s stories and sobbing. And I can’t stop. Not just for me, but because people I love so dearly ever had to experience what I am feeling right now. Besides others that I knew about, since yesterday, I also learnt N, C, M, K, L, P, S and A have experienced losses. And right this second I opened Instagram, and almost a symbol of something positive, Shanté just did an announcement shoot for Tracey’s fourth baby. My heart is so full for them both, both expecting.
Tamarah gave me some very loving lectures yesterday on blame and guilt and grief. These are things I have said in the past to loved ones, but I had no idea. Much the same as when I “knew” things about being a parent before I was a parent. There is this instinct that I am being “silly” or being dramatic. That it is my fault for sharing too early. That instinct makes my whole body want to physically punch it. My physical being knows that I am not overreacting.
In spite of myself
And my brain and all the love and warmth, I have been googling everything. I woke up at 3am to check what essential oils are dangerous in the first trimester, in case I was using products with them in. Did I forget about some food I shouldn’t have eaten? I was still drinking about half a cup of my milky weak coffee in the morning, is that what did it? On Saturday and Sunday, I carried a bunch of heavy shopping bags. I only started my prenatal vitamins late. I ran out of water and drank from the tap once.
Although I stopped my anti-anxiety medications the first possible moment I could have been pregnant, thanks to instinct, and I didn’t take anything strong than Panado when I was so sick a couple of weekends ago… I didn’t stop my chronic reflux medication until the day of the positive pregnancy test. That medication can cause birth defects, is that why I am not pregnant anymore?
Yesterday morning I was pregnant and now I am not. I am shattered.