This week marks two major anniversaries in my life – the 10th anniversary of adopting our beautiful daughter (23rd) and the 16th anniversary of losing our baby (ectopic pregnancy) on the 18th.
It feels strange, and I guess quite yin-yang in a way, for these two occasions to fall so closely together. We also received ‘the call’ to match us with our son on the 24 August – the fourth anniversary falls this week. So big things happen in threes, or sort of. Two happy anniversaries, one sad – I’ll take that kind of balance.
I want to focus on 23 August, 2004 when we welcomed our daughter into our lives, and the 24 August, 2010 when we learned our son would join our family (we finally met him on 1 November, 2010).
But there’s another anniversary that deserves acknowledgement, that remains remembered despite all that has happened since.
The worst day of my life was actually the 15 August, 1998, barely a month after my 30th birthday, and the day that the scan couldn’t find our baby.
I felt myself curling up in a scared little sac of sorrow, as if taking the foetal position would somehow transform me back to the warmth and safety of my mother’s womb, rather than face the emptiness of my own.
From that fateful day, time stalked, slow-motion and surreal, for 72 hours until it was the 18th August and the inevitability of loss made itself known – the physical pain nagged all night, at times like the sharp piercing jab of sudden loss, at other times like the slow ache of inconsolable grief. Heartache hurt even more. And then as morning dawned I almost fainted.
We’d had our first (well technically second as an earlier cycle had to be cancelled mid-way through) IVF cycle (on top of earlier treatment failures) and three embryos had been ‘implanted’ in my uterus. One had somehow managed to not only NOT implant in my uterus (really much prefer the term womb) but instead make its way up into my right fallopian tube where it proceeded to get stuck. Our baby just got stuck. Meanwhile all the cruel signs showed I was pregnant, the blood tests had confirmed it, and we’d let ourselves believe it might really be true. After all we’d been through (who knew how much more was to come) why wouldn’t we?
The drive to the hospital remains forgotten in the reality of sinking blood pressure and the unreality of the situation, and then the morning moved morbidly forward as though I was part of this mawkish melodrama, a character in an old hospital soapie, rushed to surgery for an emergency operation, only it was real.
I woke up, groggy, later in the afternoon in the Maternity Ward. What a logical place for me to be in, having just lost my pregnancy! What the f#*k! I’d imagined I’d heard babies crying in that mixed up time when you’re trying to recover from the anaesthetic and reality is clouded, only it wasn’t my imagination. And I didn’t have my baby, or my right tube either.
On the day when the weight deadens
On your shoulders and you stumble,
May the clay dance to balance you.
These are the first three lines of a poem my Mum found for me later and I remember thinking that I just had to somehow stay up, steady myself, move on and try IVF again because as everyone said ‘you’ve fallen pregnant once, it will happen again.” How wrong they were.
We did our second IVF cycle just three months later, and looking back my grief was still so raw that it numbed me to the bad news we received, this time on the eve of Christmas. It was only then that I really mourned not only our lost baby, but the loss of any hopes that our IVF journey would be in any way an ‘easy’ one. The cycles of loss rolled around and around and it was all I could do to keep my balance as the earth danced beneath me and I felt like it could swallow me whole.
So now I remember, even if I don’t mark this anniversary – expect for one time when I was reminded of it only as a sharp intake of breath lying in bed that night, shocked that I’d almost forgotten. Sixteen years, makes me feel bloody old.
How do you remember anniversaries?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT, who I’m sure won’t mind me sharing my own link-up below to share the love.