Grieving for a person who has never been born is one of life’s strangest experiences. You can’t really miss them because you don’t know what their company would have been like, or what your relationship with them would have brought to your life. You don’t even know what they looked like. There’s no funeral to attend, no grave to visit, no gathering of family and friends in remembrance. One of the hardest things to handle, for me, has been the seeming erasure of my baby from life without anyone else even noticing his absence.
After the ultrasound scan when we learned I’d had a delayed miscarriage, we had to make some terrible decisions about what happened next – I’d decided to have an operation to remove the ‘remaining products of conception’ (see my last post for more on this awful term) and it was scheduled for the Friday.
On Wednesday we went for a walk, just to get out of the house and try to get ourselves together. We went up to the beautiful common in the town where we live – it’s just grass and trees and benches, but it’s one of my favourite places. While we were there I had increasingly strong pain, like severe period pain – it got worse and worse, and when I got home I took some painkillers and collapsed on the bed in agony, waiting for them to work. Suddenly I had an intense, gripping pain, and then the strangest feeling of something descending – I ran to the toilet, my hand clamped to my pants, and managed to sit down just before a huge clot passed. It was the size of my hand and very firm, almost hard. Blood poured out to follow it and then the pain quickly started to ease. Eventually I was able to get up, and I flushed without thinking. I rang the hospital and they said I had passed the sac and so I wouldn’t have to have the operation to clean out my womb anymore.
It took me hours to realise that this meant I had effectively had a contraction, given birth to my stillborn baby, and then flushed him down the toilet.
I have found this part of my miscarriage experience the most traumatic and horrifying by far. I don’t know what I wish had happened. Sometimes I wish I had had the operation and kept my baby’s remains, but I’m not sure this would have been at all healthy for me, emotionally. Sometimes I wish he had been cremated at the hospital, but then I hate the idea of him being in with all the other gruesome things that hospitals need to dispose of. Sometimes I think maybe going down the loo, and eventually to the sea, is the best I could have done for him.
It just seems like such an awful life. He had ten weeks of existence, and then was flushed down the toilet without ever having taken a breath.
And I felt so empty. I felt so alone and empty, even though it was far too early for me to have felt him kick, or even to have had a bump. I just felt lonely like I never have before. Sometimes that still hits me, the feeling of utter loneliness and emptiness.
We went to the common again on the one month anniversary, and I thought it would be really hard to go there and remember the last place where I had had him inside me, even though he wasn’t alive any more by then. But it wasn’t hard – instead it was bittersweet, because despite a huge sense of loss, I felt like of all the places on Earth, this was one where I could actually remember him somewhere happy and beautiful. Not a hospital, or an ultrasound room, or even our home where I’d been so unhappy since we lost him. Somewhere lovely and natural and free.
Each time we’ve been up there since it’s been a powerful experience. Just this weekend my husband picked up some of the fresh grass cuttings off the common and sprinkled them into the wind – we didn’t mention it but I knew he was thinking of our baby. It makes me happy that we have associated somewhere so lovely with him, for always.