This isn’t going to be a pity party (if anything it’s a shitty party, with stale party rings, soggy napkins and shrivelled ‘cocktail’ pork stuffs). I’ve talked, blogged, vlogged, flogged enough about miscarriage and there’s no denying it’s utterly shit. I’ve done the festering under a duvet on a beach of chocolate Digestive crumbs, I’ve administered Netflix and I’ve cried a Justin Timberlake river (it was actually more of a murky stream). I’ve also decided my womb is a bit of a twat.
But with this being my second miscarriage this year, relief has come from an unlikely source – the urchin.
I didn’t mean to tell her I was pregnant this time – there was a primitive sense that this could be a tricky one to navigate if the bun decided to scarper from the oven. But I was like a kid in a (pre-bankruptcy) Woolworths pic ‘n ‘mix aisle.
The excitement was palpable and out it came: ‘Mama’s having a baby’.
Then the questions. ALL the questions.
“How did it get in there?”
“Can I keep it?”
“Is it my brother or sister?”
“Will it come out of your hoo ha or line [from my last C-section]?”
“Is it black?”
The questions were fast and furious and I navigated them as I do with most tricky toddler probing – 63% honesty and 37% diversion.
So when things didn’t work out (I can’t stand the medical terms ‘not viable’ – it was just a case of right womb, wrong time), my thoughts weren’t self-pitying, they were self-critical. Why had I told Mae? What a tool. Surely if there was a Debrett’s guide to procreational etiquette, telling your three-year-old they’re having a sibling before you’re even out of the starting blocks is a maternal no-go.
So I left it. There was a feint, vague hope she’d forget about it like one of her Paw Patrol canines in the ever-burgeoning toy graveyard. I really did hope the rogue bean would just be set aside – for both of our sakes.
“Mama when’s your baby coming out?”, she hollered on the Central Line Tube as we were on our way to watch Disney’s Finding Dory. I felt a swathe of eyes dart towards my stomach. Mae was trying to lift up my top to show Mike (of Monster’s Inc. acclaim) my belly. I went all in: maternal cards face up and answered honestly. Not 63% honest, the full house: “Squidge, Mama doesn’t have a baby in there any more.”
Then THE questions.
“What happened to the baby? Did it fall out?”
“Yes, sometimes babies don’t stay in. Hopefully another one will be in there soon.”
My Mum, who was sitting opposite us offered up a reassuring smile: it was the kind of smile that’s like a bosomy hug. Then there was silence as Mae continued playing with Mike and sticking Dory stickers across my knockers.
I never expected to inform my three–year-old (or an entire London Tube carriage) that I’d lost a baby. That was never in the maternal plan – but, then, neither was leaking milk into a grey marl T-shirt at Mae’s christening (there’s photographic evidence: I look like a FemBot). Equally, I never expected to have to handle a code-red nappy situation in TopShop’s Oxford Circus bog with lithe, doe-eyed teens wafting about in cut-offs just outside.
Motherhood isn’t great with planning (birth plans are a case in point – I ditched mine within three minutes of entering the hospital) and I have learned I don’t always have the answers – or even need them, really.
Mae piped up excitedly again: “Will the doctor put the new baby in your hoo ha? Can the next one be black?”
“Look, squirrel!” I confidently chimed, before laughing for the first time since the “baby fell out”.
Photo: Bex & Ocean @Rebelandrosephoto