My daughter, my first. You were longed-for, you gave me so many delicious hours of wondering what you would be like. Who would you look like? Would you be mighty or meek? Would you have your great-aunt’s stubbornness or your granny’s thick hair?
When I set the table for your two brothers now, I set an imaginary place for you. I think you love macaroni cheese, just like your brother, and you dislike ice-cream, just like your other brother. I can hear the noise around the table, the bickering, the cries of ‘he got more than me, not fair!’, the race to finish first and get to leave the table first.
But the noise dies away, eerily quiet in the kitchen suddenly. I have no idea whether you liked macaroni cheese or ice-cream, because you only lived 13 weeks, inside me, safe, swimming around in the warmth. I tried to keep you safe, I longed to meet you and hold you. It wasn’t my fault, but I couldn’t provide a good environment for you to thrive in. The earthly world’s loss is the spirit world’s gain. If you had not died, your brothers would not have been born. I think you are watching over us all, because I see you in my dreams often, you look happy and you look free. You tell me that I was meant to have the two noisy boys who I was able to keep safe in the womb and who arrived and thrived in this world, as you could have done too.
I remember weeing on the pregnancy test stick and feeling so nervous, making a coffee while the 3 minutes passed. And the, joy! A blue plus-sign: pregnant!
At 9 weeks, a bit of blood. Not good. Early scan, all well though you were a bit small. At 12 weeks, the routine scan, hearbeat present, but baby still a bit smaller than the midwife would have liked to see. An unforgettable moment though, hearing your heartbeat. We went for a coffee and cake to celebrate that you were still with us and we persuaded ourselves that all was well.
A week later, the worst happened. I had a vivid dream of you, smiling and waving at me as you turned and skipped away into the distance. I woke suddenly, soaked in blood, sweating and cramping, passing more and more blood. When the bleeding eventually eased, we went to hospital, where we got asked the same questions over and over by countless young doctors. I lay on the bed in a side room, staring at the horrible ceiling tiles. It was probably very clear to them what was happening, and put us there for privacy; I refused to believe what was happening. When I went to the toilet I didn’t recognise my face. I had been crying but had not realised I was crying. Reality hit. This was a miscarriage.
I was put in a wheelchair and taken to the ultrasound room. I will never forget that moment. Silence. No whooshing heartbeat, no little bean on the screen, a completely empty space, where you should have been. My Lucy. The staff reassured me that the miscarriage was complete. My body had been successful and nothing was left behind requiring medical intervention. We could go home. I don’t remember the next few days and weeks. I cried, and I mourned. I read the statistics about how many women suffer miscarriages, and that made me even sadder. I was part of a group suddenly, a group none of us wanted to be members of.
People didnt know what to say, and I couldn’t blame them for that.
But Lucy, because you died, my boy was able to be conceived and be born. And the next boy after that.
I have told them that I had a baby who lived for a very short time. They felt the sadness too, even though they had no words to process it. I am sure they forgot about the conversation soon afterwards. But when they are a lot older, and if they ask, I will talk about you, even though I don’t really know what to say. Once they have their own children, they will understand.
Lucy, keep coming to me in my daydreams or my sleep dreams. I haven’t forgotten you, and I know you are happy, because you are always smiling when you do appear. That you are happy makes me happy too.
Lucy, I love you.