By Danya Pearce
Where do you begin a story about losing a baby? At conception? The devastating ultrasound? Or maybe you start at your own in utero development which really sealed my baby’s fate? I was born with a unique congenital deformity classified as a mullerian defect. There’s a lot of technical information available on this, but in a nutshell, I was born with a malformed uterus. This all happened when I was still growing in my own mothers belly, the irony is also not lot on me. I had a semi normal uterus attached to my right ovary and an underdeveloped one attached to the left. As luck would have it, I did fall pregnant naturally against all predictions of the specialist. My miracle. I was thrilled but at the same time, uneasy. I had just gotten used to the fact that I was different to the norm, had funny parts and would probably need the assistance of a test tube and lots of fiddling. I am, however also aware of life’s weird twists and turns.
My first marriage ended after almost five years of longing for me. I had gotten married with the hope of having a family of my own. Unfortunately, the man I married didn’t have such dreams with me. We struggled, wrestled and argued for many months, year after year, with different agendas for our lives. I don’t hate him nor do I resent the marriage. I am saddened I stayed that long, always hoping he would change. I have learnt a lot through that journey though. I have learnt that you cannot force someone to have the same plans as you and also, that sometimes, even with the best of efforts; you just can’t get passed the differences. This helped me tackle my next trauma, my second husband. I chose the exact opposite man. I chose a man with a child, a man who worked with children and a man who wanted more. I had also chosen an immature man, who depended on me financially and who refused to be married when I asserted needs. I couldn’t be anyone’s mother, I had already to a large degree mothered my own parents, my first husband and I wanted a partner. I assumed he would be that based on discussions but I guess you know what they say about assumptions.
After I fell pregnant against all the odds, we married. I hadn’t seen many of the signs until then, but hey, I was pregnant. We had to marry, for the baby. I also wanted the marriage for us, a family, a family I had longed for my whole life. It was finally happening. Sure there were issues. Who doesn’t have issues? Yet I was unaware of the reality. I didn’t even know him. I didn’t realise the baggage he carried, his inability to resolve anything, his inability to see my view, to feel any empathy for pain I was experiencing. I ignored this, flushed with feel good pregnancy hormones, even though I was pretty much sick the whole first trimester. That’s pregnancy; I’m hormonal, irrational, feeling blah. I ignored his mother’s tantrums the week before our wedding. I accept people warts and all, and in my naivety expected the same in return. I have learnt through all my traumas that people deserve sympathy as I have no right to judge any more than I am expected to be perfect.
The 16 week scan. I am a little nervous, having just moved, feeling exhausted from renovations and working weekends and wedding but am pregnant. Who cares right? Yet something inside of me ignores the pain I had that week, the belly feeling just a little softer. I ignore the fears of doubts that lingered as the baby grew on my left side instead of my right (which is where my large uterus lies). I walk in to the gynaecologist’s room babbling about swelling feet (yay a good sign in a way) and still having nausea (also I assume). He’s with me. He’s grinning and feeling proud to have impregnated the barren woman with his super sperm. He’s a man!
It’s hard to describe the moment of impact. It’s like nothing you can taste or see. It’s a feeling that overwhelms the room, shrinks it, and makes it feel like a tomb. My body was now a tomb. It carried not life but the dead. My baby, hidden inside my softening uterus, collapsing in on herself, fading away, all my dreams for her, for me, crushed like my body was crushing her. I looked at his face, and he didn’t flinch, that made me flinch. He’s gone, I know it. He’s gone with her and I want to rewind time, I want to scream, wake up from this nightmare, throw myself into a parallel universe where the scan went ok and I am still ok. I do eventually scream. The question everyone does I think. Why? Why did this happen?
The next few hours are a blur of doctors and therapists and people going about their lives, laughing, eating and living. I am still a coffin, a walking coffin. I rub my belly trying to reassure my baby all is well. I try to protect her from any more harm. The questions of me doing too much, lifting boxes, being overworked, they don’t stop. I need to blame myself, and I don’t want to voice it. Does he blame me? I do. I wanted to keep her in me. I refused to let them take her. She was mine, you can’t terminate, can’t perform an abortion? She’s my child. Leave me alone. I feel like a zombie, half alive and half dead and never been closer to the truth as I carry my dead child inside me. I lie in bed all night, starring at the ceiling silent tears as he snores besides me. He’s gone.
A routine vacuum abortion turns out to be a two hour c section as they couldn’t find the baby and finally realised the deformed uterus, too small to sustain a full term pregnancy, was the cause of all of this. I woke up to a nurse stating they took the uterus out, thinking I was given a hysterectomy and panicked. No end to this trauma it seems. Thank goodness for opiates. Now I am no drug addict and I don’t espouse using them, but they did numb not only my severe physical pain, but the harsher emotional anguish. I was thankful to be cut; it seemed to take my mind off what I just lost. My family- It was gone, I knew it, and I felt it and I experienced it all in the space of a minute. The vision of the ultrasound will haunt me forever. Like a sunspot in your eyes after glaring at the sun too long. It follows me and will be my fellow traveller as I go through life. I must accept that, because it is never going to change.
Days passed, weeks passed. I ignored the ache, Planned on trying again. I think every woman who has lost a baby feels this. The desperation to replace has quickly as possible that which can fill the empty hole in her heart and womb. I haggled with the doctor the exact time to pass. I worked, I shopped, and I carried on. I refused to acknowledge she was gone. I refused to acknowledge he was gone too. While he ran away to spend time in his old life, I lived in a twilight world. Not quite in my old one, where we were expecting a baby and not quite moving on. I ignored my reality so well, that I refused to acknowledge he wasn’t even there. Maybe I wasn’t really there either, living in an alternate universe, trying to deal with it alone. I didn’t want to talk, just wanted to forget. I became obsessive about planning our next child, making my home prepared, planning our income for the next 50 years. I wasn’t coping at work; the fear of losing it all grew alongside the fear of accepting her death. I knew I could be fired any day, in a way hoping I would. I wanted him to take care of me. To protect me from more loss. I was testing him; I knew I was, I knew why too. I knew he would fail. I pushed, I wanted him to take the reins now, take care of me. I never had anyone take care of me before.
That never happened and the end was the natural conclusion to this marriage doomed to fail. I was the only adult in it and that is what I have learnt. You cannot change anyone; force anyone to be anyone he is not. That’s a whole other story and it’s a long one, but when you marry someone for whatever reason, you expect it to last. Some people hold true to those values, others don’t. A baby loss should never break up a marriage, but it happens. It usually speaks volumes about the essence of the relationship and though he blamed other issues, it was the catalyst. It forced us into a position of reality, because you never really know the moral fibre of someone until you are in a position of tragedy as a couple. He left and there is nothing to explain it. He can, I am sure, but if he was really honest with himself, something I have yet to see, he would have to accept who he is.
There are two immediate reactions to trauma – denial and acceptance. Those are the two things that endure. He chose the former, I choose (or was forced in to) the latter. It’s not fun, trust me, I have to face the pain, the rejection, the bitterness and the hopelessness. While he walked away like it’s an inconvenience, I had to nurse the emptiness, go to the depths of sorrow and do it all alone. It is what it is and it is who he is. I wanted a marriage; I have no idea what he wanted. But it wasn’t me. The double blow threw me. Suddenly I had to deal with rejection as well as death. It can make a person go mad, I did. I went to places no sane person can envision. There is an element to life, that you can visit (if you are lucky enough not to be permanently insane), and it’s almost like an alternative reality. It’s scary. It’s a place that denial keeps you out of. I wasn’t lucky enough to have been spared that, but I’ve grown considerably from that experience.
What scared me the most is his lack of emotion about the loss? He never cried, just carried on like nothing happened. When I questioned him, he said “I don’t cry”. While I understand men have a different role and react differently to things, not one tear? Nothing? Not even for our dead child? It was the one thing that gave me a chill, planted a seed, which played out perfectly according to other women who have been in a relationship with someone who has sociopathic tendencies. It’s a little thing, usually a minor hint at their illness – their difference from other people. I won’t go into that, because it’s not really relevant except that while other couples survive, we could not. I am thankful for my baby for two things, firstly, for not killing me (she could have ruptured my womb and I would have died from shock) and secondly, for freeing me from a sociopath who would have eventually shown his true colours, as they always ALWAYS eventually do.
I would give my life to get hers back but she made my life worth living again, in ways I have yet to discover. That is the true miracle of my little Nasya. I love you forever.