The privilege

It is cold (it is snowing!) and I have a cold and it has gone to my chest and I wheeze like an asthmatic accordion when I laugh. Like Muttley. I’m not sure H is up to being Dick Dastardly, but he is valiantly expressing his thoughts on his state of mind here, and own cold through the medium of Loud Sniffing.

(I always longed for them to catch Penelope Pitstop and batter her idiotic car to pink shrapnel and make her eat her own lipstick. I’m a bit weird about gender politics).

Work wasn’t too bad. I was dreading it, as I am coming to find Being Spoken To a trial of nerves not far short of waxing the backs of my ankles (I have fetlocks. Go PCOS!). Luckily, I was scheduled to spend my ‘counter hours’ in the basement, shifting stock around. It was very cold in the basement, which is unheated – and did I mention it’s been snowing? – which no doubt did my wheezy chest an almighty power of good, but the solitude was marvellous.

It’s very tiring, this grieving business. I have two particular issues with it.

Firstly, there’s too much of it to do. It took me bloody nearly a whole fucking year to feel more or less ‘over’ Pikaia. Note ‘over’, not over. You never go back to being the same person you were before. Not that every day of that year was a misery and a torment, not at all. But it was a year before I could think of Pikaia and say to myself ‘ah, well,’ rather than ‘shitshitshitshitshit’.

I can’t claim the Halloween miscarriage was of the same heart-shattering calibre. We never had the chance to get emotionally invested. It was painful (ohhhh, Jesus, was it ever painful) and very bloody and actually really quite fucking scary, and then it was over, and I spent a couple of weeks getting my breath back, and then I went back to work and plunged head-first into family birthdays and visits and lookie here, I did have a meltdown about a month later because I Just. Couldn’t. Take. It. There was the visit to the Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic, which wound me up no end before and after. And then it was Christmas and so we had Christmas. And then I was pregnant again. Which went so very well.

Crucially, I hadn’t even remotely finished dealing with the Halloween Miscarriage when Zombryo came, and lingered, and went. I was commuting to work all of December with my teeth clenched, thinking ‘it’s not long until Christmas, and then I get ten days off work and a breather, and then it will be easier to cope with.’ Ah. Well. Like a clown getting laboriously to his feet after his colleague has just knocked him flat with the ladder he’s carrying over his shoulder. And there’s the other end of the ladder, swinging towards him as his pal turns to see what happened. Straight to the back of the head. Down he goes again. Just like that, only I wear sensible shoes. Face-down in the saw-dust, winded. Thinking ‘but I was hit in the face only a moment ago. What the hell? What the hell?’

Going back to work is important, because I want to keep my job and feel vaguely useful and not sit in the house brooding all day like a splenetic hen. Going back to work is shitty, because I am a splenetic hen. And I am a habitual aborter. And egg-bound. And probably moulting.

Secondly (did any of you remember there was a secondly? Well done) grieving is a big fat hairy issue for me because I still don’t really understand what happened.

Well, yes, obviously I got pregnant, repeatedly, in my own bed, because I humped my husband.

Zombryo, I conceived completely inadvertently while humping for fun, as I hadn’t a clue I was ovulating and thought we were nowhere near The Time Of The Dutiful Shagathon yet. For fun! I conceived a baby for fun! Like a normal human female! OK, so the ‘normal human female’ part promptly went to buggery. Honestly? That makes it all the more confusing.

I spent three years learning the painful, ugly lesson that my PCOS and mono-ovaried state between them had made ovulating and getting pregnant near-impossible without medical intervention. It’s a weird lesson to unlearn, and I can’t quite shake it. It makes these precious, longed for, completely ruined conceptions look all the more peculiar. They couldn’t really have happened to me. That isn’t how it works. That wasn’t what we were threatened with, it wasn’t on the cards.

When I was six, I longed with the ridiculous longing of a six-year-old for a piggy-bank. I have no idea why I wanted one so, but I did. And lo, I was given one for Christmas! A splendid one, patterned with flowers on its flanks and wearing a benevolent expression of good-cheer. I owned it for less than thirty minutes before I tripped and dropped it, irretrievably, on the tile floor. Oh, it was only a bloody piggy-bank, I was only six. But that feeling? Of guilt, horror, and bewildered astonishment at the catastrophic unfairness of it all? That I remember.

Later, years later, I discovered that most of my peers had the sort of parents who would have unquestioningly replaced the damn piggy-bank. I had no idea that that was an option. In the event, it wasn’t an option my parents could consider – we were dirt poor at the time – and I have no doubt my mother was nearly as distressed over the whole stupid incident as I was, especially as she got to spend my birthday tea tweezering china shards out of my knees and palms.

Pikaia, Flash-in-the-Pan, Zombryo, all irreplaceable. The mess and the pain of the clear-up, all unavoidable. And then there’s the senseless, pointless guilt, the rage, the longing for a do-over, the miserable bitter awareness that other people have no idea what you’re crying over, as it has never occurred to them that these things could be difficult, impossible, ruined, taken away, broken, irreplaceable, unreplaced.

To paraphrase Jane Austen, who was wise about hopeless longing, all the privilege I claim for my own kind (it is not a very enviable one; you need not covet it), is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.

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10 responses to “The privilege

  • Nina

    Aaah, a girl after my own heart. Yes, everything you need to know about life you can learn from Jane. I’m a bit like Lady Catherine de Bourgh, in that I can be “most seriously displeased” with the best of them when my best laid plans go awry. I’m sorry, sweetheart. I can only hope that your tragedy will morph into something even more wonderful (like Colonel Brandon) and that the Willoughbys of the universe all hang themselves and leave you alone. By Willoughbys I mean bad things.

  • a

    Hopeless longing…yes, that about covers it.

  • The Cheerleader

    Part of the problem is the total lack of sympathy for this grief, very few other forms of bereavement get the response of blame or dismissal like miscarriage.

    I long for the Victorian year of being ‘in mourning’ where you could wear black and not be expected to socialise or be ‘OK’ nice and quickly so no-one else felt awkward.

  • Valery

    oh that cold! I was hoping 10 days would be enough of it… tried to say something to H, hope I didn’t mess up.
    crazy that sharing happiness is so easy while sharing grief can be next to impossible. Big hugs to both of you.

  • Betty M

    Nothing helpful to contribute. Just sympathy.

  • Twangy

    So well written, May. I am in awe.

    And I wish you so so well. If only it made a difference, all my wishing.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    The clowns. Dear God, what a perfect analogy! You are spot on, as usual, dear. It’s painfully comic stuff, alright. The great big steaming heap of cold tragedy definitely isn’t so far under the surface, either.

    Such a sad post, May. I do so wish you didn’t have these wells of grief within you that you draw on to write – but your writing is particularly compelling when you speak of it. Grief is tiring indeed to both the body and the spirit. And it’s an isolating-type activity within relationships, too; it’s a damn hard thing for two people to share.

    I’m struck, again, with just how inconsistent your medical support has been: the only professional medical mentor following your progress and keeping in touch with the over-arching story of Unhappy Outcomes is Doc Tashless. I understand the fractured nature of London’s Obs & Gynae service provision, and also that the shuttlecocking back and forth from different clinics has complicated things, but even so, Medical Team May just doesn’t seem… there.

    Poor piggy. Such a short existence; but a very loved one.

  • Solnushka

    Oh, poor poor 6 year old May.

    And poor poor 2010 May too.

    More heartfelt sympathy here. And hugs.

  • Womb for Improvement

    You just seem to have spent the last few months (years?) being well and truley battered. But, to maintain the metaphor, I sincerely hope the worst of the weather (metaphorical note, not the impending yet more snow) is over. You need time to catch your breath.

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