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.