Jack Johnson is piping through the radiology office when it dawns on me I’m not seeing the images I’m supposed to.
My mind idly notes ‘that sucks’ because I quite like this song and I think what I’m about to learn might taint it.
It’s our 12-week pregnancy scan. The sonographer has gone from perky to slightly quiet, but he doesn’t need to say much really because I know what I’m seeing on that screen just isn’t right.
He’s nice, kind and gentle as we work through a series of scans. The verdict is the pregnancy didn’t progress beyond about seven weeks.
In the five weeks since, my body has been soldiering on like nothing’s amiss, producing all the usual pregnancy symptoms.
I’m not sure whether to give it 10 points for trying or brand it a traitor. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that was cruel.
As the sonographer offers his apologies, my husband and I reassure him it’s OK. We’ve got three great healthy kids, and the truth is this result is pure maths. One in four recognised pregnancies ends in miscarriage. This time our number’s up.
We’re cool, calm and collected as we walk into the bright sunshine outside the radiology office. Our conversation is focused on being grateful for all the amazing things we have.
My husband suggests lunch. I agree on the condition of a stiff drink. At a well-heeled restaurant I watch an elderly couple who can’t be much shy of 90. They come in holding hands and the husband dutifully ushers his well-dressed wife into her seat.
That moment makes me smile. The affection is clear, the love is long-standing. I am grateful that might be my future too.
It’s only later in the local fruit shop that I run into a friend and dissolve into an incomprehensible mess.
I find myself blubbering over her work shirt and crying beside cavendish bananas. I’m telling her we were pregnant, now we’re not. I keep apologising for the random outburst. I shift topics, noting I might have short-changed the restaurant earlier. I can’t seem to calculate how much cash should be in my wallet.
It’s all a bit embarrassing really. There’s the chance she’ll think I’m losing my mind. There’s a moderate chance I am actually, because later I mistakenly stash my daughter’s hairbrush in the freezer.
“You’re allowed to be sad,” the nice doctor kindly says to me as I forcefully state we’re OK. To be honest I’m struggling with the idea of sadness, it just feels deeply ungrateful.
Worse things happen to nicer people. Hell, they’ve happened to nicer people I actually know.
I’m acutely aware that for others this would have been their first encounter with pregnancy. Worse, it may have been their one and only, or perhaps their experience time and again. Over the next few days, my mind dances with guilt that I am so much luckier than some.
I’m waiting for my body to catch up with what my mind has accepted and quite frankly it feels interminable. I want a plan, I want action, I want to draw a line in the sand.
Due to weekends and over-booked hospital clinics, the physical miscarriage doesn’t take place until a week later and yes, it hurts like hell. But I’ll take pain over waiting and at the end there’s a sense of relief.
In between we’ve attended school concerts, kids’ birthday parties and planned for the holidays. I’ve cracked too many lame jokes, been too distracted, and felt incredibly forced.
I’ve also told just a couple of select people I like and trust. Some are close, others because I instinctively know I can. And that feels better, without exception it absolutely does. Many share their experiences too and it opens the door to a strong, brave, resilient world I didn’t know.
One of my favourite people simply hugs me and quietly notes “that’s sh*!”.
I love her for that blunt assessment, because that’s exactly what it is. We’re lucky. We’re OK. I feel guilty. I am grateful. It is a bit sh*!. And I’m so very glad I shared.
That was my journey, but it may not be yours, and you can find more resources about coping with miscarriage and grief here.