I had my first miscarriage when I was 15, nearly 16. I had spent the day Christmas shopping for my Mum, I wanted to get her something special, after Grandad dying. This was in the days of pay-per-minute-internet use, on locked down computers in rows with coin slots in shopping precincts, internet didn’t exist on phones. And what I had in mind for Mum, you couldn’t buy in the shops. On the wonderful World of the Wide Web you could buy the Stars, £30 to name one after anybody you like, they sent you a map and everything, so you could spot it in the sky, wave your certificate at it and shout “I own you!” It was all official. I named Mum’s “Pops” – that’s what we called Grandad. I wanted her to be able to look up and see him shining down on her. I paid for my precinct internet, bought my piece of the sky off the appropriate vendor and then went to Argos – to get Mum a Telescope for her balcony so we could look for Pops together, using the map promised to arrive in the post.
I first noticed the tell-tale pink stain on the tissue at five. Phoned NHS direct, as you do, was told to – basically, crudely, “try and stay horizontal for as long as you can”. I did as I was told, stayed horizontal, kept checking for damp, for blood, down there, with my hand, bringing it up to my face, feeling panic swell in my stomach every time I’d detect the smallest sense of fleshy pink fluid. I would wipe my finger on the white linen of my bed, collecting a Litmus test tally chart of my failing pregnancy. Yes. Still definitely pink. But no clots yet. That’s a good sign.
Eight hours of horizontal and I need the toilet. It’s worse this time, darker, redder, constant, all fifteen wipes – It’s there. I start to cry. “Get horizontal again” I reason, “that helped last time”. Horizontal on the bed, I sleep, wake, check, tally, cry, sleep. I wake finally maybe 8am and go to the bathroom.
“ITS HAPPENING” I wailed out to Him as I felt something give and shift and make it’s way steadily and relentlessly away from me, I put my hand underneath my squatted body to catch, well, I wasn’t sure what, but it was big and heavy and painful. I felt my labia pulse between my fingers and there they were, he or she. Perfectly formed, the Universe inside a clear round snow globe, sitting in my hand, attached to the beginnings of a slippery Placenta. Like Liver. 9 weeks old. Curled and translucent, perfectly visible, magnified even. Feet. Hands. The beginnings of an eye, of a nose, of a mouth, of my life as a Mother. In my hands. Ended. Over. Bereft. He couldn’t help. Never could. “Get my Mum, now, I need my Mum”. He left me in the bathroom and called her house. She arrived fast, as a Mother should. She called the Doctor, as a Mother should. They sent an Ambulance, on account of all the blood. Mum sent the Ambulance away – “We’ll make our own way”.
“Let’s clean you up and get you a Brandy before we go to the hospital, yeah, calm your nerves.”
We take a taxi to the hospital. Hours of samples, scans, scrapings, sedatives and sanitary towels. Contraception prescriptions swiftly supplied “so you don’t make the same mistake twice” – a free lecture. We take a silent taxi home, no shoulders touch, each to their own World of “what ifs?” and shock and grief and fatigue. “£6.95 please”. “Keep the change”. Shuffled in to my living/bedroom with Mum’s coat holding my limp shoulders up.
He announces, after a fake yawn “I’m going home, leave you two to it, see you tomorrow”. He backs out, trying not to rush, so it doesn’t look like it is – like He can’t wait to leave.
The Brandy is open again, Mum begins with two large ones. I don’t want to drink, I want to talk, to cry, to sleep the sedatives off, to have my head rubbed, to connect with something Maternal again, if only for a minute. “Get it down you” she insists of its mental health benefits. I feel warmer I’ll admit. I start to trust her, “go on then, another”. This one is larger, I can hear her laughter, “we must be having a good time” I decide. I stand to change my towel. I’m unsteady, Mum laughs. Fresh Brandy is waiting for when I get back.
I decide now is the time to tell her about Pops. “She’ll be made up” I bet. I tell her about the internet, the certificate, the map and telescope and how I hoped that It would reassure her that he was looking over us, And that I hoped she liked it, and I was sorry that I didn’t have the map yet, but that she would get it as soon as I did. She just sat staring. Nothing. Suddenly I felt too young to be drinking.
“What is it Mum? What you thinking?”
She starts to cry, tears of disappointment, anger even. Sneers ” I can’t believe you think you can just buy a piece of the sky and name it after him and then sit here on today of all days and try and tell me that he is watching over us. He wouldn’t let this happen. How dare you say that”.
I’m not sure what I’ve said, but I’ve ruined everything. She’s getting her coat on to leave. “I’m really sorry Mum I just thought you would like the gesture…”
She leaves me. The room is spinning. It’s cold but I’m too dizzy to get up and put the heating on. I want to shout after her that I’m sorry but I hear the door shut. She’s gone. There are no lights on but I’m home. There are tears. They feel warm, soothing. Like being alive. I wish I was sober so I could feel it properly, could understand what happened between me and Mum – know what I did wrong, How I could have got it all so wrong? I’m confused, everything’s surreal, like I’m not sure if it’s even happened at all. I drift into a drunk sleep on top of the bed and hope that tomorrow brings clarity.