It’s just a chemical thing: The baby that never existed

Parenting and life

I wrote this a while ago, when it was all running about it in my head – that’s how I process things. I actually have a lot of drafts which I write but are too raw at that moment. Then one day, months later, I come across them and when I read them it’s like reading somebody else’s writing and I realise I feel detached enough to press publish. 

It was a weird old week.

Towards the start of the week I had rumblings of standard period pain. Great. It would be now, when I’ve no back up – couldn’t wait until the weekend or next week when husband is home and I could slink off to bed until it passes? You bastard.

But nothing came.

On Wednesday, I took the children to London. The familiar rumblings were there again, but nothing. I was starting to get a little concerned, but manhandling children across London on the tube kind of takes your mind off of these things.

At home that night, I started feeling awful.

I made the kids a half-arsed tea and as soon as my husband came home I took myself off to bed with a horrendous headache and a sickbowl. This isn’t normal.

All night, between short stretches of sleep, my head pounded and I couldn’t lie down comfortably as heartburn threatened to creep up my throat. I recognise that feeling. It didn’t start to wear off until about midday.

Still feeling fuzzy, I went out to buy a pack of pregnancy tests just in case which I resolved not to use until the next day.

That night as I was going to bed, I couldn’t wait any longer.

The test gave me back a faint but definite positive.

A positive.

Fuck. I knew it.

I spent the next five hours trying to sleep, but not getting anywhere near.

What would another baby mean? We were happy as we were. We’d just ditched the buggy, we were out of the nappy phase. It would be a huge plunge backwards. We’d got rid of everything remotely baby. We’d have to buy everything over again. Maybe even get a new car. We’d never manage to take them on holiday.

Could we survive another reflux baby and even less sleep?

Could my body even take another pregnancy? I didn’t exactly glow through the last ones.

But then, it wasn’t exactly a disaster. I knew we’d cope. Be unable to remember a time when it was just the four of us. We weren’t in a bad position really, with my husband and I both working from home, and the kids at school and pre-school. I might actually be in the only job in the world where another baby might be a good thing. We had the space. We’d manage. It might even be fun; imagine how much they would love a little brother or sister?

But what would they be called? They’d have to have a name that matched, that fit in.

And, about 4am while thinking of baby names, I drifted off to sleep.

I woke up at 6.10am. I did not feel good; the nausea was sweeping over me in waves. I went to the toilet, and there was my period. Late, but definite. So that was that.

No baby. A badly timed bug, and a chemical pregnancy.

Suddenly, everything I’d thought about the previous night didn’t matter. The baby I’d spent hours coming to terms with, even started to get excited about, didn’t exist. Had never really existed.

It’s really common, said google. Pregnancy tests these days are too sensitive. I shouldn’t have checked so soon, I should have waited until the morning.

The whole thing felt overwhelmingly cruel. It wasn’t a baby but in my head it was, albeit briefly. It was still a loss, a very early loss, but a loss none the less.

For a day there was nothing but crushing disappointment mixed with severe tiredness and taunting stomach cramps. Not quite grief, but something close to it.

A friend came over, we sat and had tea and chatted, and it helped.

I’m OK. My heart is full. I am happy with my little family.

But I don’t think I’ll forget that pink line.

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