Losing Little Wing
“I need to cancel my ultrasound appointment please.” My voice was small. So small.
“And can I reschedule that for you?” Her voice was bright. Too bright.
“No, thank you.” The sob caught just in time at the back of my throat.
Until it happens to you, you can’t imagine that it will ever happen to you. You don’t know anyone it’s happened to.
Except you probably do.
I was eight weeks along when I learned that my first pregnancy was already over. That the little life forming inside me had, for some excruciatingly unknown reason, come to a halt two weeks earlier.
I thought I was the only person in the world that this had ever happened to.
It’s not until you have a miscarriage that you come to realise just how common they are (up to one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage in Australia). That knowledge provided little comfort though. Two work colleagues and I had been sharing our baby making plans. One already had a small child. The other was pregnant with her first. Neither of them had ever miscarried.
And I resented the hell out of them for that.
During the scan that revealed our worst fears, my husband and I both began to sob. But I couldn’t look at him. I couldn’t deal with his grief on top of mine. I didn’t want to share this with him.
I made torturous phone calls to the people I was now cursing myself for telling about the pregnancy. Others I texted. I didn’t want to hear their attempts at sympathy. When those same people gave me lots of space in the following weeks, I was angry at them for ignoring my pain.
Along with the sadness which sat, leaden, in the pit of my stomach, I felt an overwhelming shame. I made my mum promise not to tell anyone what had happened to me. For years, I kept quiet. I held myself responsible for this “failure.” I desperately wanted to hide that failure from others.
Mine was what is referred to as a missed miscarriage. Apart from a tiny spot of bleeding that alerted me to the trouble ahead, my body remained caught in limbo. No longer pregnant but not actively miscarrying either.
I would need a D & C. In the days before the procedure, I felt empty. And desperate to be rid of this failed life inside me. I wanted it to be over but then felt crushing guilt for this, too.
I allowed myself to be comforted by the words of the various medical practitioners who saw me throughout. This was just nature’s way of correcting something that wasn’t quite right; that this had happened very early on and so really all that was present on the scan was a tiny, empty sac. Almost as though there had never been a baby at all.
Some women are deeply offended when offered similar condolences as it fails to acknowledge the life that has been lost. For others, it’s simply untrue and the reason for their miscarriage has nothing to do with nature and everything to do with an underlying issue that they often don’t discover until they’ve gone on to have further miscarriages. But for me, it seemed a reasonable explanation and it helped me to move on.
I fell pregnant with my son two months later.
I can never forget what it felt like to lose a baby. I can never return to that blissfully unaware existence where every pregnancy is destined to result in a beloved baby. I know now how fragile this stage of pregnancy can be. Making it through the first trimester has a deeper sense of significance.
For the month that I was pregnant, I called my baby Little Wing. Afterwards, I understood the name was heartbreakingly perfect since that tiny life flew away. But as hard as it was to live through, Little Wing is an indelible part of my story, and for that short month, we loved that baby fiercely. Maybe that was all this tiny soul needed from us.
Photo: Tina Nord via Pexels