"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 would 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.
That knowledge provided little comfort though. Two work colleagues and I had been sharing the journey to conception. 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, Bren 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 phonecalls 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 perceived 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 had taken no further action in regard to this pregnancy that wasn't going anywhere. 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. It made me anxious to be stuck in this awful kind of limbo.
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 Luca two months later.
I can never forget what it felt like to lose a baby – or the promise of one, which was really all this pregnancy had ever been.
Miscarriage colours every subsequent pregnancy – mine and others. I understand all too well how fragile this burgeoning life is. Making it through the first trimester is a chance to let out the breath you've been holding for months.
For the month that I was pregnant, I called you Little Wing. I fear that was a mistake as you very quickly found your wings and flew away. I don't commemorate the date of your conception or the date we discovered your loss. But you are an indelible part of my story and for that short month, we loved you fiercely. Maybe that was all you needed from us. And in leaving, you gave us the gift of Luca. Thank you, tiny love.