What to expect when you're
no longer expecting

At the park just across the road, the swings hang on long chains and, I know it can’t be, but the seat feels like it’s a good metre from the AstroTurf. When I push her, I’m filled with a mix of fear and fun as she goes back to the hills, forward to the sky, back to the hills, forward to the sky.

The café is beside the old railway tracks and across the road from the historic, no longer running, Grand Hotel. A lone horse is in the paddock and a large campervan is parked on the gravel with smoke coming out from its chimney.

It’s colourful and has a large deck. On one of the walls there’s a mosaic made of broken teapots and cups. I order a large latte and I can barely get my hands around the huge mug. I share a cheese scone with my daughter.
We visit the stationery shop. The lady behind the till asks me if we’re new to the area. I smile and say yes. I ask if she has the right ink for my printer and she gives me her business card and says we’ll order it for you.
At home I hang pictures and calendars and my vision board on the walls. Our bedroom is one big floordrobe.

Art hung on a wall

I like the upstairs the best. I think my favourite room is the one with the single bed. It looks out across the college playing fields. The A-frame of the house is most obvious here. I love how the cedar stretches from the carpet to the ceiling.

I feel safe in this room.

I lie down on the carpet and look up. I sometimes close my eyes and meditate. Or ruminate. It’s my breathing space. I want to set up a chair and a blanket and a pot plant by the window. And just look out. I could look out at those hills for years.

I like the idea of a forever home; not my husband though. He says the concept makes him feel trapped, claustrophobic, irritable.

I went to Muriwai today. The surf is impressive and looming and dangerous and wild and wonderful. I didn’t go far onto the beach, just enough to take a few deep breaths and remind myself that I’m okay. I am safe. Come what may. I can’t be destroyed.

A miscarriage. A loss. A grief.

I told my three-year-old that the baby is broken. She asked if she could fix it.

I don’t think people can be fixed. Fix me some dinner. Fix my car. Fix my broken baby. Fix our relationship. Fix my broken baby.

It doesn’t work like that.

I cooked a proper meal last night. We’ve been living on takeaways and processed cheese toasties.

I needed to prepare a meal. Follow a few steps. Thinly slice the leek and the spring onion. Try and work out how much 80ml of cream looks like without measuring it. I enjoyed stirring the mixture, watching the gurnard turn from white to golden brown and then cutting a lemon into wedges after zesting it.

I sucked on the lemon – the taste was of summer and of detoxes and of hot toddies and Lemsips and tequila shots. Have you ever roasted a lemon?

There was a lot of blood. It soaked through my jeans and I only noticed it after I picked them up from my floordrobe. Did people notice it yesterday and snigger at me behind my back?

A miscarriage is difficult to diagnose, the doctor said. Examining my urine sample, he noted it looked blood stained and said he could see some “debris”.

He told us we couldn’t have an ultrasound that night. That nowhere would give us an ultrasound. But as I was cramping in the car on the long drive to the after-hours doctors, I looked the urgent care facility up on my phone, and beside the word ultrasound there was a Big. Fat. Red. Tick.

I booked an urgent ultrasound the next day. At 12.45pm I had another internal exam because the scan of my tummy was just showing a sac. As I guided the probe inside, it felt more painful than my last internal a fortnight ago. The cramping persisted. The sonographer talked to me.

The sonographer was kind, but she couldn’t confirm if I was miscarrying or not. But there was no foetal heartbeat.

I saw a doctor at 3.45pm. We killed the hours in between with a dark hot chocolate and a triple chocolate brownie – the rich cocoa steeled me – and the purchase of a bright red jacket.

The doctor was sympathetic. She told me that it was a miscarriage. She told me what to expect. She told me that if there is severe bleeding and I’m in a lot of pain, I need to go straight to the emergency department.

She told me how much blood is normal – about the third day of your period – and that I would need to get another scan to make sure everything has cleared naturally.

Wipe the slate clean.

I continue to feel hurt by medical language. Not viable. Miscarriage. There’s nothing soothing about all those v’s and s’s and g’s. The worst is when you put p + s + y + c + h together – it just looks ugly to me. I’ll have a vowel, please, Rachel.

When I want to self-destruct, I create. It’s always been words, but in the last few years it has been food too.

When I was seriously unwell and staying in respite care, I got up at 5am one morning and I told the lady on the night shift I wanted to make something. She looked at me like I was mad – she wasn’t wrong – and asked me what I wanted to make. Something complicated, I said. We settled on a frittata.

I cracked five eggs into a bowl, added some leftover roast veggies, seasoned and put the mixture in a pan, and put the pan on the hob.

Eggshells in a bowl

My angel baby was due on 29th February 2020. Some people get tattoos to memorialise, I want to mark it in words.


Photo credits (from top to bottom): Vladimir Mokry; Lauren Mancke; Caroline Attwood (all on Unsplash)