I know you were just making conversation. It’s one of those things that non-parents ask their parent friends with a bit of a wink.
“So, when are you trying for another baby?”
You smirked a bit, because everyone knows that “trying for a baby” means “doing it.” What you were really asking was, “Are you and your husband planning to have a lot of unprotected sex in the near future?” It’s not the sort of thing you would normally ask your friend over a beer, but the whole baby angle makes it acceptable.
Or so you assumed, anyway.
“I don’t know,” I said casually. What I didn’t tell you is that I’ve already been pregnant with baby number two.
And baby number three.
I didn’t tell you how I lost them both within months of each other. In both cases, everything started to go wrong with a trickle of blood. The trickle turned into a flood. It covered my legs, the carpet, the bathroom floor. My husband went out to the 24-hour supermarket in the middle of the night to buy me incontinence pads that could barely contain it all.
My two-year-old daughter came into the bathroom while I sat on the toilet, passing big clumps of red tissue.
“Mommy is a bit messy,” she said, looking at my blood-splattered thighs.
“Yes, Mommy is a bit messy. Mommy will clean it up, though,” I said.
I didn’t tell you how hard it was to smile in that moment. But I did, because that’s what she needed to see.
I didn’t tell you know much I hated sitting in waiting room at the hospital’s early pregnancy unit afterwards with all the excited women waiting for their 12-week scans. They complained about their morning sickness and I wanted to shake them. I wanted that queasiness, that bubble of heartburn in my chest, more than I’d ever wanted anything.
I didn’t tell you how quiet it was when the nurse passed the ultrasound wand over my abdomen.
I didn’t tell you how I spent the weeks after my miscarriages abusing my body with sugar and alcohol. I had exercised regularly, taken prenatal vitamins and quit caffeine and booze, and yet it had failed me. I was done taking care of it. I grew bloated with chocolate and wine. I stopped sleeping. I stayed away from the gym. I looked liked I felt – soft and exhausted.
I didn’t tell you how hard it was to learn that what happened to me wasn’t common. Only 2% of women have two miscarriages in a row. Not only that, but with every miscarriage, the chances of it happening again go up slightly.
And I’m not sure I’ll survive another pregnancy.
I’m not concerned about the bleeding itself – yes, it’s unpleasant, but I can handle the mess. I’m more worried about getting through nine months where each trip to the toilet is terrifying. My mental health is too fragile to spend the better part of a year agonizing over each symptom and twinge. Another loss would, I’m certain, break me.
So no, we won’t be trying for another baby – at least, not for a while. I don’t need to hear any jokes about how I’m not getting any younger, and I don’t need you to point out that my daughter would make a great big sister. I’m well aware of how little time is left and exactly what my family is missing.