The following is from an email I wrote to my best friend in Australia last year, a couple of days after having surgery to remove my ectopic pregnancy. I was planning to post it in a few days on the anniversary, but as that anniversary is also my husband's 30th birthday, I decided against it. This year I want to celebrate.
However I also feel the need to post this as a way of drawing a line. I will never forget what happened, especially as it will be impossible to forget the date, but I feel like I have mourned the loss, and the consequences, and that it is time to move forward. It may read as overly dramatic, but I was still in a lot of pain and emotionally raw at the time.
Just a note, I was living in Spain at the time.
I was pregnant. But I knew something was wrong when I started bleeding at the wrong time. I go to the clinic. They can see nothing. Follow up in two weeks. The bleeding is normal. Indulgent smiles say: Go away you stupid English girl.
Nearly two weeks later, on Friday, I am walking down the stairs at Dominicas school when I feel the blood start flowing. Then the pain and dizziness. In a taxi with a colleague who tells me how his wife lost twins at five months.
This time at the clinic there are no indulgent smiles. The blood and the pain put paid to that. I cry and squirm as they try and see what’s wrong. I’m wheeled around on a drip from room to room. The other women hold their pregnant bellies, thanking God it’s not them as they follow my progress around the clinic.
Finally they see it: a ‘bruise’ in my fallopian tube. A bruise. This is how they describe my poor embryo which because of scarring in my tubes which I wasn’t aware of, instead of going to the uterus and growing into a child, got stuck in the wrong place. Ectopic. From greek: out of place, I’m told the next day.
I’m admitted. Then the waiting. Waiting for hours in a dark room, the shutters down against the afternoon sun as the middle-aged woman by the window sleeps off her hysterectomy. Her husband glares at us. At our not-quite-hushed-enough voices. At our speaking English. He pulls the partition across, blocking her from my view. I’m glad.
I lie on the bed for hours. Our boss waits with us, wanting to help, to translate, but the doctor doesn’t come. The nurses take blood and temperatures. My husband goes home and comes back, both hoping and not hoping that I will be in surgery by the time he returns.
Hours pass. Our boss leaves, with promises to check in. She had to pick up her thirteen-month-old, go home and feed him and thank her lucky stars that her horrendous pattern of miscarriages is over, finished with the laughing infant in his highchair.
We wait. I’m hungry and thirsty. Nil by mouth. Finally the gynaecologist comes. She is older than she looks, I think. She asks efficient questions in reasonably English, but I note that she is using the past simple rather than the present perfect. I wonder of my husband is making the same judgements, while he listens to my medical history.
There is another woman with an ectopic pregnancy on the ward. They will assess her case and then decide which of us is more urgent. Don’t worry, she says, your tests are normal. We take that to mean the other woman will be operated on that night, me in the morning. My husband decides to run home to grab all the things he forgot the first time - toothbrushes, my glasses. He turns off the light - it is now eight o’clock and dark.
I turn on my left side, the side I’ve been practising sleeping on since I knew I was pregnant, and cry. I cannot quite describe the tears. Like a child who has lost a beloved teddy bear, knows that crying won’t bring it back, and grieves for it’s loss. This is the closest I can come to describing it.
Then, suddenly, the doctor is back. They’re taking me in in the next ten minutes. I call my husband, he hasn’t yet reached the apartment. He turns and runs back and is back before they take me away, but only just.
It’s not like in the movies. My husband doesn’t walk by my side, holding my hand. The orderly pushes me away with such speed that he has to jog to keep up, trailing behind. At the waiting room he gives us no chance to say goodbye. I call ‘I love you’ but I don’t know if he hears. In the corridor, the nurses try to comfort me. ‘Tengo mierdo,’ I say. I’m scared.