I have been away from home on business for the past week, several hundred miles from DH, calming voices and an easily accessible Early Pregnancy Unit with scanning machine.

For the most part, a gin swilling boss and mad-as-coat-hanger-clients were a good distraction from my very early pregnancy – nothing like other people’s neuroses and emotional breakdowns to distract you from your own – but, in the dark of night and during less engaging meetings my mind was doing back flips.

A cramp here, a sharp pain there, anything felt within a foot of my uterus was enough to draw the mist over whatever I was doing and to usher in a narrative that twisted, turned and spiked its way into every thought. With every ache I would be transported to a place where the embryo let go, where life left me for a second time. Each cramp was the one that preceded bleeding and that ushered in a voice that said “it’ll be fine, as long as it’s not in your tubes, what if it’s in your tubes?” Every spasm picked me up and threw me into a place where the physical pain of miscarriage would last seven days, maybe more, just like a heavy period, remember? Into a place where I’d have no choice other than to deal and to get on, that we’d have more investigations and then just…start again.

And that’s where the twisting narrative ended because I couldn’t imagine summoning the energy to start it all.. again.

In the past week alone my mind has taken me on on this journey three, maybe four times a day.

When I couldn’t live with the imagining anymore, I telephoned DH. I was tearful, anxious and looking for answers he couldn’t give me. He listened and told me he felt the anxiety too.

That night I slept deeply and dreamt that I had been robbed – stripped of everything I owned, wore or held. Although I couldn’t see myself in the dream I felt the draft and hollowness of vulnerability, like something had been gouged out and taken away.

Not long after, on the way to another meeting, I realised that my first miscarriage had robbed me of hope.

I sat down on a bench, outside a House of Fraser and imagined this: I am in the highest pair of heels I own, a pair of 40 quid second hand Mius Mius that I bought several years ago and only wore once because they made me much too tall and my calves ached too much being that way. I balance on those Mius Mius and I look the robber in the eye. I tell him I don’t need him, I don’t want him and that he sure is ugly. I knock the Stetson off his head and spit in the eye that isn’t covered by a patch. I grind the heel of my Miu Miu into his cowboy boot and tell him this town isn’t big enough for the both of us. Then I ride off into the sunset, the heels of my Mius Mius gripping the stirrups more effectively than you might imagine, and blind him with my dust.


Thank you for your supportive comments. I will be making an appointment with another GP next week and I’ve booked an eight week scan for two weeks time.

Meantime, I continue to exist in an unreal hinterland. I bitch and moan about the medical profession not confirming my medical status but I’m accountable too.

I haven’t rubber stamped this pregnancy either, at least not in my heart. DH and I haven’t told anyone, we haven’t had a celebratory breakfast let alone a celebratory glass and I haven’t imagined what, who or how this will turn out beyond the next two weeks. It seems foolish and idiotic to do so, particularly as I was doing all these things only two months ago and two weeks later I had to take it all back.

It all feels a bit like a baby tyrannosaurus egg; too fragile and dangerous to go anywhere near.

With every twinge, cramp and hour that passes without a symptom I psychologically set myself up for another loss. Don’t get me wrong – I see the good side of not getting pregnant for a year and a half and then getting pregnant twice in two months but it’s impossible to view that fact in isolation when I have absolutely no idea of what’s going to happen next. It could be anything and bar looking after myself, there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

Control. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

It’s been six weeks to the day since my miscarriage

No sign of my period. I had a day’s spotting some two weeks ago. I’ve been exhausted, grumpy.

So I tested.

It was positive.

I tested again the next day.

It was positive.

I left it a few days and went in to see my doctor.

“I’m pregnant,” I said.

“Congratulations. What are your dates?” she said, lifting her pen to write.

“I miscarried nearly six weeks ago,” I said, leafing through my diary.

“Impossible,” she said, putting down her pen, “you can’t be pregnant. Women don’t ovulate until a month after they’ve miscarried. Your HCG levels won’t have returned to normal since the miscarriage.”

“But the test was positive,” I said, “I’m definitely pregnant.”

“Take this, test again. I’ll see you in ten minutes,” she said as she handed me a pot without looking me in the eye, “it’s very unlikely that you’re pregnant.”

I peed in the pot and called DH.

“She says I’m not pregnant. Can you come and get me?”

He was there in five minutes.

Another five minutes passed and I’d had chance to think about the logic of what she’d said. By the time I was called back into the surgery, shock had turned to petulance.

“What you’re saying doesn’t make sense,” I said to the doctor as she dipped the pregnancy test, “when I miscarried my pregnancy test was so faint as to be almost negative, the hormone levels had dropped that low. How can they have returned to pregnancy levels six weeks after being at ground zero unless I was, I dunno, PREGNANT?”


“Well,” said the doctor, “the test is positive”.

She still didn’t looking me in the eye.

“Yes,” I said, “I came here to tell you that I was pregnant and I want to be referred to the ante natal unit,” I was out of breath now, gathering momentum, “I’ve never heard nor read that women only ever ovulate four weeks after miscarriage. I was told by two doctors at my scan to confirm the completion of my miscarriage, that it was likely I would ovulate in two weeks although it could be longer, that it’s different for everyone.”

I was angry.

She didn’t say anything and instead passed me another pregnancy test.

“Take this test again next week and then call me again.”

“Aren’t you going to refer me to the ante natal unit?” I said, shocked.

“Not yet, no.”

I walked out of her surgery and slammed the door, furious at how she’d neglected to take on board all the information before declaring that I wasn’t pregnant; furious at her bedside manner and how she wouldn’t even look me in the eye; furious at not being back in the ante natal system.

I’m pregnant and my doctor doesn’t fucking believe me.

It turns out that I can cope when the emotional crutch, muse and love of my life departs for the coast with his Dad. It turns out I’m not the simpering, blubbering wreck I thought I was and that I’m doing fine, eating what I want, seeing who I want, and sleeping when I want (which turns out not to be much because the love of my life is also my guard dog and I am nervous in the ghetto without him). In general, it’s great.

But I’m no layabout. I’m spending my time writing, sure, but I’m also practicing some things in the unique silence that four days off works affords me:

1. Not over-thinking the rumour that a woman is supernova mega fertile after a miscarriage. I haven’t heard a single person explain the biological reasons as to why so I can only think that it’s because women mostly don’t expect to get pregnant straight after a miscarriage. And we all know what happens when we stop expecting things. So I’m trying not to over-analyse what bit of the miscarriage-biological-psychological spectrum I fall into. I suspect the grey area that falls between “possibly was quite fertile at that stage” and “but the stress she put herself under thinking about it stopped a conception from occurring”. But as I say, I’m trying not to think about it.

2. Trying not to feel the over-bearing, crushing guilt of not being at work. And on the other hand trying not to be as saddo as to think I need to justify my existence with a call into the office and a quick check of the blackberry that I know will ultimately turn my blood black with bile at the interruption of this quiet period of reflection and writing.

3. Not giving myself a hard time. About anything. To do whatever I want to do. And that includes feeling incredibly bored. Sometimes.

The practice of this thinking is repetitive, grinding hard work. However, it has occurred to me that instead of complaining about this fact that maybe I should just assume that the discomfort of changing your attitudes and thought patterns is actually very positive; a sign that new neural pathways are being created in the brain to let the newness in. I’ve started viewing my new thought patterns as the rebel in an office of otherwise compliant people. Company men are company men, they tow the party line but rebels, they break new ground allow for a regime change.

Time off work, particularly in the Summer, should be a simple affair; take your holiday allocation, go somewhere sunny, but not too hot so that you can’t concentrate on a good Stephen King novel, and sleep off the stress of the year’s first half. But time off, for me at least, has meant anything but these things since miscarrying.

Last week I decided to take a leap into the unknown and ask my MD for time off over Christmas – an extended break moving into mini sabbatical territory – when I would recuperate and take stock of the last eighteen months of trying, and failing, to start a family. I told him of our baby journey and of the recent miscarriage that prompted my decision to “take some time”. He said… that he was going through the same thing; that his wife had miscarried the same week as me. I’d have been less surprised if he’d taken a live koala in red gum boots out of his filing cabinet. We went on to have the type of conversation – about hormones, therapies and grief – that hitherto had been reserved for close friends and specialist therapists.

My time off was a chance for us to talk about something painful, indecipherable and common to us both. My time off, and his agreement that I should take it, became a shining beacon of hope.

Then I announced this “time off” to my assistant who was, initially, supportive. That was, until a few hours later when she wrote a document outlining her anxieties; seemingly related to my mini sabbatical but, as it turns out, obviously related to her feelings about the job in general; she asked for a new title, a bonus and other financial incentives.

My time off sent my assistant into a tailspin of requests and me into an anxious, guilt ridden ride that somehow, by taking time to balance my own life, I owed her.

For months, DH has had time off planned this week; a walking holiday around the southern coastal path, with his Dad. It was time off he was looking forward to; walking, thinking and reflecting. There’s no way he could have known a miscarriage would happen so close to it. And equally no way he could have cancelled it at such notice. Besides, I’m doing fine. Mostly. I have good friends, family and specialist therapists nearby.

But DH’s time off sent me into a tailspin and then an anxious, guilt ridden ride at having told him that I was in said tailspin; that he’d been my crutch for every second since I’d miscarried. That I was worried I’d fall over without him there.

And as I sit here now with DH off walking the coastal path, on the eve of a new working week that spins inexorably to the year’s end and my own time off, I reflect on people moving in and out of each other’s professional and personal lives. I see, clearly, like a towering pyramid of limbs, how we all hold each other up; with our conversations, with our habits, with our very “being there”. And I see how it takes extra strength and agility to support yourself when the man, or woman, beneath you just needs to take a little… time off.

Having felt like a lead weight these past few days, with extreme exhaustion and headaches marring most activities, like eating and talking, today felt like a ray of sunshine. Although I didn’t sleep well – I don’t at the moment, every night I dream that I’m driving down a country lane with my father in law – I woke up feeling normal enough to make breakfast and do some work before I met DH for my “all-clear scan”.

It hadn’t always been an all-clear scan. Two weeks ago, at the first signs of spotting, this scan had been booked as an 8 week “check the baby’s heartbeat” scan because at that point, they thought it might end up having one. On my walk to the hospital I relayed a pre-prepared script in my head; I didn’t want someone diving in with a scan wand, expecting to find a heartbeat and then looking all sad while delivering the news that I had miscarried. I didn’t want to be told that by an expert what I already knew. If I was going to cry on a floor it wasn’t going to be an antiseptic linoleum one.

So I diligently relayed my plight to reception / sonographer / sonographer’s assistant and by the time it got to the doctor passing our room on his way to lunch, I had disassociated myself entirely from the experience of miscarriage. The scan was a walk in the park. I didn’t smart or cry in the way I had expected when the sonographer showed me the empty space on the screen where the sac had been two weeks ago. She said my womb had “returned to normal” and that all the products of the miscarriage had been evacuated. Yes I felt disturbed at the likening of my reproductive organs to a nuclear war zone that had necessitated the escape of any sign of life, but other than that I felt… fine. Spookily fine, in fact. And not even the kind of fine you feel when you’re really secreting a not so fine set of emotions as yet to be deciphered and dangerously unleashed at some unknown point in the future.

Had I effectively disassociated myself from something painful or was today the end of my chapter on miscarriage? I feel fine. Can I move on now? I don’t know, watch this space on the screen.

I’m back at work and sometimes it’s as if nothing happened. Sometimes I think maybe it didn’t.

I went to the acupuncturist last night and told her the news. She said that, looking back to her last appointment with me, the day before I miscarried, the symptoms were there – the spotting, the painful cramping in the night – of a pregnancy struggling to hold on. I think she said it to be helpful but her words made me feel as if the pregnancy was diluted, weak to be struggling so early on and therefore not a pregnancy at all. I reacted, in my thoughts, like I did when the GP at the hospital on the day before I miscarried told me the pregnancy test was negative – “Did I make this all up?”

And even worse, if it was weak and struggling, “Am I over reacting to the termination of something that wasn’t even life?”

It’s a question that anti-abortion lobbyists have been defending for decades but now I’m here, justifying my own responses, justifying the thing I gamely call “grief”, I get muddy on the subject. Sometimes I think it would be much easier to move on if I viewed our miscarriage as simply and clinically as a bunch of cells that failed to work together to create life. But then I think, viewed that way, it would be like looking at a beautiful work of art and seeing only paint and canvas; it would be like looking at the Thames in the gloaming and seeing only water and light rather than the memory of a place where he first kissed you on a summer’s evening.

Those cells will never be a bunch of nuclei or nameless DNA to me because I invested in them from the moment they sprang to life with a positive test. I invested those cells with the hopeful, wildly optimistic idea of myself as a mother and DH as a father. I invested in them as a person with a future.

Back at work, with the calls and the meetings and the typing and the talking, it’s easy just to carry on, the only reminder of my loss being a tiredness that makes me feel like I’m underwater and gasping for air. Then I return home in the early evening and the hours stretch ahead of me, filling quietly with the loss of an idea that was, quite simply, the best I’ve ever had.

Walking down the High Street with DH, past the sixth estate agents, I casually remarked that it had taken us a really long time to buy our first flat together. Two years in total.

In fact, I said, it always seemed to take us a really long time to do anything.

DH said that he’d been prepared to buy the first flat we saw but that I’d been cautious, saying we should wait, that there’d be better ones out there. There weren’t, he said, do you remember?

We carried on walking, past the bakery and a newsagent and a supermarket.

It took you eight years to propose marriage to me, I said. Now I’m here, nearly thirty five, and running out of eggs.

I wanted a baby before we got married. You’ve always known that, he said.

I wanted to get married first though, I said. You’ve always know that. I was scared that if we had a baby first you might just up and leave me with nothing to raise the child… but I didn’t say that.

Well that’s fine, he said, we did it your way, we got married. Happily, I might add. And then I wanted to start a family right after that, do you remember? But we delayed, because you said you wanted to have some time to write.

I actually just wanted some time for us to be married, if you remember, I said. And yes, writing is important to me, it took me until three years ago to realise that. Is it so wrong to have wanted to get a head start before babies distracted me? You’ve known what you wanted to do since you were a child, and furthermore you’re a man which means you’ll never have to experience the physical distractions of pregnancy and early motherhood. You try breastfeeding and writing a romantic comedy at the same time.

I stepped onto the road, making way for a pram, needing to raise my voice for DH to hear me.

And anyway, I said, while we’re on the subject of delay, when we did eventually start trying, you wasted nine months pig headedly denying that your bad lifestyle had any connection with your sperm count.

It was the High Street on a Saturday afternoon. I felt a glance, a look, a few glances maybe. I didn’t give a shit who they were.

It came as quite a surprise to you, I continued, when a specialist told you that your excessive eating and drinking were dramatically decreasing our chances of conception. I’d been telling you that for months and you didn’t ever listen to me. Do you remember all that? Do you remember? I said. I do.

We turned a corner and walked into the park. It was empty. Eerily empty for a Saturday.

I blame you.

I blame you.

I blame myself for losing your child, I said.

Don’t, he said. Your body was just the venue where the decision was made. That is all.

We’re quite a team, he said. If only we didn’t respect each other’s wishes so goddam much we’d have been married at 25 with six children, jobs at the local supermarket and cake for dinner every night.

I don’t blame you for hoping for the life you always wanted for yourself, I said.

I don’t blame you, either, he said.

I love you.

I love you, too.

Thank you for your kind comments. Some made me cry, all made me feel a bit less alone. And, since writing my last post, our flat has filled with flowers and well wishes from the parents and close friends I felt irrationally annoyed by. My Dad finally called, yesterday, and I cried like a child. It must have been over a decade since he heard me like that. I couldn’t help but think what agony it must be for a parent to hear their child cry in pain.

Last night we lit a candle for our little bean that never came to be. I found myself saying that, wherever it was, I hoped it was ok and that I was sorry not to be the right Mummy for it. Then DH said there is another way of looking at this; that our little soul exists out there but that, on this occasion, his clothes didn’t fit him i.e. his chromosomes weren’t right, so he left again. Our little soul is just waiting for the right body so that it can live in this world.

DH is neither a religious or spiritual man so when he said this, I listened and thought that was a nice way of viewing it too. So we said goodbye, for now, and blew out the candle.

Here are some of the things that I have thought, recalled, hoped and despaired of while our miscarriage has been going on:

– That my Dad hasn’t called me since it started to happen
– That my Mum was surprised to hear that it was physically painful
– That my father in law wrote an e-mail including the words “I guess some people find it easier to start a family”
– That my mother in law sent contact details for a reflexologist dealing in fertility
– That people have sent me flowers, like someone died
– Then I hear my husband speak on the phone about it being something “that can’t be helped” like he lost his credit card
– The GP’s face when he told us that his routine pregnancy test, just to check my hormone levels, was now negative
– How my pregnant friend complains about her assistant, who miscarried two months ago, still cries in meetings. My pregnant friend says two months is long enough to grieve, long enough to get over a bunch of cells. Will I think like my friend, or her assistant, in two months time?
– That, last cycle, I dreaded going to loo around ovulation for what I might not find. I dreaded going to loo before my expected period, for what I might find. I dreaded going to the loo when I found out I was pregnant, for what I might find and now, as I miscarry, I dread going to the loo because, every time, it reminds me of what’s been lost.
– That I can’t reply to e-mails and texts and calls. Why should I?
– The day before yesterday I threw the tv controls across the room and a bottle of water at my husband.
– Yesterday I just sat and stared into space.
– Today I want windows opening and everything that is dirty, messy, old and decaying to be removed from our flat.
– That it’s just cells, just a heavy period. Better for it to happen now, than later.
– How, in one moment we had it, and the next, we didn’t.
– That my computer, with my new book on it, died on the same day as my pregnancy.
– That, as I began to miscarry, I was at a talk given by a well known author. As the first pains came to me the author told us, an audience of writers, that what we really needed to do, in these times of desperation, was to write about hope. She also said that, in her opinion, it wasn’t until the age of 35 that your writing was any good because life had knocked you round a bit by then. I wanted to put up my hand and say “I’m 33 and starting to miscarry right now, does that count?”
– DH asked me which of the Mr Men I was right now. Miss Carry is the answer. I laughed. It may have been too soon for some.
– That I have never used Tena Lady until the last few days. I recommend them over other brands for situations like these.
– That life is short.
– That this too, shall pass.
– That DH seems fine but I wonder whether he is, really.

And, more than anything, when the calls and the flowers stop coming, I wonder what will the next chapter hold for us. And then I realise it’s pointless imagining because the only thing I now know for sure is that I have no control, over anything.