It was 2001. November 2001, just after they’d decided that I’d damaged my pancreas with a few missed gallstones. I’d spent a month in and out of hospital, unable to eat, unable to deal with most of the pain that had consumed me. I dropped from a svelte mother of two who had been merrily breastfeeding and healthily curvy (12 stones or so) to 8 stones and skeletal. I went from breastfeeding to not and still producing milk, even though I wasn’t feeding. The doctors and nurses looking after me watched me sleep most of the day away, full of morphine and on drips, barely eating. At one point, they spoke of putting in a central line.
I got home and got pregnant again. It was stupid, but still a miracle. It was 2001 – my baby daughter was six months old, my son was just over two years old. By my birthday, after arguing and discussing and going through all of the options, we decided we could manage with a third child, as long as my body would let me. That was a question in and of itself – one that we finally got to the bottom of. I’d be ok, as long as I was careful.
And then, the worst happened. My blood tests showed that actually, I might not be ok. That my liver and my pancreas were struggling – and my relationship was breaking down and things just weren’t working. I’d been making plans by that point to go it alone with the three of my children, as their father was…not whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Our relationship had gone south long before I’d gotten pregnant again, but I thought I could cope.
I was then faced with the worst decision I could ever make. I could die carrying this child. And it’s something I don’t talk about much – there’s the more immediate ‘trying for this family’ always to deal with, but this was different. I really was on my own in many ways.
So, we went to talk about my options, and discovered the little boy I was carrying was dead.
By then, though, he had a name.
His name was Connor. He’d have been born around August 2002, and would be 11 now.
I have a godson, not much younger than my Connor would have been, and I left the father of my children a year after. We’d grown apart by then. And my life moved on. It always does. I don’t think the things that came after would have happened with three children as young as they were, and I know that losing him was the fork in the path that led me, perhaps, to where I am now. And logic suggests that we’ll never know – you can’t go back and change it. You can’t remove a scar – not easily. And there are some we just don’t want to remove.
But around now, every year, I miss the little boy I didn’t really get to know. We talk about stillbirth and miscarriages in hushed tones, and though I know it’s not the same as losing him at 30 weeks, or earlier or later, he still had a name, and I had hopes for him. He has no grave, but he has a tree in the place I spent some of my teen years. There is no marker, nor other people to remember him, aside from the people that lived it with me, thousands of miles away. And those that got to know me after, while I was still dealing with all of it. But I was the only one that knew him really. I wish, more than anything else, that everything I’d hoped, and all thing things I couldn’t have predicted for him came true, and there was a smiling boy on this post instead of an empty space where his happy face should be.
Kai is a writer, author and avid reader. A mental health advocate, Ludosport athlete and coder. She’s the mother of two young adults, owned by two cats, and lives with her beloved in the Cotswolds.