THE MISSING PUZZLE PIECE
Published by Penguin in the Between Us edition of the Women Of Letters book series, edited by Marieke Hardy.
To my missing puzzle piece,
You are so wanted. You are my heart’s greatest desire. In my secret place, you already exist. In my dreams I’ve seen you. You’re big and healthy and gorgeous, with big blue eyes. My husband and I have cried in anticipation of your conception. We’ve prayed tears of hope and faith that one day, you will be in our arms. We don’t know why it’s taking so long for you to join us and make us complete, but we have faith that you will arrive at the perfect time. A small bundle of joy that we can love and nurture and find pleasure in. We already have your name; we just need your face.
When I was young, I thought that I could get pregnant anytime. I don’t mean anywhere, like at the beach or the fish and chip shop or the skate park, but I believed that just coming near a man’s nether regions meant that I was going to get pregnant; it was as easy as zapping leftovers in a microwave.
As I got older, I had a few serious relationships and had myself put on the pill so I couldn’t get pregnant. I spent years on it. It messed with my hormones.
Then there came a point in my life where I developed a deep faith in God and I knew I didn’t want to do that any more. I wanted a husband and a family. I decided that I wouldn’t be with another man unless I knew that he would be my husband and the father of my children. More than that, I resolved that I would not sleep with him until I was married to him. I went old school. Then I met him, Dani, your future dad, and he wanted the same thing. So that’s what we did. It was not easy. But it was well worth the wait. I learned so much through that experience and a trust developed between us that I had never felt before.
Two years ago we got married and went on our honeymoon. We were both so excited to begin trying for a family straight away, believing that it was going to happen instantly. Well, something did happen. I got thrush and a UTI. There had been so little downstairs activity for so long, it just couldn’t cope. So there we were, on our honeymoon in the hospital in Bali, trying to explain what was wrong so that I could get antibiotics, so that we could resume our lovemaking and baby conceiving.
And we did. However, I kind of went crazy-bonkers-psycho. I obsessed about it. Two months and thirteen pregnancy tests later, I realised I had lost the plot.
To be honest, up until that point, I still believed it was easy. At thirty-six years of age, I was completely unaware of anything to do with fertility, ovulation and egg-white mucous. Sorry to go there. At the risk of exposing my stupidity (which, just to clarify, is often mixed with moments of pure genius), I didn’t even realise that I had to time having sex to fall in line with me ovulating. I literally thought I could get pregnant at any time during my cycle. All those years of being on the pill could have been avoided had I just been told that there was really only a window of a few days that I could fall pregnant in. The pill messed with my hormones. I could have done with that information years ago.
Now, many dinners out have been spent discussing ovulating. It’s quite a mealtime topic and finally, I’m an expert or eggs-spert, perhaps (sorry).
You already have a brother or sister. We’ve never met him or her either. They only made it to a few weeks old. But in our minds, we had dreamed their entire future lives with us. We were devastated when we miscarried. Cried for days. Couldn’t believe that it hurt us both so much. It really exposed our hearts and our vulnerability. How can you love something so much that doesn’t even exist?
We have such amazingly full lives but are keenly aware of something missing. We had been so excited that we told everyone. Then we had to tell everyone the bad news. It was hard but our friends and family sustained us. It brought us closer. We learned that so many people go through the same thing too, but no one really talks about it. It’s weird. I don’t quite get why we’ve set up this miscarriage etiquette where we don’t tell anyone we are pregnant until we are at twelve weeks. Who are we protecting? I get that it’s hard to share bad news with people but in my experience, sharing it and being supported by the community around me was the catalyst for healing. If we share the good times, shouldn’t we share the bad? We are designed to be in empathy with each other.
Now of course, people will lovingly lean in towards me and ask me, while giving a subtle nod to my tummy, ‘How’s it going?’ I never know what to say. If you are a close friend and I can be inappropriate, I’ll say, ‘Great, still shagging away.’ Otherwise, I don’t really know how to respond. Something like, ‘Good, we’re enjoying trying,’ might work. I’m never really sure whether they’re asking about how efficient we are at making babies or if I’m pregnant already. Perhaps I should seek clarification. So awkward.
I know the day is coming when I’ll be able to say yes, it’s gone so well I’m actually pregnant. Our prayers will have been answered and we will give thanks to God. I’m not sure I’ll be able to wait the twelve weeks before I blurt it out; I don’t even know if I’ll want to. I’ll be too excited and I know now that whatever happens I’ve got great people around me who are going to sit with me in the good times and the bad. But you, my precious little baby-to-be, will be growing in my tummy and I’ll feel you and we will bond, even before you see the light of day. I’ll be your mummy and Dani will be your daddy and we will speak to you and sing to you and dream of what you look like. And the very thing we’ve longed for will be our reality. Not just a dream and a hope but a child of our very own.
We already love you, the missing piece of our puzzle.