January is a desperate month. Bleak and grey, its enveloping darkness creates a mask of desolation that blinds you to everything that is good and positive. In short, it’s depressing and ugly and if there were a political movement to decimalise the calendar, I’d join and vote off January and November.
This week we lived through what is touted as the most depressing day of the year, and it truly was until I remembered that I have so much to be thankful for.
This is a post I’ve been trying and failing to write for the last year. I kept starting it in my head then stopping because it sounded overly maudlin and unnecessary. Maybe I thought if I closed the door on it then the emotional spider monkeys couldn’t escape and mess up my hair. But this week I decided to give it a go. The fact that I’ve just spent 3 paragraphs procrastinating is a warning that I might not complete. I also apologise profusely for the forthcoming ramblings…
I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child in July 2008. An unplanned pregnancy, a careless mistake and a huge cross through our long term ‘Plan to get out of financial black hole’. I looked at my three perfect children and weighed up the odds: not much more than a nasty bout of eczema and some hay fever between them, would we be so lucky again? I considered the state of my pelvic floor and wondered if I could sustain a pregnancy without puddling my way through Tesco on a daily basis and most of all I tried to think, honestly: “Is this what I want”.
Sitting in the surgery with 2 out of 3 children wrapped around my legs I decided to let my head take the lead. I hesitantly asked the doctor about my ‘options’, such a euphemistic turn of phrase but the doc instantly knew what I was on about. Taking my ‘options’ home, we spent the next couple of days trying to evaluate everything, finally coming to the decision that whatever the sensible route might be, realistically this baby was going to happen – and we finally allowed ourselves to celebrate.
Fast forward a week, maybe not even that long. It’d been a manic day, I was really busy with work and had grabbed some leftover sweet and sour chicken and rice from the fridge for lunch. As I ganneted it down I spared half a thought to the intelligence of eating rice that had been in the fridge for 3 days.
Chopping carrots for tea later that evening I was gripped by churning stomach pains, so intense that I could only stagger doubled-up to the sofa. After a minute the pain seemed to ease but the nausea rose and took hold so badly that all I could do was crawl upstairs and lie down.
Warm in my bed, I chastised myself for eating the rice, making mental promises to a) clean the fridge and b) label and date stamp all future left-overs to prevent food poisoning. By 10pm I could barely move and resigned myself to lying as still as possible, staggering to the bathroom hoping that the next bout of nausea would eject the poison and I’d magically feel fine again. By midnight I’d decided that camping out in the bathroom was the only option. Round about the same time our youngest daughter woke up crying so OH decamped to her room to settle her, inevitably falling asleep there.
All the time I was cursing the sweet and sour chicken, I had no idea that what had actually happened was a rupture of my left fallopian tube caused by an ectopic pregnancy. By midnight I’d been bleeding internally for 4 hours. The pain was beginning to fade, along with my consciousness. At some point in the night, my (then 6 year old) son got up for a wee. This was unheard of in our house: this was the boy who slept with a light on all night, who regularly wet the bed because his ‘something receptors’ forgot to tell him that he needed to go, but here he was, stumbling over me in the dark in his hurry to get to the loo. There I was, foetally curled, waiting for something to happen. My beautiful boy didn’t stumble back to his bed, he lay down, spooning me and pulling as many towels as he could over the two of us. And there we lay…
Somehow my consciousness returned just before dawn and I was able to tell the Boy Wonder to go get his dad to call the doctor. In his confusion following his sleepless night, OH didn’t appreciate how poorly I was. He didn’t even know the doctor’s number and hazy in my memory is a conversation to locate my mobile and dial the number. His first call was to the out of hours doctor, closely followed by a 999 call when he got a good look at the blood-drained cadaver that had once been his wife.
The next few hours are a jumble of part memories jigsawed together with recounts from my OH and others. An ambulance to Milton Keynes hospital, a huge echo filled room staffed by angels who persuaded me to hang on to life, a pivotal moment where my broken voice whispered “Am I going to be ok” and was answered with “We’re doing all we can”, uncontrollable shaking, needles, drips, scans, more consultants, a lift, an anaesthetic mask and a prolonged pause.
Of course that’s not the end of the story but it’s enough. I need to thank the amazing folk at MK hospital who sewed me back together and my family and friends who helped me knit my head back together, but mainly my thanks go to my son, my Boy Wonder. Without him, I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have simply drifted away that night. His physical presence gave me the umbilical cord I needed to hold on to life, and on a miserable January day I reflect on this, letting my loss rest easy and basking in the beauty of my remaining 75%.