Six weeks. I find myself on an unfamiliar table; my legs are shaking in metal stirrups. I can hear the blood whooshing in my head; it reminds me of seaside holidays when I was small, of licking rum and raisin cones whilst the waves crashed over my feet. My adult life often feels so much simpler than my childhood but today I would give anything to be back at Brighton beach with my grandparents again. I would give anything to be anywhere but here.
The sonographer is a trainee; she looks at me as though she wants to immortalise my face, as though my story matters. She asks me if I mind if she consults with her colleague during my scan, and laughs nervously when I tell her that I don’t mind at all, that I look forward to eavesdropping. My voice sounds like somebody else’s; I am having trouble keeping myself grounded in this room, keeping my mind on the table. My heart is pounding like I am being chased. I thought that I had already reconciled myself to the loss of you.
The ultrasound machine is turned away from me. I’m afraid to watch her face, but when I close my eyes I feel trapped within the darkness of myself, so I stare at the fluorescent lighting overhead until my vision blurs. I feel as though I’m melting; the blood is collecting underneath me, puddling on the paper sheet. I feel as though I am trapped in a horrible dream; I am disconnected, disoriented by the sudden turn of events. This time yesterday everything was fine. My head feels like a balloon, swollen and full of nothing. I am trying to pull thoughts out of myself, to use them as anchors to keep myself calm whilst around me, my body shakes. I feel like a war zone. I feel precisely as uninhabitable, as toxic, as I always feared that I would.
And oh, I thought that I had already said goodbye to you, when I opened my eyes to a world of white. But laying here, I feel as though I am fighting to peel myself off of you, the reality of you, our little Baby Winter, our November baby. And I don’t want to. I’m not ready to have this news confirmed. I’m not ready.
But then the sonographer turns to me and she says –
she says –
“The pregnancy is in the right place, and there’s a heartbeat.”