I like to associate music with memories. It helps me remember them, as well as giving me the ability to create my very own soundtrack to listen to when I want to be taken back to that moment. Even if it’s a time I wish didn’t happen. I feel that it helps me come to terms with the event and helps me come to terms with how things panned out.
For this memory I have chosen Brian Eno, Ascending.
On Monday the 4th of June 2018 me, my wife and son were going to Tivoli Hospital in La Louviere, Belgium for the first time to see our new child. But prior to this we have to go back a little bit…
We had done the usual pee on a stick and had a positive outcome. We had also announced it to close friends and family as we had thought as with the first pregnancy with our son, everything had gone well until the birth (that story is for another blog), that everything would be fine this time as well. We had gone to our doctors to announce the results of our test and started to arrange our first meeting with the gynaecologist to start the whole procedure again. We had been given the same one as we had for our first son and everything was going along nicely. This is where we return to the 4th of June…
Our son was entertaining the waiting patients and staff with his usual shyness and then running around like a loon while I was trying to catch him. As nothing seems to be rushed in Belgium we waited the usually long time to be seen by the gynaecologist. It was felt like we were greeted by an old friend. Unlike the UK, in Belgium you get to see the gynaecologist on a monthly basis if not more while you are pregnant for a scan and a check up, so we had got to know her quite well. We chatted for a bit then got down to examination. I picked our son up in excitement and we all looked at the screen. This time round I knew exactly what I was looking for so didn’t think of what we were actually going to see. I pointed at the screen and said to our son “Look that’s your baby brother or sister. Can you see it?“. It was then the gynaecologist said “Wait let me look at this from a different angle“. The baby’s size was reading at 9 weeks but we were closer to 11 weeks. Maybe it was a slow developer. I still wasn’t worried. Then from what seemed right out of the blue I heard the words “There is no heartbeat...”. I couldn’t tell you what was said next. My mind went blank. I looked over at screen and saw a fetus there. Seeming perfectly normal as it did when I saw our son’s first scan. But no heartbeat. Nothing. I caught a glimpse of my wife. She was also looking at the screen. It’s like we were willing for anything to happen. A small sign of movement. Literally anything to start moving on the screen. But nothing. I felt like I had somehow retracted away from my body and was watching everything unfold before me. The doctor sat us down and told us everything what was going to happen next. I knew there was information coming into my brain and I was remembering what we needed to do but it was still like I was watching from it all happen like it wasn’t really us. I believe my wife was the same. It took a good 5 minutes of talking through the options before the tears came. I still had hold of our son so we had a family hug. No words were said. The gynaecologist bless her thought that would’ve happened sooner. Probably the British stiff upper lip automatically kicked in and wouldn’t allow it. I believe it to be the utter shock of it all. To this day I still find it unbelievable as to what happened.
We gathered our things and off we went out of the hospital. Neglecting to talk about what had just happened. Just what was needed to organise the next time we would be there, Wednesday 6th June, to say goodbye to our second child. The car journey was chilling. Anything could have happened. I don’t know how we got home. What speed, direction, anything. Just knew we arrived as normal to be greeted by our crazy dogs. Phone calls to parents and siblings were first. Not the usual joint calls via video chat. Private calls. By this time, I had shut down mentally. I was going through the motions. My Mum and Dad, who to this day I cannot thank enough, knew the protocol. Take down information and deal with it. It’s what we do well as a family. I requested Mum to come out here so we could go to the hospital on the Wednesday without having to worry about trying to keep our son entertained all day and possibly stay overnight. That’s exactly what they did. Flights were booked, no questions asked over pricing and out she came on the Tuesday night. My wife’s Mum was obvious first choice to come over unfortunately due to her own health issues it wasn’t possible. Between finding out and going back in on the Wednesday I don’t think me and my wife even had a full conversation over what had happened. We just got on with telling everyone we had told previously that we were pregnant that unfortunately we had miscarried. Work were amazing with me. They told me not to bother going back in until everything was alright. Which was really helpful.
Wednesday morning came and off we went to the hospital. Still not a lot was said between us. I had so many thoughts running through my head I even contemplated shouting “SHUT UP!” to see if it would stop. Thoughts ranged from, what if the baby was actually alright and the equipment was faulty, what if there is a problem at home and do I have enough time to go home and come back, what if there were even more complications and I lost my wife as well. By the time I had just about got these thoughts under control we were in the Ward and my wife was just about to go down to theatre alone. I wasn’t allowed to go down so had to wait in the room. I kissed her and told her I loved her. I hope there was more than just that exchange but I was still living life outside my body. Then she was pushed through the doors of the room and away she went. No chance to say goodbye to our second child. To not even see it and acknowledge that it was real and not just some horrible joke. The door closed and I was back in the room, but this time I was back in my head. All the thoughts were creeping back. Two hours is a lonely time when everything that you are is in the hands of someone else. I tried to pass the time by going to the shop. It took me 10 minutes to decide on which bottle of water to have. I just stood there looking at the bottles blankly. Too many thoughts to try and compute just a simple task of picking up a bottle of water. Back to the room and just sit there waiting. Checking my watch every 5 seconds. Trying to distract myself by playing games on my phone. Two hours is a long and lonely time to wait. Thankfully all went well. A kiss and a cuddle and back to living life as if I’m watching myself. By this point I think my brain had overridden any other way of trying to operate. If I was out of my head and deemed to be just watching the world pass by then all would be right. Doctors and nurses came in and out to do some checks and away we went the very same day. Thankfully we had the distraction that we were going on holiday with wife’s brother, wife and the adorable niece that Saturday. It gave us time to get away from the house and have a distraction for a couple of weeks.
The reason why I have chosen this piece of music is quite simple really. the melancholy sounds make you feel like you’re in a dream. It was a real life situation where I’ve never felt truly a part of it. Like I was in a dream like state and at any moment I would be back in the gynaecologist’s office with our son in my arms, my wife smiling on the bed pointing at a picture of his brother or sister and we hear a heartbeat.