I remember it like it was yesterday. But as I begin to relive the experience I quickly place the memories back into the deepest part of my pocket. I hide it in cryptic miscarriage poems, untitled tears, and empty laughter. I never relive it out loud. It seems too raw. Too vulnerable. As it tries to tumble out of my mouth, or off of the tip of my fingers it trips over thoughts of shame, hurt and other feelings that don’t have titles before it can find its way ou
It wasn’t just about the loss of my child. Fetus for those who revel in being scientifically correct. I say child as I refer to connecting with its spirit and not it’s physical state at 6 weeks. It was about the loss of dignity. It was about shame. It was about the shattering of what I thought was my support system. About falling in love with a loneliness that should have frightened me to death. It was about the numbing peace that the thought of dying brought with every morning.
I needed someone to carry some of the pain but I couldn’t tell anyone how much it hurt. The pain shocked me numb. Drove me into insomnia. I spent night after night replaying the events in my head. I thought about him. How intoxicating it was to meet someone who understood emptiness and confusion more profoundly than I did. Connecting with someone on the sole basis of cynicism and pain is till date the most mystifying experience I have had. Even more mystifying is how predictable human nature is. How quickly our supernatural experience dissipated once the reality of our mortality dawned upon us.
The reality of an unwanted child reminded me that we were humans and we were selfish in nature. I was only amazing, too good for him, one of the smartest girls he had ever met, one of the only people who got it and cool until I was pregnant. I never ever blamed him for wanting me to have an abortion. I understood. We weren’t in love and hadn’t intended to be. The magnetic force of the alluring shadows of depression drew us together. I blamed him for not understanding why I couldn’t have an abortion.
When it happened I was at work. I had come to terms with what had happened. I had begun to think of all of the things that could go right. Of all the ways my life could still be great. I started to accept that this child would be the greatest love I would ever know. I began to believe I was about to receive a love I didn’t deserve. There was no dignity in sitting on the cold floor of an office toilet contracting. No dignity in watching hope bleed out clot by clot. No relief in that dreary hospital where I watched myself in hysterics as they sedated me to remove all the hope that was left from my uterus. There was no relief when I woke up after the operation in tears and the nurse asked where my husband was. No relief in the dismay of opening my eyes and not seeing a single person by my side.
I lost. The courage all amounted to nothing. The humiliation no longer had a reason. There wasn’t an ounce of relief. Just darkness left. That was all….
It took a long time for me to realise that I was mourning. The death of my Isaiah. Mourning the death of hope. I never thought I was allowed to mourn as my child was conceived out of incidence and a part of me never wanted him in the first place. People said I was lucky it happened. Others said it was a blessing. I felt the loss the most when nobody asked how I was doing. When nobody asked how I felt or how I was coping. That’s when I longed to feel the clasp of his pure and undefiled fingers around mine. That’s when I relaised I lost what could have been.
It took me many years before I could write anything about it. How do you find words to describe that something has died inside. How do you explain a sadness that you’ve never felt before? How do you explain trauma? When I finally could, I wrote this excerpt which I’ve included in my now published book ‘The Naked Butterfly’.
Empty Wombs and Love Filled Tombs
“Bleed. I bled. As I bled I felt the warm touch of love seep down my legs, I saw blood the colour of red blistered roses creep down my legs. It was red. Bright red like the millions of broken hearts that lay at the bottom of the big deep blue sea. I did nothing as I watched the greatest love I never knew and the beautiful life that graced my womb in fragmented clots of blood fall between my legs.
Contractions. I contracted. At this moment I realized pain was pervasive, just as pervasive as death. While women lay somewhere in a heavenly mixture of agony and bliss I lay enduring contractions of death.
Each contraction pierced my heart beyond words. Each contraction was a reminder that the baby carefully crafted in me by a moment of bliss was passing away right before my eyes. Right between my legs. The baby he begged me to abort lay in ruins wrapped up in rolls of woolly tissue and floating in the white walls of toilet bowls. His liberty was my bondage. He exhaled relief and I inhaled the foul smell of my defeat.
He begged me to abort it. My family this, your family that. You deserve this, you deserve that. It deserves this, it deserves that. Yoruba this, Igbo that. I’m not ready this, you’re not ready that. How did things fall apart just like that? Abort it this, abort it that. I said no and he turned on me just like that. Left so quick I couldn’t even see the shadow of his back.
I was defeated and left with the shame that came with bearing an unwanted child, bearing an unwanted love and choosing an unwanted life. He won. The bastard baby died and so did something inside of me. If there was a love I was worthy of I hoped it would be this- the unconditional, unending, pure, undefiled love of my child. Here is an excerpt from one of the miscarriage poems I wrote.
“It was the first time my heavens cried. And the first time I
Years later, I saw him. He told me he was sorry, that he was wrong, that I didn’t deserve that. He said it was hard to come across people with heart’s like mine. I wondered if he knew that it was people like him that made hearts like mine turn to stone. I was speechless. He asked if I had the child. I told him it was gone. I was surprised he could ask such a question as I texted him the news as I bled on an okada on my way to the hospital to get a scan that would tell me there was no more baby. He replied every message with bitter silence. I never expected him to care. I never expected him to be so cold either. I was disappointed that my heart so easily forgave. Surprised at how easily his words were all I needed to stop rewriting that chapter.
I’ve never wanted to share my experience, I didn’t want the pity that came with it. However, one thing I’ve learnt about nakedness is that no matter how ugly it is, it heals you and gives others the courage to heal also. To everyone who has a friend or a loved one whose suffering from a miscarriage, don’t stop asking how they are. Just because you didn’t see it, doesn’t mean they didn’t feel it.
To every young girl or young woman who has ever miscarried and felt the emptiness of a once occupied womb….who has experienced rejection so deep that it felt like venom was pulsating through your veins…whose heart has pumped the unfathomable pain of loss and loneliness..and who
“I hear the echoes of pain, broken pieces in closed fists I attempt to retain, in hopes that after the storm has calmed a part of me will still remain, I hear the melodies of a broken heart playing with the song of the rain.” (The Naked Butterfly 2017)
The Naked Poet