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  • 18 years and I'm still not sure if I can tell the stories.

    I've always wanted to be a mother. Not just wanted... dreamed, desired, WANTED... as far back as I can remember. In my late teens and 20s, babies just made me swoon. In Britain, they call it "broody". Of course, during those years, I was sexually active but "careful". Like most women, I wanted to have a family and "family" included a husband, the father. Looking back, if I'd have known how difficult it was going to be not only to find the mate but to produce the children, I know I'd have been a lot less careful. I just grew up at a time when single motherhood just wasn't "done".

    Of course, my mother was a single mother from the time I was three until she remarried when I was almost 7. And, to be honest, she was doing the job pretty much alone before my father fucked off when I was three. I guess I didn't see what she did as "being a single mother". I never was aware that there were many people who frowned on the fact that she was a lone woman with a child, and, as bad, a divorced woman with a child. Some people thought she was a widow which was "okay".

    When I was in Grade 7 (1968), a friend of my best friend got pregnant and had to drop out of school. Scandalous! She ended up having to marry her boyfriend, and had repeated pregnancies in the years following. I saw her once in the late 70s and she looked like she was 80.

    I didn't find my "soulmate" until I was 32 and it took 5 more years to get to the point of getting married and then started the baby-making efforts. Thirty-seven is not the best time to start trying to have babies and, as I was to discover, it was WAY to late for me to start.

    We got pregnant in late 1993 and I was beside myself with happiness. We waited the requisite "safe" time before we started telling friends and family. We took a trip to London, England, probably the last trip we'd be able to take in a long while. Morning sickness was waning and I had lots of energy but part way through the week in London I started getting niggly little cramps. On the flight back home, I started spotting so I went straight to the hospital as soon as we arrived home. The doctor said that she couldn't hear a heartbeat but that that sometimes happened with overweight women. She told me to come back the next day for an ultrasound and not to worry. We were now into the 15th week, into the second trimester.

    The next day, I went in to get the ultrasound. The technician was business-like. "I can't tell you anything about what is going on. Your doctor will tell you." I was excited to see my baby for the first time and disappointed that my husband wasn't going to be there.

    The technician started probing my belly and I was trying to make sense of what I was seeing on the screen. I could make out a large round area and asked "Is that the head?"

    The technician snapped at me "I TOLD you I couldn't tell you anything!" and turned the screen away from me. I lay there for the rest of the procedure with tears pouring from my eyes and wanting to scream at the woman. All I wanted was to see my baby.

    She finished up and then took me back to Emergency. She pointed out a small room with a phone and said that if I needed someplace private to call my husband from, I could use that room. I couldn't figure out why I'd be needing to call him. Oblivious.

    The doctor I'd seen the night before came in and said "So I can see you've figured out there's something wrong..." I missed the point of her comment and said that I was really angry about how the technician treated me. Then she told me... The foetus is dead. It appeared to have died at about 10 weeks, about a month earlier, sometime around Christmas. The reality hit me. The doctor told me that what was happening was that the foetus was starting to break down but that the body just wasn't expelling it... "It's called a missed abortion".... There was probably no way to determine why it died. Doctors don't even bother to find out why until after the third pregnancy. If it didn't "resolve" in a few days, I would have to be scheduled for a D&C.

    Because the Provincial government was "saving money" by closing surgeries for all but emergency procedures except for on public holidays, I would either have to wait as long as 6 months (SIX MONTHS!) to have the procedure done or have it done as an "emergency" on the next available "closed" day. I'd have to show up on the day complaining of bleeding and cramping and they would fit me in as an emergency.

    So, Valentines Day, 1994, I went down to the hospital, alone, to have my dead baby removed.

    In the next few years, I had two more miscarriages but these were at 8 weeks, when almost 50% of all pregnancies end.

    Oddly enough, while we were living in the US, and I was walking down the street, I noticed a small gold cherub pin wedged in a crack in the sidewalk. It was the week of Valentines Day. Just shortly after each of the other two miscarriages, I found another little cherub, one for each. I don't believe in God or in Divine Reasons. For me, it is Serendipity.

    My husband and I divorced in 2000. He's remarried and has a daughter.

    I have nieces and nephews and many grand nieces and nephews. My niece, Gabrielle, once told me, after the first miscarriage. "Don't worry Auntie Anneke! If you don't have any babies, I'll be your baby!" And she is.

    As an addendum, I asked to have copies of the ultrasound of the foetus. It wasn't common, then, especially at the hospital emergency room. I was told to go down and ask the records office for copies. I went to the office and explained to the woman that I was miscarrying and I would like to have copies of the ultrasound because I had nothing else to remember it by. "I am willing to pay for it". The woman looked me up and down and hollered (HOLLERED!) at me "YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THAT!" I paid $15 for my ultrasounds which she slapped across the counter at me.

    Just a little sensitivity on the part of the ultrasound technician and the records office clerk would have been nice.
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