Nine years ago we took a blank video cassette to our 20-week scan. But the sonographer stopped recording when she realised something was wrong. Our doctor told us that afternoon to go and buy some pyjamas that would be comfortable to labour in. I wasn’t sure what labour-suitable pyjamas looked like, so I bought some that I would like to have if I wasn’t pregnant, since in a few hours time I wouldn’t be.
The few seconds of video footage we had from the scan was all we bought home with my new pyjamas. Plus a tiny patchwork quilt that had tucked our baby girl into one of those clear plastic cribs that they put live babies in beside you in the maternity ward.
The scan footage was accidentally taped over some time later and we’ve since had two more beautiful baby girls, but I don’t stop wondering if our first would’ve had brown eyes and curly brown hair.
I was sad for a long time. I remember visiting my brother eight months later and having to leave the bathroom where my sister-in-law and cousin’s babies were splashing in the bath. I distracted myself by hanging out her washing. But it was full of little socks and Bonds onesies. I saw my Dad’s ute arrive and I ran to him and sobbed, ‘They’re bathing their babies!’
Nine years on, I can see the joy of my little new nephew and my cousin’s baby in the bath and I wish I’d enjoyed it with my sister-in-law and cousin than found it salt in a very open wound.
Back then, I even hoped my best friend wouldn’t come to visit after our loss because she’d bring her breastfed baby. She didn’t. And I probably didn’t thank her. But I do now. I should never have thought of her big healthy baby boy as salt.
I was watching another mum recently trying to teach her children to be thankful for the ice cream they had than disappointed for themselves that it wasn’t as big as the other ice creams at the table.
Now that I remember what it felt like that day watching two big babies in the bath while I had none, I’m going to be very gentle when an opportunity arises to teach my girls the ‘be thankful for the ice cream you have’ lesson.
And if you’re into quotes, here’s the full one by Melody Beattie:
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
I wish I’d read that quote in the waiting room before the ultrasound nine years ago this week.