tough as nails

Two weeks after we lost Sadie we were dealt another blow that at the time was inconceivable in the cruelty of its timing. Out of respect for my husband's privacy I won't go into detail here, but the short story involves a sudden and intense health scare that led us to believe that he had a potentially terminal illness.

I am not totally sure how I got through those weeks considering my fragile state to begin with. Actually, that's a bit of a lie. My baby was dead and some wackjob doctor had just told us my husband would be next. The truth is I was higher than a kite, 99% of the time. Between Ativan and red wine, my memories are fuzzy around the edges where they're not altogether black.

During one of our initial hospital visits I broke down in front of a specialist, hysterical with fear and anger at the overwhelming unfairness of it all. It was humiliating and painful beyond words. Soon after that episode something in me clicked, and I realized that letting him see my despair was no longer an option. I proceeded to try my ass off to calm him with some sort of physical osmosis, somehow via my hand intertwined with his, or wrapped up in a tight bear hug.

Six weeks after the nightmare began it was suddenly over. At the root of it all was a misconstrued x-ray and an American emergency room physician whom I will never forgive. We were given the go ahead to return to England, empty handed and shocked, wary shells of the people we once were.

The reason I'm telling this story is because of the intimate way the experience has permeated our lives since. It broke a little something in us both that is difficult to describe, mostly because I don't believe either of us fully understands it. My doctor has her opinion of course, at least for me. A curious infliction she likes to refer to as chronic anxiety.

On a bad day, a chest cold is lung cancer. A bump on my arm is inevitably a tumour. Everyday aches and pains must be underlying signs of something dire to come.

Now, before you conjure up images of my morning commute involving a padded helmet and gas mask, understand that I am not a certified freakshow. But I worry. A lot. About myself, my husband, my loved ones. And more often than not about the health of our future children. Provided, of course, I survive another pregnancy without suffering a stroke at the ripe old age of 32.

I have read that the incidence of depression in parents after babyloss is roughly 69%. I do not believe I'm depressed. However guilty it may make me feel on occasion, I still enjoy the pursuit of life's pleasures. I can take care of myself and get out of bed in the morning and am not at risk of hurting myself. But I'm definitely, one thousand per cent terrified of what the future may hold. What else we may have to endure. On a particularly bad day I wonder why I would even try again when the odds are I'm just going to get sick and die in the end anyway. Horrible, I know. But try as I might to think it away, it still lingers.

As life has sped up these past few months and our time is seemingly endlessly booked with work and social functions, there are days when there is nothing I want to do more than sit at home alone in our safe little house, locked away from the outside world.

I look at my husband in a new light these days as a result of everything we've been through together. The concept of losing him was unfathomable - yet so was the idea of Sadie being so sick. So what exactly we can rely on I'm really not sure. There is nothing I would not do for him. There's nothing I want to do without him. And I want to be a parent with him more than I could ever properly articulate on this page.

If I could just get past all of this damn fear.


Did you suffer from any form of anxiety after the loss of your child? If so, did it wane with the passage of time? Did it affect your decision to try again?