Dear woman in the waiting room,
It was July of last year when our paths crossed. I don’t know your name. But I remember what you were wearing. I remember what I was wearing. I remember the colour of your hair. The way you were sitting with your legs crossed. Your nervous excitement. You were clutching your husbands’ hand. You were there to see your baby, as was I.
I also remember the way your face dropped and froze with the sight of mine. That excitement and your pretty smile slid right off your face.
I really tried hard to smudge the mascara off my cheeks. I took deep breaths trying to get some colour back in my face which was white with shock. I straighten out my skirt and blouse, as if being well presented was going to make the conversation I was about to have easier.
But you saw it all anyway, there was no hiding it.
We made eye contact for the briefest of moments before mine filled again with blinding tears. I had to blink them away quickly in order to be able to see, just enough, to navigate myself with the help of the head specialist and my husband into a consultation room. A private consultation room with the head specialist at a pre-natal scanning clinic is never a good thing.
You see, we both left the clinic that day with some decisions to make.
Your choices probably involved whether to find out the sex of the baby at the next scan and how and when you were going to tell family and friends your news. Decisions I can only dream of.
My decision was whether or not I would bring forward the death of my baby who ‘was not compatible with life’.
You don’t hear from us often, women like me who are put in these impossible positions with these horrific decisions to make, but we’re here.
On a day when my earth shattered. When the rug was pulled from underneath me, I know it was probably one of the happiest days of yours.
Please don’t think I’m upset with you for having something I don’t. I am truly happy for you.
My wish for myself, a happy, healthy baby, became my wish for you and all the other pregnant women in that waiting room. But especially you. Because you saw me.
I feel like my wish for you somehow also became a part of my apology. I feel like I owe you one. I really do.
I know I really scared you. I know you looked at me and felt terrified. I saw you squeeze your husband’s hand.
I know, in that moment, you said a prayer asking to never be me. I know you asked God never to walk the same path as the nude pumps I was wearing that day. Please don’t feel guilty for that. If I were you, I would have done the same thing.
But the truth is that you should never have had to feel any of those things. You should never have had one of your happiest days rattled, even just a little bit, by being an accidental witness to one of worst days of mine.
I’m sorry for scaring you and I’m sorry if I took a little bit of your joy and excitement that day.
I hope you accept my apology,
In 2018, having struggled through years of infertility, IVF and fertility treatments as well as an early miscarriage, Andrea and her husband made the heartbreaking decision to end a very wanted pregnancy when their baby boy Theodore, was diagnosed with an extremely rare and fatal, congenital condition.
Andrea is passionate about women’s issues with a particular interest in access to affordable and safe health care for women.
Andrea is based in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, Elyjah and beloved fur-babies, Turtle and Zsa Zsa.
She writes over at “Andrea Undone – Moving at the Speed of Grief”