The day that I lost my pregnancy in 2014 I was rushed into emergency surgery. My beta-hCG hormone levels were rising rapidly, but at the 8 week heartbeat ultra-scan, my uterus was empty.
The infertility specialist treating me at Copenhagen General Hospital (not it’s real name, it’s actually Rigshospitalet) scrambled to set an urgent appointment, three floors down, with the chief of the Gynaecology department.
The silver-haired professor scanned me and offered us a blank stare. He asked when I last ate. He proceeded to say that they would perform laparoscopic surgery on my fallopian tubes later that evening to check for signs of a pregnancy outside the uterus. Such a measure was to save my life and avoid an even bigger surgery down the road. “And no, we cannot move the pregnancy from your tube to your uterus,” he chuckled. Answering something I never even asked.
That day, life came to a screeching halt. Our hopes and dreams and future and happiness were all tied up in the little being that was supposed to be beating inside of me. And then they told us, that little one was no more. It was over.
This can’t be happening, we thought: We had been triumphantly beamed up from our parallel universe of infertility madness? We had been given a 2-month breather inside the kingdom of smug, expectant parenthood. How could we be evicted? Tossed back onto the island of the infertile, where we had frantically been fleeing? Our heavenly reprieve, over.
The anaesthesiologist roused me from my deep slumber after the surgeons made their exit, and he whispered into my ear, “You are going to be fine.” A porter wheeled me back to my hospital room where a relieved Martin gripped my hand. It was 11 pm. I was drugged up, loopy and wondering why I didn’t feel an urge to use the bathroom. The nurse showed me why, flicking the catheter chord beneath my leg. It would stay in through the night.
Feeling embarrassed, dopey and mopey, I sent Martin home to get some rest.
I dozed in and out of consciousness for the next few hours as Tine, the night nurse, scurried in and out of my room. She had been instructed to take my vitals every 30 minutes, as my blood pressure was scary low.
And then it started: the primal screams. It began as a female voice, seeping through the porous tile floors. The volume swelled slowly, going from pale and faint to dizzyingly loud. She was screaming and then, another one was screaming. They were breathless, gasping for air in between ear-splitting lashes. The women were hurting. Screeching. Agonizing.
They were giving birth.
“Yes,” said Tine, glancing at her watch. “We’re directly above Labor & Delivery, so we hear all the screams.”
“Is this some kind of sick joke?” I wanted to ask. But I didn’t. I let out a smile – a release of tension at the brutal irony, agitating the usual equanimity I reserve for strangers.
In my sleepless Propofol-hangover, I processed the sensory inputs that were assaulting my freshly operated-on body of feelings: The tangy ethanol balm of my bleached up quarters. The thick, 80s-era curtains casting a cool blue glow on the un-hyggelig space. I lay there alone, hollowed out, stitched up, barren and broken. And one floor below me, a person was entering this mad world, under the lullaby of her mother’s heaving chest.
I let them scream for me.
The soundtrack of my ending pregnancy would be the murmurings of the alive-child, a floor below, entering a brightly-lit world of cold metal, tears, back-slapping and jubilation.
Life was chugging along. That damn circle everyone talks about. I could not escape it, nor would I want to.
This not-so-gentle whisper was all the prodding I needed. Yes, we had been robbed. Yes, we were royally f*cked. Yes, we had been evicted. But our journey wasn’t over. Babies would continue to make their glorious debut. And I was convinced now, more than ever, that one day, I swear to God, I would be back in there. One floor below…
And it would be my turn to scream.