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Blood. So much blood.
I dealt with blood every day of the week as a doctor. This was different. That disconnect I felt when dealing with bleeding patients was gone when it was me doing the bleeding.
My baby was gone. The baby I’d never wanted in the first place.
Connor squeezed my hand. “Deep breaths, babe. Let’s just see what the doctor says.”
“I am a doctor.” I pulled my hand away, glaring at him, and immediately my stomach clenched. None of this was Connor’s fault.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, and slid my hand back in his. None of this was fair. Not when he’d been so happy. This was my fault. I’d been the reluctant one, the scared one, the one who hadn’t wanted children. At least not yet.
Being qualified was still new to me. The last thing I wanted was a baby. I was in the first year working as a junior doctor in a hospital, still learning while I worked out what I wanted to specialise in. Those two lines on that pregnancy test had changed everything.
For four weeks, we’d known I was pregnant. Connor’s excitement had slowly rubbed off on me, and I’d fallen in love with the idea, fallen even more in love with Connor. He would be the best father my baby could have.
Now, the dream was over. I didn’t need another doctor to tell me.
Connor leaned over and kissed my temple. “You have nothing to be sorry for. You’re scared. So am I. I just need to know you’re okay.”
Beautiful, sensitive Connor. So good for me, and too good for me. There were times when I didn’t know how he put up with me and my moods. I’d never been one of those happy-clappy optimistic people. I left that for my sister, Ella. I was the one who had the resting bitch face. Connor loved me anyway.
“Miss Brown, sorry for the wait, I …” A familiar voice came through the door. “Holy shit, Vanessa. What’s going on?”
“How many Vanessa Browns do you know?” There it was again—that snarky tone I couldn’t seem to help but use when stressed. It wasn’t his fault, Brown wasn’t exactly an uncommon surname.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t click. Tell me what’s happening.” Doctor Will Clay stood by my bed. We’d gone through university together, graduated together, and were both now in our first year of working as junior doctors in the hospital.
“I’m losing my baby.”
He leaned forward. “I didn’t know you were pregnant.”
“No one did. We haven’t hit the twelve-week mark yet.”
Will nodded. “Are you okay with me examining you?”
I leaned back and stared at the sterile white ceiling. “I know you have to.”
“I can get a female doctor.”
I looked back at him, fixing him with as steely a glare as I could muster. “And wait another half hour?”
He licked his lips, flicking a nervous gaze between Connor and I. “Right.”
“Just get it over with.”
I went back to staring at the ceiling as Will was as gentle as he could be. I couldn’t fault him, but tears rolled down my cheeks, and Connor squeezed my hand again in response.
“I’ll get you an ultrasound to confirm.” He spoke so softly, but the way he said the words didn’t make this any less painful. My baby was gone.
“You already know what’s going on, Vanessa,” Will said softly. “And from what I can see, it’s nearly over. How far along were you?”
“About eight weeks.”
He nodded. “I’ll just give radiology a call, and I’ll take you up there myself. I think I’m due a break.”
My eyes welled as I looked at him. I kept my focus on Will, too scared to look at Connor and the pain I knew would be written all over his face.
“Please,” I whispered, as Will picked up my other hand and squeezed it.
“I’ll take care of you. Both of you.”
Warm tears rolled down my cheeks as he let go of my hand and disappeared out of the room to make his call. Despite my natural inclination for snark, I had a good bedside manner because I cared. Will, however, seemed so much more caring than I was. Of all the doctors to get, I couldn’t have asked for any better.
“I’m sorry, babe.” Connor leaned over, kissing my temple.
“It’s not your fault.”
“I know, but I hate seeing you like this. Love you, Ness.”
“Love you too,” I whispered, closing my eyes.
Through it all, Connor was by my side, and when we finally got home and I broke down, he held me in his arms and rocked me.
“My heart hurts,” I whispered.
“So does mine. I love you so much. None of this is fair.” He led me to the bathroom, and twisted the mixer for the shower, checking the water until it ran at the right temperature before stripping me down. I stood, motionless, letting him do what he needed to.
He stripped off too, and guided me into the shower. I closed my eyes as the warm water covered me, and Connor picked up a cloth and gently washed me off. What I ever did to deserve him, I’d never know, but his kindness brought the tears back.
“It’ll be okay, Ness. Let’s go to bed and sleep and maybe things will be a bit better in the morning.”
“I’m so empty,” I whispered.
Connor cupped my face in his hands. “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’m here, and I’ll always be here.”
I nodded. I knew he meant the words, but everything felt hollow now. It was amazing how in such a short time your world could be flipped on its head. A few weeks ago, I might not have felt so strongly. Now, it seemed like I’d lost everything, and I didn’t know how to start myself again.
I stepped into the bedroom, a towel wrapped around me. Connor plucked a pair of panties from my bedside cabinet and helped me dry off as I stood still.
“Here we go.” He slipped my nightgown over my head, and I stepped into my underwear. Connor reached to pull them up, but I put my hand out and stopped him.
“Anything for you.”
I shuffled around the bed, my underwear around my ankles, and opened my bedside cabinet again. Pulling my panties up, I slid a sanitary pad in.
Connor blushed as I looked back at him. “Of course. Sorry.”
“You don’t have anything to be sorry about.”
He peeled down the sheets on the bed, and I lay down as he pulled on some underpants and slipped in beside me.
I had no more tears left, at least not tonight, with exhaustion overwhelming me. It was so good to be back in my own bed, but at the same time, the last time I’d slept here, I still had my baby inside me.
Connor wrapped his arm loosely around my waist. “Do you need anything else?”
My baby back?
“No. I just need some sleep.”
I rolled toward him, snuggling up as his grip tightened. This was my comfort, the boy I loved more than anything, the man who was my heart. It wasn’t his fault my heart seemed so empty. If anyone could fill it again, it was Connor.
My eyes didn’t want to open in the morning. I couldn’t blame them; it had been a late night, and I didn’t particularly want to get out of bed. At the same time, I needed my life to get back to normal.
I yawned, and rolled over, opening one eye to look at the alarm clock. It was 10.03 a.m.
“What the hell? My shift started at eight.” I sat up and dropped my feet to the floor.
Connor’s hand landed on my back. “I turned off your alarm clock.”
“You did what?”
“I called your work and told them you wouldn’t be in.”
I looked over my shoulder and glared at him. “I didn’t ask you to do that.”
“I know, but last night was exhausting. I figured you could do with the rest.”
Pulling away, I stood and turned. “You had no right to do that. How is that going to look, my boyfriend calling in sick for me?”
He smiled. “They were so good about it. Said for you to take your time.”
“I can’t believe that you would do that. I’ve never missed a day of work sick. Ever.”
The last thing I wanted to do was sit around. I’d worked so hard for what I had achieved, was proud of my perfect work record. Not to mention that the only way I knew to get rid of the nagging misery in my head was to think about something else.
My relationship with Connor had bloomed at the time when I had come to Auckland to study, and he knew how serious I was about my career. My father had wanted me to be a vet, but then again, he hadn’t done what his father wanted, and instead had followed in his grandfather’s footsteps on the farm.
I had never been much of a people person, but I cared much more than I ever usually let on. On the job training also kept me learning, which I loved.
Stuck at home, I wouldn’t be learning anything.
“No, you haven’t. So you have plenty of leave to use.” Connor’s words snapped me back to the present and irritated me further. I was the one who should decide that.
“I don’t want to stay home. I want to get back to normal.”
“You need to give it time, babe. Last night was a huge thing for you to deal with.”
I buried my face in my hands, letting out a growl. “I need to deal with it my way.”
“Want me to be with you?”
Sighing, I shook my head. “No, I’ll be fine.”
With nothing else to do but crawl back into bed, that was exactly what I did. All my motivation had gone. Between the staff who saw me in the department last night, and Connor’s phone call the word would have spread, and everyone would know my personal business. Maybe if I stayed away for a while, it’d die down.
I buried myself under the covers, Connor kissing the top of my head through the sheet as he left. Closing my eyes, I drifted back to sleep.
Sleep wasn’t easy, dreams full of blood and sadness, stabbing at my heart as it broke all over again. And the guilt, the overwhelming guilt of knowing that I hadn’t wanted to be pregnant in the first place.
I woke to the sound of the front door closing and raised my head to look at the bedside clock. It wasn’t even midday.
“Connor?” I called.
“Babe, I told them at work what had happened and they sent me home. I’ll just work from here.” He stood in the bedroom doorway. “Want anything?”
“No. I thought I was going to get some time alone.” I knew I was being irrational how him being here irritated me, but if I wasn’t distracted by work I needed to be alone. To grieve and hurt alone.
His eyebrows crept up. “You wanted to go to work this morning.”
“I just need space, Connor.” I pulled the sheet over my head again.
“I’ll be out in the living room if you need anything. I’ll leave you to it.”
He means well.
I buried myself in my bed, trying to shut out the noise from the television.
One day at a time.
Ariadne Wayne is the pen name of an overworked, often exhausted mother of two who frequently turns to the internet for relaxation. It doesn't always work...