I arrive at the clinic and feel the blood drain from my face. I want to be done with it, to feel relief and freedom, and I hate myself for it. Gaz has been agitated with me from the early morning, and to not feel his warm hands around me exacerbates how empty I feel.
This is the third time I’ve been to the clinic in the past month. I take my patient information form and try sitting in a different corner of the waiting room. I am crippled by terror and I make a desperate call to another clinic. – Please, I’m desperate, do you have any places today? – I’m sorry, I don’t think we do. – I’m already at the other clinic and I just can’t do it, help me. – Come in at 1 and we’ll see if we can squeeze you in.
I run from the clinic to Gaz, who is sitting on the ground next to my car with a cigarette. He is lit up like a bushfire. He doesn’t look at me. My phone rings. – Hello, we’ve had a cancellation. Can you come in now? – Yes.
The drive to Richmond is long and painful. Small talk cascades out of me like a swarm of cicadas, building a net around me to protect from anxieties – badly, as it turns out. He doesn’t look at me, doesn’t tell me it will be okay. He thought we had a plan. – It’s just a new plan. I want to get through this as much as you do. Maybe more. Of course I don’t. Take me home. Someone. Quickly.
The girls at reception put me at ease. They are young and relaxed and I relate to them. We crack jokes. There are women crying in the waiting room, and I am devastated to discover that it takes me a few seconds to realise why.
I am determined not to be overcome by emotion – if I fall to pieces now I will surely fail. I talk as though I’m a puppet. Every thought I’ve ever had shoots out at Gaz. I am talking so I forget where I am.
The nurse who sees me is friendly and reminds me of an aunt I never actually had. She explains how it works. I’ve heard it three times in as many weeks but I nod and smile. She uses a fat yellow highlighter to scribble all over “LOCAL ANAESTHETIC ONLY”, “ANXIETY & DEPRESSION” and “DRUG INDUCED PSYCHOSIS”. My life’s mistakes look up from the paper and laugh at me.
The doctor sees me and gives me something horrible to drink. I go to a different waiting room while Gaz moves the car. When he comes back he thinks he has lost me, and he has relief on his face when he realises he hasn’t. Another nurse comes. – She’ll be an hour and a half, you may as well go and get something to eat.
I am in a tiny room with no pants on. The gown is warm and for a moment I think about being a little girl in pyjamas from the dryer. The anaesthetist comes in. – Please only local anaesthetic. Please. – Well, okay, but most people change their mind part way through. – I won’t. I’m sure.
The operating theatre is very white. I’m on a table. My legs are wrapped up in stirrups and my knees are in my face. Antiseptic like frozen orange cordial is poured in places in never should be. The doctor explains what he’s doing to my cervix. He tells me I’ll “feel a tiny prick” and I laugh inappropriately. The needle hurts. Adrenalin from the shot rushes through my body and I take a huge gulp of air and try not to be a wuss. Two more shots and the doctor starts scraping out my baby. It hurts. It really hurts. It hurts in my uterus and in my heart and it hurts more because my mum isn’t there with me.
The doctor tells me there will be 15 seconds of suction and I don’t even hear it before I’m in a recovery room. I laugh with the nurses and they call me Local Anaesthetic Girl. I have some Milo and am reminded of how much I hated it on camp, when they made it with hot water. I eat a biscuit. I have a bruise where the doctor took my blood. I read my book. I send SMSes to Gaz. I do everything except think about my dead baby.
Then I leave. Gaz stops me at the front gate and hugs me for a very long time like he does when he’s feeling sad and relieved. He drives me home. I can’t stop talking. I tell him all about the procedure at least twice. If I stop, I will die. So I keep talking.
At home I hug my girls, lie down and cry.