That afternoon

At some point, there had been this afternoon. This Thursday afternoon.

I’ll remember this afternoon for as long as I live. It had started almost like a regular Thursday afternoon. I suppose people were excited about the weekend coming up. Thank God, it’s Thursday, as we say in the Arab world. It was becoming really hot but still, people were probably making plans to go to the beach or whatnot. And then, the day was a bit special, not only for me, because it was the last day of a colleague who had worked in this agency forever. They had planned a little get-together that afternoon and that was probably another reason why people were excited.

My thing started a bit before the get-together. Right away I knew. Two days before, I had been warned. The doctor had told me this would happen. She had told me the heart stopped beating and I should get prepared. I didn’t like this doctor anymore. She had given birth to my son and I was grateful for that. But the whole experience has been traumatizing, how she had punctured the amniotic bag to speed up things because, I suppose, she didn’t want to spend the night on it. After the birth, she hadn’t made sure that I was fine. And I don’t know, just the way she was always asking how my husband was, I knew she found him charming and funny, but sometimes I just wanted to scream and remind her that I was her fucking patient here. Anyway, that day when she had told me the heart had stopped beating and I should get prepared, he wasn’t there. I had felt something was wrong and I had gone on my own, must have gone straight from work, I can’t remember. Only once I was outside the brand new hospital where the doctor was working now, I had reported the news to my husband. He didn’t really care, he already had a son. To him, this was nothing. An unborn child we had not even wanted. Was it that to me as well? I don’t know. True, we had not wanted that child, I had panicked when I had heard I was pregnant again. But that was four weeks earlier. In between, I had grown used to this idea that I was going to be a mother again. I had started to get attached to this life inside me. I had started to tell colleagues about it. I hadn’t wanted it. But then I had accepted it and maybe I had even started loving it. I certainly hadn’t done anything to get rid of it. On the contrary. I had started taking care of myself like any mother-to-be should, like I had with my boy. But now that life was gone. It had stop being, I told myself as I reached my car on the hospital’s parking lot. I wasn’t sad to the point of crying but nothing about me rejoiced either. I couldn’t even say I felt relieved. I was just in this state somewhere in between, hanging.

And the day when it happened, I was prepared. Or so I thought. I had pads with me. Mm… the truth was, unless you have gone through this before, nothing prepares you for this. I remember sitting there on the toilet losing chunks that looked like the liver you can buy at the supermarket. Big pieces, the placenta, I suppose. I remember hearing my colleague’s farewell speech from there, from the toilet. Initially, I had tried to manage with the pads. But considering the volume, the pads I had were a joke, the pads were gone in 10 minutes and then it lasted for another hour and a half. I remember I had realized at some point there was no point trying to manage the situation I should just stay there sitting on the toilet and wait until it was over. At least, physically, it wasn’t painful. Sometimes, since this has happened, people have asked me why I hadn’t gone home. It always made me smile. That afternoon, I couldn’t reach my desk from the toilet and my desk was the closest to the toilet, how could I have reached my car, or any car? The truth was I should have stayed home after the doctor told me. And my husband also should have stayed home but I hadn’t realized how bad this would be. Or maybe I didn’t like to complain, I didn’t like to demand, I didn’t like to bother anyone. And also, I guess, I didn’t trust this company to say “Look I’m pregnant I’m going to have a miscarriage. I should stay home.” I didn’t trust that this wouldn’t be used against me. So many things had already been used against me in this company, and in this other company before. Already that day, I spent two hours on this and figuring out what I would put on my time sheets for it must have been a bit of an issue in the back of my mind.

Oddly, it never occurred to me that I could make something up, come up with an excuse or something. Only now, as I am writing this almost 4 years later, I realize I could have done that. Back then, I guess I was just in denial, or hoping for the best, thinking this might happen over the week end, or at least at home that night, after my husband had come home. Oh God, I don’t know what I was thinking back then. Nothing probably. I guess I was fighting hard not to think. But one thing was for sure, I was hoping for the best, yes, but, in those days, nothing, absolutely nothing ever went for the best. It seemed that for a while, everything that could go wrong in my life, actually did.

At some point when it was over, my thing and the get-together, I left the toilet. I bumped into my Indian colleague who asked me if we were still meeting at 4:30. I had been in my own bubble, my pants were covered in blood but he reminded me that normal life was still going on, like a parallel universe, and it didn’t show what I had gone through because my jeans that day, by chance, were dark blue, and nobody could tell about the blood. Yeah, the meeting. I told him that for sure we were meeting. I must’ve sounded a bit off, he asked me if I was alright. I said I was, and that was enough, he walked off with a smile.

I liked that guy, his gentle manners. He was a true good one.

Then the one I really liked showed up shortly after that for the meeting. For once I had not needed to chase him or even remind him. He was in a good mood like always, going around the office, saying hi to everyone. This guy. He obviously knew I was pregnant. This is great, he had told me back then, a chance to patch things up with your husband. I guess I had hoped he was right, but something deep inside me already knew. I hadn’t told him that my husband had suggested I get an abortion. I suppose I don’t like to complain. But now anyway, it didn’t matter anymore.

That afternoon, I must’ve tried to tell him something, I must’ve tried to tell him what happened. I was fine but I wanted him to know why possibly, I might act a bit bizarre. But then my other colleague showed up, and somebody else also came to say hi, and I never got those 5 seconds alone to tell him what just happened.

We started the meeting on time. I have obviously no clue what the meeting was about. I remember I was worried about the blood, worried that it would show on the white plastic chair. For a while I sat on the edge until I realized it was fine. The blood was dry already. My pants felt like an armor. An armor of dried blood.

That day I probably left without filling my timesheets and I probably got shit for it later.

That day.

Since my husband was traveling, after the meeting, I just went home alone driving my own car like emotionally numb to what had just happened.

Yeah, that day…

Parts of my book are fiction but this one isn’t. One day in my life I had this afternoon. One day in my life, I was seven weeks pregnant and I had a miscarriage in the office. Nobody noticed, and I didn’t tell anyone. Nobody knew. Well, maybe they know now.

Shame nobody can tell me if this unborn child was going to be a boy or a girl. Not that it would make a huge difference. But it would be easier to know what to mourn, and to know exactly what I lost that day.