I was recently asked if it was hard to be around my best friend and her, gorgeous, baby.
I met Karma when we were six. I remarked how I had the same shorts- 70’s green with a blue rim – as her four year old brother, then we both agreed we had similar noses. Our friendship was sealed.
When we were 28 I was living in America, she in Italy, but we were both home for Christmas and taking one of our customary walks talking about the whole world. The subject of babies came up. Karma asked with the tone of a statement, ‘but you’ll come home to England for that won’t you?’ My face must have looked quizzical – at that point babies never crossed my mind and I couldn’t imagine returning to London willingly – Karma continued, “I just always saw a picture of us walking with our baby’s in pushchairs in Chiswick’. I laughed lightly and switched the conversation back to our various relationship dramas. There would be lots of time to think about that.
Through all the turbulence of cancer, the heartbreak of losing my mum and having to start my life all over again there was a tiny, at times, minute, bead of hope. Often it dimmed and I couldn’t see it but I knew it was there. Not only was I living back in London, I was back in Chiswick. Karma was also back in London after almost a decade in Italy. I started to wonder if what she had said that cold day on Hampstead Heath was actually some kind of prophesy.
The idea that Karma had glimpsed the future solidified when my bead of hope turned into 14 positive pregnancy tests. I was four weeks pregnant and Karma was eight months. We met for brunch at an American style restaurant and took a long walk down by the Thames. We talked, like we had talked about everything in the thirty three years of our friendship, with topics flying around and bouncing back. It was all falling into place. I was nauseous and she was facing the birth but although in different stages, we were there, together. Our babies would be both be small enough at the same time to push in strollers in the park. Our children could possibly be the same year of school, just like we were. Since I knew I couldn’t give my child a sibling this was the next best thing.
When I first met Karma’s beautiful,perfect, little baby I held him and stared in wonder. It was the closest feeling I will ever have to being an auntie. Karma was wonderful and considerate of how I might be feeling and I was able to share in her glow of happiness. I cuddled her miracle knowing mine had died. I held little Kiyo in my arms while still carrying my baby inside me.
My body didn’t know or didn’t accept that my baby had died and so it ‘missed’the signs I had miscarried. Instead of naturally expelling the pregnancy, the sac kept growing and the baby stayed put for an additional two and a half months. I waited till 17 weeks to see if I could miscarry naturally. I took Misoprostal pills to encourage it to happen, naturopathic remedies, rested, exercised, drank, went to yoga workshops, and acupuncture but in the end, to avoid a potentially risky infection, I had to have surgery. I couldn’t help feeling I had failed at being a mother and then failed again by not being able to miscarrying properly. Another part of me would, if I’d been able, have carried my little boy or girl forever.
My grief swelled up like a tidal wave racing towards me on the beach and just when it was at its highest point about to cascade down sweeping me and a the whole village out to sea, it froze. I could see it suspended above me but remained dry beneath. This respite gave me the opportunity to be there for other people who needed me, as well as space for my heart to break for others. My bright, funny and beautiful friend, Ola, passed away on November 22nd 2015 aged just 34. Cancer of an unknown primary ended her life far, far too soon. Karma’s mum, Helen, passed away from Motor Neurone Disease on December 19th. Helen shaped my childhood and life in countless ways. It was her introducing me to Spare Rib magazine which was behind the reason I became Ms at age 10. I proudly wrote my feminist title on my library card and never looked back. Karma and her family were extraordinary in the love and care they gave Helen.
When I answered the question about it being hard to be around Karma’s baby I was glad to be able to say that my love and connection for Karma has shielded our friendship. I’m constantly reminded how short life can be and how precious love is. I would hate to have my not being able to be a mother come between us so I’m determined to find a way through.
But when I read online that Anne Hathaway was pregnant I lost my mind and yelled ‘fuck you’ at my computer. The anger that flushed through me was a reminder that feelings aren’t always under my control. By the way I have no particular interest in Anne Hathaway, although I did enjoy her Wrecking ball on Lip Sync Battles. This hasn’t been an isolated incident when Huffington post reported Ice-T’s wife, Coco was pregnant I scared a confused Lauren by yelling, “Oh you have to be fucking kidding me”.
I’m still under the suspended tidal wave and wonder if my due date is the day it comes crashing down or if this grief is the type that looms over everything for a lifetime. While I figure that out I’m so appreciative of my love for Kiyo’s smile. Even though the world has once again torn at the seams of what was supposed to be, I desperately want to find a way to be happy. I just hope I never meet Anne Hathaway.