‘Isabelle is medically well and there are no concerns regarding her plans to conceive.’
‘Isabelle is yet to experience any significant pain or bleeding.’
‘I am still very optimistic for Isabelle’s chances of having a healthy pregnancy given that she and her partner have one live-born child.’
‘Just a quick note to update you that Isy’s NIPT returned a high-risk result for T21.’
‘It’s certainly pleasing to see her again so soon after her previous miscarriage.’
‘She had an ultrasound that demonstrated the miscarriage was complete.’
‘Suction curettage for missed abortion.’
‘I’ll see mum and baby at the six-week postnatal check.’
‘Isy opted for a STOP which was performed…’
I’m angry at my memory. Did it lie? Did the doctors not tell me the truth? Did it create what it thought were pillowy buffers to soften the blows that came time after time, week after week, month after month, year after year?
Sometimes the scrawled handwriting or notes swiftly typed between consultations help me place the flashbacks for which I have no door. Other times they prove to me just how scrambled they are, my recollections. My thoughts. My memories.
They’re mine. So why are they not in my head, but in these notes?
And then I’m back to being angry. Angry at my mind, my memory, my body, my trauma.
Few people are given the opportunity to read these pages. But I’m not few people. I’m me. They are my notes. I need them. They tether me to my truth. Even if it’s a truth I don’t yet comprehend. Will I ever really understand? At night, alone, I trawl them, mine them looking for answers.
When you drop a Siddur, you pick it up and you kiss it. Maybe it’s an apology. Or maybe reverence. Because within it is the name of g-d. When my rabbi taught me this tradition, I don’t think I ever asked why. We were all too busy to ask questions. We were giggling, kissing the Siddurim, over and over, even though we had never let them fall.
I thought of this memory as I stood in the queue to get my 172 pages of notes bound in clear plastic, with a black, spiral, plastic spine. I wanted something colourful, but they didn’t have anything except white, black and grey. So now it looks like something funereal. It irks me every time I pick them up. They’re not about death, but hope. Hope for what?
Sometimes when the trauma overtakes my mind and my brain feels like it’s floating inside my head, I need my spiral-bound, funereal notes. Notes to prove to me that it happened. That it’s not an invention. That it’s over. That I have lost them and I have the right to grieve, feel lost, feel sad, miss them, for a little while.
As I was getting ready to walk away from the printing desk, I panicked. I had two more sets of the notes printed. Three sets in total. 516 pages of someone else’s recollections of my memories. Three carbon copies so I can always find them when I need them. So I always have the answers.
Well, not all of them.
Isabelle Oderberg is a veteran journalist, who is now writing her first book, tentatively titled Hard To Bear. She also works in media and communications in the not-for-profit sector.