Continued from the book launch – part three
The beautiful baby was Chloe. Before she was born her mum, Louise, lost two babies to stillbirth. A daughter at 21 weeks and then a son at 36 weeks. She contributed some of the most heartbreaking and inspiring pieces in Zoe’s book. Her ability to extract the oh-so-hard-to-find gifts from her experiences is truly beautiful.
But I didn’t know this on the night. Zoe wrote to me yesterday after reading my blog. She told me about her own pregnancy and about preparing for the launch. She wrote: “As time went on, it looked more and more likely that I would be celebrating the birth of the book shortly before the arrival of this baby. Both filled me with anticipation, excitement and terror.” She had also written about the launch the week before on The Punch.
Hopefully this was an easy birth for Zoe. For Luke and I – involved, yet once removed like doting relatives – it was incredibly important.
I left off my last blog with Luke and I ensconced on a comfy lounge chair. Zoe’s husband called everyone’s attention and gave a short introduction. His presence was another reminder that, when it comes to babies – including babyloss – it is always, always about two people.
Next it was Zoe’s turn to speak. I didn’t do the good journo thing and have a recording device at the ready, but the one thing I do remember Zoe saying is this: “I wish I never had to write this book. I wish that every pregnancy had a happy ending. But the reality is that everyone – either directly or indirectly – will be affected by pregnancy loss.” With each passing day I know this to be true.
Emma McLeod from the Stillbirth Foundation and Dr Devora Lieberman from Sydney IVF also spoke with grace and gratitude to Zoe for writing this book about a subject which is, in many circles, still hard to talk about.
When the speeches were over the guests started to mingle. I chatted briefly to the woman next to me. She had come to support one of her friends who was also a contributor. Her friend had lost a child to stillbirth but was now the proud mum of a six-month-old baby. Again, the joy kept coming. The happy endings.
But Luke and I left soon after the speeches – not because of the happy endings all around us, but because we had a chapter to write in our own.
Our latest loss had left us reeling. We hadn’t had time to reconnect, to just *be*, without the demands of the real world. After congratulating Zoe one last time (and getting her to sign my book :-)) we headed out into the rain-washed streets of the city. Our own hearts, lifted by the humbling and life-affirming experience of being in a room where the extremes of human existence – loss, pain, joy and hope – were intertwined, were, like the streets, cleansed and renewed.
In my heels I walked – clutching my man. We stopped near an art gallery to ask two men sitting on the stoop for directions. We headed to Darling Harbour, where our really very nice hotel awaited (come back Scottish pipers – all is forgiven). But first we enjoyed a dinner for two. Date night for a babylost mum and dad.
We bypassed all the too-cool-for-school haunts and settled into a crowded steak joint. We needed to eat our fill; to sate all those things which had been left wanting in the wake of our loss. Our appetites, our need to be together, our need to talk to one another uninterrupted.
Darling Harbour is like the precocious teenage sister of the world’s oldest and most beautiful cities and landmarks: stunning but still not quite sure of its own beauty. That night I reveled in its freshness and the sense of promise it projected. Promise, hope, the future: my themes for the night.
Dinner over, we took the short walk back to our hotel. First stop was an all-night convenience store where we bought a huge bag of pick-n-mix lollies. Like two kids we went upstairs, ordered a movie, giggled together and reclaimed our love. Simple. So simple.
The next morning I woke up, showered and put on a new dress. A daytime frock I had bought for the occasion. Luke suddenly turned to me and said. “You looked beautiful last night. And you look beautiful in that dress too.” I literally swooned.
Saturday’s papers, Eggs Benedict, coffee, juice. He said to me, “If we had to live in the city, could we?” I answered, “Only when I write a best-seller.” We both grinned. I knew then that we would be all right.
Another baby would be beyond miraculous for us but, after last Friday night, I know that we will have our happy ending. Come what may.