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Despite saying “I’m always losing things”, Catherine never uses the phrase ‘I lost a baby’.

I cannot find my baby. Nor can I find the words to express this to others.

I am forever losing things. I can’t remember how many times I have lost my keys, or my mobile phone, as well as other annoying things such as forms from school or activity clubs. Often I will smile and say by way of apology to whomever is witnessing my current, frantic search, “I am always losing things”, and they will smile back and acknowledge my situation, or even agree that they too, lose things on a regular basis.

As easy as that losing phrase pops out of my mouth, there is one thing I never say, not to anyone: “I lost my baby”. Because as unorganised as I can be at home, I always find things. My purse turns up, the forms are usually at the bottom of my handbag and my phone likes to hide down the side of the sofa on a regular basis. As much as I lose things, I also always find them. But I cannot find my baby. Nor can I find the words to express this to others.

The worst thing about the verb ‘to lose’ is that it implies an element of blame. I don’t want to share my blame with others because it is too overwhelming to deal with. I didn’t take care of that baby well enough whilst it grew in my womb; I ‘lost’ it somehow due to something I did. Of course the leaflets you are given, and the professionals that talk to you all have a standard explanation that is given to you, and it is not unkindly delivered. But it really is nonsense, because if you have been through this experience then it doesn’t matter what anyone says or does, it happened to you, and you will always believe the blame lies with you. I feel embarrassed and ashamed that this happened, so it is easier to say nothing and pretend the whole thing never happened. Nothing lost over here…let’s move on.

But then after a while you can’t move on, and the search begins to ‘find’ the baby. You throw yourself into work or exercise or something, or like me, even more shamefully you plan another child. I concluded that if I had another baby, maybe that would be the baby that I so carelessly lost? Not everyone has this option, but I did and I grabbed that new child as she was being delivered, determined never to lose this one. I felt content and strong and powerful. I had found my baby. I went back to being the woman that just loses phones and keys and purses. I went back to being just like everyone else.

Three years later and my new child is a joy, as are my older children. But they are not my baby that I lost. I know that, but I can’t get over it, and I don’t expect I ever will. I still cannot say the ‘L’ word about him because I still desperately want to find him. So I have to be brave and say an even scarier word. Miscarriage. I had a miscarriage near the end of my second trimester and my little boy was born an angel. Maybe one day I will find him, but not in this life. All I can do is kiss the children I do have, whenever I can, and try my best to just be the woman that loses keys and purses and nothing else.

Catherine Stead