I’m terribly sorry that in our first correspondence I have marked myself out as an arse, for as everyone knows the open letter is the preserve of the idiotic and the bumptious. However. I can’t seem to express myself to a faceless audience or it seems one with a face, even your Mum. So I talk to you, a nothing, not even a cell. An idea, a whisp, a phantom. Dear Huck.
Your name is Huck here because it won’t be when you are born. Mum won’t allow it despite my protestations that it’s a great, strong name. She thinks it’s stupid, despite your brother being called Murdo. She thinks a stupid name for one sibling needs to be balanced out with a ‘normal’ name for the other so you will be James or Ben or something of similar tedium. So here you are in only my head- a little boy; scabby of knee and snotty of nose, and you are called Huck.
You will be our sixth. Imagine that… Mummy has shown me a pissy blue line 6 times now but you only have one brother. He’s pretty cool. At the moment he cuddles his dolly and says ‘this is my baby brother’ and breaks another little bit of Mummy’s heart. He can’t wait to meet you. He’s funny and recently got his head stuck in a toilet seat. Right now I can hear him doing a peepee on a potty for only the second time in his life. He thinks he’s a bit of a genius but he also shits on the floor.
The other four didn’t make it, Huck. They didn’t make if past six or eight or ten or twelve weeks and the fourth was only a couple of weeks ago and I’m so angry that I don’t know what to do. I worked out the other day that I’ve been to fifteen scans. The first three were magical. The heartbeat, the little head, the jokes on Facebook about the size of his cock. The next 12 have been soul crushing and I’ve driven home through the viciously ironic beauty of Richmond Park twelve times, in every changing season with tears flowing down my cheeks.
They know us in Isabella ward. Our names, how we take our tea. ‘You’re back’ they say as we arrive for my wife’s womb to be evacuated again. The drill is: We arrive at 6am and wait because it’s a shift change and the one who is leaving just wants to leave and the one who is starting is bleary and wants a fag and a coffee. Eventually we get shown to a ward of unfettered misery. No one gets good news in Isabella ward and the tears and whelps and the miasma of sorrow is over powering.
A nurse comes round and takes your Mum’s blood pressure and we sit for a bit, looking at our phones and the thought crosses my mind that people die under general anaesthetic and this might be the last time I see her alive and we’re both looking at Twitter. Then they wheel her out. Past, incidentally the waiting room where people are waiting for their scans. Your Mummy, wheeling past in tears is the manifestation of their dread and they stare in morbid fascination and terror. Why NHS? Build another fucking waiting room, yeah?
And then she’s gone and I go to the cafeteria, Huck and I have a Full English Breakfast and a coffee. Then I go and put some more money in the parking meter (why NHS? Give grieving fathers one less thing to fucking worry about, yeah?). I go back to the ward and sit in our curtained cubicle, listening to grief and wonder if your Mum is dead for a bit until a lady farts raucously and I stifle a guffaw. That happened the first three times, Huck (except the raucous fart – that was just number two), almost to the letter every time. The fourth time was different. It happened in a restaurant, with friends. Miscarriage rips away dignity and tramples it into the dust. Your mother is incredible.
I wanted to give up on you last week, Huck. I wanted to look into adoption or consider having one child. I felt like I couldn’t take seeing your Mummy, broken and in brittle pieces any more but she looked aghast and said she was nowhere near giving up. She is driven by a force stronger than I can understand and when I hold you in my arms it will be because of her. Sorry Huck, but I would have let you go.
We’re nowhere right now. The incredibly expensive doctor says we should keep trying, that we’ve been unlucky but maybe we try IVF next. We’re back to the start, eighteen months after the second blue pissy stick. My therapist said I was a fixer and I’m angry and frustrated because I can’t fix this. She’s probably right. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life, son. I want you more than anything and I can’t have you. I want your Mum to hold you and look at me and say ‘I told you so’ and I want this black cloud that stalks our every move to FUCK OFF. We’ll cope with this shitty pain until you turn up and I’ll try to make your Mum laugh and not drop your brother on his head too much, but COME ON. Get your shit together son. Hurry up.