I listen intently to what the sea has to say: Curushhhh-shuuuuooeee… Cuurrushhh-shhuoooooe… Curussssh-sshuuoooo; the crashing waves have always helped and comforted me before. As I sit and stare into the slightly hued horizon waiting for the sun to arrive and clock into work, I wonder: why me? The foaming white froth from the pounding shoreline didn’t have an answer this time. I keep asking the same question to no avail, the reply doesn’t seem to be coming. The oceanfront is desolate; I see no life for miles in all directions, which to be honest, is what I had hoped for by coming to this place. I came here to be by myself, I needed to listen and rummage through my own thoughts alone. People wanted to help me, comfort me, but I pushed them away, they don’t understand what I am experiencing. How could they possibly understand what I’m going through? And even though I know my intention was to be on my own; I feel alone, so very alone. I close my eyes tight to replay the last few months of my life, not that I wanted to, just because I needed to.
I hate this smell, reminds me of a clinic, like a damp stench of sick people. Granted I am actually in a hospital so I can’t really complain too much, can I? I personally preferred the bleach aroma, the way hospitals used to smell back in the good old days. I remember the clean scent vividly from my youth; me and my family spent most of our time in these places when I was younger, my father was very sick and required lots of medical attention. Spending time in infirmaries never bothered me too much, the nurses gave me free ice cream and jelly when I arrived which always made my day. No treats for me today though, hopefully I won’t be here long enough to warrant any luxuries. A quick check-up is all that’s on the cards, a mother and unborn baby routine examination. I look to my left and gaze into my boyfriend’s deep brown eyes as he stares lovingly back. He smiles at me knowing exactly what I’m currently thinking, stating it out loud without me saying a word; “it should smell of babies shouldn’t it? Talcum powder and rusks surely”.
“Rusks, how do you know about rusks?” I chirped.
“It was in this magazine I’m reading” he proudly stated. He thinks he is a baby expert now, he’s read all the books he likes to keep reminding me.
“Mr and Mrs Bailey?” comes a call from a sweet little nurse’s head floating around the corner of a door frame.
“Oh actually its Miss Bailey, we aren’t married” I blushed. The nurse promptly apologises before asking me to follow her into the appointment room.
A stereotypical doctor entwined in a stethoscope sits in a spinning chair in the centre of the room; “Hello Mrs Bailey”. I go to correct him but the nurse beats me to it, another apology follows. I’m not really too sure why I just don’t let it slide, why does it matter if people call me Miss or Mrs? I suppose that in my mind I just think I am too young to be married, I’ve only just freed myself from the teenager badge. Being 20 seems to be a big milestone which isn’t really acknowledged, seems strange to me. The doctor tells me how well things are going, nothing out of the ordinary or alarming has been detected, ‘just keep doing what you’re doing’ he reassuringly states. I thank him, shake his hand and leave the room making sure to smile at the nurse as we exit. I guess this was the first time that I realised I was having a baby, it never really hit home until then, until that exact moment. I will be bringing a small human into the world, some little person who will completely and utterly rely and depend on me. Everyone keeps telling me how amazing it’ll be, our own little bundle of joy. But that’s only since they knew I was pregnant, before that the stories were a little different. They mainly consisted of the phrases ‘little devils’ and ‘why won’t they sleep’. But now it’s all cotton and cute tales, as an expectant mother was I supposed to just forget the previous horror stories? I didn’t know but I didn’t care, this was my very first experience of feeling love for my baby and I wanted to remember it forever.
I reopen my eyes and focus on the suns rearing head poking up over the end of the ocean. The sky begins to fill with its splendour, the music of the sea beautifully accompanying the red-yellow blanket leaching into the morning azure, forcing its way past the darkness. I tilt my head sideways to take as much as the view in as I can, pure pleasure for the aesthetic senses. I notice a shape emerging from the distance to my left, just out of my focal length range. I can’t quite make it out, what is it? The moving shadow stops, I squint to try and decipher the outline of an animal, trying to match the silhouette with a picture in my mind. That’s it, got a hit: it’s a dog! It has to be a dog, surely; it has four legs and longish pointy ears pricked with excitement. It must be, it’s too big to be a cat or a rodent and I doubt it’s any other creature. Not every day you see a large zoological beast cruising along the coast. No, it’s definitely a dog. Why is it just stood there staring at me, I wonder what its thinking? Penny for your thoughts? No one would pay for mine. A tear leaks out of the corner of my eye and trickles down my cheek, the wind from the sea quickly flicks it off of my face; thanks old friend. I close my eyes again just as they begin to fill with tears, I hope that if I shut them tight enough the weeping would be defeated. No such luck, I leave the now blurred figure of the dog as my eyelids slowly clasp together locking shut.
“Not long now Miss Bailey” the sweet nurse reassured me, she gets my name right this time. Eight months gone now and I am huge, I mean really big. Although the hospital still reeks of ill, I am trying my best to brighten up its fragrance with my own scent. I have smothered myself in talcum powder and baby moisturiser to the point where it’s actually a bit too much for even me to stand. “I would suggest that you start to pack a pregnancy bag now Miss Bailey, you don’t want to be rushing on the big day” the nurse stated, I rubbed my bump while grinning from ear to ear. I’ve never been this happy, I feel like I am about to burst, physically and emotionally. I gather up my stuff, say my goodbyes to the nurse and leave the appointment room. The next time I’ll be in this place I’ll be in severe pain pushing and breathing like a…well like a pregnant woman giving birth. I slowly waddle out of the hospital, my favourite part of the appointments was always when I left. Oooo, a twinge in my bump caught me by surprise just as I reach my car. That was a hard kick little squirt, want to get out sooner than planned ay? Well, stay patient little one, you’ll come out when we’re both good and ready. I can’t wait to hold you in my arms, my little bundle of joy. Ouch! Another shooting stab, stay calm little one, keep calm. But the pain keeps coming, again and again. I double over with the pure agony, what’s happening? Is the baby coming now? I call for help, politely at first followed swiftly by panicked shouting on the third searing convulsion. Help me! I’m rushed back into the hospital I tried so hard to leave, straight into an emergency unit. I look down at my bump to see it’s stained with blood, my blood? My baby!
“Is my baby OK? Someone, please tell me if my baby is OK?” My whimpers fall on deaf ears as professionals fly around me. The pain is overwhelming now, tightness surrounds my body like one big cramp. The commotion around me is alarming, I’m being prodded and stabbed with various objects. I begin to not feel the agony after a while, whatever they’re putting into my veins seems to be working. I slowly feel my brain shutting down, what have they given me? My head feels like lead, I begin to lose feeling all over as my muscles loosen. My body feels overwhelmingly heavy as I collapse onto my back, my head bouncing on the cushioned pillow. I stare up at the lights as they grow bigger and bigger, my eyes lose focus as I drift into unconsciousness…My baby!
Beep…beep…beep. I hear the noise before I open my eyes. My senses are sealed shut, I find it hard to open them, they obviously don’t want me to know what’s happened. I reluctantly prise my eyes open and turn my head to the side to see my boyfriend clutching his. I call to him, but my voice doesn’t quite work yet, all I can muster is a hushed squeak through my desert dry throat. He looks up and immediately clasps my hand with his tear drenched fingers. “What’s wrong?” I ask him, he never cries.
“…We…we lost the baby love, they tried their best… but it wasn’t enough.” My heart drops out of my body, I lose all control of my emotions as I burst into tears. I couldn’t protect my baby, what did I do wrong? Nothing was ever flagged up, no one ever said anything was astray. Why didn’t anyone say anything was wrong? Why couldn’t I have my baby, my bundle of joy? I breathe heavy, uncontrollably as my boyfriend squeezes me tightly trying to smother me in love. It’s not working though, I am completely numb. My baby…
I open my tear soaked eyes and am blinded by the sunrise; there is a shadow in my way partly blocking my view, the figure is framed by the orange glow of the dawn. I wipe my eyes to better focus on the obstruction and realign my sight to see a doughy eyed dog stood in front of me, his tongue happily moistening his lower lip. “Hi there” I say to him through my bunged up nose which is still recovering from all the crying, he answers me back with a friendly bark which makes me chuckle. I go to pat him, he helps me along by pushing his head into my hand. His tail starts wagging ferociously as I smooth his noggin, I fear for the ground it’s pounding so fast. I smile hard, I haven’t smiled like this for weeks. Another friendly woof is followed by a ninja like attack in which he swiftly leans in to lick my face repeatedly, I don’t remember washing in dog biscuits today but clearly I am irresistible to my canine pal. I giggle as I fight off this kiss attack, I give his head one more scruffle before sitting back and taking in the sunrise, I didn’t want to miss another second of it. My new found friend sits by my side and watches with me as I rub the tears from my eyes. We both stare at the beauty of this scene which is suddenly filling my heart with hopefulness, displacing the hurt; my heart which was seemingly unlocked by a slobbering tongue which happily covered my face in saliva a few moments ago. The sky is completely illuminated with the sun’s rays, I can feel its warmth on my skin now. I look over to my new canine friend who is also fixated by the view, enjoying it just as much as me. He turns to face me locking onto my eyes with his. I keep calling him a he, I assume he is a he, he looks like a he, I’ll call him…George. Whatever sex he is, he has effortlessly managed to take my mind off of things, god knows I needed that. I soak up more of the perfect view as I stroke George the dog. Without saying a word, he has made me feel love, a feeling which has been overwhelmed by hate and fear in recent months; and he done it so quickly. If only hospitals prescribed animals, the world would be a better, more content place. I fill with warm cheerfulness exploding in me like a firework, albeit a slow burning one. I’ve been through hell and I know there is a long way to go before I fully come to terms with what happened, yet this optimistic feeling is taking over my body, leeching into every one of my cells. All of the positives in life must outweigh the hurt, otherwise life could not exist. I could spend my days sulking and despairing about why existence has been so harsh to me, or I could realise that actually, I am pretty privileged. I stand up with renewed sanguinity as George starts furiously wagging his tail again, I seem to have just found myself a pet. “Come on George, let’s go home”. George barks with excitement as we walk away together, he has no idea what I just said to him, or that his name is now George, but he seemed happy enough that I was talking in his general direction. I think to myself as I make my way back home to face my own conscience: things could be worse. I’m surrounded by wonderful people who will keep me strong, be there for me when I need them, I’ll be OK. I still have my youth, loving friends and a wonderful boyfriend, oh and a new pet… One more thought pops into my head as I stroll along; ‘I hope George doesn’t belong to anyone, I haven’t just stolen a dog have I?’ Na!… Better check that no one is around though looking for him, just in case. I wander around for a good 30 minutes checking, but no one is here. I walk up and down the coastline but its empty, George must have come a long way to find me, to help me. God bless George, my guardian angel.