"Everything's back to normal now, we can discharge you. Congratulations!"
I can't even remember what 'normal' is.
48 days, 1 operation, 36 blood tests, 2 scars, 3 hospital stays.
On Friday last week my consultant called me to tell me HCG has finally fallen to 0 and I could be discharged from the hospital.
It's been 4 weeks since I was allowed to come home, and in many ways life has returned to whatever 'normal' is. We celebrated Christmas, visited my family and friends in Scotland, saw in the New Year together and I went back to work.
I've deep-cleaned our kitchen, taken down our Christmas decorations, re-organised my wardrobe, cleared out my locker at work, bookmarked recipe books with things I want to cook, read countless books, made exhaustive Spotify playlists, practised choir music.
I wrote in my journal the other day that I don't want to be wrapped in cotton wool and I don't want people to be afraid to speak to me for fear of upsetting me. But I also feel a burning need to talk about what's happened, what could have been. And I don't quite feel ready to be 'me' yet.
Every day I relive things that happened in November. The signs from the moment I called my doctor that something was wrong.
The fact that only 1 person congratulated me, the very first doctor I saw in A&E before any tests were done.
The fact that as soon as I was admitted to the ward I was given a private room. After 2 weeks in there it became clear that those rooms were reserved for grieving couples.
The fact that on what became the day of my operation, I remember the nurse telling me that her shift finished at 2 and I wasn't to 'go anywhere' and that I was scaring her. I had no idea what she meant at the time.
The fact that on the same day, I barely had time to get changed into a hospital gown before the anaesthetist himself came to take me to theatre,
But you know, despite everything I'll never forget the kindness that was shown to me. From my best friend who sat with me all day that first day in A&E whilst I swayed from terror to excitement every few minutes (and made me cry with laughter one night to the point that other patients thought I was crazy). From Matthew's constant attentiveness and determination to break the visiting hours rules, unrelenting support and middle of the night hot water bottle refilling.
From the student nurses who sat on my bed in the middle of the night and made me feel like a gossipy teenager again. From my parents who, although so far away, put up with tearful phonecalls made at obscure hours. From everyone who visited me in hospital, even though we all know no-one likes those places. All the messages from friends near and far, from ladies who have also lost babies and wanted to tell me I wasn't alone. From the priest who visited me at home. From my wonderful choir who made me feel completely surrounded by love when I made it to a concert I thought I would have to miss.
I've always tried to believe that things go wrong so that we can learn from them. Well, I've learned that I'm stronger than I ever thought, that people care more than most ever let on, that maternal instinct kicks in early and that it's not weak to admit that you're not okay.
But I've also learned that it's possible to feel so far detached from the world that you can sit and watch people and listen to their conversations without taking in a single thing. That suddenly trivial things seem so insignificant and I spend a lot of time worrying about things that don't matter. That when Chandler was trying to persuade Erica to let him and Monica adopt her baby, he summed up how I feel in just one sentence. A mother without a baby...
So here we are. No more blood tests (except on my liver, which did not like the methotrexate. But then neither did I, so at least we agree on something). No more Tuesday trips to York to the hospital. No more scans. No more packing my suitcase in case they decided to keep me in.
I look 'normal' now. Most of the time I act 'normally'. But if you see me with a faraway look on my face, please don't be afraid to ask me what I'm thinking about. Because I can't help but think about what could have been, what might have been, what nearly was. And whilst the only truly tangible memories I might have are hospital wrist bands, sympathy cards and one tiny pair of shoes, the memories and dreams I hold in my heart feel just as real.