Arriving in Narnia

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My story begins with a rather rash decision made over drinks with my husband one Friday night in a London pub. The decision was to move to Canada.  

I should explain that I’m generally very easily persuaded to do things. But I grew up in the United Kingdom, my family is there, all my friends from childhood, and my colleagues from the hair salon where I worked. I didn’t really feel like moving abroad. Still, we had just had a miscarriage. Maybe we wanted a distraction from our loss and maybe we needed a fresh start.

As we planned our big move, I found out I was pregnant for the second time. We were extremely cautious. If we hadn’t been planning to leave the country imminently, I doubt we would have told hardly anyone about the baby. (Side note: I’ve always felt the unwritten rule to wait until 12 weeks to share the news is just medieval. Can’t you share good news regardless of what follows? Aren’t you just protecting others’ feelings at the expense of your own?) We were desperate to make it to the 12-week scan without any drama. When we found out the baby was developing normally, it felt like a huge victory. 

I arrived in Toronto when I was 4 months pregnant. I remember the day we landed at Pearson International Airport. The snow was up to my knees. It felt like we had arrived in Narnia. We had never even visited the city before and we didn’t know anyone. We were tourists exploring a place that would be our home. 

Being in a new country while pregnant left me feeling very vulnerable and anxious. I spent a couple of weeks setting up home. I struggled to navigate the Canadian health care system without public health coverage. I joined every group I could find for prenatal moms. I did yoga. I learn how to knit. I didn’t get a job because I was already almost 5 months pregnant, why bother? Essentially, I poured all my energy into having an active and healthy pregnancy.

You know when you have a needling premonition? A feeling that creeps up. A feeling that something isn’t quite right. It was always there. I was obsessed with my pregnancy symptoms and I tracked my bump size methodically. I held my breath trying desperately to sense any movement and I constantly Googled symptoms of late miscarriage. I feverishly compared myself and my pregnancy to every other mother I met. I was single-minded in my focus. Everything in my life was on hold as I waited for the 20-week scan. But nothing would have ever prepared me for what I would find out next.

francesca brunsden