We’d been trying to start a family for a few years without any sign of anything happening until it all came at us so fast we barely had time to think. In about a 24-month time span we experienced three failed pregnancies, surprising the seasoned medical staff of one of London’s biggest hospitals with their odds-defying bad luck. I didn’t know when or how it was going to end. I thought the end had come with each new beginning, but I was wrong.
I felt I had to do something to try to make sense of it all. You learn plenty at times like this but sometimes you don’t appreciate how much until you find a way to climb outside of events. You can spend years wondering when your story is going to turn up and when it does you barely recognise it, but it’s already built up such a head of steam your only choice is whether to get on and ride it or get run over by it.
It was losing the babies that undeniably instigated the book. They are what drives the narrative forward in some sort of linear order. But it’s not a story with a nice, tied-up ending. It’s a reflection of a period in time, the struggle is the story. The whole point of it is that it doesn’t have a neat, happy conclusion. If it did, I probably wouldn’t have written it. It’s a description of a series of events that explain how it feels to be a man trying for a baby, about how it feels for a wannabe Dad to lose a baby and how he gets on terms with the creeping fear that fatherhood is never going to happen.
It’s a book about the sort of phantom fatherhood that ensues when repeated failed pregnancies leave you stuck on the starting blocks watching other people lapping you with their own lives. It’s messy and inconclusive because that’s what these stories are like. It seemed that to wait and see if there was a happy ending would be perverting the truth of what was happening.
I needed to tell the story of now, because who knows how the story will end. It’s the often untold tale of when things threaten to taper off and you see your life starting to become something you never imagined it would become. Or not becoming something you always imagined it would.
Ultimately, and most urgently, I wrote about it so it didn’t destroy me. As everything hurtled towards us at 1000 miles an hour, so much came at us so fast, that our best hope was to cling on, ride it and take stock when the wave broke.
There were times when it felt like we were being given an insight into what life really was and, while painful, we had to try to appreciate that we were experiencing something that most people don’t ever experience. There were other times when I thought we’d be submerged completely, buried under an avalanche of hopelessness and bitterness.
The book was an attempt to write my way through this, to maybe extract some sort of truth from events and hopefully to make my peace with the desperate turbulence of the past few years.