A dad shares his feelings about his wife’s repeated miscarriages, and the impact on his wife and son.
As you would expect, my feelings about the pregnancy are complex. Having experienced a number of painful experiences when I was younger, I suppose on the one hand I was aware of the boundaries of where my feelings could take me and, as such, more aware about how to stop myself reaching the bottom. On the other hand, because of my past experiences I am an emotional person, which contrasted quite a lot with my partner who tends to block out her feelings.
My partner and I experienced three miscarriages; one before the birth of our first son and two before the birth of our second son. As we had been planning our second pregnancy for some time, we both really happy when we found that we were expecting. No expectations of any problems, just joyful planning of a future together, a brother for our first son, and many happy memories to come.
With the second miscarriage, we had a suspicion that something had happened as she started to experience some bleeding around 8 weeks. We had it confirmed a day later at hospital, and we were numb. We had hoped we were wrong, weren’t too surprised to hear the news, but still couldn’t quite believe what we were hearing.
The nurses were fantastic, and talked us through the facts about how likely it was and what was the success rate the next time and showed us all the cards they had received from people who had gone on to have a successful pregnancy after experiencing a miscarriage.
Funny thing was, we hadn’t told anybody except our son that we were expecting and so not only did we have to go through the pain of loss, but also tell close family and friends that we were expecting and not expecting at the same time. And whilst it was lovely to hear everybody’s concern, it is hard to talk to people who hadn’t gone through this and to listen to the well-meant platitudes that everything would turn out alright.
At some point, you just want to curl up in a ball and not wake up, and I had many nights where I couldn’t stop crying about it (but knowing I wanted to try again), but I had a partner who didn’t want to talk about it, and no-one else to turn to. So I turned to poetry and wrote two to three poems about my feelings (put on the Miscarriage Association website), did some research and found out about the M.A. and wrote down some of my feelings on the forums, not to have a big chat, but just to be able to let it out.
The most difficult thing was to talk through the issue with my son (who was 6 at the time). I felt it was best coming from myself so spent the 30mins drive from the hospital thinking about the best approach and highlighted what happened, what it meant, what the future could be, answering any questions he had and dealing with any issues he had, letting him know that any time he wanted to talk about it, just speak to me.
He bottled it up, and I found out 6 months later he blamed himself for it as he had once bumped hard into my partner. I was so relieved he had told me, and I spent time over the following weeks reassuring him that it wasn’t his fault.
Our third miscarriage was harder to take. Not only did the test results come out of the blue, the fact that it was our third miscarriage meant that our chances of success were swiftly receding and I had to deal with pressure from her step-mum not to try again as this should be her decision alone. Not that I ever thought it, as I always realised it was a joint decision (we decided we would give it one more try) and that I had to support her through this to get to the point where she could think about her thoughts on the subject. But it wasn’t appropriate for her to make me feel any worse than I already did, and we had always made sure decisions in our life were made jointly.
In the back of my mind, before we had the operation to remove the foetus, I couldn’t get it out of my head that the test result might be wrong, hearing about cases where this had happened, and was paranoid that we might be getting rid of healthy baby. Even though I asked the nurse for confirmation, I have never felt fully reassured
The feelings this time were worse, and I am still not sure how we got through it. Maybe it was the fact that the hospital were willing to undertake tests to see if they could determine whether there was an issue, maybe it was thinking about wanting Lewis to have a brother, I don’t know.
Anyway, we went to have the tests (at the same time exploring whether adoption was for us), having being told that it is better that nothing shows up as then it is more likely that it will be successful next time. My test results didn’t show anything, hers showed that she had some abrasions internally and the consultant would operate to remove them.
After this, we got pregnant again. We were more nervous than ever, fingers crossed to get past the 13 week initial stages, not telling anyone – 13 weeks of torture with more stresses to come. Due to our circumstances, we had about five or six scans throughout the pregnancy to make sure everything was OK, and the one around 20 weeks highlighted that we should be more closely monitored as the baby looked big!
Due to this, the 24 hours it took for our son’s delivery, and the fact that my wife is a very anxious person, the doctor suggested we have a caesarean, and everything turned out all right. The 30 minutes in the waiting room whilst they prepared her for the operation was the longest time in my life but the tears of joy when we heard his first cry….
Our second son was well worth the wait and makes all of us so happy, but every so often I find myself drawn to the grave where the hospital buries the remains. I have a private thought, speak to the babies we lost, apologise for not being strong enough for them, and thank them for him. I am not sure why I do it, only that I feel it is wrong to forget them and that time in our lives.
It is hard to explain to people how painful it is to go through a miscarriage as it is partly about what is lost, but also about what the future holds, and that is harder to deal with than anything else.
You move on, your relationship becomes stronger as you realise you have come through a tough time together, even though in that moment in time tempers are frayed, but you still have that loss in your subconscious.
Our contact with health professionals was brilliant, from nurses to our very sympathetic consultant. So much so that I have done fundraising for the hospital since then, and give up my Christmas presents to the children’s hospital as thanks for all the support.
Away from this, little professional support was offered to discuss what we had gone through, and it was only by the third miscarriage that we were offered tests.
I do feel that more support could be given around having someone to turn to outside of the family.
I do also think that tests should be offered at an earlier stage.
Finally, my advice to others is that you have got to look at your personal circumstances. If you require support, seek it through your partner, family, counsellors, whatever is appropriate. If you don’t, then that is fine also.
As with any type of grief, how it is expressed it is down to the individual.
As our story shows, sometimes it does pay to persevere and the pain we had to experience to get him was more than worth it. You hear stories about people that try 15 times before they are successful, but others don’t feel strong enough to try more than once and it is an area of medical research where explanations for why it has happened are thin on the ground so I can fully understand the uncertainty around whether to try again.
You have to do what is best for you, but I feel that you should at least explore how the miscarriage has made you feel, so that you can try and put it some sort of context. If this is done, then I feel that people are more likely to have a good perspective on how sensible it is to try again.