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Gareth’s story: coping with recurrent miscarriage

Gareth shares his and his wife's Sarah's story of recurrent loss. They suffered three miscarriages after their first son was born, and Gareth talks about how they each coped following their losses.

I can still remember when Sarah first told me that she couldn't feel the baby moving and then the trip to the hospital, hoping beyond hope, that our fears were wrong. I was devastated once the scan confirmed our fears.

Sarah and I got together in 2001 and once we decided that we wanted to have children together, we were really lucky to get pregnant with our first child pretty quickly and had a normal pregnancy. When we decided we wanted to try for a second child a few years later, I assumed everything would be plain sailing but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

I can still remember when Sarah first told me that she couldn’t feel the baby moving and then the trip to the hospital, hoping beyond hope, that our fears were wrong. I was devastated once the scan confirmed our fears and wanted to be left alone to grieve, whilst Sarah preferred to give an outward impression that there everything was okay, and keep her feelings inside.

We then suffered a further 2 miscarriages, which made things a lot more difficult. Whilst we didn’t argue or disagree with how we wanted to move forward, our different ways of coping created distance between us at times. Sarah continued to have no wish to talk about it, whilst I wanted to talk about how hurt I was feeling. Instead I relied on writing poetry about the babies we lost, as well as visiting the plot where the remains were scattered. Neither way was necessarily the right or wrong way to cope, but it did mean that sometimes it is important to remember to be tolerant of each other and how we express our hurt.

I guess we were sort of an inversion of the expected gender roles in that men are usually less likely to talk than women about their feelings, but its always been something I like to do and whilst I believe men can feel the emotional pain of a miscarriage as deeply as anyone else, we obviously don’t go through the physical pain and sense of physical loss that our partners, and I felt it was only natural to defer to her feelings and express my hurt more privately.

An added issue was the grief our eldest child felt at each loss. Our first loss was when he was 6 years old and for which he blamed himself as he had accidentally knocked his mum’s belly a few days earlier. I was able to reassure him that this wasn’t the case and to help support him with his feelings, but I wish I had some of the books I have now on child bereavement, which I am using to support them both with their mum’s MND & Dementia terminal illness.

We decided that we would try one more time, but at the same time we started exploring adoption as a possibility. Whilst this was something I was totally comfortable with, I did have some anxiety around the rights of the biological family having access rights. However, because we had gone through 3 miscarriages, we were entitled to have some investigations into the possible causes, though we were told we would possibly never find out the cause. All my tests came back as clear, however our consultant did some further investigations with Sarah and recommended an operation on her womb. Now I am unsure if this was the reason we were successful in having a second child, or whether we were just lucky, but we considered ourselves blessed to finally have the family we always wished for, especially considering we had decided this was the last time we would try to conceive.

Father’s Day was difficult in the years when we were trying unsuccessfully, especially when you saw others in your family having the family that you wanted, but I wanted to remain cheerful for our eldest child, and to keep it special so I tended not to dwell on our loss too much on that particular day, more thinking about it on the days we had lost our future child.

I guess having gone through a number of big mental health challenges in my life, I have learnt the skills to help me get through these experiences. I’m always very open with family and friends, though I have had to make sure I approach the right people to talk it through as some family were very traditional in their thinking and couldn’t understand why a man should be so sensitive about their loss.

Our 2nd child is now 13 years old and I am so glad we persevered in keeping on trying, even if it was against the advice of some of our family. All I ever wanted was a family of my own to love unconditionally and I hope our story gives a glimmer of hope to others going through unbearable pain of having a miscarriage.