John reflects on his and his wife’s second miscarriage and the impact of not sharing their loss or his sadness and pain with those around him.
I spent a week living and working with four other people who at no point find out about the miscarriage my wife is having.
It’s a warm Sunday evening in June and my wife and I are meant to be going to her parents for a BBQ with some of the family but my wife has just told me that she has got a bit of abdominal pain. We’re pretty sure that this is the beginning of our second miscarriage in 4 months. We decide that we’ll still go to the BBQ, despite not really feeling like being around people. It means we won’t need to think about sorting some food out for ourselves, and at least we’ll be with family who will understand if we aren’t quite feeling ourselves.
We arrive and tell my in-laws what we suspect. A trip to the toilet a little while later confirms our suspicions. Our mood drops even more. When some more family arrive, and pick up on our reluctance to socialise, my wife can only snap back “I’m losing another baby”.
All either of us want to do is curl up under our duvet and let the world pass us by, but that is not possible. I’m meant to be getting on a plane to Rome the next morning for a week of training with work. We talk about whether I should go, or if I can phone the person who has organised the trip in the morning and explain what is happening and that I won’t be going away that week.
But it doesn’t feel like this is actually a possibility for me. No one involved in the trip knows about this pregnancy, we’ve only just found out ourselves and got our heads around the possibility of a small human growing in my wife. For the moment, this pregnancy is our secret and it feels like too big an event to explain to anyone outside of our immediate family for now. It also doesn’t feel right that one of the first people to know about this miscarriage is the person organising this training.
Having come to the conclusion that I really can’t duck out of this trip, I sadly pack my bag and leave my wife sleeping in bed as I head for the airport in the morning. The whole drive there I’m thinking about how she is going to cope this week, and how I’m going to have a relatively easy week in comparison. I’m worried, I’m sad, and I really don’t want to have to spend my week in a foreign city with people that I won’t be able to escape from.
Again, I’m wondering if I will tell the people I’m sharing this trip with. We’re all going to be staying in an apartment together, surely it will become apparent that I’m going through something. I spent a week living and working with four other people who at no point find out about the miscarriage my wife is having. Despite the fact we are sharing so much time, and life, together I don’t feel able to bring into conversation how I’m feeling – sad, lonely, exhausted. Our Roman trip continues with me smiling my way through tasty Italian meals out, and exploring the historical sites, when all I want to do is mourn the baby I’ve just lost.
After the first miscarriage we had, I commented that it felt like our world had stopped spinning but that no one else knew. This time around, it felt like my world had stopped spinning but that I was trying to keep it spinning all on my own. I didn’t feel that I had the right to stop everything because I wasn’t physically experiencing the loss myself. I wasn’t the one feeling the pain, I didn’t need to be going to the medical appointments. So I carried on as if nothing was happening, it felt like it was the right thing to do.
By sharing the news of our miscarriage, it felt like I would have been sharing so much more. Not only would I have been announcing that we were trying to start our own family, which I wasn’t ready to share with this group, but it would also be admitting that this time around I had failed to achieve that goal.
We now know how devastating a miscarriage is. For both of us. I focussed on my wife’s physical loss, the pain, the blood, the things which could be lessened with medicine. But in thinking that medicine would dull the pain, I took myself away from the thing that would help me with the emotions of loss – sharing my pain with those around me.