Coping with miscarriage is difficult for any woman, but it can be for the partner too. A moving story from one man who has shared his experience with me….
It wasn’t meant to be like this
I held his tiny white coffin in my arms, crying as I walked into the crematorium to lay my son to rest.
I had wanted to grab the doctors by the throat and to slowly squeeze the living breath out of them. They should have been able to stop my wife going into labour at only 19 weeks. We think nothing of sending people into space or building a tunnel under the sea but we couldn’t stop her labour…
When we found out my wife was pregnant I was scared, I couldn’t think about anything properly or see anything in the same light again.
When I was in the car I would imagine he was in his car seat next to me and think of how careful I would be and how I would look at him. Nothing tore me away from the ultrasound scans and on several occasions I cried to see him move, when his hand twitched on the screen and of course when he kicked. He was strong, very strong; at 18 weeks he kicked for England and I was sure he would be the first to launch a football into space with a kick.
But something went wrong
But something went wrong, and no one knew what. My wife’s waters broke and she bled and as I chased the ambulance to the hospital I phoned everyone and cried. I stayed with her for as long as the nurses would let me. Over the next couple of days they tried to stop the bleeding then, on a rainy Thursday morning, they brought a scanning machine into the room.
We could see from the start that all was not going to be ok, and then it hit home. Someone grabbed my spine with fingers of fire and was playing with my heart. He had turned around and there were no waters left.
Numbly I took my wife’s hand and held it so tight. I wasn’t afraid for her, I knew that she was strong, I was afraid for me. I was supposed to protect my family.
We had reached the 12-week mark and it was supposed to be plain sailing from here, the threat of miscarriage or stillbirth gone. Nothing was going to go wrong.
We argued with the doctors to find a reason for what had happened, but they either didn’t want to know or could not find anything. We were exhausted. After the scan we were told we could wait for labour to begin or my wife could take a tablet that would make the placenta come away on its own. Either way my son was lost. We talked and decided that the tablet was the way to go.
But before she could take a pill a contraction engulfed her; I fought myself and bit my lip. We had needed no pill, my wife’s body had its own plans and it was not going to stop now. At 8.35pm, with lightening and thunder outside, our son entered the world. He didn’t have to open his eyes, as I know that he saw through me. All my dreams and loves and hopes were in him also.
The chaplain arrived and Jack was named and blessed that night. The midwife cleaned him and wrapped him and made him look peaceful so that when we held him it felt as natural as it ever could be. But he was gone. He had died either in birth or just before, no one knows, but we held him as his body slowed and stopped. As he left us he was in our arms and he knew that he was loved. All the other mothers on that ward felt for us and some cried with us. But they couldn’t feel like us, no one could.
We left the hospital that night so we could return home and just lay there holding each other and comforting each other.
I carried his coffin
As the days went on I carried his coffin into the chapel and then sat with my wife and held her as the tears took over. I supported her when her legs couldn’t hold her and I loved her as much as I could.
We wept and mourned as best as we could but nothing really works but time.
I had all but given up when only a few months later we found out that, once again, we were pregnant again and someone stoked up the fingers of fire that held me inside.
Now we have a daughter, a baby girl. I couldn’t think of this pregnancy at all. This time I could not trust anyone or anything. We got to 12 weeks. We got to 19 weeks. We got to 25 weeks and 6 days – and it started to happen again.
But now we have a healthy (well nearly) bundle of love, a beautiful little girl. She is what I imagined her brother to be: fun, tiring but most of all, my child.
As for my son? I still dream of him but I have no face to put on the pictures. I have no son to hold when he cries. I can’t look in the mirror just in case he looks back.
The Miscarriage Association also offers support and information: call their helpline on 01924 200799