I am slightly uneasy writing as a man about my wife’s miscarriage. Because it was exactly that: my wife’s miscarriage. I have always regarded myself as collateral damage in the affair. I did not suffer the bitter physical trauma that my wife did and therefore what I experienced was a kind of grief once removed.
But the truth is the news did strike me a vicious emotional blow. The sting of which was undoubtedly worsened by the utter shock, caused by my ignorance that such an eventuality was so common. So if a few paragraphs of my story even made one person more aware then it is a worthwhile endeavour.
My memory of that morning has faded over the last two years, but I remember that the clinic itself felt oddly reassuring with its oak panelling and fresh flowers. Plush and comfortable, more like the foyer of a country hotel. I also remember the inscrutable look on the specialist’s face as he peered at his monitor, forming his diagnosis. And I remember the very measured way in which he told us that this particular journey was over.
Only an hour before my wife had begun to experience pain. And she knew. But I told her that everything was going to be okay and I meant it. No bluff or bluster or false optimism. I didn’t know. I was unaware of such a possibility. No particular catastrophe had befallen our baby; it was genetically doomed from the outset.
Amid the shock I felt a peculiar sense of embarrassment. Recalling the previous weeks when we’d gathered our families and charged our glasses when the reality was that we were celebrating an already failing collection of cells.
And then as we left the surgery the grief pole-axed me, crumpling me into my wife with big shoulder-heaving tears. It was so unfamiliar it felt like I was watching myself down there on the pavement. I had no words of solace for my wife because very obviously everything wasn’t going to be okay. Through the blubbing I apologised to her, driven by the fear that I’d not met some outdated notion of a stoical impassive husband.
Days later the process had become so dramatic my wife was taken into hospital. She was haemorrhaging badly. We made many journeys to the hospital in those weeks, mostly to the ante-natal clinic. There some of the astonishing statistics surrounding early miscarriage were explained, both by staff and on posters and in leaflets. One in every four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. One in four.
The perverseness of the situation was that this information would have been helpful before the miscarriage and not after it. But I defy any reasonable-minded person to learn about a loved one’s pregnancy and immediately give them the dampening warning of a potential miscarriage. And that is why campaigns such as #MisCOURAGE run by the Tommy’s Baby charity are so important in encouraging awareness of the fragility of pregnancy.
We were lucky that we were able to conceive as soon as possible after the miscarriage, and I felt armour-plated in those first ten weeks against what misfortune might come to our tiny child. Armour-plated by knowledge.
I am watching that child now. He is nearly two and healthy and bonny and boisterous. And I am comforted by the illogical thought that we would have never have met him without the miscarriage. But that doesn’t stop me thinking about it.
For more information about the Tommy’s #MisCOURAGE campaign click here.