It took some time for me to be open about the pregnancy losses we faced as a family. The first one was a missed miscarriage which was only found at the 12 week scan. With it being our first pregnancy I think we were very naive to the whole thing. We got pregnant quickly; that was the hard bit done right?! The blow to us was enormous. I replay the scene in the small scanning room over and over even now. ‘The baby’s heart has stopped beating’. It didn’t sink it at first. I was waiting for the sonographer to say ‘but don’t worry… we can just….’ But it didn’t come. Instead he said he was sorry for our loss. It hit us like an avalanche.
We were fortunate to fall pregnant again a few months later and had our precious first boy Teddy. It was a clean sailing pregnancy from a medical perspective. But as for our mental health, it was all over the place. We were just waiting for those life-changing, soul-destroying words again….‘I’m sorry for your loss’. Our perfect little boy was born healthy and strong, and we thought our grief and sadness was behind us.
We tried for a second baby just before Teddy’s first birthday and again quickly conceived. After such a smooth run with Teddy we felt set for another good pregnancy. It was about 7 weeks in and Dani didn’t feel right. We were sent to the emergency women’s unit at our hospital and waited for an early scan. And there it was, a beautiful little heartbeat. But the baby hadn’t made it’s way to the uterus and had implanted in the fallopian tube. There were those words again: ‘there is nothing we can do, we are so sorry’. With this loss also came the loss of Dani’s tube and bigger surgery than before. The loss was again like a tidal wave.
This time was a little different through as we had Teddy who was a fun, energetic 13 month old and it was hard to not smile when he was around. The first time it happened we were overwhelmed with the desire to become parents. This time we were thinking about him too. Dani is an only child and I’m from a big family so for separate reasons we wanted him to have a sibling. The loss still felt as great.
We were lucky enough to conceive our second amazing son Rafferty later that year. Again it was a reasonably smooth pregnancy but this time we were constantly worrying something would go wrong again. He arrived chubby and healthy and we couldn’t have been more relieved.
From my perspective, I didn’t feel like I dealt with my emotions at the time. I was all consumed with Dani and her grief. She needed surgery both times and she was my priority. As I reflect back, I used all my energy supporting her – and rightly so – but I didn’t take enough time to process my own grief. I now know about amazing organisations like Miscarriage For Men and the below article just touches on some of the amazing work they do in supporting men during loss.
What is Miscarriage For Men about
Miscarriage for Men (www.miscarriageformen.com) was set up by Chris Whitfield in March 2021 after going through the miscarriage process with his partner and realising that it was not immediately obvious where to turn. He decided as there was very little support, he would set up Miscarriage for Men to show other men who are going through the process that there was someone available to listen and posted on LinkedIn to advise his network about the new service.
The website acts as a peer to peer support network with direct access via the forum or contact form to obtain a response from the MFM team. The team are there to listen, share experiences and, if needed, direct people to more professional help via charities that are relevant.
Chris’ post has been seen by over 100,000 users and reacted to by over 80,000 which shows the true value of what we are looking to do.
Dan FROM MFM TEAM: HIS STORY
Unfortunately, my partner and I have gone through the miscarriage process on 3 occasions at relatively early stages in pregnancy.
I remember the first time we got the positive home test, I wasn’t really aware of miscarriage and what that meant, we were just so excited to be having a child. Unfortunately that loss led to a challenging and upsetting time in our relationship, where we both felt guilty, lost and clueless as to why this had happened.
The subsequent pregnancy we decided to get early scans to help feel like we had some more control over the process. The initial excitement was replaced with trepidation. We were dealt the blow that this was also a non viable pregnancy which in fact turned into a molar pregnancy, resulting in my partner having chemotherapy injections for months.
One of the side effects of this is that hormone levels are monitored for a year before it is recommended to try again for a baby, which put our plans for a family on hold.
We decided to focus our energy elsewhere for that year and then , when the time was right, we would try again. We got the news we were pregnant with twins in 2018 and had an 8 week scan booked for Christmas Eve. At this scan it was confirmed again that we were unsuccessful.
Luckily, 2020 has blessed us with a healthy daughter, but I have felt that since having her, I need to help others who have been through this process. When I saw Chris’ initial post on LinkedIn, giving details of the launch of Miscarriage for Men, I knew I had to get involved.
What do guys feel?
Drawing on my experience, my reaction was to put all my energy into protecting, comforting and supporting my partner and put my feelings to one side, so I buried my emotions to prioritise my partner’s wellbeing.
Rightly, the support was directed to my partner initially. However, once we left the hospital we were left to our own devices as a couple to deal with the situation. We really didn’t have an obvious outlet to turn to for help, except to ring up a charity for counselling, which was aimed at helping my partner in the main.
After a short time, I started looking for answers. Whilst I was still feeling upset, angry and grieving, I started to question is this something I have done? What could I / we do differently? Why has this happened to us? This brought feelings of guilt and a lack of control. Ultimately some then suffer depression, anxiety and other issues, which I was lucky to avoid.
Coping strategies for subsequent pregnancies
All people deal with the miscarriage process in different ways and it can affect people differently. The strength of the relationships you have in life will also determine how you cope with the process, along with the type of personality you have, but below are some ideas which may help.
In the short to medium term after the loss, it is extremely important to recognise the feeling you have and be as self aware as you can of the situation you are in. Denial of the situation, burying your feelings completely and locking yourself away from the world can have impacts in all elements of your life. Therefore, it is important to check in with yourself.
One way this can be done is by researching what you have been through to improve your understanding of the situation you are in. This will allow you to accept that this is a common occurrence and you aren’t alone.
Another strategy is to either write your story, feelings or questions down, either on a piece of paper, a blog site, or on the Miscarriage for Men website. This enables you to get the emotions and feelings out in an anonymous way. This also allows you to be more truthful with yourself as you have no judgement back from anyone who is a close friend or family member, which can be daunting.
The additional advantage of the Miscarriage for Men website is that you will receive a supportive message from someone who has been through a similar experience and can empathise with your feelings. Visitors have also found that just reading other experiences and even commenting on others’ posts helps them with their own grieving process.
Ultimately when the time is right for you, discussing what you are feeling with your partner is an important step to help move forward. Bottling up your feelings, can lead to shutting your partner out and not allowing her closeness she may need.
You may feel that this is the best thing by focusing solely on her feelings which initially can help but a lot of the time, it would benefit your partner to know that you are feeling the same as she is.
This will allow you to go through the grieving process as a couple and talk through the worries the next time you are ready to try at which point you will hopefully be ready as a couple to move forward.
Lastly, when you are ready to try for a baby again, remain open to the possibility that the next pregnancy will be successful. By all means, educate yourself on the miscarriage process to try to find answers but positivity and calmness goes a long way to making the next journey more pleasant, so prioritise the things in life which make you happy and relaxed in the run up to trying again.