This post was originally written on 16th August 2013. At the time it was a way of just expressing what I felt with no intention of it being published. After speaking with my wife, we agree that this is the right time and the right place for it to be made public.
We’d sat in the wrong place in the hospital waiting room. We weren’t required to sit in designated seats or anything but at the moment in time we couldn’t have picked a worse seat. Directly opposite us, on the yellowing wall, was a poster for the miscarriage association. I glanced at my wife sat next to me, hoping she hadn’t noticed it but the tightened lips told me she had.
We were called through for the usual tests (blood pressure, heart rate) and the nurse took the small Tupperware pot we’d brought with us. It was nothing special, small round and plastic with a bright pink lid, but inside was the source of our fears. For a horrifying moment, as she got up to fetch some disposable gloves, I thought she was going to open it there and then, but whether I’d read the situation wrong or whether she’d seen the look on my face and thought otherwise, she decided to take it away.
We waited for the doctor for what seemed an eternity, sat on cold, hard metallic seats with two other patients. We spoke quietly between ourselves but I have no idea what we spoke about.We were called through. I knew what she was going to say before she said it, we both did, but that didn’t make it any easier. I could see the tears well up in my wife’s eyes, and heard her take a sharp intake of breath as she tried to hold them back. She failed.
I’ve looked at what you passed and I’m sorry to say that it is evidence of conception
As I sat there, it suddenly struck me how bleak and gloomy the cubicle was, with it’s faded blue walls, blue curtains, white washed ceiling and grey floor. The frosted glass dispersing what little sunlight managed to break through the clouds, adding a cold glare over the proceedings. Proceedings. A word that describes something very official, I suppose clinical under the circumstances. I didn’t blame the doctor for the way she said it; I suppose a level of professionalism separates her from the emotion of the situation and let’s her get through every day without having a mental breakdown. But the words she used still echo in my mind… “I’ve looked at what you passed and I’m sorry to say that it is evidence of conception”. Translation – it meant that we’d lost our baby.
I’ve never felt so fucking helpless in all my life
My wife was 5 weeks pregnant when she miscarried so by law it wasn’t a baby, not yet. But not in our minds. In our minds we had planned the next 12 months. We’d had her (in my mind it was always a girl), held her, played with her and even planned sleeping arrangements for the holiday we were going on next August. This bundle of cells was a real living thing for us, we’d named it Pip so we didn’t have to keep calling it “it”, and now Pip was gone. All the dreams we’d had had been dashed, and right there, with my wife in tears, knowing no words could bring solace to the pain she was feeling, I’ve never felt so fucking helpless in all my life.
“You’re free to go home” the doctor said after running us through things to watch for (heavy bleeding, any pain). “I’m sorry for your loss”. And that was it. We left, strolling listlessly towards the exit. Timing was against us again as we stepped out. The exit is directly opposite the women’s unit… new births. We were leaving just as a young family were, all smiles and cuddles, holding their little girl. I half guided, half pushed my wife towards the car and we headed back to collect our other children from their Nan’s. As I drove autonomously along the road, not really taking anything in, my wife turned to me and said we’d need to tell everyone. There weren’t many people who knew but this was a task for me. It was clear my wife wouldn’t have got though the first sentence without falling apart, and for me it gave me a sense of purpose. I suddenly understood the mentality of the doctor: having purpose means you don’t have to stop and think about it, and when you stop and think is the time it hits you. I tried to be clinical over the phone but the emotions were too raw. I made it through the first two calls but, as I slumped desolate on the kitchen floor, I found myself unable to say the words any more. Everyone else was told by text message, which I’m sorry for, and then I had to tell my 7 year old. This was surprisingly easier than I expected, but I failed to realise that he hadn’t quite understood the gravity of the situation. My wife had been lying down upstairs trying to come to terms with it all. She decided to come down and my son announced to her “Mommy you’re not having a baby now”. My stomach tensed and fresh tears filled my wife’s eyes. She turned and fled upstairs and I took my confused looking son by the hand and explained to him that Mommy and Daddy were very upset about what had happened. If he had questions, they were to come to me and best not to talk to Mommy about it just yet.
There was something suddenly missing that was there before and there was nothing I could do to get it back
The rest of the day continued like any normal day, my children playing and making the same demands of me as always. Drinks still needed to be made, dinner still needed to be cooked, and cars still needed to be played with. My wife mentioned that I didn’t seem upset, but the truth was I hadn’t had time, or maybe subconsciously didn’t want to sit and think about it all. The day was passing in a surreal blur and that was fine, the less time I spent thinking about it the better. But it was inevitable that there was going to come a moment when I was alone, a moment when I ran out of distractions and had no choice but to face the facts. That moment came the very same night. It wasn’t a wave of emotion, or a flood of tears, but a gradual sense of emptiness. There was something suddenly missing that was there before and there was nothing I could do to get it back.
The following day was pretty much the same but I noticed that I was snappy and got aggravated very quickly. It dawned on me that what we were experiencing was grief, a death in the family, but it felt like it was one only we could understand.
We’ve spoken often and tried to be positive: “we can try again”, “at least it happened early”… I am firmly in the bargaining stage. I think my wife is straddling anger and depression, but her anger and her blame seems to be directed towards herself: “what did I do wrong”, “what could I have done differently”, she’s even apologised to me but I haven’t blamed her in the slightest, I don’t think anyone could have done more. I think that’s what hurts the most, knowing that there was no cause, no reason for what happened. It was just one of those things.