Baby loss and our partners
This year the theme surrounding Baby Loss Awareness Week is Wellbeing, exploring what this means to all those affected by the loss of a baby and today’s focus is on that of the partner.
The following is a little piece I wrote about our own experience of miscarrying our second baby at 12 weeks.
In 2017, shortly before our first child’s birthday, we discovered we were pregnant again. Slightly sooner than planned but nonetheless delighted that we had a sibling on the way for our little boy. Within weeks my trousers were feeling rather snug and we had our scan booked. The day before our scan I was on a call with my boss when I felt an unfamiliar dampness. On going to the look I recognised a scent I hadn’t smelt since W’s birth and the fear struck. I called the day unit who told me to monitor things. They were kind, wouldn’t let me lose hope but also realistic. I called my husband. He wanted to race home but I wouldn’t let him – at this stage there was no point. It may have been nothing and I wasn’t in any discomfort.
That night we went to bed, still hopeful but at 4am I woke to a strong cramp and a tearing sensation. I literally felt the baby come away. In another surge like wave, what felt like a flood escaped me and I screamed at J-P for towels for fear of ruining the bed and carpet (why was I so worried about the bed and carpet?).
We moved to the bathroom and there she was. We don’t the baby was female but my gut has always told me she was a little girl. In my mind, I call her Rose after a miniature rose my sister-in-law sent me in the following days. It only ever flowered once and I still have the dried stem.
We called our friends. It was now 5am and we’d been told to go to A&E to be checked over but naturally needed to drop W off somewhere he’d feel safe after an unusual wake-up. We got to their house and my friend, who I’ve known since I was 15, ran out, cradling me, telling me it might still be OK. But we knew she had already passed out of me.
We got to the hospital and handed over a bundle of towelling containing the baby and little placenta for them to check over and be sure I had nothing retained inside. I remember sitting in the waiting room, bemused by the idea I was bleeding out, surrounded by strangers and would likely go through my clothing any second. I literally felt empty and in shock. I didn’t have the words and whilst J tried to find some, on failing he just held me, he was just present and in that moment, that’s all I needed.
What followed was a painfully long wait for very little. We were eventually shown to a cubicle where people popped in periodically and eventually came to tell us we could go home. The ‘product’ appeared to be complete. It was a sad but common occurrence and we could try again next month or whenever we felt ready. Did we want to take the baby home or were we happy for them to deal with it?
We left the hospital, me crying on the phone to Mum, J, calling my boss to explain I wouldn’t be in that day and then calling the day unit where we were expected within the hour for our 12-week scan.
We went home, J picked up W, we sat and cuddled and existed as our little unit, absorbing what had just happened and what wasn’t to be.
J announced ‘I’m just going to call the boys and tell them I won’t make it tomorrow’. He was due to go to Twickenham on a stag for one of his best friends the next day. I told him to go. He said he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. But I needed him to go. Not because I didn’t want him around but I knew he need to let off some steam and talk with someone who wasn’t me, who he didn’t feel the need to tiptoe around.
‘But what will I say? I don’t want to kill the atmosphere’. Knowing there were a fair few men with families going to the same event, I was confident he’d be in the right place. I quietly suggested that a) he needed some time for him and b) when people say ‘how have you been?’ to just be honest and tell them you’d had a pretty crap week having lost our baby. We’re OK but naturally feeling a bit sad. My parents were equally supportive of this approach and settled with the thought of me spending the day with my own mum, J cautiously got on the train to London.
Just as I had expected, when he arrived, and friends asked how he was, he told them, openly and honestly and immediately a group of them took him aside and shared his grief, explaining they had been through baby loss themselves and understood how he was feeling. Talking about it with friends, with other men, for him was incredibly cathartic. I am forever grateful to him for agreeing to go to that match (despite his objections), for being open about his grief and to his friends for giving him the space to talk about what he was experiencing and validate his feelings.
Whist the miscarriage may have physically happened to me, we both lost a baby that day. I naturally always say, ‘when we miscarried’ This was something we shared, something we both lost and something we both felt.