We have a small collection of Men’s stories that we are grateful to be able to share.
Dead Babies & Brutal Fuckin Honesty – Jimi Hunt
I have just spent the past 5 hours in the hospital waiting for my partner Libby to get out of surgery. She had a D&C. What does D&C stand for? I’ve got no idea, all I know is that they basically suck the baby out of her. More
The Worlds Most Secret Club – David’s Story
From the beginning, we knew we would be among the new generation of “older” parents. Terri and I met in Nepal, where I was the Director of an aid agency and she was doing volunteer work with the Mother Theresa Hospice. After a long-distance romance, I moved to New Zealand to be with her. From the time we started to share our hopes and dreams, we found ourselves in complete agreement on the question of children. We both wanted two girls two years apart. Following our marriage in 1984, we lived five years as a childless couple with all the freedom that allowed. In August of 1988, we felt we had indulged ourselves enough, and decided it was time to start our family. Of course, we expected an immediate pregnancy followed by a problem-free birth.
After a year of trying, with Terri still not pregnant, we visited fertility specialist Richard Fisher. But shortly after hearing our IVF options, I awoke one day to find a card on the table for me – a Father’s Day Card! Terri was pregnant – without any intervention by the good Doctor Fisher.
We immediately began the preparing for our impending family – arranging the baby’s room: clothes, toys, change table, bassinet, carry basket, and then thinking further: pre-school, school, university! We were becoming a family – with a family future ahead of us. Life was perfect! The following weeks were exciting – planning and buying for the baby.
And then, one day, I came home to find Terri distraught and in tears. She told me she had miscarried.
The perfect life was all over – all in a flash.
This was so unexpected – and so unusual. After all, a miscarriage was a rare occurrence, wasn’t it? Why had it happened to us? How could we be so unlucky? What did we do wrong?
Naturally, Terri was devastated. I was upset and saddened, and confused over this tragedy. What could I do? What was the role of the father-to-be (or not-to-be in this case)? I could offer comfort to Terri in my own feeble way, but I think she was the stronger of us.
But I was still baffled over why this exceptional tragedy could happen to us. Who could I talk to who would understand? Our families all knew about the pregnancy, so obviously they had to be told what had happened. And that is where I became enlightened. In talking with my mother, she informed me “of course you know I lost a baby between your brother and sister.” And then, “Maybe you didn’t know that your sister lost her first pregnancy.” As we informed family, we learned of more miscarriages; it seemed that nearly every mother had experienced at least one loss among their successful deliveries.
What was this, a conspiracy? I became aware that we were now members of one of the biggest secret clubs in the world – parents who experience miscarriages. I realised there is nothing bizarre or unusual about miscarriages at all. In fact, they occur far more frequently than anyone lets on. But why was this such a secret? They are a natural and surprisingly frequent part of the human species’ reproductive process. And there was nothing to be ashamed of or hide from.
Why are hopeful parents not aware of the frequency of miscarriages? Why are they such a secret? There is nothing at all “wrong” with the parents. It is, in fact, a perfectly natural, though tragic, event. While there is no cause to celebrate the occasion, it shouldn’t be hidden from the world either. The more open this ‘secret club’ becomes, the less traumatic will be the impact on the many, many parents-to-be who are yet to inevitably experience it. The work of Miscarriage Support in educating people to the reality of life is invaluable.
Oh, and in the end… we now have two lovely girls – two years apart!
It was extremely emotional when my wife miscarried our first child. I have not really spoken about the experience too much. As a man you feel you’re obligated to your wife to not disclose the information to too many people aside from immediate family. It is natural to feel that the fewer people who know, the better. Isn’t that what your wife feels? Unfortunately, this meant that I did not have an avenue where I could voice my emotions without a feeling of violating my wife’s trust. When the symptoms of early miscarriage were obvious, the apprehension was overwhelming. You try to assure yourself everything will be ok and you count down the weeks, waiting for the so called “safe time frame” to pass. Unfortunately, Mother Nature often has a cruel way determining what is not to be.
We had been trying for a child for some months – unsuccessfully. As the time passes, you start to question whether you are able to “produce the juice” as they say. So, when the pregnancy test was positive it was a very surreal moment. You can’t help but ask, “Is this is really happening?” Nine pregnancy tests later, all showing positive, it seemed clear that we really were on the way to having our own family. We found it hard to contain the excitement. We bought our pregnancy development book and started to plan – too far in advance. It is evident that, unconsciously, we were both keeping our fingers crossed, knowing that it was early days.
The evening when the miscarriage occurred, we were both in the bathroom. The contractions came harder and more painful than she had been experiencing. We both knew instinctively, even without saying, that it was likely we had lost the baby. In complete silence, we headed to the hospital to confirm what we both suspected. I know that until I was actually viewing the scan and studying the screen, relentlessly seeking a tiny heartbeat, I was attempting to convince myself that life persisted.
Fortunately, the gynaecology ward had an un-occupied side-room available where I could spend most of the night with my wife – until she grew cross and ordered me home to rest. The fact of the miscarriage was hard for me to accept initially. I felt like all my visions of life ahead were snatched away and I was powerless to alter what had happened. When I awoke, more tears came. I cried uncontrollably for what seemed like an age after calling work to let them know I would not be in. I headed back into the hospital within the hour, and my wife was released to go home that afternoon.
I supported my wife devoutly over the weeks after the miscarriage. When she wept I was strong and comforted her, holding back my own emotions. And we made it through. Now, with my wife expecting again, I find I have adopted a much more cautious approach to dealing mentally with the pregnancy. The excitement is there – hidden in the back of the closet waiting to bloom. As the weeks pass, I have started to think more about the miscarriage of our first baby. I wonder what appearance and personality it would have had compared to that of the child now growing in my wife’s womb. I’m sure that I am not the only one who has had these thoughts… I am sure it is just part of the grieving process! I have made it through, but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
My brother and his wife lost their baby after three months of pregnancy – I guess just over a year ago now. I remember at the time I got a voice mail from my brother asking me to call him (I live overseas) and I knew that something was wrong. When we spoke – I remember him crying on the phone (I had never seen my brother cry as an adult). He told me what had happened and I remember feeling very sad.
The strange thing was that pretty soon, after rationality kicked in, I went into “it’s only a miscarriage it happens all the time” mode and I sort of put it to the back of my mind…
The next day in work I was going around doing my usual things but feeling really screwed up. As the day went by I began to put two and two together and figured that this had hit me harder than I thought. I work in a hospital and so I went to see the community nurse – at this stage feeling really sad. I asked her if it was normal for people to feel bad after a miscarriage (in retrospect isn’t it sad that we have to ask that question?) and she said that yes, even if you weren’t the father, a miscarriage is a genuine loss for all family members and at that point I started to cry. It was like I had to learn that yes this was a normal reaction. Even a year later I still feel sad when I think of this conversation.
I don’t really remember much after that point. I guess I felt sad for a while, but I work in a very high pressure environment and your mind gets dragged on to other things. Since it happened I haven’t really discussed it with my family. My brother and his wife buried their baby – it was a very private thing only the two of them attended the service. In some people’s eyes that was just a partially developed foetus, not even a person yet. But to me that was a family member that I would never get to know.
The strange thing is how easy it becomes to push it to the back of your mind, to rationalise it – when it was never a person that you got to hold yourself, but when you stop to think about it, it’s a very sad thing for the whole family. My mother still thinks about the baby she lost before me which would have been 40 years ago now, and the same goes for my uncle who will tell you he has 5 children not 4.
The silent agony men suffer when a woman loses a baby.
By Ben Wakeling, 2 Sept 2013
Men Reveal How They Really Felt After Their Partners Miscarried
The Dad Network
A Guide For Fathers When a Baby Dies
by Tim Nelson
Revised 2007 and self-published, available at Amazon.
Unlike most books on miscarriage and infant loss, this book is written particularly for dads. Most men seem to process their grief differently from women but that does not mean fathers are not as affected by these losses in their own way.
Miscarriages Hurt Men Too
by Peter Burdon
The Write Advice, Christchurch 2006
Twelve men from around the world share their miscarriage experiences.
How I Came To Hold You
By Ben Wakeling,
Troubador Publishing, 2 Sept 2013
All proceeds from the books are donated to the charity Sands.