Being the anniversary of possibly the largest event to affect our lives, we’ve separately reflected on what it means and how it has affected us.
This is an interesting time of year for myself and my wife. Although we have suffered subsequent miscarriages, the one 2 years ago also threatened the life of my wife with its severity. For most of the year, the thoughts are pushed to the back of my mind with the odd remembrance.
So how do I feel 2 years on? About a year ago I wrote a piece on “Surviving Miscarriage” in which a lot of the advice still holds true. People will still ask awkward questions and some even assume I’m wasting time not having children. I used to take a special delight in punishing the second group of people and I think it showed in the tone of the previous piece.
Nowadays, I tend to pity these people and there is a good reason for it. My wife’s strength amazes me on a daily basis with what she has been through and what she still goes through, I know she is squishy and I know she hurts but the point I am making is this: This is an experience we went through together, we are stronger together because of it. Being told your wife may die due to complications isn’t something you expect, god only knows what she felt.
It is such a horrific experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but how does this tie in with pitying those people who do not think before they open their mouths? The simple truth is, that person has not faced the crushing possibility that someone cannot have kids, the possibility that someone could be snatched from you in that pursuit. This doesn’t make sense I hear you say, this is because without those horrific thoughts I don’t believe you can truly appreciate that which you do have.
That fear of failure, fear of loss will make you re-examine your life. As a young man, my life goals consisted of get a good job, work hard, get married, have kids. Some would say not great aspirations but something I could say I achieved. My wife remembers a conversation from before marriage that I said kids would mean the world to me and I’m not sure I could be with someone who didn’t want children. Gentlemen(or even some ladies), as you are aware your ladies are likely to have the worlds most amazing memory and she certainly remembers this now that there is a possibility that it will never happen.
So what am I actually rambling on about? Well, as the anger fades it is replaced with sadness but from this also comes respect, care, understanding and a hard honest look at a relationship. Yes, I would still love to have children but if I cannot have them with the woman I love, then it will no longer be the end of my world.
When I was growing up, I had a sort of plan (as most girls do) – get a good job, marry a nice man, have child, live happily ever after. The plan was very low on details, but the general idea was there. So, now I have reached 30, I look at my life and realise how naïve I was.
I have the job, which is going from strength to strength, I have the husband, who is amazing, what I don’t have is the child.
We decided to try for a baby pretty much as soon as we got married. I never wanted to be am ‘older’ parent, so I was keen to get trying. It took a while to get pregnant, which didn’t worry me too much, as I had been on contraception since I was 13, but eventually, in March 2013, I sat in our downstairs loo looking at 2 blue lines on the stick. It was the most amazing feeling I have ever had. Little did I know that this would be the start of a horrific journey which is still going strong as I write.
8 weeks after that day, on May bank holiday, we were out with friends when I started losing blood. I just knew something was wrong. People were telling me not to worry, all would be ok, but I just knew what was about to happen and sure enough 2 days later, I miscarried the baby.
I struggle to explain how that first experience made me feel. I was incredibly sad, but also sort of numb. I guess on some level, I expected it (not that I know why). Also, I took comfort from the (frankly annoying) statistic – 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. So, I picked myself up, and decided we would try again as soon as we could.
Fast forward to August 2013 – same place, same blue lines, same feeling of excitement, though this time, tinged with a state of cautiousness/worry. In September, the hospital kindly gave us an 8 week scan, where all came out ok, and I started to feel more relaxed.
3 weeks later, on Friday lunchtime at work, the bleeding started. I still remember the frantic call to the midwife, begging her to refer me to the hospital, only to be told I was ‘understandably’ being paranoid and I could go the following week to my scheduled 12 week scan. This was not good enough for me, so I decided to leave work and get an emergency appointment at my GP surgery to see if they could help, so off I went to see the doctor, who decided to give me a pregnancy test and send me on my way. (to this day, I have no idea why she did that) so, there I was, in a massive state of panic, scared and more than resigned to the fact a trip to a+e would soon be on the cards.
The next morning, I will remember for the rest of my life. As the bleeding had been steady during the night, we knew it was just a waiting game for the miscarriage to start, so we stayed in the living room (I remember watching Saturday Kitchen) and got on with some house chores. As I was hanging the washing out, I felt a pop and almost like I had wet myself. I went to the loo, to see what it was and soon discovered that in effect, my waters had broken, and I knew this from the sight of my tiny 12 week old baby (not a foetus, my baby) left behind in the toilet. I don’t want to frighten anyone, but this has to be the worst thing I have ever experienced, as I was amazed how much he/she looked like a baby. There were arms, legs, and a tiny head. I couldn’t stop looking at it.
After that, the paramedic came, and the blood loss was getting worse and worse, I don’t remember too much after that, I remember being given drips and injections, and being put into an ambulance but that’s about it. I learned afterwards I was so poorly, I had to be sent straight to resus and taken for emergency surgery. I can only imagine how Jon felt sat in that hospital waiting to see what had happened to me. The next 2 days were spent in hospital, and again, I struggle to explain how I felt. I just wanted it all to go away, and wished I had never tried to have a baby in the first place.
I will fast forward a bit now – we have since had subsequent early miscarriages, and have been in a constant battle with the NHS to investigate why, after 2 years, I have finally made some progress and have an operation booked in to have a full investigation.
I have come to realise throughout this process, that it is no ones fault. Hating people who can and do have babies will not help me in anyway. I was like that in the early days, but thankfully it has passed. One of my close friends is having a baby this December, and I am full of joy and excitement for her.
Self pity has not got me far either – at first, I was ‘poor me’, ‘why me’ ‘it’s not fair’… Well, it’s not fair, but it could be a lot worse. It is incredibly sad and very painful. It’s ok to feel sad. It’s even ok to get angry sometimes, but it’s not ok to let it consume me. I have many good things in my life I am grateful for.
The thing I find hardest to deal with is the questions; I will address these one by one:
- Have you thought about kids? – Well yes, not that is any of your business.
- Are you trying again? – Again, none of your business.
- What will you do if you can’t have kids? – This is the worst one. I will elaborate below:
My life is not incomplete without children. It seriously gets my goat that people assume this. I get strong reactions when I say I don’t want to adopt or have IVF. What I will do if I can’t have kids is I will live my life. I will carry on with the man I married (for him, not for his child making abilities) and make amazing memories together. The way I see it is a baby would be wonderful, would give us great joy and happiness, but we will have that from each other if a baby is not possible.
I will be there for my family when they need me, I will have good times with my friends. I will shower my nephews with love. I will be a good, loving wife/sister/daughter/friend/auntie. If I don’t ever become a mother, yes, I may feel sad about it, but it does not make me less of a person, or my life unfulfilled.
So, just think before you ask someone about children. You never know the pain that one seemingly innocent question can create, or the memories it can bring to the surface. Also, don’t judge people for not having children, it could be that they haven’t been able to, or simply didn’t want them. Either way, it’s no one else’s business but theirs.
If I had to advise anyone going through a similar situation to me – ignore the ignorant people, keep looking for positives, and simply be awesome to each other.