Al and Jen had a miscarriage before conceiving their son Teddy, now three. They’ve gone on to have a further six miscarriages since then.
This is Al’s story.
'I’ve cried so many times, talked so many times, now I’m just numb, I just can’t bear to feel anymore.'
We were told we were going to miscarry our first child two days before our wedding.
We were back at the hotel after our wedding day when Jen was violently sick and started to miscarry. It couldn’t have been worse.
Nobody could give us any answers and it really was one big, blurry confusing time, like falling off the edge of a cliff.
We went on to have Ted, now three, who is our absolute world. Since then we’ve had six consecutive miscarriages.
Every six month we’d fall pregnant then miscarry around 12 weeks, I can’t even count how many scans we’ve had. At this stage I’m just completely numb to it, I know all the feelings because I’ve been through them so many times, anger, sadness, hopelessness.
Miscarriage isn’t expected to impact on a Dad’s life one little bit. We’re just supposed to get on with things.
The first time we miscarried, that’s what I did, focused on the practical things, making sure Jen was comfortable but then we got to a stage where I couldn’t keep going because I was completely pushing down my emotions. I broke down with my wife, we cried together and it was a huge weight off my shoulders.
I now run an online platform called The Dad Network to bring together dads around the world because it’s not that we don’t want to talk about our loss, our guilt, anger and confusion. We just don’t feel there’s anywhere safe enough to talk because the world tells us to ‘Man Up’, to not cry.
It’s a real mistake to assume dads are okay. I come across men with years of emotions they’ve never address which has led to mental health problems.
My advice would always be to open up. It really does take far greater strength to say, ‘I’m feeling completely heartbroken because all I want is a baby.’
When I see pregnancy announcements, of course, I’m happy for them. I’ve experienced that with Ted and there’s nothing like it, but after seven miscarriages there’s no way I can feel that anymore.
When we find out we’re pregnant there’s no excitement, no joy, no planning, just a high level anxiety that engulfs you. Other people think about names, about what colour to paint the nursery but I feel nothing because, I know, the moment I get attached to this baby it will make it 100 times harder when we lose it.
It’s even more difficult when people you know have had the baby. I remember feeling so rude when a friend asked if I wanted to hold her baby and I said that I just couldn’t. What I really wanted was to hold my own baby.
Miscarriage is taboo because people who haven’t gone through it don’t want to think about it. That’s understandable but it makes everyone feel uncomfortable, they just don’t know what to say. We’ve had people who have been really good and others who’ve completely ignored it. I’d advise anyone to at least acknowledge it, then throw the ball into their court. Just say, ‘I’m really sorry. If you want to talk I’m here, if you don’t, that’s cool.’
It’s so difficult to see the person you love going through something so painful, so agonising and you can’t do anything to stop it.
There’s just no way to fix it and dads really like to try and fix things. I tried and my wife said, ‘I don’t need you to fix anything, I just need you to listen’.
I felt angry that nobody could explain why it kept happening, I think it’s me, Jen thinks that it’s her so we’re both feeling guilty which has an impact on our relationship.
There’s also the guilt about keeping on trying because it’s not my body going through it. Of course I want another baby but it will, more than likely, mean Jen having another operation, being in pain.
'We’ve said ‘one more time’ at least four times and then we try, we get pregnant, we miscarry. We can’t go on like that forever.'
This is Jen’s Story
'We don’t celebrate when we’re pregnant anymore.'
The first time we were pregnant it was amazing, so exciting and for it to end on our wedding day floored me.
I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from that first miscarriage. The following six losses haven’t felt the same because I’ve expected them, I prepare myself for them. After the first one I put a big wall up to protect myself.
Now, when I tell Al we’re pregnant, I’m kind of saying ‘We’re going to miscarry again, don’t get excited.’
I just can’t allow it to affect me like the first time, I just can’t go through that again. It’s like I’ve removed myself from my own story, I feel like I’m watching this happen to someone else, like I’m listening to a story I’ve heard 100 times but it’s not about me. That’s my coping mechanism.
There’s no textbook answer for how you will feel.
I needed something different each of the seven times I miscarried and you just have to work out what is going to get you through. Sharing feelings can help. Talking openly works for Al but I’m the opposite and you have to go with what is right for you.
Al can’t hold a new baby where as I have to push myself to do it, put myself in the most uncomfortable position just to prove to the world that I’m okay.
'Most of my upset comes from Al’s upset, I’m desperate to fix this for him, to give him a baby.'
Miscarriage has had a massive effect on us as a couple. In a good way we’ve learned to communicate more, we now understand each other’s emotions really well. The negative effect is that we don’t celebrate when we’re pregnant anymore.
After the first miscarriage we talked about everything, names, our hopes for that baby, the sadness we felt, but we don’t talk about things like that now. Maybe we just haven’t got any hopes or dreams anymore.