#misCOURAGE story Matt Beat,
Thursday April 5th, 2007. It was my wife's 39th birthday. Exciting enough, especially with a 3 1/2 year old 'helping' with breakfast and presents, but it was the day of the 12-week scan- we were going to "meet" what I was convinced was going to be our second daughter.
We dropped our daughter at a friend's house and left for the hospital- it was 9am appointment if I remember rightly. We were called on time and went into the scan suite where a cheery sonographer welcomed us and prepared to start the scan.
As soon as she found the baby I knew something was wrong. Everything looked fine, but I could see that the baby was really small and there was something missing, though it would take me a few seconds to realise that it was the heartbeat. But realise I did. I heard the sonographer ask about our dates, was it definitely 12 weeks, had my wife been in any discomfort etc. Then she excused herself to fetch a colleague. They explained that there was no heartbeat and thought the baby had probably only made it to about 8 weeks.
We were shown into a quiet room where we were looked after absolutely incredibly by a midwife called Alison, who talked us through what had happened, and what might happen next- the baby needed to come out and, as my wife had had no symptoms of miscarriage, it was decided she would need an ERPC (an Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception, a horrendous term which I believe is no longer used.)
As it was the Easter weekend it seemed that it would be the following week before this could be done but, thankfully, due to Alison's persistence, it was arranged for the next day. I can't emphasise enough how much the comfort and care this woman provided meant to us.
The scan had been at our local hospital, the (newly-titled) SMM (Surgical Management of Miscarriage) was to be done at the maternity hospital where our first child had been born. Walking in there was incredibly difficult- passing, as we did, several pregnant women outside smoking. The 'why us' feeling was already very strong, so this was a kick in the guts we didn't need. I always want to know why something has happened, so for there to be no explanation was hard to process.
Long story short, the procedure took place and we went home but, again, were cared for admirably.
We subsequently attended a counselling session about miscarriage from a local charity but, again, this was at the maternity hospital, so just finding the courage to go in was very difficult indeed.
I got a couple of days compassionate leave from work and life went on. The part I found hardest was people asking how my wife was. Which is kind, and I don't want to sound selfish, but what about me? As a dad who has lost a child I found it incredibly upsetting that few people asked how I was. But, as I've used 'we', 'us' and 'our' throughout my story, this miscarriage 'happened' to both of us. I loved the baby from the moment it was two blue lines on a pregnancy test and the loss was as awful as any other I've experienced. Which is what led me to write this- from a dad's viewpoint I think there is still a lot of stigma around miscarriage. The perception (certainly 10 years ago!) was that, as the guy, we'll be there to support our bereaved wife or partner and that'll be that. I found it incredibly frustrating and upsetting; our baby, MY baby, had died and it felt like that was being ignored. I hope it's better now, that the dad's loss is recognised as significant. Only by sharing our stories will that happen.
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