As I was growing up, I wasn’t sure if fatherhood was for me. I loved my late teens and early 20s and, as friends around me started to become dads, I couldn’t help but feel like they were sacrificing their freedom. Essentially, it looked like hard work! Then I met my wife, Priyah.
Falling in love
Priyah and I met at a dating night at our local Mandir, our place of worship. I immediately knew I had met someone special. I was struck by her sense of humour, intelligence and, of course, beauty.
After 6 months of dating, I proposed. We got married 6 months later. Things moved very quickly because I knew she was the one.
Trying for a baby
It was me who brought up children with Priyah. We were only 24 when we got married and hadn’t really talked about becoming parents. I remember I just had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to create a little human that was half me and half her.
Priyah was delighted I was so keen to start a family so early. We started trying straight away. It was such an exciting time.
As a man, I had no idea at all that the journey to parenthood could be so difficult, so painful. It had never even crossed my mind.
A positive pregnancy test
A few months later, I got an excited call from Priyah when I was at work. She’d taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. I went back into the office and immediately told my colleagues who all cheered. I popped into a supermarket on the way home and picked up a little white baby sleepsuit.
Priyah and I had a lovely evening. Straight away, we started thinking about baby names and moving out of my parents’ house into our own family home. When I casually mentioned to Priyah that my colleagues were thrilled for us, she seemed upset.
I didn’t know we weren’t supposed to tell people until after 12 weeks. I honestly assumed a positive test meant we’d bring home a baby 9 months later.
My wife explained that miscarriages can happen in early pregnancy and I apologised. I reassured her that everything would be okay and quietly hid the sleepsuit I had bought earlier that day.
Your baby has no heartbeat
Before we knew it, we’d attended our first midwife appointment and had booked in for a scan. We were both a bit nervous as neither of us had had an ultrasound scan before, but our family assured us it was a simple procedure.
We planned a lovely romantic day around the scan. We were going to head to the hospital in the morning and then then go into town for brunch. I’d even booked surprise tickets for us to see the afternoon performance of the musical Wicked. We woke up that day full of anticipation.
The day turned out to be one of the hardest days of our lives. The nurse was silent and looked serious and quietly said, “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.
We were in a state of shock. Priyah immediately burst into tears. To be honest, I felt numb. I just couldn’t believe what was happening to us. Needless to say, our seats in the west end theatre were left empty that day.
The next 2 weeks are a blur. Priyah was sent home and told to return in 2 weeks for a scan to confirm that the baby wasn’t growing. I was so angry that the hospital couldn’t help us there and then. My wife expressed that she could not live for 2 weeks with the dead baby inside her, but there was nothing they could do.
The next morning, I called work to explain what had happened. I expected they would give me 2 weeks off so I could support my wife. However, they don’t have a miscarriage policy for male employees. I was given 2 days of bereavement leave and then had to return to work.
I felt like my sadness didn’t matter to the world.
Two weeks later, Priyah had an operation to end the pregnancy. I felt so powerless as she was wheeled off to the operating theatre. I was devastated that our baby had died but I felt like I had to be strong to support my wife.
Building up the strength the try again
The following months were tough on both of us. I felt as Priyah was getting sadder by the day, I didn’t want to make it worse by telling her how sad I felt. It all came to a head one evening when she completely opened up.
She told me that she felt like I didn’t care. I was devastated. In trying to support her, I’d made it worse by not being honest about my own grief.
After months of pain, we eventually started to heal. In March 2019, Priyah told me that she was ready to try again. It was different the second time, we felt cautious instead of joyous.
We found out we were pregnant after one month of trying. This time, the first 12 weeks were long and painful. My wife suffered with awful morning sickness and spent much of the time feeling miserable in bed. Deep down, I thought it was a good sign that things were progressing differently.
The day of our 12-week scan arrived. This time everything was different, we immediately saw a little flicker of life appear on the screen. We immediately fell in love with our wriggling baby. We left the hospital hand in hand. We felt like our nightmare had ended.
Shock and horror
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Three weeks after our first scan, I got a call from Priyah. She’d started to bleed. We rushed to the hospital where it was confirmed that our baby had no heartbeat. My wife was officially 15 weeks pregnant, but it looked like the baby had stopped growing at around 13 weeks. This time, she was taken in for surgery straight away.
I can’t talk too much about this second loss yet, it’s too painful. Our experiences have put a lot of strain on our relationship and, for a while, it felt like the magic left our marriage when our baby died.
My wife and I have attended counselling together and we’re slowly healing. I am angry with the world. Firstly, I am angry because I fell in love with our babies and I miss them every day. But, perhaps more importantly, I am angry that my wife has had to suffer this pain.
I would do anything to take the pain away from Priyah. I would give anything to make her feel better, to shield her from this agony.
We’ve decided that we won’t be defeated by what’s happened. We’re going to start trying again soon. No matter what people think, my wife is a mum and I am dad. Our babies existed and we will always love them.
Annabel is a writer and Bristolian living in South East London with her husband. They've been trying to start a family for 8 years having sadly lost their first baby, conceived through NHS IVF, at 12 weeks. 6 subsequent cycles, 5 miscarriages and 4 years later, Annabel finds herself in what she describes as 'maybehood' – not knowing if she will ever become a mother.
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