I’m excited. I know I am. I’m not sure when the excitement started, maybe when I felt his movements and kicks. Maybe when I saw the relief on my wife’s face when we first heard the heart beat at our first midwife appointment or was it the 12 week scan? I know when it wasn’t though. It wasn’t when studying the pregnancy test stick with a torch in our kitchen looking for the second line. Seeing the second line. Hearing my wife’s excitement. “We did it, we did it. Are you happy?” Yes. I’m happy, I’m ecstatic. I’m also scared as hell. I feel dread coming over me, not even giving me a minute to enjoy the moment because the last time we saw two lines, after months of trying, it ended in disaster.
Miscarriage is horrendous. It makes you question everything about yourselves and wonder why. What did we do wrong? Why are we being punished? There never seems to be answers to these questions. These best you ever get is… “You’re just unlucky, have another go” So you do have another go but even if you’re successful, your previous miscarriages steal your good pregnancies too.
Fortunately we hadn’t had to wait too long following our loss before we were pregnant again. I cannot imagine how devastating recurrent miscarriage is. Our son is a “rainbow baby” as is our next. But at what stage does a pregnancy cease being just a potential miscarriage?
No-one seems to know what causes miscarriage. I saw a piece on the television this morning. The Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research scientist, Dr Jackson Kirkman-Brown, was saying “we are now looking into the possibility that it might be a problem with the dad.” That there is an issue with the sperm. He was saying this as though it hadn’t been considered before. Of course it could be. The one thing they do know is that miscarriages are usually due to a chromosomal abnormality. With that thinking, obviously there’s at least a 50-50 chance it could be mum or dad. Tell me they’ve looked at this before.
Everyone knows the favourite statistic “one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage” That means that most couples trying for a baby will experience this. Not one in four couples. We brought the subject up at a recent dad network meeting. Every dad in attendance had experience of miscarriage. That’s 100%. It has just not been talked about before, especially between men. Thankfully the conversation has started and the support, particularly peer based, is out there and increasing. Not so much professionally though.
We had previously been told, during a scare with our second pregnancy, which turned out to be just that, a scare, “you can’t prevent miscarriage, it’s just one of those things” Real sensitive. This came over the phone from someone at the EPAU (early pregnancy assessment unit). We were having a serious scare and I couldn’t get anyone to see us. Midwives, health visitors, the hospital it was unbelievable. They knew we’d already had one recent miscarriage. My wife was really stressed. Even if it all turned out to be okay, the stress alone couldn’t be good for our baby. As a last-ditch attempt I called my doctor’s surgery again and my actual doctor answered. He was working late and everyone else had gone home. He told us to come down straight away and he’d have a listen with a Doppler. We were at 13 weeks so we’d only just had a scan which had appeared fine. We arrived at the surgery about ten minutes later. After 13 minutes we had the answers we wanted. We could relax. I couldn’t believe that the go to response from the hospital had been “Oh you’re probably having another miscarriage… it happens” I have heard similar stories from friends. “Oh it could just be the start of a miscarriage” When reporting a minor concern to their doctor. That’s shocking!
But if that is the case, if miscarriages do “just happen” then there’s nothing we can do about it anyway. So why not just immerse yourself in the excitement and joy while it lasts and hope for the best. Blimey that’s a particularly brave and maverick attitude, but why the hell not? Because, a voice in my head was preparing damage limitation. Not letting me set myself up for a fall. My wife is a rock. My rock. Her attitude was “I’m just going to be happy and excited until I’m forced not to be” I know she was petrified too. But her planning and research started then and there. We are pregnant! If she can do it, I can. I am her support. She can totally count on me so I had better “man up” and sort myself out.
My way of dealing with miscarriage is by telling myself that the body is particularly choosy. Much like animals discarding the runt of the litter. It knows the eggs are coming regularly and if it’s not totally happy with one “production” it bins it off and has a “better luck next time” approach. I’m okay with the term “products of conception” That way you are not losing a baby. It’s tougher to convince yourself of that the further along you are. But it’s all I’ve got.
The lady gets one egg a month (usually). It concentrates all it’s efforts into making this one beautiful egg. That’s why there are so many dramas each month when they pass by unfulfilled. Men make billions of sperm. Billions. I struggle to make a consistent sandwich. What are my chances of getting all of my sperm right? I know there are challenges faced on the journey to the egg and there is an element of Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory meaning that the poorer genetically equipped sperm are less likely to be the victor but one thing I have gleaned from watching the occasional episode of Jeremy Kyle is that as far as humans are concerned, Darwin was wrong. The likelihood that an issue with the sperm is responsible for the chromosomal abnormality a least half of the time, is one that I am happy they are vigorously exploring. It seems obvious. If nothing else, it should ease the pressure or self-doubt from the lady.
I feel much better now that we’ve started nesting. We’ve discussed names, zodiac signs, moved the cot, bought bunk beds and started buying tiny clothes again. I love it and I can’t wait. But it should have been like this from the beginning.
Free Plug – PAMS Baby Imaging Thank you for putting our mind at rest.