My youngest daughter is called Lauren.
Her name means “victoriously crowned with laurels”.
The reason why I decided to choose that name, was that she was born not too long after my wife suffered a miscarriage between her and our eldest Rianna. Lauren was and is a symbolic name to welcome our victorious child into the world.
So miscarriage. We don’t really talk about it much do we?
It’s bad enough that people seldom talk about it with regards to women, but, even, moreso when it comes to us men. It hurts us too. It just seems taboo because so little is spoken about it.
As a bit of a back story, I remember when our eldest came with us to a holiday camp. We watched her as she ran outside and tried to engage with a couple of other kids. A joyous and gregarious child her efforts were rebuffed as the kids decided their group was enough and they didn’t want any more. Watching from the window I could she was a bit oblivious to the rejection and Daddy ran outside to save the day and play silly turnovers with her.
The incident really tugged at our heart strings and we decided that regardless of any career plans we had in place, we wanted her to have company. A brother or sister she could play with. Let’s make a baby *cue slow jams and some Schloer*
I remember how elated I was when Madeline became pregnant. We were going to have a second child. His name would be Nathan or Aaron if it was a boy. We played around with the idea of Jade for a girl. Then things started to go a bit wrong. Madeline had some cramps that were painful and started to bleed. We were aware that some women have some spotting (light bleeding) during pregnancy, but we knew that something was not quite right. We called the doctor who recommended that we go to the hospital. We went in for a scan and discovered that the baby was no longer there. We had miscarried and lost our second child in the first trimester.
Words cannot describe how I felt. That hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach.
But heck this was not about me, this was about supporting my good wife and ensuring she could get through. I had to park my emotions to the side.
Friends and family came and gave their condolences. We hadn’t told many people so it was a relatively small thing, but damn, it hurt like a lance through the soul. Everyone shared how sorry they were for Mads and I got hugs but no one really asked how I was feeling? After all, I didn’t carry the baby so why should they?
I clearly remember going back to our GP after the event. He was sat in his office chewing gum. He glibly told us that we would not be the first and surely wouldn’t be the last to miscarry . He said that more women miscarry than they realise, whether experienced as heavy periods or as premature, induced stillbirths. He encouraged us to celebrate the ability to have children, that we were primed for pregnancy, so go home, have lots of sex and make another baby.
I laughed a nervous laugh, but went home, and took his advice. Literally.
One day, a couple of months after the miscarriage, whilst having a good convo with my best mate, I told him that I was hurting and it was so difficult to express that pain because men don’t talk about it that much. I remembered parking my BMW on the side of the road after that call and crying my eyes out. Those body rocking sobs that are uncontrollable and screaming at the top of my voice. “Why did you allow this God?” “What did she do to deserve this? What did we do?”
We just don’t talk about it as men, but why? Surely we are just as hurt when this happens. After, all it’s our child too.
The irony was that about four men in my circle had wives who miscarried not too long after we did. Some slightly longer into the pregnancy and some early too. I got a chance to be able to empathize with the men and tell them that having been through it, that I understood the pain and that they were not alone.
The thing is this. While I was able to do this with those men I knew, because I am the talkative kind of guy, what about all those guys who experience this pain but don’t have the outlet? Where does that hurt go?
I have no easy answers, but I hope this little note serves as a reminder that miscarriage is a tough thing to bear, but we can talk about it as it helps to heal. Whether through cultural barriers or just a lack of opportunity, many people, men and women, don’t talk about it, but I believe it shouldn’t be taboo. We should talk. When we lose a child we all hurt. It shouldn’t be something that we try to play down or only think it is the burden of a woman.
Men hurt too.