We were in Bali holidaying with family and celebrating our wedding anniversary when my wife, Emma, called me into the bathroom and said ‘I think I’m having a miscarriage’.
I immediately felt useless, not only because she had instantly asked for her Mum, but because I had no idea how I could help. This wasn’t my body and I didn’t have a clue what was going on. We sat on the bed googling the possibilities, both going from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. I remember telling Emma that I was ready to become a Dad, and the thought of having that taken away from me was gut-wrenching. I tried to stay calm and be positive for her, but to no prevail. It was as though she didn’t even want me around. At one point I even felt annoyed, stupidly thinking that she was overreacting. No matter what I did, it wasn’t what she needed.
We managed to salvage the remainder of our holiday and we saw a doctor on the Thursday we arrived home. I was anxious, nervous and scared but still trying to find the smallest of hope. Unfortunately, the doctor filled us with even more doubt. She mumbled, she was unsympathetic, and she pretty much had no idea what she was talking about. After Emma poured out her heart and soul explaining what had been happening, the doctor stuttered “errr, ahhh, hrmmm…possibly, maybe, could be, might be a miscarriage but I don’t know.” The doctor sent Emma for bloods straight after our appointment and then again on Saturday to check whether her levels were rising or falling. We wouldn’t get the results until Monday, and until then, we just had to wait.
Emma continued to have her ups and downs over those next long few days, and I continued to feel useless, lost and confused. On Monday, Emma called me at work with the news we had both feared – her levels had dropped and it wasn’t looking good. She had to get bloods taken again that afternoon and we had another doctor appointment scheduled for Wednesday.
Again, I remember feeling a huge mixture of emotions, but mostly I just didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do. We were both dealing with it together but in our own way. Emma would cry and I would comfort her, but then I would stress behind closed doors. The last thing I was going to do was fall apart in front of Emma, but I had no outlet for my pain and I constantly wondered who I was meant to turn to.
On Wednesday, we saw a different doctor who thankfully showed a lot more empathy and sensitivity to our frightening situation. Again, Emma’s bloods had dropped, but only slightly. The doctor explained two possible scenarios: a molar pregnancy, or an ectopic pregnancy. Despite knowing deep down that either way we were no longer pregnant, we continued to cling onto the ‘what ifs’. Emma had no pain and stranger things had happened, right? We were again sent on our way to ‘wait’ and re-assess after the weekend.
But the next day, Emma’s instincts told her that something just wasn’t right, and we decided to go to the Women’s Assessment Unit at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital. After a couple of hours and a blood test, we were seen by a doctor who explained the possibility of an ectopic, the risks involved and our options. It was information overload and there were still a thousand unknowns, but I just nodded along in agreeance with no idea how serious the situation really was.
We were taken upstairs for an ultrasound, and I was still struggling to process what was happening. I was worried for Emma, constantly wondering what must be going through her mind at this time. I sat in that room looking at the ultrasound screen completely oblivious to what I was seeing. They performed an internal and abdominal scan, and moments later the technician explained that he had seen an abnormality in Emma’s left fallopian tube and it appeared to have ruptured.Even after hearing it over and over again I was having trouble accepting it. It still wasn’t sinking in. There is no doubt my world was crashing down around me, but I was completely focused on Emma and trying to comprehend what she was thinking and feeling. She was my priority and I put myself on the back burner.
Emma was taken to surgery at 4:30pm. I was absolutely terrified as we hugged and said our goodbyes and could only imagine how she was feeling. As I watched her get wheeled around the corner, it suddenly hit me that something could go terribly wrong. My brain was my own worst enemy and I had so many ‘what ifs’ darting in and out. I had never felt so numb and so alone in my life. I went home to grab some things for Emma and I tried to keep busy, but I just felt like a zombie. I didn’t know whether to cry or scream. I couldn’t bear the thought of Emma coming out of surgery without anyone there, so I went back to the hospital and waited once more. When she was wheeled back in the first thing she said to me was “they took my tube”, and she began to cry. Even though we had been warned that this was most likely going to happen, it didn’t hit home until I heard it from Emma and saw her reaction. I sat and comforted her as best I could whilst trying to make sense of what had just happened.
After a while I had to ring our families. Emma’s family were a huge support and I will never be able to thank them enough, but they aren’t my family. It surprised me how much I wanted my Dad around. He is a pillar of strength and I needed to borrow some. The phone call to him was the hardest one I had to make. Just days ago I was hoping to give him the news that he was going to be a Grandpa, and today I had to call him and tell him the complete opposite. The grief and compassion in Dad’s voice finally made it all feel real, and after we hung up the phone, I broke down and cried. It sucked, and I was struggling to keep afloat.
It’s a strange feeling being the male in this situation. Emma was dealing with a huge devastation and I felt like I was in the background, in the dark almost. I was desperately trying to hold myself together for her, but I had no one to draw strength from. I knew people were upset for me, but I also knew that how I was feeling was nothing compared to what Emma had been through.It seemed selfish of me to feel like shit. I was upset, confused, angry, lost…you name it. But I wasn’t going to be all of those things in front of Emma. It wouldn’t make the situation any easier. In fact, it would probably make her feel worse. I love my wife and would do anything for her, what good would I be to her if I fell apart? So I stayed strong and put on a brave face; not for my own benefit, but for hers.