For much of my adult life, I always recall being a relatively optimistic person. When disaster strikes, my mind goes into what I term my “Ultra Logic Mode”. My emotion levels are set to low, and my problem solving set to maximum. Because, by my very nature, I like to solve problems.
I am lucky that most of the disasters in my life have been minor. Damage that could be repaired. Social situations that eventually had successful outcomes. However, our first miscarriage in 2019 changed that. This wasn’t a problem that logic could solve.
Unbeknownst to Jess and I, we had what is medically referred to as a Missed Miscarriage. This is where the fetus has not continued to develop, but the body has not commenced the miscariage. The first miscarriage was a shock to both of us, but before we knew and through the early days, as Jess started to bleed and we went back and forth to the Hospital at all hours, I remained optimistic.
“Don’t worry yet.”, “It’s going to be okay.”, “We know other people who have bled and gone on to have healthy babies.” are some of the statements I recall uttering to Jess, as we held one another in hospital waiting rooms, Consultation rooms and at home in the dead of night. I so badly wanted to believe it would all be okay. And at the time there was no reason to believe otherwise. I was unaware of the statistics of miscarriage at the time (as many as 1 in 4). But had I known, I would have clung onto the odds. “We will be one of the 3 in 4.” I can almost hear myself uttering to Jess, in a bid to stave off the worry for a little while longer. Had I uttered those words, I would have been wrong.
For a time, I lost my sense of positivity. I went through the motions of grief, wondering “why us?”. I won’t dwell on that too much here (as these thoughts deserve time and attention of their own), but I will say that it left me cautious of the future. As if trying to protect myself from hurt, I refused to accept that pregnancy meant having children nine months later. Much of this pessimism, I fear, also stemmed from a sense of guilt I placed upon myself for feeling as if I had misled Jess. I know with hindsight and clarity that I shouldn’t feel guilty and that I shouldn’t have carried such ideas. But at the time, I knew Jess had been right in her worry, through the weeks we wondered if everything was alright, not knowing we were already in the midst of a miscarriage. So I vowed to her and myself that next time we tried, I would listen to her and her body. That if she was worried something was wrong, I would not go into my “Ultra Logic Mode” and reason why she was mistaken. Instead, I would accept it at face value.
At the time, this seemed like the right decision. What I didn’t realise was it would go so hard against the grain of who I am, that it would lead me to the darkest place I have ever been in my life.
On Saturday 25th May 2019, I was in Spondon, Derby, at a LARP event, having arrived the day before. Jess was pregnant for the second time and, as all seemed to be well, I left to spend the weekend with friends halfway across the country. Just before midday, Jess called me and told me she had started bleeding again and that everything felt like it had last time. My heart sank, my mind went blank and I entered a weird trance-like state of inertia I have never experienced before and only once since. My logic system failed, as I accepted without question that Jess was correct and we were about to go through our second misscarriage. It’s worth stating here, that Jess was indeed correct. But the issue was not a matter of fact, but of how I chose to deal with it. After wandering to get some lunch with my friend Emily, I sat in the shade and ate. Once I had finished, a feeling of overwhelming loss and emptiness replaced the crippling inertia and I began to cry. Emily sat with me and then took me to see our friend Shoey, who put the wheels into motion to get me out of Derby and back home. Within the hour, my wonderful friends had me packed up and ready to drive home.
I don’t recall much about the drive home. I entered my state of mind-numbing inertia once more, broken up with bouts of crying. What I do recall, quite vividly, is considering driving the car into the central reservation of the M6 motorway. This was a thought that reared its head several times on the journey. I don’t think I was ever at any real risk of doing it. Everytime, it popped into my head, I simply thought of Jess and the need to get home to her; to comfort and be comforted.
In hindsight, and after much contemplation on what is likely the hardest experience of my life to date, I regret my decision to so blindly abandon my optimism. This isn’t to say I regret my commitment to accept what Jess was feeling regarding future pregnancies as a given. This was a vital change in my outlook that has helped me reconcile my own feelings and support Jess through her own trials. What I regret was not understanding at the time that I could both listen to Jess when she felt something with the pregnancy was not right, and also remain optimistic. The two were not mutually exclusive, but I failed to understand that. It was only after the second miscarriage and before the third that I came to this realisation, driven out of a need to never go back to that place. To never feel the crippling, mind-numbinng inertia and intrusive thoughts of suicide (no matter the degree of thier potency).
Our third miscarriage was hard. Once again, Jess told me she was worried, even before she started bleeding, that something wasn’t right. Her body told her what she needed to know. And I listened. And I remained positive. And, we managed to both come through the hurt and pain and grief, a little easier than we did the first time and a whole lot better than the second time. I’m not saying that a positive attitude is going to see you through a miscarriage unscathed. Nothing, save time and the unyielding support and love of your partner, gets you through a miscarriage. But taking back up my mantel of positivity through the third miscarriage helped give me a sense of future, which I had lost in the second. An understanding that whilst it was going to be hard, there remained something good in our future. A dream of a family.
So, please don’t lose that positive part of yourself. Don’t abandon it for anything or anyone, no matter how hard it becomes. Because it will take you through those darker moments of miscarriage and allow the little light of hope to keep burning on.