What It's Like To Miscarry As a Man
The truth? I’ll never know what it’s really like. I can listen. I can try to understand. But I’ll never know the feeling of having something you’ve completely loved exit your body. I’ll never know the physical pain.
But I understand the heartbreak.
One week ago, Mina and I went for our routine ultrasound. Coming into 12 weeks pregnant, all was starting to finally feel normal. Her nausea had begun to subside. She was much more energetic, vibrant. Unlike the first four ultrasounds prior, we went into this one with excitement. Confidence, even.
They made me wait in the crowded lobby when she went in.
Surrounded by babies and expecting moms, I would distract myself by trying to get babies to make eye contact with me. I’d look at them, see if they’d notice me, and when they did I’d make a funny face or smile. Then they’d look back at their mothers. I was having much more fun than they were.
I began to wonder how the ultrasound was going. Why didn’t they let me in to watch? I wanted see a picture of our developing baby. Sometimes they can see gender this early, wouldn’t that be cool to know? Maybe we could see some of it’s features. Whose nose does it have? Does baby look happy? Comfy?
After 15 minutes or so, Mina came back into the lobby and sat next to me. She was quiet. Too quiet. I asked what was going on. She said she didn’t know. It doesn’t look good. The baby is undersized. The technician said she wouldn’t need blood work done.
They didn’t find a heartbeat.
But that’s okay, she said. The heartbeat might not be an issue. Sometimes it’s hard to detect. We don’t know for sure. I sat beside her and grabbed onto every glimmer of hope with her. There was no way.
After ten minutes or so, the technician came into the lobby and told us to call the midwife immediately. And that she was so sorry.
I felt all of the air leave my fiancé as she buckled down to the ground. I grabbed her arm and guided her through the crowded lobby, past the eyes of newborn babies and expecting mothers. We got past the door of the clinic and she fell on all fours, sobbing her heart out. I knelt down beside her and held her. She was blocking the door. People would open the door to leave, see her on the ground and close the door and go back inside. A janitor in the hallway asked if everything was okay. I just stared at him. I waved him away.
We got into the elevator and I began a pep talk. It was a hopeless pep talk, but I was buying time for us to get home so we could grieve alone in peace. I told her we still need to hear from the midwife. We don’t know everything yet. Is there a chance the ultrasound is wrong? Maybe the technician didn’t know what she was doing. Mina had already accepted.
We got into an Uber, and the minute the car door shut I started shaking. We squeezed each others hands the whole way home. When we got inside I broke down crying.
We did another ultrasound the next day and got final confirmation. The baby was gone.
I’ve learned how truly fragile it is to have a baby. After you miscarry, people will tell you all kinds of ridiculous things — you shouldn’t have eaten that, you shouldn’t have exercised, you shouldn’t have been so stressed. The truth is that it just happens. That’s it. It just fucking happens. You don’t know why or how or what made the baby stop developing. It just did. It wasn’t strong enough.
There’s a stigma about talking about miscarriages, and I feel it’s because women think that it’s their fault and they are the ones to blame. We need answers. And our families need answers. And it’s the woman’s responsibility to carry the child to birth— so it must be her fault when it doesn’t make it, right?
As a man, it’s our job to be that constant reminder and tell her that it isn’t her fault. It happens in 1 of 5 pregnancies. The baby wasn’t strong enough and didn’t make it. That’s it.
It just fucking happens.
But, of course, that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. I never felt the kind of joy I felt from the first day we found out we were pregnant. I always knew I wanted to be a father, but I never knew truly how much until that day we found out. I’ll never forget being in the bathroom at work together with a handful of pregnancy tests. It was the first day she missed her period. I guess she just knew? I didn’t expect to be so hopeful.
I didn’t expect to jump up and fist pump when we saw the little plus symbol on the stick.
That excitement never left. I would daydream. I’d visualize story time before bed, playing on the floor together, learning how to understand babies different kinds of cries to get them the thing that they needed (unless it was milk, then I’d go get Mina). We picked out all of the baby furniture and trinkets. We talked about food baby would eat, clothes they would wear, how baby would sleep. We were preparing a baby station at the studio we worked out of.
We were getting our lives ready.
And then: “I’m so sorry.”
I’ve learned that it’s hard to tell people. It’s hard enough to figure out how to tell people when you’re pregnant. It’s tricky to find the right time. We did it the way I think you’re supposed to: immediate family right away, closest friends shortly after (within 8 weeks), and then the world (social media — about 12 weeks). We did a photoshoot around our neighbourhood on a Sunday that we posted to our networks to announce, right before the 12 week mark. We found out there wasn’t a heartbeat on the following Tuesday.
Comments of congratulations were still (and are still) flowing into our Instagram and Facebook feeds after we learned that baby was gone. We told our immediate families and friends and have tried our best to stay off of social media. That doesn’t prevent the texts that come. And life doesn’t stop. I went to a holiday party last Thursday and I received congratulations from the first three people that greeted me. Wine never went down so easily.
But that’s the world today. We invited our extended social network in on the news to celebrate, and now we have to inform them about our loss. It goes both ways.
And, honestly, neither of us have any regrets. We got to celebrate the best time of our lives. We got to experience the joy of becoming new parents. We got to talk about it with our friends. We got to go to the baby show and play with all the tiny products and meet with doula’s and listen to our friends and families tell us about all of the things they’re going to get for the little one and adventures they’d go on and we got to setup an outside world of acceptance and love for when the little one was ready to come out. We were ready for you.
You just weren’t ready for us.
But we got to love you just the same.