I’m delighted to welcome author and dad blogger Ben Wakeling to the blog today for the next post in the series of dads sharing their perspective on miscarriage. My wife bought me one of Ben’s books just before Matilda was born and quite honestly Goodbye Pert Breasts should be a must read for all expectant dads, you’ll not find a funnier perspective on what it’s like being a dad. Although I will mention that I haven’t yet seen conclusive proof that he is indeed real and not another pen name of JK Rowling seeing as he appears to shun all public occasions even when he’s nominated for yet another blogging award.
But no matter his real identify here is his story.
The Rose in the Park
Even though it was six years ago, I remember it as if it was yesterday: my wife’s ashen face as she came back from the toilet to say that she was bleeding, the numb feeling of impending heartache, the hurried drive to the hospital.
Nine weeks earlier I had been sitting at my desk when Jess rang me.
“Do you want to hear something which will stop you from doing any work for the rest of the day?” she says, and then proceeds to tell me that we are expecting our second child. Isaac, our first, was just over a year old at the time, and we were looking forward to welcoming his little brother or sister.
Nine weeks later, on Boxing Day, we found ourselves sitting in a small side room of a hospital ward in front of a doctor who was telling us that we had suffered a miscarriage. Although we were expecting the worst, it still hit us hard. We returned home, where my mother-in-law was babysitting Isaac, and Jess cried in her arms for hours.
It was early in the pregnancy, I know; and, through my subsequent work with the charity SANDS, I am well aware that it could have been much worse. It was still painful, though. Even though we’d only known that we were going to be parents again for a few weeks, we were already imagining the nursery, and thinking up baby names, and wondering how we were going to cope with two children in a one-bedroom flat.
Then, one day, it was all gone, and we were left to try and understand why it happened and live in the vapours of dreams which had evaporated against our will. Some family members sent messages of support; others felt so awkward they avoided mentioning the subject altogether. Jess and I talked about it a lot – it’s important, I think, to not keep things bottled up.
When the doctor first informed us of our miscarriage he asked us what we wanted to do with the ‘products’, as he so affectionately called our child. At the time, we were still reeling from the news, and so told him that the hospital could dispose of it. A couple of days later, we rethought, and met with Laura back at the hospital. I can’t remember her job title, or even her surname, but she was one of the most compassionate people I have ever met, and I’ll forever be in her debt for the kindness she showed us. She gave us a tiny plastic box, containing our child, and we took it home.
The next day was a Sunday, and the sun was barely up when Jess, Isaac and I walked through the local park to a small group of trees. As early morning joggers and dog walkers meandered past, we buried our child beneath a rose bush which we had bought the night before. I have a photograph which Jess took of me carrying Isaac as we walked away, and he’s looking over my shoulder. His expression is one of slight confusion twinged with sadness; he can’t fathom what has happened, but is sensing the loss.
Six years (and two more children) later, Jess and I sometimes talk about what might have been. We have long since come to terms with the grief, but it remains a painful memory. And, whenever we go down to the park and push our children on the swings, I look over at the rose bush which thrives by the trees and give a silent nod.
Thanks again to Ben for sharing his story, if you’d like to read the other posts in this series you can do so here. You could also sponsor me for my attempt to run 100km to raise money for Tommy’s and fund research into miscarriage and stillbirth.