So often we forget that partners or husbands are also part of the journey through a miscarriage. Just as a mother does, fathers too, experience the loss of a miscarriage as well. While they may not go through the physical and hormonal changes that a mother does, the mental and emotional trauma does have an effect on them. Here, Florian Rennekamp shares what he went through when his wife miscarried their triplets at 23 weeks.
That Fateful Evening
I remember coming home from work that evening. While I ate the dinner Natalie had prepared, she shared about how she had been having cramps during the day. She had only just been discharged from hospital the day before because of a threatened miscarriage. Upon hearing of Natalie’s discomforts, fear washed over me. I insisted that we head straight back to hospital, much to her dismay. Still, I was intent on remaining positive and reassured her that everything would be well.
Once we arrived in hospital, the doctors did some checks. Aside from the infection, Natalie was already 5cm dilated and experiencing contractions. She said that she couldn’t feel a thing, but the contraction monitor said otherwise. We were only in the 22nd gestational week and our hopes that everything was going to be fine faded very quickly.
After three days, the contractions stopped again. However, Natalie was already fully dilated. At this point in time, we were able to feel hopeful again. Every day that the babies remained in the womb increased their chances of survival.
The Steep Hill Down
In the days that followed, Natalie developed fever that gradually worsened. One night she felt so hot that I had to call the nurse in to take her temperature. It was 39.6 degrees! Moreover, Natalie was leaking out green discharge that alarmed the nurse.
Right after the nurse said she needed to call the doctor, I realised that the situation we were now in was potentially life-threatening to Natalie. The doctor came to see us and ordered for Natalie to be transferred straight to the delivery suite. I knew that this could not be good.
After a quick consultation with the attending doctor, we were told that they had to induce the babies. This was so that they could administer a stronger antibiotics to fight the infection. It was the 23rd week and 4th day. It was still too early to give our babies a reasonable change of survival. Knowing this was devastating to me.
My heart broke knowing that Natalie wanted to keep them. Even as she scolded me, telling me that we needed to give our babies a chance to live, I had to stand firm in the decision we had both made together only days before. It was difficult seeing my wife crumble before me while I stood powerless to save our children.
All for Nothing
I felt that all the hard work during the last week in hospital was for nothing:
All those sleepless nights when Natalie didn’t feel well; The mind numbing feeling of not knowing what the outcome was going to be and when everything would be over; The fear that something might happen to Natalie while I was out getting lunch or taking a shower at home.
I felt empty, especially knowing there was nothing I could do to improve the situation. In the moments before we began inducing labour, I sat next to Natalie and cried. I felt a pain in my heart that I have never felt before. In part, it was because of the hard work we had invested. Mostly, it was because I felt like the future I had envisioned for us had been cruelly snatched away.
For the last couple of years, I have wished to build a family of my own with Natalie. Standing in the delivery suite, I knew that everything that we had both worked and hoped for was going be taken away in the hours to follow. The worst part was there was absolutely nothing we could do. It was one day before my wife’s birthday; Two weeks before the babies would have been viable. So close, yet so far.
My parents-in-law visited us every day during our stay in hospital. After we lost our babies, some close friends came by to keep us company. My own family lives overseas so I could only stay in contact with them via phone. It helped me a lot to talk with them about what happened and how I felt. Still, I think talking to my wife and knowing how she was coping was the most important to me at that point in time.
We discussed about the positive things we could get out of our hospital experience. For me, I realised on the night we lost our babies that in the grand scheme of things, my job is very insignificant. There is nothing that I do in the office that can change the world. I learned to be more relaxed at work; To not let office politics upset me, etc.
After a couple of days with friends and family around me, I also felt the need to spend of time alone. I needed to distract myself from the time in and memories of the hospital. I needed to take a break from talking about it every day. So, I spent a few days alone in our apartment playing PC games, watching TV and just relaxing. After a few days, I felt much better.
I think the most effective kind of support that I could provide to Natalie was being with her as much as I could. I stayed by Natalie’s side from the first day she was admitted into hospital – Every day, every night. Only when I had to get food or take a shower at home, did I leave her.
Being with Natalie was also very important to me as I wanted to share the journey with her. Only by being with her would I be able to relate with what she was going through and how she was feeling. Perhaps not so much physically, but at least mentally and emotionally. It was also important that I be with her in case her situation deteriorated.
Simply being in the same room and comforting her in case she was losing hope or had doubts of a happy ending helped me feel needed. I reminded her often that even in the worst case scenario, we would come out stronger than before. Helping her inadvertently helped me to cope with what we were going through, together.
Moving Forward Together
I think it helps when you sit together with your partner and discuss a ‘plan’ on how to move forward together. We lost our babies on the 23rd of August. On that day, as we grieved, we both agreed to concentrate and focus on us as a couple for the rest of the year. After confinement, we planned visits to some nice restaurants that we didn’t manage to visit before the pregnancy. We also booked a short trip to Japan in December.
Since then, we have been engaging in couple activities that we would not be able to do with kids. I thoroughly enjoy the time we have been making to go on weekend hikes in nature, and to enjoy a nice meal together. It has been wonderful to conscious enjoy being a couple for the last time before we try again.
Feelings Towards My Wife
Although I was with her all the time, seeing how much pain she went through was not easy. I know that it was even harder for her. Once we got out of the hospital, she tried to look forward to leaving everything behind us without forgetting the three lives we had created together. She has been so strong and looks towards next year as a clean slate.
Natalie often asks me whether my feelings for her changed after all that happened. It did. I love her even more. I treasure our time together. And I cherish her smile more than ever. I am proud of her – her tenacity, her resilience and her fierce love. After all we went through together, I am all the more certain that she is whom I want to raise a family with; to grow old with. I am confident that it will happen – our rainbow(s) will come.