Tears of miscarriage: Three men share their devastation and the impact of loss

Tears of miscarriage: Three men share their devastation and the impact of loss

Tears of miscarriage: Three men share their devastation and the impact of loss

Updated 26 June 2017, 14:05 AEST

One in four pregnant women in Australia experience a miscarriage.

One in four pregnant women in Australia experience a miscarriage. While women suffer in their loss, male partners are also left devastated.

For Matt Whiting the heartbreak was twofold — he experienced a miscarriage and marriage breakdown within the space of nine weeks.

In a relationship for 13 years and married for three-and-a-half of those years, his partner miscarried at nine weeks.

"Even though the baby wasn't born, it was like losing a child," Mr Whiting said.

Shocked, the couple struggled to talk about what had happened, with no counselling services offered.

"I sat around and didn't know what to say, who to ring, didn't know what to say to my wife in the room after everything had happened," Mr Whiting said.

Instead they were left with a nursery filled with hope and heartbreak.

Mr Whiting always wanted children. The oldest of five children, he grew up surrounded by babies and young children.

"I just love kids. So the one thing I want in life is to be a dad," he said.

Faced with the miscarriage, he found himself alone.

"I'm one of the only people in my group of friends who don't have kids," Mr Whiting said.

Coming back from rock bottom

What followed the miscarriage was rock bottom, also contributed to by his marriage breakdown.

"I felt like I didn't have control in my life anymore," Mr Whiting said.

The loss was further reinforced on the baby's due date, a day he struggled through.

"The day it was due I was pretty upset. I could have been at the hospital at the delivery suite with my first child," he said.

"I sat on the beach and thought about life and thought, you know, is it really worth it?"

After a talk with a good friend and psychologist, and now part of a men's group, he is slowly getting back into life.

"Just talking to people about it, I think I've learnt how to open up a lot as well and to not bottle things up anymore because it only makes things worse," Mr Whiting said.

'Horrendous, traumatic' experience

Nick Tonkin and his partner's first pregnancy went without a hitch.

Then two years later he watched, shocked, as his partner miscarried during her eighth week, during a hospital visit.

"It was the first time I've ever seen anything like that — it was just this little sac that was about the size of a golf ball," Mr Tonkin said.

The "horrendous, traumatic" experience left him feeling heartbroken.

"All of a sudden you know, the guillotine comes down and it's over to have another child," Mr Tonkin said.

"It felt like we definitely lost something. We really had our hopes pinned on another child."

Dealing with consequences alone

What followed was a quiet, sombre time with little talking between the pair.

While Mr Tonkin tried to check in on his partner, he conceded he was ill-equipped to play a supportive role.

"I definitely felt quite empty after the first miscarriage to be honest," he said.

At the time, he said the couple was not offered any counselling and was left to deal with the consequences alone, leaving them both depressed.

"I felt it was a little too procedural. We handed over the embryo to them, they checked it and came back to us and said 'Well, we can't tell you anything new, you know you've lost the pregnancy'," Mr Tonkin said.

Instead, he would have liked to have a ceremony.

"I almost wanted to ask for it and take it away with us, but that wasn't even offered because it had gone through pathology," Mr Tonkin said.

It was only when he bumped into an old colleague who had just experienced a miscarriage, and shared the loss that he felt a weight lift off his shoulders.

Six months later the couple's hopes were once again destroyed by another miscarriage.

"I think the discussion pretty much was around 'That's it. I'm not going to try anymore. We're not going to try anymore'," Mr Tonkin said.

"I felt that we'd done everything we could — we really did."

Mr Tonkin and his partner separated nine months ago.

'You see your future dying'

Tony Johnson and his partner were nervous from the onset.

While Mr Johnson had three children from a previous marriage, his partner had a legacy of multiple miscarriages — this would be her ninth.

"It was shocking but not surprising," Mr Johnson said.

The trained accountant always knew there was a probability of a miscarriage, given his partner's history.

So, when he walked home one night to the news of a miscarriage, although he was attached to the idea of being a father again, the emotional attachment to a baby was missing for him, unlike his partner.

"I'd almost distanced myself until the 12-week window," Mr Johnson said.

But he still struggled in his role, hard wired to find solutions.

"It was a challenge for me to maintain a stillness and not want to fix things," Mr Johnson said.

Hopes raised then dashed again

But what happened eight months later still leaves the solidly built accountant in tears.

Having passed the 12-week mark with their second pregnancy, the couple got to the 21-week mark when spotting began to appear.

"I was beside myself because there is bugger else you can do, other than just be there," Mr Johnson said.

At the 23-week mark they visited their local hospital, where a trip to the toilet delivered insurmountable pain and anguish.

"She literally caught Victor," Mr Johnson said.

About the size of Mr Johnson's hand, their premature baby, Victor, only lived for two hours.

Miscarriages are defined as the loss of a baby before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Because Victor was born and lived, the couple was granted a birth certificate.

Unlike the previous loss, Mr Johnson said the depth of emotions manifested immediately once he saw his child.

"He was there so then it's real, it's tangible. You can start to picture and imagine and then it's taken away in what seemed a blink of an eye," Mr Johnson said, crying.

"It's your future, you see your future dying."

Putting feelings in a box

Originally from England, Mr Johnson said he did not have a strong support network like his partner.

Describing himself then as a" standard bloke", he did not feel comfortable talking to many people.

"I was a bloke, I put it into a bucket, a box, whatever you want to call it, which doesn't get opened very often, but when it does get opened it shows complete vulnerability," Mr Johnson said.

The healing finally began with the birth of their next child.

"Victor created the path for Llewelyn to follow. That was huge," Mr Johnson said.

"If he hadn't happened, then potentially Llewellyn wouldn't be here."

Mr Johnson and his partner separated four years ago.