Last week my husband came home with some news for me. He is a massive (and don’t underestimate it when I say massive) Hull City football fan, and a month or two ago he told me a player he really loved had been suspended on drug charges. At the time I took little interest, I’m not a football fan, I’m ambivalent at best and outright detest it when it gets in the way of family time. So, disinterest was the name of the game until a few days ago when he came home and told me I might find the mitigating circumstances interesting, which had only just been released. According to the sport news this footballer admitted to taking cocaine because he was suffering with depression after his partner suffered a miscarriage. He needed a distraction and foolishly chose that.
Now, if you are like me, you probably scoffed at that. Yeah, I scoffed. Your partner loses a baby and you decide to snort cocaine as a distraction? Get a grip and grow up. I refuse to accept that drug abuse is acceptable because he was having a rough time of it, it’s not and nothing excuses it, but this situation did make me think hard about attitudes towards men and miscarriage. Had this been something less severe, like going out and getting drunk as a skunk, what would be said then? What about something like distancing himself from his team mates, and refusing to come to practice? Maybe even going on sick leave for a few weeks because of depression?
You know what would be said? The same thing: get a grip, YOUR PARTNER has lost a baby. Sad thing is, reverse the role and imagine she has acted out, derailed, and the attitude flips 180. After all, she’s just lost a baby.
This really has to stop.
I’m guilty of doing it myself, and it’s wrong. She didn’t lose a baby, THEY lost a baby. You know the old saying it take two to tango? Well it does. It takes two people to make a baby, but it doesn’t seem to take two to suffer through a miscarriage. Men suffer too.
When I think back to my own experience, Adam was really strong for me, as was expected of him. I was never once asked ‘How’s Adam holding up?’ or ‘How’s Adam feeling?’ and I don’t he really was either. I’ve said before on other bloggers posts about this topic that I disagree that miscarriage for men is the same as miscarriage for women, it isn’t and I hold firm to that. I just don’t think that the way we treat men when a miscarriage occurs is fair or right. Did you know that most men don’t even take sick time, or if they do, it’s to ‘support their wives/partners’? How is that ok? I was told that I could take however much time I needed. Adam didn’t take any time at all, and he wasn’t offered.
I do genuinely believe that it is ‘worse’ for a woman during a miscarriage and I think that is where the stigma comes from. Why do I believe that? From my experience, her body has betrayed her, her body isn’t working with her mind and she feels like she is trapped inside the enemy who has literally just taken EVERYTHING away without her consent. She is the one going through the invasive hospital care, she is the one who may end up on the operating table and she is the one who is in physical as well as emotional pain. Now that I have said that, I feel I need to say this: No one wins the grief Olympics. NO ONE. Just because a man isn’t suffering physically doesn’t mean we need to pretend he isn’t suffering emotionally. I have so many friend’s whose husbands are desperate for a baby, but they aren’t. What happens in that instance? Does the man have to ‘suck it up’ if his partner loses the baby when he was the one who really, truly and desperately wanted it?
I realise that our attitudes go back to a time when the man was an ‘alpha male’ and the ‘hunter gatherer’, it was his role to look after the female and protect her, but haven’t we come past this in so many ways? Aren’t we now in a place where it is just as much her role to protect him emotionally as it is his?
Miscarriage, like pregnancy, effects both parties invested. It’s a loss for both parents to be, so can we pleased start to change our attitudes about the man having to be strong for his wife and be respectful of his grief too? You wouldn’t do it if he lost his two year old, so don’t dismiss him when he losses a child that his partner is still carrying, he’s lost a future too you know.