One woman who has endured four miscarriages told me, ‘Anyone who thinks life doesn’t start at conception has never had a miscarriage. Actually, the first one wasn’t so bad. It didn’t really connect for me that it was a baby I had lost … more like a blood clot or something … and I explained to myself that there must have been something wrong with the baby. Nature’s way of getting rid of abnormal babies … you know what people say to try and make you feel better. After I had my first live baby, my attitude really changed. It was much more real then. I wanted a big family more than anything in the world but I had three miscarriages in two years. The first went to sixteen weeks and the next two only lasted twelve weeks. Each time I had a miscarriage it was as though I had lost a baby at full term. It’s impossible to describe the pain of the grief. Lying in the hospital ward with a drip in my arm before the curette, it was so lonely. The staff were trying to be really understanding, but to them miscarriages were so commonplace that they were just a routine. I thought if one more person says “Better luck next time” I will just scream! One strange thing that happened each time I got pregnant was that I became incredibly protective of myself and the baby as a unit. I wouldn’t let my husband anywhere near me. Sex was out of the question and my only priority was getting the pregnancy to term. I wouldn’t do anything that would disturb the baby. I would cringe even if he wanted to give me a cuddle because I’d think, “Oh no, he wants to do it!” I really felt like I was being attacked.’
The harder it has been to get pregnant or to take the pregnancy to full term, the stronger this siege mentality gets and it really is understandable. In fact women with a history of repeated miscarriages may well be advised to avoid intercourse for the first few months of the pregnancy as a precaution, although most will do so anyway as an instinct. This is one of those situations when it is important that the woman’s partner understands the reasons the advice has been given. That makes it a team effort for a common goal, rather than the man feeling totally shut out of the pregnancy. I’ve heard it said that the Freudian concept of ‘penis envy’ is just a decoy invented by men to take the attention away from their ‘womb envy’, an unfulfilled desire to experience pregnancy for themselves. The point here is that the more pregnancy is treated as a team effort the less likely you are to run into problems, and that means men being involved and informed as much as possible at every stage.