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So my wife was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy just before Christmas and it has been a long, gruelling and mentally & physically draining process to eventually get my wife back to physical safety and discharged from hospital.
During this whole process I was there for my wife and supported her through this terrible ordeal but once she was discharged from the hospital I personally thought it was time to “move on” and “try and get better”. When I originally found out my wife was suffering from an ectopic pregnancy I had no idea what it was, what it meant or what it would mean for us. My initial reaction was it was not a big loss and when I knew my wife was safe I wanted to move on quickly like ripping a plaster off, however I knew my wife felt differently and that this was a big loss to her so I tried to understand why she felt that way and continued to be there for her and try and support her (or so I thought).
I tried helping my wife “move on” by trying to do nice things for her like take her out for nice meals or buy her flowers and also suggested if she wanted to “feel better” she should speak to someone sooner rather than later and put timescales on things. These things were not what my wife wanted and she tried to tell me this, she tried telling me she did not know how she felt and did not know what to do next… but I was quick to try and suggest what she should do rather than stopping for a moment to realise she just wanted me to be there and listen….. she did not need any of this other stuff. However for reasons still unknown to me I could not hear it and my wife eventually started to shut down and stop talking to me. As the days progressed my wife began to get angry with me that I had let her down and I was the one person who she thought would never do this ( I also thought I would never do this and it was never intentional).
So things started to change at home, the way we acted around each other and the way we spoke with each other. Eventually things came to a boil and during one horrible argument I could not recognise the person who I was arguing with… this was not my wife. I knew then that something seriously wrong had happened and then I started to read more about what an ectopic pregnancy was and how it affected people. It was at this time I had realised how much of a fool I was…. I could see that this would affect people more than just physically and if anything the mental trauma could be worse and that a lot of the time the woman does not know how she feels or knows what she wants to do next and it can take weeks, months or even years to move on from what happened. It was at this moment I realised how wrong I had got it and how much I had let my wife down. I opened up to her about this and she eventually said I was right but it was too late and I had already hurt her. We continued to talk over the next week or so and my wife told me she would try and forgive me for what had happened but it would be a long road and she is unsure if we will ever get there. Now I know I got to the party late but I’m here now and I understand what is going on and what has fully happened to my wife and what she needs and I just want to support her the best that I can.
To add to this because I eventually realised how I was not there for my wife and how much I failed her I’m suffering from severe guilt and to go full circle now I am extremely upset at the loss we have had. I suppose what I’m looking for here is to know if any other men got anything wrong like I did? Has anyone’s wives blamed them for what happened to them? What have other men done to support their wives? Did things eventually get better for you? At the end of the day my wife and my family are my world and I just want to do everything I can to try and helps us get back to something similar to what we had before because I know it wont go back to be completely normal…. How could it after everything that has happened.
Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
I am so sorry to hear of your ectopic pregnancy loss and everything you have been through too.
It is really tough to support someone when we have no idea what they are feeling. You tried your best at the time, and you should not feel guilty about this. I also truly commend you for reading around the subject to begin to try to understand what was happening for your wife. You really are doing everything you can.
I think the differences you describe in how we experience ectopic pregnancy and our grief process afterwards can be common for couples. I became quite angry with my husband as he didn't perceive our loss to be the loss of a baby. To him it was too early to be a baby and he didn't grieve our loss at all which really upset me. I I understand now that he was more concerned about my physical heath and wellbeing but it didn't make it hurt any less and we hear similar stories from other couples too.
What you have both been through, the diagnosis of a life threatening illness, emergency treatment and the loss of a baby can be a very traumatic experience. It can generally take about 3 months to even begin to process traumatic events. We know that following an ectopic pregnancy up to one in three women may develop distressing symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTS), anxiety, or depression. Studies also suggest that one in 12 partners experience PTS after early pregnancy loss. You mention your wife is still struggling and you also mention your own mental health is declining and I would urge you to both seek additional support, (together or separately at first but then together to help you both understand your differing perspectives)
We have more information on pts in our website here-
We at the Trust believe that talking through what happened and your emotions as and when you can helps the healing process. We operate a helpline service and there's no pressure whatsoever but if you would ever like the opportunity to speak over the phone to someone who has been through a similar experience, do feel free to call, details are below. We can take things at your pace entirely and you are free to ask any questions that are on your mind. You can talk about the ordeal you have been through and express your feelings to vent and let off some steam. We can exchange emails too, if you prefer that route. We'll simply be here for you, however you wish and for as long as you wish.
In addition, you can ask to see a GP at your practice and ask them to explore ways in which you can get help and this can include referrals for "talking therapies" or counselling.
We have information on our website about finding counselling services and we have more information here: https://ectopic.org.uk/emotional-recovery
The charity Mind may also be of assistance. They have local centres and support groups and can offer services on a means-tested basis or sometimes free. You can find your local centre following this link if that may be useful too: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/local-minds/
Some people find journaling a really helpful way of expressing emotions they cannot verbalize and your post was so heartfelt. Can I just ask if you have thought about giving her this post to read or editing it as a letter? It may help her understand how you felt you were trying to do your best but how you've realised it was not what she needed and how you really are trying to rectify that and how you are struggling emotionally too.
I cannot thank you enough for having the strength to open up to us here on these pages. We are here for you for as long as you need us.
Sending much love,
The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust
Registered Charity Number: 1071811
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