I have never really thought about miscarriages in my life. I have a couple of family members and a few friends in seminary that went through it. In these few cases I basically said, “What a shame, I’m sad for you,” I did my best to feel real empathy for them, but never thought much about it beyond that. One year ago today, however, I should have heard the heartbeat of my second child…but I did not.
Now I have thought about miscarriages.
I have never seen or heard a man speak about what miscarriage is like from their point of view. (Oh wait, after I wrote this, this was posted) What is the internet for if not being inappropriately open with complete strangers? In light of this, I will now share with you the experience from my side.
First and foremost; it is crushingly sad. I suppose that should be obvious, but I have rarely heard anyone ever talk about the experience, and when they do they mention it as some past event that they have grieved over, so I never realized how hard it must be. There were warning signs before we found out, so my heart was a bit guarded. I’ll never forget that ultrasound room on the day we learned there was no heartbeat. This was not our first ultrasound. In fact we were pros. We both knew that it was bad well before the doctor spoke to us. Even then I was not quite prepared to hear the news that my child had no heartbeat. It is a death, and you grieve like any other death even though you never got to know the child you are grieving over.
Secondly, I didn’t realize just how excited I was about my impending renewed fatherhood. When I found out that our first child was coming, I had a multitude of feelings. Mostly, for several weeks, I was freaked out. When I found out we were expecting our second I was only freaked out a bit, the most common thought was, “how can I handle another child? They cost so much money, and they require so much work, and they are so exhausting.” But also I began to make plans, I thought about the future, how to decorate the nursery, and the things we would do as he or she grew up. When all of that was ripped away, I discovered that I was much more excited than I ever realized.
Closely related to this one, and definitely shocking to me, is how, for the first few days after the news, playing with my perfectly healthy toddler daughter was sort of depressing. Many times when she would be smiling or laughing I would be overcome with sadness. I can’t even pinpoint why. I suppose it is because I knew that I would never have this same experience with the child we lost.
The hardest part of the process for me was telling people. Telling people brings back the freshness of the grief each time. Although it got easier, it still was hard every time. And because we had told so many people that we were expecting, it had to be repeated often.
Later there was a new round of grief as other people who had the same due date as us made birth announcements, then they began to show pictures of them. (There are 4 other couples who had almost the same due date as us.) It is unfair to those people. I want to be excited with them and celebrate their new babies, but they come with a small pang of grief each time. Every one of these children is a reminder that we are not going to get to celebrate in the same way. I realize that this is completely selfish, and I’m not suggesting that it is good or right, but it is the case.
I very much appreciate the condolences of people. It is encouraging to know that others are empathizing with you, and feeling loved by others is helpful. Grief, however, must be dealt with alone.
By far the hardest part of this entire experience is watching the sadness of my wife, knowing that there is nothing I can do to alleviate it and deeply wanting to. I went through the early grieving process much quicker than she did. There are a few reasons for this. Most importantly, I began to be concerned for her health. A D&C is a surgical procedure and that carries with it the risks that any surgery does. She had a lot of difficulties in the aftermath and I was deeply concerned with her health. That forced me to grieve quickly for my child so that I could be support for my wife.
Also, and maybe this is screamingly obvious, there is a very different relationship between the father of an expected child and the mother. The mother knows the baby before they are born. (There are personality traits of my daughter that literally manifested in the womb.) For the mother the loss is more difficult because it is more personal.
Life does not stop for grief, so we must go on. We named our unborn child Emerson, and on the day he was due we celebrated his life. We released some balloons and bought an outfit for his memory box. We gave gifts to the other boys we know born in this time period.
And we move forward, because life always moves forward.
I can never remember being nervous about a blog post before, and I have written hundreds. However, it took me weeks to write this, months to finish it, and an entire morning of psyching myself up to press the post button. Hopefully it will be helpful to someone.