A Father's Loss - October 15th is Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day
This post will not be for everyone, it is not about running or fitness or weight loss. It is about life and one of the many things that not only derail you, but break your heart and I am including it for that reason. Sometimes no matter how hard we try and persist, life blindsides us with a roundhouse kick and we are left to pick up the pieces. I am blessed with two amazing, healthy and wonderful daughters that I am thankful for. I also have a brother and two sons that I never got to meet and since October 15th is Infant & pregnancy loss awareness day I have decided to share this story with you. This is written from the heart and I hope that’s okay, and feel free to light a candle tonight at 7:00 pm and remember someone you love.
A Father’s Loss
In 1964 my brother Scott died from hyaline membrane disease at two days old. I always wondered what it would have been like and how things would have been different if he was still around. This really came to the forefront in July of 2011 when my wife and I had our first miscarriage. It hit me hard and I could not stop thinking of Scott and what my parents went through all those years before. I am guessing my Dad probably hurt but tried to go on as usual, you know guys are supposed to be tough and my Mom probably just had to deal with it. It is not something you were supposed to talk about back then. Well I am here to tell you that I do not care how tough you are; nothing will knock you to the ground harder. To stand there and watch my wife’s world crash down around her completely broke my heart. I have never felt so helpless and useless in all of my life. There was nothing to protect her from, no enemy to fight, nothing to fix. All I could do was support and hold her and not fall apart, yet. That came later.
Then we spent the next year trying to pick up the pieces and act like you are not scared to death to try again. You take extra precautions and do extra sonograms and everything looks to be progressing “normally”. You start to let your guard down thinking that just maybe this is going to work out this time. Only to be in the doctors office one year and two days after and you see the all too familiar nervousness of the nurse. Even though you know nothing about sonograms, you know it has happened again. This time the shock turns to pure anger and disbelief. How in the world could this happen again to us? What have we done that we are being punished for?
I swear if one more person said “everything happens for a reason”, I was going to snap. I know they mean well and I understand the saying, but this is not the situation for that. If you don’t know what to say, then stop and think first. That does not mean to ignore that it happened and sometimes there is nothing you can say to help so just be there. It is physically, emotionally, and mentally devastating for a woman to lose a baby, but it is also emotionally, and mentally devastating to the father. Keep that in mind when you ask “how is she doing?” Again I understand you are asking because you care, but there were times I was hanging on by a thread and could have used that same question. Not looking for pity, just understanding that I suffered a loss too.
After going through this twice and meeting way too many people who have suffered similarly I have some thoughts. A lot of couples do not make it through this situation. Let’s face it you are never the same after as you were before, but take the time to figure out what it takes to make it. First thing, and maybe the hardest thing to admit is that you can not “fix it” for her. Second, sometimes not talking, and just holding is what she needs. Sometimes she will not want you to touch her at all; she will close up emotionally and physically. The only thing you can do is wait and be as patient as you have to be, there is no other way. It will hurt, be lonely and very frustrating, but pressure will only push her away further. If you want to get through this and still be together you will have to put away your usual guy reactions and work harder than you ever have at anything before. The grieving process is just that, a process and if you try to work around it or bluff your way through it will tear you down. Do not feel like you are alone or weak because you have feelings and emotions. Find someone you can talk to and know that it is not a weakness to need this release. You are not alone.