As many of you know, either from me or from reading my wife’s blog or Facebook page, we are currently going through the process of a miscarriage. While this is indeed a sad event, most people only ask “How is your wife doing?” or “Is she okay?” Rarely do people outside of my family ask how I am dealing with this, physically or emotionally. Contrary to popular belief, the fathers go though their own process of dealing with the loss of a child.
Six years ago Jen and I decided we were ready to have children. We soon realized that we are both from quite fertile families as two weeks later, monthly cycle was missed and a positive pregnancy test was in our bathroom. We were ecstatic and began telling friends immediately the good news. We made our appointments with a local OB, and saw the first ultrasound, thinking nothing was wrong as it was our first time. After seeing the comparisons between that first pregnancy and the second (which produced our oldest son), we now know that it was fairly well doomed from the start. The child was practically all heart, and could not sustain itself inside the womb. At eight weeks of gestation, the pregnancy was over and our dreams were shattered. This was the first time I had actually cried since joining the Army. I was able to hold it together on the way home from the hospital, but as soon as I called my NCO to give him the news, I broke down on the phone as I actually spoke the words for the first time. I was lucky to have an understanding Chain of Command, who immediately gave me a pass for the weekend so Jen and I could grieve together. The hospital did a D&C and we never got to see the child that gave us joy for two months.
Fast forward a couple of months, and we were once again pregnant, this time with a healthy, full-term child who has just recently turned five years old.
Now, I say we so much because when you are in a loving and connected relationship like Jen and I are, even the husband feels the pregnancy. I have gained some weight each time, had my own (if lessened) bouts of nausea, and been there through most of the ups and downs of each and every time.
Fast forward again to present day, and we have two wonderful, hyper, slightly annoying, boys and were expecting another child. This pregnancy was not planned, but I had just come back from Afghanistan, and my own soldiers were ready to go. When we found out Jen was pregnant again, we were both in shock, happy yet unsure at the same time. Five weeks into this pregnancy, we had the first complication. Jen started spotting, and we went to the ER to make sure everything was okay. All we were told was that there was a g-sack in utero. They did not tell us that the heartbeat was not detected at the time. A couple of follow-ups later, and we were given the news that Jen’s HcG levels had gone down, the heartbeat hadn’t been detected, and that we were losing the child. Then, after some prayers and lesser bouts of grief than the first one, a miracle happened. HcG levels started going up, a heartbeat was detected, and now we were having an “at risk” pregnancy.
Now, this is not a pleasant experience for either the wife or the husband. Most of the time the doctor will put the mother-to-be on a minimum of pelvic rest, if not bed rest. Pelvic rest, for those that don’t know, means no sex. Flat out, no nothing, and that’s assuming that the mother-to-be even wants to be kissed for more than a quick peck. Therefore, as one can naturally assess, tensions in the household will rise. Tempers will flare, hormones will rage for both husband and wife, and the usual make-up afterward will not be there. As a man, this can be extremely frustrating. I know many of you out there will think this as sexist and callous, but for a man sex is as important to a healthy relationship as all the emotional parts, and when that is taken away, we tend to turn inward even more.
Back to the story at hand, Jen was indeed put on pelvic rest, and all the usual pregnancy symptoms returned full force. Her OB told her that it may have been a lost twin, and she would come in for regular checkups every one or two weeks. We were being as careful as possible now, but at the last checkup Jen was told that the heartbeat that had been getting stronger was no longer there.
When Jen called me, I was at home watching the boys as they fought with each other in their brotherly way. She gave me the news, and at first all I thought was “This sucks.” Then it was “Will she be able to safely drive home?” Followed by “What do we tell the boys and how/when do we tell everyone else?” Obviously, she made it home safely, and we prepared for our Battalion Coming Home party as a distraction from what was going on. We both told our families what was going on, and then spread the word at the party to those who were close to us. I did most of the talking that night, as I could see how hard it was on Jen. That night we both posted the news on Facebook.
Up until now, I have been acting as Jen’s rock. This one has hit me a lot less than the first. Maybe it’s because I’ve gone through it once already, and I know hope is out there. It could be because I know I have my faith to fall back on this time around, and the strong support of my fellow Knights. The upcoming move has also been a distraction for both of us and parenting two boys has also kept me grounded with the fact that this happens, but doesn’t mean it will always happen.
Now for the slightly callous parts again. Am I upset with the situation? Of course I am. Do I blame God for this? Not entirely. I know he has a plan for us, and this will make us stronger. Yes, I slightly resent the ups and downs that we went through, and I would not wish this upon anybody. I also know that financially, this is for the best. Because of the move and recent Disney vacation, we are not sitting as well as we normally are. Adding a new baby to the mix would just make things harder on us, and the timing was just not very good right now.
Yesterday, Jen asked me to give a man’s perspective on miscarriage, and this is mine at the moment. I’ve never blogged before, I don’t post on Facebook a lot, and I’ve never been all that good at expressing my feelings. But this is what I can do to help other men go through this, and maybe a few wives to understand what there husband may be feeling. Everyone is different though, and will go through miscarriage differently, handle it differently, but all of us will grieve at least a little. Some might do it openly like I did the first time, some will do it silently and on the inside like I do now, hoping to just get their wife through the pains of loss.
As of this writing we are still waiting for things to progress naturally. Like Jen has said, it’s like waiting for a ticking time bomb without a timer display, waiting to give birth without the rewards.
I can honestly say that the hardest time talking about this was while writing this article. My commander once again asked how Jen was doing, and I mentioned that I was writing a male perspective on this and the fact that everyone always asks about the wife. He then asked how I was doing, and all I could really think to say was “I’m dealing with it.” I did feel sad about the loss just then, but I know that it’s not game over for our family.