It was the day before Christmas Eve and I was 12 weeks pregnant. My husband and I were waiting in the ER to hear the test results that in our minds we already knew the answer to, but as he held my hand we hung onto every last thread of hope. As the doctor came in and sat next to my bed, the tears streamed down, he told us that we had lost our first baby. I looked at my husband and he began to cry, it was the first time I had seen him moved to such sorrow.
That afternoon we held each other, shared tears and grieved over the child we dreamed of meeting, but would never hold. The days to come were supposed to be ones of much joy, but the grief didn’t leave and I did everything in my willpower to fight the tears during Christmas Mass. I noticed however that as my husband continued to comfort me, I no longer saw any tears from him and his grief seemed to have dissipated. As the weeks went on I continued to mourn and tried to understand why this happened. I began to grow frustrated; it seemed to me that my husband had already gotten over the loss. The questions filled my mind, why does he no longer appear sad, did he not love this baby, how could he just get over it, doesn’t he understand what happened?
Needless to say arguments ensued as we tried to understand each other’s feelings. Unfortunately, it probably wasn’t until our third miscarriage when we were finally able to comprehend how we each grieved in our own way. As mothers we are so fortunate to have the instant bond with the child developing inside of us and for the fathers it comes about much more gradually as the pregnancy progresses.
My husband’s grief was seeing me suffer, not being able to take away my pain or lift me out of my sadness. His frustration came in wanting things back to normal, just wanting his wife back. Once I understood that he wasn’t dismissing my sorrow, but only trying to help me out of it, it made the healing process come about more smoothly. I would even try to laugh at one of his jokes, just to give him a little comfort that I was going to be okay.
It seems cliché to say, men and women grieve differently, but far too often we don’t understand it or take the time to communicate as to how so. Studies have shown that there is an increase in separation and divorce after miscarriage, and I am continually hearing stories of this being the case. According to a recent study, couples are 22% more likely to breakup after a miscarriage. When I think about it, it doesn’t really surprise me, this child came into being because of your love and it is love that seems shattered after the loss. Someone is missing and it’s learning how to put the pieces back together when a piece of you is no longer there.
Be patient with your spouse. Don’t give up. Realize and respect that each is grieving in their own way. Listen and be patient. It may not be easy, but cling to one another and be patient. Take the time to communicate authentically and express your feelings. Schedule a few more date nights and focus on your relationship. Reach out to other couples, who have been through similar experiences, it’s always good to know you are not alone in what you are feeling. Looking back we know that as difficult as these times were, they brought us closer together. It’s making your way through the storm to enjoy the sunrise.