This is a tough post for me, and for most guys to talk about. It’s a topic, that if you’ve been through it first hand, that guys like to “stuff” and avoid thinking about, because we can’t “fix” the problem, and if you’re like me, that drives you nuts. This is also one of those trials in life that no one talks about. When you go through it, your friends, and even your family, seem to walk on egg shells around you. It’s ends up being the elephant in the room. That being said – I must admit that before I went through it first hand, I had some friends that went through it, and I was the same way. Scared I would say the wrong thing, that they would become upset if I mentioned it, I would even avoid them if I saw them in a store, all because I didn’t know what to say. I wish I knew then, what I know now: that it means a lot to the couple going through it if you were to just ask “hey guys, how are you holding up?” – and mean it – it would help so much. Just to break the silence. And so I share our story….
July 13th, 2011 is the 1 year ago mark for Val and I going through the heart-breaking loss of loosing a child to miscarriage. I still remember that day like it was yesterday, even though I have tried to forget. It was a sunny, beautiful day like most days in the Summer here in the Valley. Val and I were going in for a normal 15 week checkup with ultra-sound, and I had the day off from work. We ran a couple of errands before her appointment as we often do. Everything was normal. Val was even feeling better than she had been with the pregnancy. She had gotten up that day and said she felt good, and was hoping the “morning sickness” was finally over.
We finally arrived at the medical center after running all of our errands, and waited for her name to be called. We had done this many times before, as this was our third pregnancy, and when you live in a small town, there’s only one place you go for your ultra-sound. We knew the routine, and the staff. It was all normal. The guy who always runs the ultra-sound machine had Val lay down on the table like always, there was the normal warning about the gel maybe being cold, etc. Just another “normal” appointment.
Val could tell something was wrong before I could. I think I knew it too, but was in denial. “This doesn’t happen to us. We have healthy babies”, I kept telling myself. The Tech. tried to act like nothing was wrong, but after about 10 minutes, said he had to go find the doctor to “look at something”. No explanation, no reason. The time it took for the doctor to come down from upstairs seemed like an eternity. I still remember the dead quiet of the room, except for the constant whirring of the ultra-sound machine. We didn’t say much to each other. We both knew.
The doctor finally arrived, and after conferring with the tech, told us “I’m very sorry, but there is no heartbeat. It looks like there was an abnormality in the brain-stem. I’m so sorry”. I could see his lips moving, and hear his voice, but it felt like I was in someone else’s body. Numb. Like it was some kind of bad dream. The doctor and Tech left the room to “give us a minute”, and I went over and held my wife as we cried together. This was not supposed to happen! This was a normal checkup! They must have something wrong – we don’t go through this, this doesn’t happen to us – were some of the thoughts racing through my head. There was such a feeling of empty. Shock. They told us to go home, and we would have to schedule a “D&C” for a later date.
I still remember walking out of that little room, and down what seemed like a really long hallway, that in reality wasn’t more than a brief walk. I remember thinking that you’re supposed to leave that room happy, talking about names, or the video of the ultra-sound you’re going to show your family – all the happy, normal thoughts that you’re supposed to have at that stage. But it seemed like I was in a dream. One that for some reason, I couldn’t escape from.
The first few days afterwords were really tough. The worst part was having to call our family and friends to tell them the news. Val was in no shape to talk, so I called our family one by one, and tried to put on a “God know’s best” face – all the while still feeling like I was in a daze. In my “guy” mind, there had to be some way to “fix” this! I would replay every possible solution over and over in my head, knowing full well there wasn’t one. The days ticked by, and rolled into weeks. I tried to be as supportive as I could to Val, but I felt like I just didn’t have the words to say that would help comfort her. Again, trying to “solve” it, I tried to encourage her by saying that we could “try again”, and that “we just have to believe the Lord has a plan in this somewhere hon”. As the weeks turned into months,I began to look for projects to fill my time. Something to get my mind off of it. From my “guy” perspective, it’s so much easier to just put it behind me as much as I can, and bury it or push it down so I didn’t have to deal with remembering the pain.
A few months after the D&C procedure, I remember wondering why Val was having so much trouble “moving on” from it, and concentrating on trying again – or “fixing” it. It was hard to wrap my male mind around. “Why she would want to always be thinking about it! WHY would you want to remember the pain? WHY can’t we begin to move past this, we can make it better, we’ll just get pregnant again!” were my thoughts. I tried to be understanding, and supportive of her, but she was taking my attitude as “me not caring about our loss”. She instead wanted me to cry with her. She wanted someone to feel the pain with her, and not feel like she was the only one that was stuck in this grief that had gripped us both. But I was dealing with in a very different way. I needed to look through her eyes. It took me a lot of trial and much error, but I finally began to understand what my wife was longing for from me:
- She wanted me to remember – she didn’t want me to act like it never happened! I wanted to put it behind me, but she needed me to remember with her! This was key to her being able to heal.
- She wanted me to bring it up in conversation – This was so hard for me, but so important to her! It showed her that I remembered our baby in heaven, and I was missing him/her too. She wasn’t alone.
- She needed me to hold her and let her cry – She wanted me to put down the “tough guy” routine, and hold her. To tell her that it’s ok to cry. Allow her to grieve. To grieve together.
- She wanted to know it affected me also – Although I thought this would be pretty obvious, she said several times that “she felt alone” in her sadness when I would not talk about it, and deal with it by working in the garage, or taking a drive on the bike. Is needed to show her that it was hard for me too.