Posts Tagged ‘ baby ’

Miscarriage: A + B doesn’t always = C

taking-care-of-your-marriage-through-infertility-feb2012-istock

When you were growing up, dreaming of someday getting married and starting a family, it all seemed so easy in your head. You would find the girl of your dreams, get married, have lots of great sex, and therefore, end up having as many kids as you wanted, whenever you decided to have them. Simple. Easy. Right? Sadly, not at all.

About a week ago, my wife noticed her period was a few days late. Not being too concerned because her cycle isn’t always “exact”, we waited a few days. Still nothing. I brought home a pregnancy test, and we found out we had our own little “Christmas present” – unexpectedly on the way. While it was definitely a surprise, we both soon took to the idea, and were looking forward to having another “little Harris” to love, guide, be part of our little family.

Two days later, she started spotting. The next day there was more bleeding, and after going to the doctor to see what was going on, we found out what we feared the most – we had miscarried again.

I shared our first miscarriage story a in a post called “Miscarriage: The subject that never get’s brought up”. Being newly married at the time, we had no idea how to deal with the emotions we both felt, and felt in different ways. Being married a little longer now, and now having our third miscarriage a few days ago, we understand a little better how each other is going to react, and what we both need from each other for comfort/healing.

I think we fail to understand how many couples struggle with having kids. How many times couples have heard the words from their doctors like “it looks like it was a pregnancy that just didn’t develop”, and finding themselves staring at the exam room wall, lost in thoughts like “how could this happen again?” Or “I don’t understand, it was going so well” or “we wanted this so badly, how could God let this happen?”. The pain in these situations is deep, and for the most part suffered in silence. The couple being too afraid to say anything, because they don’t want people to think there is “something wrong with them”. After all, nobody else has problems like this, right? Why can’t we just be “normal” like everybody else, and have kids whenever we want? But what we don’t realize, is for the most part, it’s not “easy” for any couple.

I don’t know how many friends/coworkers, who after hearing our story, have come up to me and said things like “we have lost 3 also”, or “we tried for 3 years before we got pregnant”. What I think we miss is how COMMON this really is, and how desperate couples are to find support, and understanding from other couples, but it’s the subject nobody brings up. Too many misconceptions, to much of a “downer”, people don’t know what to say, it’s awkward, etc – all reasons we have for NOT talking about it. And every one of them bad reasons. If we would get over ourselves for long enough to admit we needed support, maybe we would be able to heal faster, grow stronger, and recover better, but no – our “go to” answer is usually “I’m fine” – when in reality “fine” is not at all how we feel.

Him vs. Her: The healing process – Husbands, when this happens, we need to be keenly aware, that how YOU will want to deal with the loss, and process it emotionally, is going to be totally different from what you wife is going to need/want. The faster you realize this, and come to grips with it, the better off you are in being able to support your wife during this time, without becoming totally frustrated at her instead.

If you’re like most guys, you are going to be sad for a few days from the loss, and then you’re going to start to get this “ok, we lost this one, but let’s fix this thing and just try it again” attitude. For us, we feel out of control by the whole situation, and as a guy – who usually has a “I can fix anything” outlook, it scares us that we can’t do anything, or control the circumstances. This means after we get through the sad phase, we tend to start looking at how we can make it right again, or “fix” what we lost. We tend to look at it almost like we would if we wrecked out car – yeah, it sucks we lost our car, and have to go through the whole process of getting a new one, but sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, isn’t going to make it any easier. Let’s get to looking at new cars, and replace the one we wrecked! Come on, let’s FIX it!

But to your dear wife, this is the last thing she wants to hear is “we can always try again”. As a woman, she needs time to grieve the loss of this child. To her it’s not just something that didn’t work out, it was a child – HER CHILD – that was LOST.

You can talk to her until you’re blue in the face about how she “just needs to move on and let it go”, and she will not only respond badly, but start to resent you for not being able to grieve this loss with her. She will begin to feel like she is totally alone in her grief/sadness, and even become angry that you’re not showing any emotion about it.

What she needs from you is total LOVE and SUPPORT. She needs you to hold her while she cries, and reassure her (without attempting to fix) that it’s all going to be ok. She needs to hear you talk about your sadness (and yes guys, this is a HARD one for us) in losing your child – what you were planning to do with him/her, thoughts you had about it, etc. This helps her not feel alone in “missing” or grieving the loss of the child. She needs you to ASK her if she’s doing ok, and not getting mad, or rolling your eyes when she brings it up 6 months later, and tells you she’s been thinking about it quite a bit today.
I know it’s not the same for us, and we sometimes don’t understand the time is takes for our wives to heal, but so what? As if this is the first thing we don’t completely understand about how God created our wives. What matters is that we ARE there for them, and regardless of how long it may take, we make sure they know we are ALWAYS there for them if they need to talk about it, or even just cry while we hold them.

Also, make sure she’s not the only one that ever brings it up. Mention to her on a random day, that you were thinking about it today, or how you can’t wait to meet your other children in heaven some day. The smile you’ll get from your wife will be priceless.

Talk it out with your wife also. Help her understand you’re not trying to “bury it”, or pretend it didn’t happen, you just deal with it differently than she does. That way she isn’t expecting you to grieve in the same way she does. If it’s the first time you’ve been though this loss, she’s not going to know what you do, any more than you know how she’s going to handle it.

Remember, the WORST thing you could do it both shut down and build a wall between you. Talk, talk, talk – I don’t care how hard it is for you, you MUST keep those lines of communication open during times like this. Your marriage depends on it. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves, and do whatever it takes to help see your marriage through it. Don’t settle for “oh well, she’ll get over it at some point, I don’t even know what to say to her anymore” – even if you don’t know what to say, tell her that! At least you’re not just giving up.

While the loss of an unborn child is a deeply sad, and horrible thing, there is a closeness and a trust that is built and made stronger between the husband and wife, IF the two sides are allowed to grieve in the way they need, and there is a willingness to ACCEPT the other person’s way as “ok”, not criticized, or downplayed, or made to feel bad that they either haven’t or have “gotten over it” yet, or so fast.

Neither side is “the right way” or the “only way” to get through it, and the sooner the both of you accept that, the better you’ll be at healing together, growing your relationship because of it, and gaining a deeper understanding of the mate God has given you. It will get better. The pain will begin to lessen. You will be able to move on. Just understand it is a process. One that you BOTH need.

Sex after pregnancy; What happened to “normal”?

Sex after pregnancy; what happened to “normal”?

Well, the short answer is – there is no “normal” anymore. “Normal” went out the window as soon as your wife came out of the bathroom with the pregnancy test, and there were two pink lines staring back at you. So what’s a husband to do?

First, take a deep breath. You will have a sex life again. It’s not hopeless. Your wife will once again look at you with that “come and get me” look that you haven’t seen since this tiny intruder came into your lives (or if your wife was sick during pregnancy, it may have been a lot longer than that) – cloaked in a blue or pink blanket. So far I’ve gone though this whole process with my wife 3 times, and each time it’s been a little different.

“In The Beginning” – Ah yes, our first child was born. We had been married 2 years. I remember sitting there as a new dad, hearing the doctor say “Now Valerie, make sure you are on pelvic rest for at least 6 weeks, before resuming sexual activity”, and thinking “surely he doesn’t mean that. He must be talking about what ‘most people’ do, but I’m sure my wife will be ready to go long before that”.  I was dreaming (my wife told me so). Boy, did I wake up. Life started with new baby at home now. I tried to be as much help as I could, helping with feeding, diapering, etc. But Benjamin was getting up every 2 hours at night to be fed, and my poor wife was trying to let me sleep as much as she could because I had to work in the morning – but doing so left her in some sort of sleep deprived “fog” for most of the day. She was sleeping when the baby slept, dealing with diapers, caring for a baby for the first time – all while having “first time mommy doubts” about if she was “doing it right”, or “being a good mommy”. Let’s just say that there wasn’t much room on her mind to think of that thing we used to enjoy together called “sex”. I knew she wasn’t able to HAVE sex at the time, but I wanted her to at least WANT to have sex, and be looking forward to being able to do it again. But she didn’t want it, and wasn’t looking forward to it at the time. This led to me not feeling important, and since we didn’t quite know how to communicate in each other’s language early on, we were butting heads quite often about it. She wanted me to be emotionally close to her, but I was having a really hard time with it, due to her not paying attention to me at all sexually. Round and round we would go. Finally, at some point, we figured out a few things that made life much easier –

The first 6 weeks  –

  • She NEEDS you – just not in the way you may want – yet. She needs to know you are in this whole new baby thing together. That means coming home from work and asking what you can do to help. Does the laundry need done? Does she want you to just take the baby while she takes a bath? Does she need you to just listen to her while she let’s out all the stresses of her day? Yes, this stuff is HARD for us to feel “inclined” to do when we don’t feel sexually connected, but you HAVE to find a way to man up and do it. Even though she can’t wrap her mind around the idea of sex right now, she still needs to feel emotionally connected to you. One other thing – don’t “clam up” on her. In other words, don’t help with all the work, and forget to open up to her and share your day, heart, etc. Let her know you love her, and you think she’s doing a great job. This goes a long way to our wives.
  • Sex doesn’t always mean intercourse – Let me have a quick word with the wives for a second: Your husband will probably never communicate this to you in a way that you will understand at the time, but please try and understand what I’m about to tell you: Right now your husband is feeling like he just got bumped out of the #1 spot in your life, by this little baby that seems to do nothing but poop and cry, and take all your attention and affection. This is totally ok with him! He understands this, and even expected it!  But – what he won’t tell you, but desperately hopes you will notice, is that just because life has been turned a little upside down the past few weeks, his sex drive hasn’t gone anywhere.He still thinks you’re beautiful. You still turn him on. The only problem is that you are so preoccupied with “baby stuff” right now (perfectly normal mind you), that you tend to forget that even though your drive may have gone through the floor, your husband still needs you to show you love him, and show him you care about his sexual needs. Try and find ways to show him that even though you may not feel sexual right now, you understand it’s hard for him in the in the meantime.  A simple “hand job” goes a LONG way in letting him know that you haven’t’ forgotten about him. Also, ASK about how HE’S doing dealing with the lack of sex, and offer to help him get release if he needs it. Let me tell you, you will see his whole demeanor change, and all the sudden you will find it much easier to have the emotional connection you were longing for with him. You’d be amazed if you could realize how much it means to your husband if you show him just a little psychical attention. You mean so much to him, and sex is what a husband uses to “check in” and make sure the relationship is ok. Without that, it’s hard for him feel secure and needed by his wife.
  • Your “first time” all over again – The six weeks (or more depending on how much she tore during delivery, if it was a c-section, what her doctor feels is best, etc.) is over! We’re good to go again right? Wrong. Your wife is probably terrified of having sex again for the first time since the birth. Remember, she just pushed something the size of a football out of her vagina. She may be a bit timid about going at it again. Take it slow (VERY slow), listen to her, be understanding, and take cues from her about whether you should continue, and use LOTS of lube! Don’t’ be upset if she has too much pain to continue! Remember, this is a healing process – it’s not going to happen overnight. Be understanding; if the pain is too much to let you finish, she is going to feel like she failed. Reassure her that it’s ok, you love her, and you’re not upset.
  • But it worked before?! – Don’t be surprised if the same things that felt good to her before pregnancy, don’t “do the trick” after birth. You’ll need to “re-learn” what feels good, and what doesn’t anymore. This is especially true if the doc had to put stitches down there. During intercourse certain angles will be much more sensitive/painful than before. You may have to switch up positions to find one that is more comfortable for her.
The biggest thing to remember as you try and piece your sex life together after having a child, is COMMUNICATION. Sometimes we as guys tend to “expect her to know” that we need something sexual, and instead she has no clue. We get upset if she expects us to “just know” something, so why do we do the same thing to her? This whole baby thing isn’t easy on her either.
I want to hear from you guys! What are some of the ways you kept sexually close during the stressful weeks after baby was born?  

Miscarriage: The subject that never get’s brought up.

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.
Loss of a child – born or unborn – is one of the hardest tests your marriage may ever go through. There’s no way around that. The biggest thing to remember is that men and women grieve in much different ways! This can not be overstated! There is not a WRONG way to grieve, God just designed us to do so differently, and it’s our job as husbands to learn and  understand our wives – even when it doesn’t make sense to us – and support and love them – especially during  times when the hurt is so deep.