When a miscarriage happens, dads often step to the sidelines. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and this is for dads who have had one of life’s most difficult disappointments.
People are different and deal with life’s twists and turns differently. But one thing that everyone has in common is that no matter which route you take through life, there are times when you feel close to the edge of the mountain or at the bottom of valley or lost in the middle of no-where. You don’t know how to feel and how to act and in my experience, our miscarriage was one of those times. Almost a year on from our miscarriage the memories are still vivid and what I can’t get my head around is that you can’t be prepared for it. Until you experience it, learn from it and move on you simply don’t know how to cope. This post isn’t designed to give answers because I don’t think there are any but merely offer a support and acknowledgement of how you might be feeling. I’ve tried to summarize my thoughts and feelings as I look back and accumulated them into some (hopefully) helpful axioms.
Please bear in mind that these are tailored towards dads. It’s not that I think mums are fine, it’s just that A) dads never speak about it, yet it does have a profound impact on dads, B) there are a lot of blogs and forums aimed at mums already and C) I’m a dad and it happened to me.
#1 It is so much more common than you think
If I were to add up how many dads I have spoken to about having a miscarriage I would genuinely say that 8 out of 10 respond by sharing their experience. The experts say 1 out of 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, normally in the first 6 weeks. My point is, you’re not alone.
#2 Find out about your options
You really have 2 main options. You can decide to have the miscarriage in the comfort of your own home and manage it yourselves, which on the face of it seems like everyones preferred option. Or you can opt to have a surgical management of miscarriage which is an operation to remove the foetus. The operation lasts about 2 hours and recovery time varies. Normally you can go home the same day but you’re out of action for a good couple of days. This is even required, even after staying at home as not all the tissue comes out and so it needs to be removed. Ask the nurses & midwives about both and then make your own informed decision.
#3 Let people close to you know what’s happening
When this was happening to us, I didn’t really have anyone to share with (long story) but my wife confided in her family and 1 or 2 close friends. It wasn’t so she could spend hours talking about it, but it made people aware of why we might not be firing on all cylinders.
#4 It wasn’t your fault
I know I didn’t actually do anything wrong, but you can’t help but wonder if you did. You didn’t. There are rarely explanations of why miscarriage happens. It wasn’t because you weren’t looking after your partner well enough. This can lead to a temptation to apologize, which is fine if you’re apologizing for the situation but don’t let it slip into believing that this was your fault.
— Trying to fix it by doing everything for your partner: It’s pretty normal for us men to try and fix difficult, emotional things by doing things and we can’t. Especially this. You can’t fix it by tidying the house.
— Tidy the house. Whilst it won’t fix it, she will need some support, particularly if she has had a small operation, to keep the house in ship shape and looking after any siblings if you have them.
#6 Try your very best to work out how you feel.
A hard one I know! But try, there’s gotta be something going on in there and as hard as it may be, acknowledge it.
#7 You need support too
A relationship shouldn’t ever be one person leaning on the other. Often, myself included, men feel like I have to be the rock for my wife and provide for her, give to her and let her lean on me but actually these should be mutual. Different, but mutual. Ask her for help, tell her your thoughts and feelings, fears and concerns. Don;t put your emotions about and grief on hold. The temptation will be to not tell her because you don’t want to add to her misery and sadness – a good relationship will build if you support each other through it.
#8 Don’t expect people to ask you how you are
People didn’t ask me about how I was feeling. The expectation is that dads carry on with life and look after their partner. This can either make you recluse into yourself or counter that and bring it up with friends and family yourself.
#9 You might be feeling something different to your partner
It’s common knowledge that men think and feel differently to women. This situation will be no different. Whilst your partner is feeling sadness, you might be feeling anger. Whilst she might be looking to blame, you might be feeling ashamed. There aren’t any wrong emotions here, but just remember to always share what you are feeling with your partner and ask her how she is feeling. You will need to respond to these emotions accordingly. Likewise you might deal with these emotions differently. You might need some time on your own and she might need to have friends and family around her. Again, find a way of accommodating both.
#10 Everyone is different but talk about the future
Talking about future kids might be difficult at first but from my experience it helped hugely. We fell pregnant again within 2 months, which was incredibly lucky and I am thankful but this went a long way to healing a broken heart, for both of us. It doesn’t remove the memory or make it ok, but it does go a long way to help move on.
#11 Acknowledge what has happened
It can be so easy, as a man, to ignore what has happened and forget about it. This is a bad idea because there are feelings and emotions that hide inside and need to be addressed. The danger if you don’t, is that they creep out in ways unexpected and can cause arguments.
Miscarriage is a mysterious and devastating thing that affects more people than you first think. Remember your feelings are important, valid and you should share them; especially with your wife. Support each other.
Originally appeared on The Dad Network
Photo: Flickr/sami Al-Dueab