The loss of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. Miscarriages happen and they can be horribly traumatic. We explore some ways to deal with this difficult situation as well as how you could reach out for support if needed
Miscarriage is a difficult time for anyone. If you are a man, it can be even harder to deal with the emotions and feelings of grief. I have compiled some helpful tips that will help you get through this difficult time. Read more in detail here: how to handle a miscarriage as a man.
We’ve chosen to reprint a vintage essay each Sunday to assist our younger readers discover some of the greatest, evergreen jewels from the past, with our archives currently totaling over 3,500 items. This piece was first published in February of 2013.
A rollercoaster trip is in store.
That’s all I have to say about it. Grab the chrome handle in front of you and get inside the vehicle at the front of the rows. Clack. Clack. Clack. The automobile is presently approaching the crest of the first steep slope. Prepare to yell and raise your hands.
We got pregnant for the first time ten years ago. My wife, Mary, started bleeding on the same day we told our acquaintances about the pregnancy. It had been a day of highs and lows. People were ecstatic for us that morning, but by the afternoon, we were standing at the front desk of an emergency department, our cheeks flushed. “I believe my wife is suffering a miscarriage,” I murmured to the receptionist in the lowest, most controlled voice I could muster.
Miscarriages have a peculiar quality to them. They are unavoidable. There may be an underlying reason that may be addressed, but there is typically nothing anybody can do to avoid them, even medical doctors, ministers, and magicians. They affect around one out of every five pregnancies. Doctors will tell you that it’s the body’s method of getting rid of something that wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. There isn’t any rhyme or explanation to it. There’s nothing except mystery and ambiguity. Something to ponder, but not fully comprehend.
Nonetheless, each one is heartbreaking. And then there’s a guy who finds himself in an unusual situation. He’s often the quiet sufferer, the one who has to be supported, encouraged, and consoled. Yet, on the inside, he’s just as ripped up as his wife or girlfriend, just as unclear about what to do next, just as grieved, disheartened, and grieving. How can a guy get through this trying time?
Mary and I were in the examining room for four hours. Mary was seated on a gurney. I took a seat next to her on a chair. Doctors and nurses stopped around to take blood, ask questions, fill out papers, examine, probe, touch, and converse with the patients. There were long periods of silence throughout those hours. Mary and I exchanged glances now and again, but it was difficult to communicate. We were certain we’d lost. There was just too much blood on the floor.
During our trip to the emergency room, we learnt a lot. Normal gestation is around 40 weeks, as we previously know, but if the pregnancy terminates prematurely, it’s termed a “early pregnancy loss” up to about week 6, a “miscarriage” up to about week 20, a “stillbirth” up to about week 37, and a “premature birth” beyond that (even if the kid dies). This was our tenth week.
The doctor arranged an ultrasound for us at the conclusion of our stay. Why didn’t he do this first, I’ve frequently thought. I’m guessing he thought the situation was hopeless. But he did it in the end. Mary and I were incredibly fatigued by that point, and we were expecting a torrent of sorrowful phone calls from relatives and friends.
It was warm, dark, and silent in the ultrasound room. The doctor then cleared his throat, much to our amazement. “I’m not sure what to tell you, but there’s another cause for all the blood today that I’m not aware of.” He smiled as he pointed at the display. “Because your baby’s heartbeat is there.” Healthy and strong. “It seems that your kid is still alive.”
I’ll never be able to put into words how I felt. I could write till I’m out of words, but I’ll never be able to express the feeling of hearing those incredible words. Remember that the process of having children is a rollercoaster ride. It’s sometimes better to simply sit back and enjoy the ride.
Addy was the name we gave to the youngster. She is now in fourth grade. She enjoys painting, Barbies, and reading. She sat next to me on the sofa last night and gave me a cheeky wink. “Dad—a what’s horse’s favorite item to put on his sandwich?” she inquired.
I just shrugged.
“Neigh-o-nnaise.” “You’ve been a fantastic audience,” she said in her best Las Vegas comedy accent, whinnied like a horse and smiled wide teeth. I’ll be here for the whole week.”
That was our first pregnancy, the one in which Addy was almost lost. That put all subsequent pregnancies into perspective for me: having a kid is such a delicate thing. And seeing your kid grow up makes it easier to envisage your other children, the ones you’ve lost. Stay with me here because, as I indicated, there are big highs and huge lows, and it hasn’t all been after-dinner laughs for our family.
My wife fell pregnant again a year and a half after Addy was born. She began to bleed again this time. We were prepared for the worst. There was no sudden, miraculous turn of events this time. There is no heartbeat. Nothing. Not after the bleeding began, at least.
The first time around, we had been quite lucky. We thought that this was now the time to pay our dues. It felt simpler to deal with from that vantage point. We were very convinced it was a boy, but the gender was never revealed. We gave him the name Luke in our heads.
So it was the first time we had a miscarriage.
Mary got pregnant for the third time a year and a half later. She began to bleed once again. When it occurred, we were in the process of relocating to a new city. Everything appeared to be in such a state of flux at the time. Our lives had undergone far too many changes for us to completely comprehend. We lost the baby again again, this time at 9 weeks. On the way to our new home, we cried in the moving van.
Nothing appeared to be in its proper place for weeks after that. It was a female, at least, that was our guess. Skye was her name in our heads. As though it were the hue of a hot summer day.
So it was the second time we had a miscarriage.
We became serious after that. This is a severe situation. We were more serious than we’d ever been. We visited physicians and experts, and Mary was prescribed hormone treatment. We were taught that counseling was our strong suit.
Mary got pregnant for the fourth time, and everything went well. Exceptionally good. It’s fine, not even a hitch. Zachary, our son, was born in 2008. Today is his first day at preschool. Soccer, bulldozers, Legos, and Dairy Queen’s chocolate Dilly Bars are among his favorite things. He’s a fantastic child, a charming blunderbuss of charm and humor.
Mary got pregnant again three years later. We were ecstatic. After all, we had hormone treatment. Nothing could possibly go wrong. It did, though. On Mother’s Day in 2011, Mary miscarried. I hope this isn’t too much detail, but we saw our kid at that time—partially formed, small, gray, and motionless. Although we never found out for sure, we assumed it was a girl. My nickname for her was Macy, but my wife named her Nikki.
So it was the third time we’d had a miscarriage.
Here’s what I’ve learned about how a guy could react to a miscarriage over the years. I’d never attempt to offer somebody a “step-by-step strategy” for dealing, so I’ll refer to these six notes regarding our losses as “notes to myself.” These concepts, hopefully, apply to any male in any position. Hopefully, they may be of use to you or someone you know.
1. You are bereft.
And that’s a good thing.
That may seem obvious, but I believe some men underestimate the fact that a miscarriage is a significant loss for which mourning is required. There is really no other way to deal except to mourn.
You and your significant other have been looking forward to it. You’ve been reading name books, comparing crib prices, renting strollers, and decorating your extra room. All of this adds up to a lot of fun. And now the thrill has worn off.
Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a well-known psychiatrist, identified five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, which a man might anticipate to go through in different ways.
Expect to be sad. Expect to be miserable. Expect things to go wrong in the world.
2. You’re inclined to express regret.
But don’t do it.
You may question whether you should have informed others. Even if you should have allowed yourself to be excited in the first place.
It’s OK if you were ecstatic.
It’s OK if you tell folks.
And no one is to blame for the miscarriage. That includes you and your wife. No one is to blame.
I was in the process of launching a new book when Mary was a few weeks along in her pregnancy with Macy. I was so ecstatic that I even told a radio interview about our pregnancy. I wanted the whole world to know about it. I felt so terrible when we miscarried for not holding my cards closer to my chest. What a moron I’d been. That’s exactly what I was thinking.
After the miscarriage, it was my mother who sent me a small message that stated, “You celebrated the beginnings of a new soul, and you invited the world to rejoice with you.” Never feel bad about bringing others to see something that inspires astonishment, wonder, and great beauty.”
3. It is your responsibility to love.
Couples may be torn apart or brought closer together by adversity. Decide early on that, whatever of the obstacles you face, you and your wife are on the same side, at least as far as it concerns you.
During a miscarriage, it’s especially crucial to assist the other mourning spouse. Let her know that no matter what happens—whether you have another loss, are unable to conceive, decide to undergo fertility treatments, or wish to adopt—you will get through it together and will work through everything together.
Be the first to take the initiative as a man. In any moment of sadness, reaffirm your affection for each other. Let her know you’ll always be there for her.
4. You may choose whether or not to memorialize.
Mary and I know of couples who have had miscarriages and then arranged memorial ceremonies. We’ve never done it ourselves, but it seems appropriate, especially as a pregnancy progresses.
Other couples we know have memorialized their lost children by planting plants or placing plaques on park benches. Some parents write their children letters. I say, memorialize in whichever manner you choose. Alternatively, don’t. Whatever is most comfortable for you as a pair.
We decided to host a family celebration day after our third loss since our children had reached the age when they were aware of the pregnancy. For our daughter, we purchased a nice doll, and for our son, we purchased a fantastic toy truck. We enjoyed dinner at a restaurant and then had a movie and ice cream night. We explained why we were doing this to our children. We wanted to have a happy memory of the kid. And, to be honest, we needed a pick-me-up.
Whatever is most convenient for you.
5. You do not take the child’s position.
“Well, simply have another baby,” people will occasionally remark. Then everything will be better.”
No. That may be part of your family’s solution, and others mean well when they offer their condolences, but having another kid will never be able to replace the child you lost.
In your mind, that youngster will always be independent. A distinct individual. And it should be regarded as such at all times.
6. You continue on your way.
Each marriage must choose what it means to “keep moving forward.” For some, this implies they’re finished, but they won’t be vanquished for long. It may need some substantial preparation and adaptations for some. Clinics for infertility. Adoption.
Having additional children does not make the pain of losing a kid go away. It may, however, be a component of the answer. It’s all part of the process.
How did we manage to keep going? We were confident we were done trying to have more children after five pregnancies and three miscarriages. We waited a year after our previous loss to be sure, and every ounce of logic told us we were done. We were approaching middle age. Hormone treatment wasn’t certain to work. We were certain by the end of the year. I scheduled a vasectomy appointment.
Those vasectomy clinics insist you have a consultation beforehand. After my appointment, I felt uncomfortable and torn in my soul on the way home. I had no apprehensions about having the surgery done. In fact, it’s once again on my to-do list. But we were mistaken. The overwhelming concept that kept coming back to me was that we weren’t done yet.
Mary became pregnant again four weeks later.
Right now, we’re reaching the conclusion of that pregnancy. It’s a female. This is undeniable. So far, doctors say, everything seems to be in order.
We haven’t made up our minds on a first name yet. However, Mary and I are both certain that a middle name is the way to go. It’s a reflection of the one thing that has saved our brains from exploding throughout the tumultuous trip of having children.
I should also mention that I am a firm believer in science. The greatest physicians, the most up-to-date surgeries, and the most refined hormone therapy techniques. I think that medicine can do all it can to avoid miscarriages.
Her middle name, however, will remain Faith.
Her middle name, however, will remain Faith.
Marcus Brotherton has written many novels, the most recent of which being Blaze of Light, a biography of Medal of Honor winner Gary Beikirch.
A miscarriage is a traumatic experience that can be difficult to handle. Here are some tips on how to support a woman after the loss of her child. Reference: how to support a woman after miscarriage.
- how to deal with a miscarriage emotionally
- physical effects of miscarriage on a woman
- how to cope with a miscarriage for father
- stages of grief after miscarriage
- how to deal with a miscarriage at 5 weeks