Father’s Day is here and for many it’s celebrated. For new dads it’s that long awaited finality as if it’s that stamp of completion…”you’ve arrived, welcome to the club.” Father’s Day is a bit more complicated for me so I don’t think much of it. You would think I would considering how big of a father’s heart I carry. Come Father’s day I grieve the loss of my six children. Three whom has already went home to heaven and three who are alienated from me. Father’s Day is not a day I like.
As much as I cherish all of my children, being with them and even crossing my mind when we are not together, shortly before Father’s Day my mind begins to remind me of the three who’s went on to heaven.
I think, and I may be wrong, that most people view miscarriages as something that only affects women. Contrary to that perception men in a devoted relationship are impacted by such an event; especially three of them.
Looking back I see that for the most I didn’t let myself grieve like I should have. Loss due to death has seemed to have shown up frequently throughout my life. The first experience, we were in our teens. We weren’t prepared or mature enough to handle something like this. Teenagers, young, scared and excited. You’re in love. Well, you think you are.
There are many things we all remember vividly within our lives. I remember that evening the phone rang. I remember the sound of her voice. I left to take care of my then high school girl friend. We moved on.
Fast forward about ten years. Married with already a one year old boy. It had already been a high risk pregnancy. The doctor advised any other would be just as well. Possibly higher. But soon we became pregnant and with the doctor’s orders we took every precaution. No work. No lifting, etc. Still there came a point where the baby stopped moving. After rushing in to the doctor, the ultrasound confirmed no heartbeat.
With God’s help of modern science we were able to have a second son soon later. But then we experienced the same blow all over again. At the time I was torn at the loss of each child. But looking back I realized I never processed the events. I had to take care of things. I was a stay-at-home-dad back then. I had a sick and depressed wife to take care. I was finishing up my bachelors during the first. During the second, I stayed home with the boys during the day and worked nights while sleeping an average of 4 hours a day while my marriage was failing and I was dealing with depression myself.
The last two impacted me emotionally. I just didn’t let it show. I didn’t have time. I was there for my wife. She was hit hard; especially the second time. I was neither here nor there. I was along for the ride and kept denying the fact that I was shaken up by all that had happened.
Being a stay-at-home-dad, I was really looking forward to another kid each time. That’s not to say my wife was looking forward to another child any less than I, but I was already mentally prepared for the changes in my life. I was going to have to deal with poopy diapers and crying kids for that many years and my professional life was going to be on hold for that many more years was on my mind even months after the miscarriages.
We did have a third child. A little daughter. We called her our miracle baby because we needed medical assistance to get pregnant prior. We almost lost her too. She was an unplanned surprise without assistance or problems. Unfortunately, four months after her birth my wife left and took her from me. Maybe the fact that all six of my babies have been taken from me either by miscarriage or by my ex plays a large role in why I think about the three that are gone.
A miscarriage is losing all that could have been and that is very difficult thing to go through for both parents to be. Society tends to think it only affects women, but that truly is half the story. Dads experience feelings of intense grief, shock, helplessness and anger to name a few. I carried the weight of loss and caring for my wife while continuing to maintain my regular responsibilities. But that is what you do. Even the spouse tends to think the man isn’t caring or supportive when in reality we just do it differently.
The number one thing that dads have to deal with, in my opinion is denial and shock. Our culture emphasizes the fact that women are the only one’s hurt by miscarriages. Sometimes I think even we men get caught up in that trend. It’s ‘ok’ to get upset—you just lost a child to be. I think I might even felt like nothing happened just after the miscarriage as a teenager.
I remember both nights of the miscarriage while married—I couldn’t do anything to help and it crushed me. Helplessness; it’s the most scariest feeling in the world. It is simply out of your control and although it sounds cliché—these things just happen.
As a guy, I remember thinking that maybe my swimmers were defective or even inadequate. Maybe it was how I came to an abrupt stop in the minivan that one time or maybe it was that I didn’t pay attention as carefully as I should to my wife’s diet. It took me a while to let go of that baggage, but it was for the best. Guilt. That’s what it boiled down to.
Anger! Why does God let these things happen? Why did God want my baby before he or she was born? I have read that some dads might be angry with themselves or feel responsible for losing the baby and then project this anger onto their wives—this helps no one and is just another emotion that we feel as we go through the grieving process.
How could I not experience strong feelings of loss, not only for the child itself but for the life I imagined for me and my wife after the baby was born. I guess I superficially grieved.
Grief can make you think funny things like, “Maybe I am the cause of all this and not only did I screw up making the baby, but now I am not there for my wife like I should be because I feel so down.” Feelings of inadequacy, and they consume you.
We were pregnant, and then we’re not. I was there at the beginning and I was there at the end. Maybe men can know and understand many things about women, and maybe women can know what it is to be a man too, but if I don’t know what it means to carry life inside my body, I do know what it means to carry that life in my day dreams, and in my consciousness, and in my heart.
Fear confirmed is an odd thing. Emily Dickinson had it right when she wrote, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes…” A certain discreet propriety surrounds the open wound and scabs it so fast the whole organism can survive, and only that little bit that you invested dies. I guess I feel like that now. Then, what is left but a mass of cells to be removed in a quick painless procedure?
In a nutshell what does she mean? That little piece of us of that was hurt somehow becomes scarred and calloused in order to protect us from future hurts. After the loss of my child, never knowing whether it was boy or a girl, as a teenager I had put the experience in the back of my mind until the loss of my second child. Locked it away. It was the second that triggered the memory of the first.
It alone comes with its guilt for repressing. “Why would I push it back in my mind? Forget it? How could I not remember my child?” Since the second one occurred after my first son was born I began thinking of those two babies around Father’s Day. And then the third one after it occurred.
I love my children. I would never replace or trade any of them. I’ve never wondered why any of them are here while the others aren’t. I don’t consider them lost. Even though people say, “lost a baby.” I know where they are and Who has them. I find comfort that when they left, they left by the side an of angel who took them home. I know one day as long as I continue to follow the One keeps them I will meet them one day.