I think I'm ready to post this now.
This post is probably going to ramble. But I think writing it is going to help me, so bear with me for a while. It’s going to be heavy, and I make no apologies for that.
Last Tuesday I wrote a blog post and saved it to my drafts folder. It was my announcement to Tumblr that my wife and I were expecting our second baby. Four hours and one tearful telephone call later, I deleted it, because it was no longer true.
It was the first ultrasound, 12 weeks in. There had been no heartbeat, no growth in two weeks. The nurse told my wife that it’s possible that there had never been a heartbeat; at first the baby can grow in size without even beginning to be viable.
These things happen, we’re told, there’s nothing you could have done to prevent it, and nothing that you did caused it. But we look for explanations because it’s so hard to believe we’re so powerless, it’s so hard to believe we could possibly have no effect on a situation in which we feature so centrally.
And so no matter how logically we look at it, there’s still a nagging bit of superstition that says it was tempting fate to look at the Baby Names book. Or joke with a friend about being disappointed in how quickly you conceived because you wanted more time to practice. Or draft a Tumblr post announcing the pregnancy hours before the ultrasound. Even though you did these things after it had happened, you can’t help but feel guilty, logic be damned.
My wife and I are getting through it together, supporting each other and giving each other space where we need to. She has a great support network of online and real-life friends who have been through the same experience, and she’s come through the physical aspect well, so far. As is our way in these things, there have been tasteless jokes and guilty laughter, because sometimes finding laughter is the easiest way to stop crying. “I guess I can drink at your birthday dinner now,” for example. Don’t judge.
It’s a strange form of bereavement, losing an unborn child. When my mother died suddenly 14 months ago, there was a definite hole, a space where she should have been: Her spot on the sofa, in the kitchen listening to the radio, in my Facebook replies. Her presence was no longer there in the present. This is different. This feels like a long strip of the future has been ripped away. Plans and eventualities erased. Or, we hope, postponed.
Having gone through this now, I will say this: With one or two exceptions, resources for male partners going through a miscarriage are on the whole, terrible, in my opinion. In many cases, I don’t feel like they’re geared to me. They seem to be geared to men who need to have the concept of ‘pregnancy’ explained to them and who have to be advised not to pressure their wives into sex afterwards. (Seriously that’s a running theme throughout: “You may feel ready to have sex again before your wife, who may find it takes longer to be emotionally ready. Let her take her own time and don’t rush her.” Am I wrong for believing men who pressure their grieving wives into sex shouldn’t be procreating in the fucking first place?)
There’s that ‘anger’ stage of grief, I guess. Better to direct it at crap husbands and advice columnists than anyone else.
So yeah. That’s what I’m going through. I wrote this because I think it helps to write about these things, to put my thoughts down and out there. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.