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Monday, June 16, 2014

A Father's Grief

Several months ago someone in one of my online pregnancy loss support groups posted this poem:

A Father’s Grief
By Eileen Knight Hagemeister

It must be very difficult
To be a man in grief.
Since "men don't cry" and "men are strong"
No tears can bring relief.

It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test.
And field calls and visitors
So that she can get some rest.

They always ask if she's alright
And what she's going through.
But seldom take his hand and ask,
"My friend, how are you?"

He hears her cry in the night
And thinks his heart will break.
And dries her tears and comforts her
But "stays strong" for her sake.

It must be very difficult
To start each day anew.
And try to be so very brave-
He lost his baby too.


I cried the first time I read it and I have cried every subsequent time I've read it. I cry for my husband. I cry for the father of my heavenly children. I cry because it is true, a father's grief is rarely recognized because men rarely are willing to talk about their grief. As a woman in grief, we often feel like our husband's don't share our grief because they can continue to move forward in life with more ease then we can. The truth is, they are just better at hiding their emotions then women.

I remember back to the day I gave birth to Riley. I remember how young we both were and how Alex never once left my side during my pregnancy. He was the one who had to make all the phone calls to our parents to tell them Riley had died and I would be getting induced within the next 24 hours. He was incredibly strong when I needed him to plan her funeral. He questioned God just as much as I did when we lost her.

When I miscarried Braylen and was sitting in the ER crying my eyes out he was right next to me holding my hand the whole time. I remember him telling me he hated seeing me going through this again.

When we found out at our 11 week ultrasound that Logan's heart had stopped beating, he immediately grabbed my hand and sobbed with me. He couldn't believe we were going through this again. When my mom called me after I send her a text that I needed her to call, he took the phone from me when I couldn't speak a word and he delivered the news that we had lost our 3rd baby. He was the one who called the rest of our family for us. He cried with me before and after the D&C. He woke up so many times in the middle of the night to me crying out for our babies. He would hold me and dry my tears when I needed him to.

As scared as my husband was to try again on our own, he did because he knew I needed to know for certain that the reason we have kept losing babies is because of the translocated chromosome that we discovered I have after losing Logan. When we got pregnant again, he shared in my excitement with me and bought me flowers to show me how much he loves me. He took a picture with me each week like I wanted him to and he would read my scrapbook journal when I shared it with him. When we found out we had lost the baby again, my husband sat with me in my car and just held me while we cried together. He wouldn't let me drive home and made me leave my car at the hospital and had me call into work because he knew I couldn't deal with working a 12 hour shift with psychiatric patients while I myself felt like I didn't want to continue living this life. I remember when we got home he immediately went upstairs and worked on our demolition in the bedrooms and after a hour I went upstairs to join him. Taking a sledge hammer to the walls felt so good and I finally understood how men grieve and why they grieve the way they do.

After losing Audrey, Alex was okay with whatever option I wanted to do-adoption or IVF with pre-implantation genetic screening. At first I thought adoption, but when I allowed my emotions to settle I knew my biggest dream in life was to give birth to our child, and especially after all that Alex had gone through with me....all I wanted to do was give him a child. When our IVF with PGS failed, we were once again devastated and felt hopeless. But when my sister offered to donate her eggs to us, we both felt a sense of renewed hope.

This year on father's day I decided to show my husband what an amazing father and husband he has been. I made him a picture frame with pictures from our pregnancies and got him a card that I wrote him a heartfelt message in. At first, he was upset that I got him anything and felt like the picture frame reminded him of what we don't have. He later apologized to me after he read the card I got him while he was alone in the bedroom because he realized I was trying to do something nice. His initial reaction showed me how much all of this really does affect him. It affects him so much more than anyone else could know.

Father's Day has always been rough on my husband. 15 years ago he lost his father when he was 15 years old....so for 15 years he has not been able to enjoy this day at all. Then 6 years ago we lost Riley and within the past year we went through 2 miscarriages. It's a double wamy to the heart for him. Not only does he not have his father, he does not have his children either.

We decided to go to dinner last night instead of cooking and our waitress asked my husband "are you a dad?" He quickly said "no" and she said "well then it's no happy father's day for you." I asked my husband how often people ask him if he has kids (because I get asked all the time) and he said every time he meets someone knew, especially at work (he's a banker). I asked him if he ever gets tired of that question and he responded "It's life....I just get tired of saying no." Wow...if that statement didn't speak volumes about the desire that my husband has to be a parent, I don't know what does.

So this Father's Day, my heart goes out to all the men in this world whose family is incomplete because they have lost a child or because they have not been able to conceive children. My heart also goes out to everyone who has lost a father and was unable to spend the day with their father or by calling their father to wish them a Happy Father's Day. I am so proud of the man I am married to and even more proud to know that he showed our babies nothing but love while they were with us.





1 comment:

Sean Barbara said...

very while said
I only have a small sample of what you have gone through we have had two failed transfer from Embryo Adoption and I felt like my husband was hurting more them me but would not show it or talk about it. best of Luck to you