As hard as it was to sit down with my wife Sarah and share our hearts and our story of loss and hope for the first time with anyone beyond our small circle of deep friends and beloved family, I am sitting here at a local coffee shop struggling yet again to find the right words to say.
I think I’ll start by saying, “I’m sorry!” I am sorry for the deep-down machismo that is built into the foundation of most men. I am sorry for the societal pressure that pushes men’s feelings out of reach and out of touch with their ‘better’ halves and beyond the realm of transparency and truth. I am sorry for the busyness and pride that so often takes priority over the necessity of a simple hug or a shared tear and a listening ear. I AM SORRY!
Please don’t stop reading now as if this is some high horse rant from the king of all husbands making all other ‘men’ feel less than adequate for their wives. Please don’t stop reading because you think this is a post from a snuggly and sparkly teddy bear push over that hides behind a false beard and a fake tattoo. Please just read on and see if something can speak out to you in the way that writing this down has done for me…
For me, I truly feel like I am a big stupid meat-head sometimes while other times I am confident that everyone else pales in comparison to my vast knowledge and wisdom. The latter part of me usually only comes out when engaging in intellectual conversations with my six-year-old son or while huffing and puffing my words out during a calm-less discussion with my beloved bride! The important thing that I have come to realize, after each situation, whatever that looks like, is that I’m wrong! Yep! You Heard Me! I Am Wrong! If you take nothing from this conversation, please take this; it is very important to be wrong!
When Sarah and I met almost two decades ago, my mind was clouded and my thoughts were focused on several things, none of which were truly engaged on what my wife-to-be really needed from me. Instead, they were focused on how I could act in a way that would gain her approval, steal her thoughts, and earn her affection, and therefore get what I wanted! And guess what? It worked!!! I got married!!!
Ok, now this is a different story! I was no longer responsible for only myself, but I was now responsible for holding the other end of a partnership that meant a great deal to me! When I said, “I do”, I meant it! When I said, “till death do us part”, I was serious! Well, verbally it’s only 50 years and then we are going to re-negotiate our situation and might consider getting back out there and ‘playing the field’! Hahaha, it’s still funny…Seriously though, this was not some family encouraged marriage or prearranged ceremony to please others; It was one of the biggest decisions I have made in my whole life!
Now honestly, when thinking about the good times and the bad, I didn’t expect any relatively bad times! Unfortunately, early on in our relationship, we were faced with some hard times! The loss of a baby that we were both extremely excited about is right up there on my list of things that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies, let alone my very best friend! Not only was my son gone, I felt like I lost my wife too. Being the selfish young man that I was, that was pretty hard! But, knowing everything, I had a plan!
The first thing I did was provide a bounty of hugs and shared tears for my wife. I snuggled a little more and watched a bit more TV while drinking a bit more wine. Now because I was hurting too, I gave her what she needed but I also ended up getting what I wanted in return! Seems good right? Here’s the thing; I didn’t need as much as she did. When days continued to come and go, my needs changed and I needed to move on and start focusing on the hope of a future son or daughter. I wanted to start enjoying each other again and stop with the sorrows. I wanted my fun wife back! Don’t get me wrong, I really didn’t expect her to just turn off that sad switch and act like nothing happened. But I didn’t expect that she would need as much time as she did, and that got hard! The plan that I came up with and the time frame I put on my wife’s healing was wrong!
Over the next several years, we experienced five more miscarriages and it probably wasn’t until the fourth one that I really started figuring out that I did not know everything, especially what my wife was really going through and how much time she really needed to attempt to continue living a normal life again. After the second miscarriage and particularly after our third, I began to become even more intolerant with her mourning and found myself secretly annoyed when she would regularly break down over seeing all the happy and healthy pregnant women parading around us. While I was past our sadness and had moved onto hope for our next pregnancy, my wife simply needed more time. The guilt that I have recognized in writing this isn’t that I grieved our lost babies differently or more quickly, it’s that I wasn’t able to properly comfort the most important person in my life during her sorrow. Regrettably, my lack of support, patience, and understanding is something I can’t get back, even though it’s something I desperately wish I could.
Thankfully, I have gotten better and even though I have been wrong many times and have made a ton of mistakes, I want to take the little bit I have learned over our many losses to share a bit of hope and encouragement to YOU!
If you are a woman who has recently lost a blessed little child, I’m so very sorry! Watching my wife go through this repeatedly has been one of the hardest things of my life. Although I wasn’t always good at showing my love and shared sorrow correctly, it was always there! If your husband is anything like me, they too will probably not always be your captain awesome, especially when faced with something so difficult as a miscarriage. But please KNOW that they LOVE YOU and just want the very best for you, even though they aren’t always the best at showing it! And please KNOW that they NEED YOU, even though they aren’t the best at admitting it! Don’t give up! Things will get better! I strongly believe that God has a wonderful plan for your life even though right now you may be struggling to see it. You are loved and cherished!
If you are a man whose wife has recently lost a loved one too soon, I’m so very sorry! Having to watch my wife go through this extremely traumatic experience several times has been tremendously heartbreaking and challenging. You too will most likely be faced with a long road of healing ahead of you. Through these trying times, I encourage you to be patient and understand that a woman’s connection to her baby begins the second they learn they are carrying a child. While we may be excited at the idea of a baby we will soon meet, our wives are quite literally already taking care of them. While patience and enduring love are paramount in your healing process, it is also very important to be open with your wife and truly share how you feel. Cry! Sob! Let it out! Don’t push down any feelings you have through this process to try and be “tough” for your wife but rather be broken and let her comfort you too!
Shared grief is tremendously healing! Whatever you do, don’t give up! Things will get better!