Today is the due date of Destiny Faith, my daughter that I never got to hold in my arms but hold in my heart everyday. My husband and I have three other healthy children, and our desire is to have a fourth sometime in the near future. We never imagined pregnancy loss as one of the puzzle pieces we’d have to turn over in life … especially more than once … but when we lost Destiny in December 2020 and then experienced another miscarriage just last month, what seemed easy for us before quickly became a huge obstacle to overcome in our marriage.
Maybe like you (due to #pregnancyloss or another trauma), I turned to social media groups for support. The women there were very helpful for questions I had during the miscarriage process, and it often was uplifting to feel like I wasn’t alone in what I was going through both physically and emotionally. However, the amount of husband-bashing in those groups is unreal! I became really saddened at the thought that the loss of a baby could lead to a loss of a marriage.
But if I’m being honest, myself, each time I miscarried, I found it hard to relate to my husband. He was right by my side through it all, but I still felt so distanced from him. I wanted my husband to be there for me, but more than that, I wanted him to feel what I was feeling, and I was confused as to why he didn’t express it the same as I was. It was like he was in a life boat and I was in the water drowning. He thought we were going through everything together because he was floating next to me. He did not feel the pain as intensely, nor did he see my body differently. I did. It seemed like a coffin to me. I was in great physical affliction with mental and emotional trauma, and I thought he had no feelings.
When I finally asked my husband why our two most recent losses didn’t impact him the way they impacted me, he admitted, “Nothing changed for me. I wasn’t having morning sickness or physical changes with my body, so besides from the little ultrasound pictures, there wasn’t anything to attach me to the baby.” To me, this was similar to another women who described her husband’s lack of empathy towards her #miscarriage with:
“He’s treating it like his Amazon package got lost and he’s waiting for the item to be back in stock so he can reorder.”
Over time, I realized that I couldn’t force my husband to process something that he just wasn’t capable of processing with me. Men tend to say “Get on my back and I’ll get you there.” Our miscarriages were one of those times for my husband, and he demonstrated that mentally, physically AND emotionally for our family … he carried us! We were both sad, but grieved differently. As the husband, he was able to be sad and not show that on the outside because he thought I needed him to be strong in that way.
My husband and I don’t cuddle at night because it’s too hot and uncomfortable for us, but last week I had a miscarriage. I felt him move to my side of the bed and press his back up against mine. “I’m here. If you start crying, I’ll wake up,” he said. “Just know I’m right here.”
That quote is from someone I saw on social media who was talking about their miscarriage. It gave me hope that most men WANT to be there to comfort and support their wives, but the truth is, they will never fully be able to emphasize with pregnancy loss because it’s not something their bodies are created to go through. So as we’ve had time to reflect on our marriage strife during our miscarriage grief, here are some tips we’ve both come up with to work through.
To The Wife After Miscarriage:
Be fully open and transparent with your husband on how you’re feeling. Really tell him (they can’t read your mind)! Don’t just say “I’m fine” when you’re obviously going through something. Men tend to be fixers and they try to fix something in their control. Tell them specific things they do to help like “I can’t go to work today; will you call my boss and tell them?” or “You can’t fix my emotions, but can you fix dinner?” He can’t physically take on the pain for your (although he probably wants to), but physical tasks might make him feel more helpful, and less useless, too.
Tell your husband upfront who you want to talk to about your miscarriage and who you aren’t ready to talk to right now. This is helpful to clearly state expectations (although they might change over time) in case someone calls, stops by, etc. And don’t be afraid to ask your husband to initiate texts/calls for people to check on you. This could be healing for you both.
As time goes on, speak up about dates that will matter to you. Remind your husband along the way instead of expecting him to have your anticipated due date on his calendar. Share any date that might be an emotional trigger for you with “Tomorrow is (fill in the blank) … I’m not sure how I will be, so I just wanted to give you a heads up”. This gives the opportunity for your husband to be there for you, step up (lean in to your 5 Love Languages from the book off our website), but it doesn’t set him up to fail from unstated expectation. Include your husband in your healing process by speaking up: do you need him to leave you alone, sit there with you, go to the beach together, plan a girls shopping day for you? Communicate what you need and process that together.
Don’t let your spouse feel hurt, personally rejected, or abandoned by you. Be aware that often they miss you, feel lonely for you, and wish that life could be as it was before. Remember pregnancy loss is not you or his fault. Don’t hold a grudge for no reason.
Accept the pace at which your husband moves forward - even if it is more quickly than you thought it would be - without feeling bitterness, abandonment, or resentment toward him. Release your husband of any emotional expectations and appreciate him for who he is.
To the Husband After Miscarriage:
Take the day (or two days or a full week) off work, even if that’s to lay in bed next to your wife. You’re going to feel helpless but she should not be alone (especially if you don’t live near family) during this process. If you didn’t get to do this when the miscarriage happened, consider this gesture on days that seem to trigger your wife’s memories.
Ask who you need to call to let them know (with or without your wife) about the miscarriage. Be sensitive to who she wants to talk with alone, who she wants you to talk with alone, and who you should talk with together (especially if you have other kids).
Let your wife talk to you. Be patient when drawing her out, if needed, but devote 30-60mins (longer, if possible) at a time to be quiet and listen. The truth is, you won’t ever understand, but you can try to be empathetic in this moment, and she needs that. Validate, validate, validate her feelings and emotions!
Know that miscarriage is not a one-time event. Emotions can hit her at any moment. Be supportive; don’t you dare say anything like “Get over it!” And don’t be offended at your wife for having what will feel like “out of the blue” emotions for months to come.
Intimacy After Miscarriage:
Before having sex again, talk about it well before the act. Are you both on the same page and ready? Are you going to prevent pregnancy (and how) or try to conceive again right away? This is an important long-term conversation that you want to have without ruining the physical moment.
Be sensitive to the emotions that might come while having sex again after having a miscarriage. Being intimate after loss can be a reminder of everything that was supposed to be good (a pregnancy) but turned bad (a miscarriage). Let it be okay to stop and cuddle through that moment instead of overlooking those feelings.
Don’t take the spontaneity or romance out of your marriage. When trying to conceive (again), you can become so obsessed with the PROCESS instead of the PERSON. It’s important to see your spouse during sex in the most intimate way, and not just a baby-making machine. If you focus too much on the latter, you’ll be flirting with resentment toward your spouse if you don’t become pregnant in the time frame you desire.
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