When we talk about men and miscarriage we immediately think of the mother, the woman. The caregiver. The soul crushing ripped out feeling Mum must be feeling at the time. Now I understand for the woman it’s an excruciatingly soul destroying experience to have the child that’s growing inside her lose it’s life.
Some women describe it as a part of the mother has been lost that she can never get back; the love that was building up, inside her, for her new child; gone.
So this is what happens to men:
1. You grieve.
And that’s good. That sounds pretty basic to say, but I think some men overlook the simple fact that a miscarriage is a serious loss, and afterward, grieving is mandatory. Flat out, there’s no other way to cope except to grieve.
You and your significant other have been excited. You’ve been reading naming books, pricing cribs, checking out strollers, and painting your spare room. All that translates to excitement. And now the excitement is no more.
Expect to grieve. Expect to feel lousy. Expect the world not to be all right.
2. You’re tempted to apologize.
But don’t. Sometimes you wonder if you should have told people. Even if you should have allowed yourself to feel such excitement yourself.
It’s okay to have been excited. It’s okay to have told people.
And, no, do not blame anyone for the miscarriage. Including yourself or your wife. It is no one’s fault.
3. Your job is to love.
Hardship can either rip couples apart or bring them closer together. Decide early on that you and your wife are on the same team, at least as far as it depends on you, regardless of what difficulties you encounter.
It’s particularly important to support the other grieving partner during a miscarriage. Let her know that no matter what happens—whether you go through another miscarriage, or you can’t get pregnant, or you decide to do fertility treatments, or you hope to adopt—you are going to get through it together, and you’ll work through everything together, come what may.
As a man, be the first to take the initiative here. Reaffirm your love for each other during any time of sorrow. Let her know you’ll be at her side no matter what.
4. You don’t replace the child.
People sometimes say things like, “Well, just have another kid. Then all will be better.”
No. That might be part of your solution as a family, and people are well-meaning in offering their consolation, but having another child will never replace the child you lost.
That child will always be autonomous in your thinking. A separate being. And should always be thought of that way.
5. You keep going.
Each couple needs to decide what it means to “keep going.” For some, it means they’re done, but they won’t be defeated—at least not forever. For some, it may mean some serious planning and adjustments. Infertility clinics. Adoption.
Having more children doesn’t lessen the loss you felt at having lost a child. But it can be part of the solution. Part of the overall process.
So the next time a couple has a miscarriage; spare a thought for the man too. Give him a hug, get him to open up to you. Don’t just look at him as if he’s a solid chunk of emotionless steel that feels no pain. We hurt, we cry, we have powerful emotions. Help us realise that if we already don’t.