Miscarriage: Men Suffer Too
Hey y’all…. This one is going to be a long one – fair warning.
I know I’ve been writing a lot of grim things on miscarriage and infertility lately, but honestly, that’s where my life is at the moment. It’s what is on my heart and what I’m spiritually navigating through. I recently opened up Matt Chandler’s new book, “Joy in the Sorrow” and it’s all about how he and members of his church learned to suffer well and joyfully. To be honest, this book knocked me right off my feet last night. Lately, a lot of people have been asking me how I’ve been so positive and upbeat during this season of life and honestly, the only thing I can answer to that is Christ. It’s simple and often one that makes people shake their heads, but that’s it.
In a part of the book stated above, the author describes the “peace of God” by being either light or thick. He references the bible verse, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7 ESV)”. In the ‘thick’ peace, it’s ugly, heartbreaking, and there’s a lot of sadness; yet, there is also a confidence that God is present and working in that suffering. Despite all the chaos and fears that may flood your mind and overwhelm you, you know that God’s there, he’s good and somehow, you are going to be alright. That’s the only way I can accurately describe how we’ve managed the past few weeks. I didn’t lose my husband or a parent and we both aren’t in an immense amount of debt or jobless, however, my suffering and pain is real. Suffering shouldn’t be dismissed, no matter if it’s light or thick.
Miscarriage: Men Suffer Too
Today, I wanted to talk a bit about how men suffer during and after miscarriage. Everyone handles loss differently, but I’ve noticed a staggering trend in the infertility community where the husband or spouse is often not thought about in the entire process. I can’t speak for everyone and every situation, but I can only give examples from our own journey to highlight this suffering.
Before I ever post anything this detailed and personal, I always discuss this with my husband – just to clarify.
Our first loss, a year ago, I was a complete wreck. To be honest, I had already jumped over the deep end of emotional instability months prior to that on this journey to start a family. We had twelve months of negative pregnancy tests and every single month my husband had to scrape me off of the floor after getting that one solid line. It wasn’t until after our first loss that I started to think about how that time, the negative tests and first ectopic pregnancy, affected Craig – given I was selfishly all-consumed with my own issues.
I had the first time I told Craig we were pregnant all planned out in my head. You know, you see all over social media all the cute videos and pictures of how women have told their husbands. That’s not at all how ours played out. Craig has this electrical machine that heals his body and we were in the dead of playoffs. During the end of football season, most players are dealing with low-grade injuries they are bandaging to get through the season. Craig had a finger injury that I could help him heal if I were to shock myself while administering this electrical current through his finger. It’s weird, but it works. It is also extremely painful. I took a test after being late three days super early in the morning, I dropped off Craig at work and didn’t say a thing – I was dying to though. When I picked him up, he asked me to do a treatment on him but knowing it was good for the baby, I declined. I used every excuse in the book and ultimately, Craig thought I was being selfish. After ten minutes of arguing, I finally blurted out, “Well, do you want to fry your baby or what?” SUPER romantic.
He wasn’t overly excited about the news and mostly seemed shocked. For the next two weeks, he buried himself in work and rarely talked much about the pregnancy. The day we found it was ectopic was all a blur, I drove him to work so he was without a car and I called him at least ten times while he was in a meeting. Finally, he got back to me and rushed to find a cab downtown to take him to the hospital. The whole time, he was quiet and was just trying to keep it together. I will never forget his face as I’m lying in the hospital bed, uncontrollably sobbing, as the nurse dressed in basically a hazmat suit is giving me shots of the chemotherapy drug to stop the growth and heartbeat of the baby in my tube. Again, he was just trying to keep it together. A week later, and after another round of the chemotherapy drug, my body began to miscarry and boy was it terrifying. Since I was given a strong drug to force it, it was intense and scary. Craig called his mother immediately because he didn’t know what to do and spent the rest of the time sitting on the floor in front of the toilet trying to support me as best as he can. His face during that time, is also one I’ll never forget. A face of pure sadness and fear.
When I finally asked him how he felt about our infertility journey and miscarriage, the word that came up the most was “hopeless.” My husband is a strong man of faith and the most rational person I know on the planet, but he said not being able to do anything during that time was the most heartbreaking and hopeless feeling he’d ever felt in his life. Little did we know, this wasn’t even half of what was coming in our near future.
I felt extremely selfish for not asking his thoughts and emotions about the matter as much as I should have. My father-in-law is a Christian counselor and the one thing my husband has learned to do is communicate, but often, he felt he wasn’t able to because he didn’t want to upset or set me off. Loving and generous but it never gave him time and space to properly work through his own thoughts and emotions on the loss. Six months after the first ectopic, Craig calls me in full tears – something that never happens. At first, I was a bit terrified, thinking he got terrible news that somebody close to us passed. Instead, he was parked at the front of a gas station and I guess a little girl skipped past his car and stopped in the dead front it and smiled and waved big at him. After that, I guess she just continued to skip and smile next to her mom as they went to enter the store. Who knew that instance would be the thing to “break” him emotionally. He voiced how he wondered what our child would’ve looked like, and who they would grow up to become. Craig let out his sadness and anger that had been building up for a number of months. It was beautiful. He was suffering and this was necessary in order for him to properly heal.
Around the time of this emotional breakthrough, I had exploratory abdominal surgery. He sat in the waiting room alone and this time, he felt he could voice his feelings immediately – which was a necessary step. The whole time he felt like I was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it. Again, with the hopelessness.
Four months later, we got our second positive pregnancy test. This time, he was much more excited than the first. We started planning and trying to think positively about this one – despite our immediate fears. The two biggest games of the season were coming up and there was a lot of pressure on him. I started to have complications on a Friday and he was set to fly out the next day. Luckily, my mother-in-law flew in or I don’t know if he would’ve got on that plane. By Tuesday, we had found out that our second baby was also stuck in that same tube and was already causing internal bleeding. I was immediately rushed into surgery to remove the baby and the tube. Again, there was nothing Craig was able to do. I didn’t get out of surgery until around 9:30 PM and I had to force him to go home and get sleep for practice. He didn’t end up telling his coaches what happened and ended up getting in a fight on the field at practice – completely out of his character. After some pushing, he finally told his coaches and they gave him a day off to pick me up from the hospital – which was SUCH a blessing. However, the biggest game of the season was on Saturday and obviously everything was still super fresh and raw. He lost it during the game. Emotionally lost it. I thought he was going to quit – to be honest. He was sad, angry, and overwhelmed and it all came out on that field. After the game, I met him outside the locker room surrounded by all the players’ wives and kids on the team. Craig usually loves being around all the kids, in short spurts, but this time he just couldn’t handle it and rightfully so.
My husband’s breakdown happened on the football field, but I wonder how many other men have had that same breakdown but hid it from their wives? I could see it clear as day on the sideline and on the field, so there was really no hiding it from me at that time.
I know I laid out the last year of our lives above, but my hope is that it gave you insight into a mans’ perspective as he suffered through infertility and miscarriage. I didn’t think that Craig could possibly understand what I was going through, because it wasn’t his body going through it. That was true, but I also was naive in thinking he wasn’t going through just as many things as I was, emotionally. I thought he didn’t really care, but actually, he was just trying to keep it together and be strong for me. This second loss, I immediately began asking him more questions about his thoughts/emotions and it has helped us exponentially to progress the healing process.
Any woman reading this that has been through a loss, I urge you to ask your spouse or husband about their feelings during that time. Obviously, I would do it in a way and time that they would receive best since you never really know what they have been suppressing. We have grown exponentially closer from this experience and I attribute a lot of the growth coming from those conversations over our suffering. I had to hide the first positive pregnancy test in my closet the first time because it hurt Craig so much to see it. A few weeks ago, he asked if we could put them in a frame on the wall in our bedroom randomly so that he could always be reminded of those little lives every day. That was a healing step for him and I was so happy to do it.
Love you all. Xo