When you think about a miscarriage, you probably think, “That poor mom.” But what about her husband? Does he go through a grieving process as well? It is the mom who physically loses the baby, but what does this loss mean to the dad?
It had been 1 week since my miscarriage. I was on my way out the door to my Bible Study. With my head held high and a smile on my face I gave Jon a kiss goodbye.
As I turned to leave he said, “I’m glad your okay and everything, but I don’t understand your ‘pie in the sky’ kind of attitude.”
“What is that supposed to mean?!”
He continued, ” I don’t get it! Why does a 16-year-old high school student or a drug addicted woman get to keep their babies and we don’t? Doesn’t God see what great parents we are? Why would he possibly take our baby?”
Of course my heart broke for him, but a part of me was glad that he was feeling something so passionate towards this baby. I wanted so badly to speak some enlightened words of wisdom, but what I had, was an inward peace – not the answer he needed to hear.
You may be wondering, how is it that I have peace at this point and Jon doesn’t. Well, to answer that, I need to go back 4 years to my previous miscarriage…
I was less than 8 weeks along and hadn’t even seen my doctor yet. We hadn’t told our boys (ages 10 and 8 at the time) nor many others, for that matter. For me, the reality of having another child was already setting in: My boobs hurt, my jeans wouldn’t button and I felt “gassy” and uncomfortable. Before each bite of food I would ask myself how this might affect the baby. I was keenly aware of smells and actively avoided places with paint fumes or 2nd hand smoke. In short, I was reminded that I was “with child” a hundred times through the course of a day.
Not so for my husband. Other than seeing a pink plus sign on a stick and dealing with my complaints more often than my usual 5 days out of the month…life was just the same. We had never heard a heartbeat, seen an ultra-sound photo or even gotten an official Due Date. I miscarried gradually and there wasn’t any visual sign that there was an actual life within me. Never the less; I mourned and he didn’t.
I think there were moments when he genuinely felt sad for me, but not for himself. Our experiences with this little life, thus far, were just so different. Looking back I can see how he never really had a chance to attach himself to the pregnancy and therefore it was as easy as waking up from a dream, realizing it wasn’t true, and getting on with his day.
I, on the other hand, can remember sneaking out to the backyard, laying on a lounge chair and bawling my eyes out. I didn’t want to bother Jon with my unstable emotions and as much as he was right there next to me, I had never felt more alone.
I took my anger to the source – God.
Why would you allow us to get pregnant after 3 years of praying; if you knew you were just going to take this baby away from me? It’s just mean and unfair. Clearly you want me to learn something from this struggle. Well couldn’t you teach it to me without having to take away this little life? Do you understand how much this hurts me?
Crying, yelling and venting felt really good. I was mad at God and I needed to tell him. And I believe He’s glad I did. He wants us to have an honest relationship with Him and sometimes that includes a side of us that isn’t always pretty, but very real.
Instead of yelling back, He just listened. He waited until I had no more words or tears left. Then, once my heart had quieted He opened my mind up to the truth…
Yes, I do understand how much it hurts to lose a child. (John 3:16) Sometimes it is necessary in order for my ultimate plan to be fulfilled. It is not clear to you from down there. But I have a different vantage point and I can see what you can not. Please trust me on this one. Have I ever failed you before?
How is it that he can humble me in such a loving way? When I allow myself to be still in His presence, He always finds a way for me to let go of the anger and find a peace that passes all understanding. In fact, this is the verse I held onto during that time: PHILIPPIANS 4:7 And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.
He continued speaking to my heart…
I have told you that life begins at conception.(Psalm 139:13-16) I am not taking this little one away from you. I am only keeping him safely with me until the day you join us. I know you love children, especially babies, and now you know that when you leave this world there will be one waiting for you.
The mental picture of Jesus holding my baby in one arm and extending the other arm to hold me – is breathtaking. I will carry it with me throughout my life. How fortunate that I spewed all this out on the Lord and not my husband. There was not a man in the world that could give me the kind of peace I was now feeling. Many of us rely on our spouse for a level of comfort and understanding that is not always humanly possible to give.
Now, back to my more recent miscarriage and my husband who is not at peace. This pregnancy made it much easier to see, feel, and know the reality of a baby. In fact, the only reason I could be so strong this time around, is because God and I had already gone their together. I was still sad, but not angry. I knew God would be faithful despite my lack of understanding. Jon; not so much.
As much as I wanted to be the one to make it all better, I knew there was only One with that kind of power…and it wasn’t me. So, I left that morning for my Bible Study, with Jon’s question heavy on my heart. When I arrived, every woman in the room stood up, lined up, and hugged me. They weren’t ignoring the pain, they were literally embracing it with me. It was just what my heart needed. How I wanted this for Jon, too.
As our Prayer Chairman, Karen, held me close she whispered in my ear, “God must really trust you, to allow you go through this.”
It was as if God had handed me the answer to Jon’s question on a silver platter. I continued to process this throughout the morning and when I got home I was bursting to tell Jon what was given to me…
When the teenager or the drug addict loses a baby, their reaction is, ‘phew…dodged that bullet’. But when we lose our baby, that’s a loss of great value, a life that won’t ever be forgotten and best of all: a life that God can use right away. We have seen and delivered a child in such a rare and unusual way. God has been right by our side the whole time. Reaching back into the toilet, photographing the fetus in my hand, writing a letter to the baby only hours after his death…who does that? Looking back, I gave no thought to any of those things – I just did them. Being so in-the-moment with such careful documentation, that’s not a human response to tragedy. God must really trust us.
The next day Jon and I finally got around to planting that Rose Bush that had been given to us as a beautiful outward reminder to a life that is now living in eternity. To my surprise, Jon was the one that took charge in digging the hole, placing our wrapped baby beneath, and tending to the wilting plant . To this day, he still cares for it more than I do. Just yesterday, he asked me if I had noticed all the new buds that were visible.
I get it now, he cares for this plant because he can. If this baby had been born in our timing; Jon would have actively cared for him and in a short time been able to bond with him. As women, it’s easy to take for granted the bond we quickly make with our developing baby. Often, with a full term pregnancy, a mom has already been caring and bonding with her baby for 9 months before the dad really gets his first solid opportunity.
Healing comes in all forms and at no set time. As individuals, we heal differently. My healing started with a tantrum towards God. Jon’s healing involved far fewer words, as he cared and tended to that rose-bush.
Seriously, how great is it to be loved by a God that knows you so intimately, that He reaches you and heals you in a way that is completely unique to who you are?!