What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Rob.
I have 8 tabs open on my browser right now and I’m starting to suspect that this is really just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a cold and bitter block of ice too, floating in frigid, black water. Each of those browser tabs has a miscarriage-themed “What I Want You To Know” article. Each author likely feels marooned on their own little chunk of derelict ice.
From my point of view, the husband’s view, the shipwrecked feeling is even more severe. I’m not even sure what I want you to know about miscarriage from a husband’s point of view. Because you see, I’m still in the middle of it all.
What I can tell you about multiple miscarriages from a husband’s perspective is what I’ve seen and lived through, and the toll it’s taken on my psyche. I can tell you about the anger-management counseling I’ve had to try to cope.
My wife and I, to date, have been pregnant 10 times. She has had 8 miscarriages and 6 D&Cs. I can tell you the absolute white-knuckled terror a husband can feel when he finds his wife slumped over on the toilet, gone ashen white, as she is quickly hemorrhaging. I can tell you that I did not cry out to God later that night in the ER, as I watched 2 doctors and half a dozen nurses rushing her out of triage and into an OR, trying to stop her bleeding.
I can tell you that I put my arm into that toilet and removed the fetus, like a nightmarish perverted birth. Which miscarriage was this one? 4? 5? I forget. And I can tell you how it felt to stare at a freshly-dug hole in the ground through tear-brimming eyes, my vision blurred as I buried the baby-that-might-have-been in our front yard in the middle of the night.
And I can tell you how it felt to mow that grass and water those flowers that concealed the unmarked grave. Those beautiful flowers.
This husband can tell you that there are very few people who would understand what it’s like to become pessimistic about pregnancy and coldly realistic about our chances that this next one will pan out. I can tell you that it pays to keep your expectations extremely low when you go to each of those excruciatingly nerve-wracking ultrasound appointments.
I can tell you how I’ve marked each of our pregnancies by how gradually I’ve become more bitter by the relative painlessness of our friends’ pregnancies. I can tell you just how goddamned much it stings when people announce their Facebook surprise-we’re-expecting at only a few weeks, without a care in the world, because of course it will all work out as it should for them.
What I want you to know is that eventually, you’ll stop telling your parents about each pregnancy, because after a while it becomes too difficult to put them through the emotional anxiety of waiting yet another one out and hoping it survives.
But… before the hypothermic waters swallow me and others whole… I can tell you, as the husband of a fiercely determined woman who has endured multiple miscarriages, that when I stare into the eyes of the two healthy babies that survived their pregnancies, my being is calmed.
What I want you to know is that the close friends in your life will encircle you with love. They will drop off a bottle of wine on the day of your bad news, along with bars of chocolate and flowers and cards. They will take your kids to school while you’re checking your wife into yet another surgery center.
I wish I had more wisdom, but as I said, I’m still living this. Miscarriage number 8 was determined just this morning, September 28th, 2016.
What I want you to know about all this is that men — as cliche as it sounds — really don’t do vulnerable relationships well, particularly with other men. Husbands like me: we’re sort of islands in those murky waters of loss.