How can you and your spouse survive the grief and loss of a pregnancy as a couple? Here is what I learned.
I lost my first baby only hours after I’d first heard the thump-thump of his heart during an ultrasound. Just six weeks along, our baby was all heart and yolk sac. When my body expelled that blip of baby I was alone. I remember the confusion of the pain, the cramping I thought was a result of too much pizza. And then there was the bleeding, which left little to question.
As I attempted to console myself in the sweet little Cape Code my husband and I had renovated throughout our late 20’s, my husband, Mike, was sleeping in a hotel room near the Virginia woods, where he planned to hunt before dawn. He was in the middle of nowhere, without cell service. Unreachable. It was a cold, Friday night in November, and for each of us, life was shifting unpredictably. And yet it was only me who knew.
Just as the sun peeked over the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains, my father drove to the country and trekked through the woods to the quiet spot where he knew Mike and my brother would have set up their tree stand. There, in the dawn of a mountainside, dew dampening the fall leaves, as deer woke and stretched their limbs, my husband learned the truth I already knew: our baby was gone.
For weeks I would stare at the fridge in amazement at the cruelty of the small plastic containers of yogurt sitting silently. I’d bought them before I’d lost the baby, and yet they were still there. For dairy to last longer than that first pregnancy, that first baby, that first dream, felt a mockery of my heartache.
The love of our children can’t be measured, and so the loss of a baby, no matter how small, is inconceivable until the misfortune finds us. The months following my miscarriage were filled with anxiety and grief. How could it be? How is it possible to love so wholly and completely in such a short period of time? And how do we stumble past that heartache together as a married couple?
My husband and I grieved that miscarriage separately, differently. He was always off fixing something, building, cutting and piecing wood together. I measured my loss by tears as I burrowed into the couch. I obsessed over basal body temperature and ovulation. I became an expert on conception. Frankly, how any woman gets pregnant is amazing, a true act of God. Because it’s not as easy as we tend to think it is. The window is narrow. Hit the snooze button too many times and you might miss it. Any woman who has struggled with conceiving a baby understands this.
A couple months after our loss, Mike was passing through our small green family room one evening when I told him it didn’t seem like he really felt anything, at least not like me. I was sitting in the corner of the couch, the place that had held me as Mike sifted through his emotions elsewhere.