My husband and I haven’t talked too much about our miscarriage. Certainly, some of that is due to his degree of separation from the miscarriage — he wasn’t pregnant, I was; he didn’t bleed, I did; he didn’t pass any tissue, that happened to me. But I know it affected him. Many men don’t deal with their feelings nor show their feelings the way women do, so I didn’t really expect him to talk too much about it, nor do I think he was handling things “wrong” by keeping his feelings to himself. I hoped to be open to hearing what he had to say, if he wanted to say anything, but I didn’t want to pressure him or pry. Maybe I was wrong in being more reticent, although I did ask him a time or two, just to show that if he wanted to talk, he could.
The pregnancy was not planned, although when I told him that I thought I was pregnant (the exact quote was, “I haven’t started my period yet”), he got this goofy grin on his face (he asked, “when were you supposed to start?” — which was Monday and the conversation took place on Friday afternoon). When I asked him how he felt a few days later, he admitted that he wasn’t totally happy, because of the various reasons we were not planning on having a baby, but “what can you do?” and that he was somewhat happy. Which pretty much mirrored my feelings — it wasn’t in our plans, but obviously was in God’s plans, so we needed to rest in His judgment.
Then when I had the first red bleeding and assumed I was miscarrying then (a couple weeks before I actually did miscarry), he said he was sad “but what can you do?” and that was all he said. In the interim space, between then and when I fully miscarried, we didn’t discuss it. When I passed the tissue, I asked him if he wanted to see it. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he said yes, or if he said no. He went into the bathroom for a moment, and came out with red-rimmed eyes. I think it made it more real for him. For my part, I think had I seen something that looked like a baby (perhaps I should have opened up what I learned from another story might have been the amniotic sac, and then it might have been visible?), I know I would have been sadder, because it would have seemed much more real. Knowing my husband, I wasn’t totally surprised at his reaction, and actually felt a little bad that I had not been sadder or more grief-stricken at the sight.
In our society, I think we forget that men experience miscarriage too — different in many ways from how women experience it, but they have a loss just the same. Certainly, not all men are going to be happy that they’re going to be a father and may be happy that the woman had a miscarriage (after all, many men will pressure a woman into an abortion to avoid fatherhood); but I would think that the average man is going to feel some sense of loss. Men are different, and some may feel only a slight loss (the baby may be less real, almost as if its just imagination, until the woman starts to show, or he can feel the baby kick, or some other thing happens that makes the baby real to the man), while others really struggle.
Before having my miscarriage, I was going to write a post entitled “Baby Boom” because there were four women at our small church who were all pregnant, and due about 6 weeks apart from each other — I was the latest, two others are due just days apart, and a newlywed couple was the first due. While four pregnant women may not be much for mega-churches or other large churches, for our church that was about all the women who could/would reasonably be pregnant — leaving out those too old, or who have decided their families are complete, just had a baby, etc. I still was thinking of posting something along those lines, and then found out last night that the newlywed couple lost their baby. And today at church, I found out that one of the other mothers is having problems with her gallbladder and will likely have surgery, and I don’t know how that might affect her pregnancy. So, I’m not in the mood to write a jovial post about the 4 3 2 possibly 1 new baby due next summer.
At our church, we have morning service, potluck lunch, and then afternoon service. At lunch, I sat at the same table as the newlywed couple, and of course miscarriage was the subject of part of the conversation, but it did not dominate — there were other subjects, many humorous. I was sitting opposite the couple, and could see that the woman was handling things okay, but it seemed to me that the husband was struggling a bit. There were times he would only smile when others were laughing; or he would chuckle a bit, and then look like he was going to cry — subdued, grieving, but trying to keep his spirits up. Prior to getting married, this young man would dote on the babies and young children at our church, and he was thrilled with the news that his wife was expecting — he really wanted to be a daddy.
I mentioned my observations to my husband, and he said a little something about himself having experienced loss (with tears), and now this other man as well, and then prayed for him. It was obvious that the man appreciated it, and I wonder if he had gotten much emotional support (from either men or women). When we announced our miscarriage at church, almost every woman and several of the men came up to express their regrets; my husband didn’t get nearly the same level of attention, although he experienced the loss of the same baby. Men experience miscarriage too; but I think we as a society often forget that, and/or take their silence or reticence or stoic appearance as proof that they don’t feel loss and aren’t mourning or grieving. Had I judged only on superficial appearances (rather than closely observing my husband and also this man), I might think that too. But judging on the more particular inspection, I might think that the miscarriages affected the men more deeply than the women… or at least, in a different way.
Yes, women often experience more grief than men do, at a miscarriage; but that doesn’t mean it is always that way. Let’s not forget the men.