Miscarriage From a Dad’s Perspective
Each conversation reminded me of our devastating loss
It was the night of Christmas. While our son was dreaming of the presents he had just opened that morning, my wife, Sara, and I were in the hospital receiving grim news: “Sorry, you are having a miscarriage.”
I held Sara’s hand as she fought back tears while the doctor explained the low human chorionic gonadotropin levels and blank ultrasound.
The next few days, as my wife endured all the aches and pains of pregnancy, knowing there was no longer a baby growing inside her, I fielded the uncomfortable and inconvenient conversations that come with miscarriage. Some conversations were seemingly routine, like making the follow-up doctor appointments; while others were emotional, like telling our closest friends we were no longer expecting. But each conversation reminded me of our devastating loss.
Being the bearer of bad news also meant I got the initial wave of condolences. Support and sympathy from our families came immediately, but eventually I took offense to even the most well intentioned chats. I found little comfort in the suggestion that there was a silver lining or a plan behind what happened. Nor did I find comfort at the seemingly obligatory assurances that everything would be OK.
I suffered through conversations about considering adoption or fertility treatments. My best friend even thought it was an appropriate time to tell me about his belief that the world was overpopulated. For the most part, I nodded along, but inside I felt hurt and isolated, thinking how my friends didn’t understand the pain I was experiencing.
Miscarriage is thought of as a traumatic event for the would-be mother, and rightfully so. Not only did Sara have to carry the weight of the emotional toll, but she also had to endure the physical pain. What I and others often forgot about, however, was how to deal with my own fragile state. I thought I needed to be the composed one who kept the family aloft through this storm. But as I tried to carry the weight of my grieving family, little things eventually snowballed.
There was the lost cellphone, an inconsiderate driver who cut me off, dishes that didn’t get adequately clean during the dishwasher cycle … What would typically be an everyday inconvenience started to feel like another snowflake piling onto an avalanche.
One night our toddler was having a difficult time going to bed. Every time I tried to lay him down, he cried out reaching for me. Experiencing one more difficult moment in what felt like a monsoon of hardship led me to a breakdown.
I finally realized: Our family needed help. Once we asked for it, the community responded. From meals to babysitting, the compassion shown to us sustained us until we were able to get back on our feet. This taught me that I wasn’t solely responsible for making my family feel whole again.
It has been a few months since that night in December, but grief still finds itself in unexpected places. The TV show where a baby’s life is saved by a miracle, or the acquaintance who asks when we’ll have a second child stops me in my tracks, forcing me to face the sadness still in my heart. But suffering a miscarriage has also shown me that we aren’t alone. Many people have told us their own story of the baby they never got to meet.
At times it was difficult for me to know what my role should be in the loss of this pregnancy, but one of my friends told me something that still sticks with me today, and I hope something that every partner of a miscarriage hears: “This is your loss, too.”
Elliot Acosta is a husband, father and food blogger who writes at eatRaleighBlog.com, where he explores Raleigh’s culture, history, people and passion through its food. Acosta won a Parenting Media Association Gold award for this personal essay.