Miscarriage Advice For Dads From Dads
Finally, a page about miscarriage for dads.
Miscarriage sucks, but it happens a lot more than you realize until it happens to you and your family. Once I was sucked into dealing with it, I realized that while it hits the mother the hardest (because she bonds deeper with the baby as she carries it), people often forget that fathers are also dealing with not only the loss of a baby, but often they are then expected to deal with a wide variety of other issues in order to keep the family together.
Please note that I am not a professional and have no training other than the fact that since our miscarriage, I have spent a lot of time dealing with this subject from a very personal point of view.
I also periodically write about miscarriage at the site that we created for our two angel babies: Kye and Peanut's Blog
You are not alone
The first thing to know, is that you are not alone. I know that it seems like it (especially at first), but it happens to a huge number of people. Before we had our miscarriage, I knew of a few people who had been through it. I found that as we went through it, the stories started to come out, and more and more family and friends came out with stories of what happened to them or to their friends. I was amazed.
I would suggest finding those friends who have been through it and talking about it with them. In many cases, they will be quite willing to talk or do whatever it takes to help you through and talking may help both of you. I found that talking really helped my wife come to grips with what happened and what she was going through.
Acknowledge Your Loss
Many people, especially older relatives do their best to stick to the outdated "suck it up and carry on" approach. However, more and more people who have been through it or deal with it are now suggesting that rather than trying to pretend it never happened, maybe the best approach is to deal with it as you would any other death in the family and through acknowledgment, hopefully aid in healing.
If you can find healthy ways to acknowledge the death, then you can begin to come to grips with what has happened and what you have lost. As one book said, "While you have not lost a person that you knew, like in the loss of an older relative, you have lost the potential and dreams for this life". In many ways people often find it harder to handle because you do not even have the memories of that person's life to cherish.
One other note on acknowledging your loss. The mind is a funny thing and when you try to bury and ignore a tragedy like this, it has a bad habit of suddenly bringing it all back up when you least expect it. So, if you do try not to deal with it right away, you may find yourself suddenly having to deal with it when you see a baby in the supermarket, or at some other time when something is enough to trigger your brain to force you to handle this loss.
One interesting story that came out for us was with an Aunt who was arguing with her daughter about what we were doing, and suggesting that we should just carry on like nothing happened. It turned out that when this Aunt's daughter had miscarried years ago, the Aunt was totally grief stricken and inconsolable. So remember, just because they are now telling you to just be tough, this does not mean that it is realistically possible or desirable.
Take Time For You
Take some time to deal with it. Many companies will let you take bereavement time, vacation time or whatever. While it may seem like you will never be whole again, take some time to handle the worst of this without worrying about other things.
If you do have other kids, it may help to keep sending them to daycare or arranging for a relative to take them for a while just so that you can let it all out for a while and not worry about what to do when your child comes in and finds you crying your heart out.
For the next while, focus on you and your family. Others will understand.
What You Are Feeling Is Normal
How can I say that when I don’t even know what you are feeling? Well first of all, I do know and it sucks, but secondly because everyone handles things differently, and that is OK. Commonly, you will have times when you think that you can no longer feel at all and other times when the emotion is so strong that you think that it will overwhelm you. Whatever it is, that is OK. As the days and weeks go by, this will lessen, but it may take a while. Quite often, it can help to talk to a grief counselor (even if you just go with no agenda and let them ask questions and direct the process). Many people feel “broken” and that is fine too. Most likely, you will not feel like yourself for quite a while.
A few helpful books from Amazon
A Group Can Help
Find a group that you can go to for help. Ideally, find one of the many family loss groups and go to meetings for a while. It doesn’t matter if you cannot talk initially. Go anyway. It helps to hear how others are doing and how they are getting through things.
Gradually Get Back To Routine
Don't expect to just snap out of it and be back to normal next week, or even in a few weeks. It will take time. One thing that helps is to set really small goals. Things like “I will try to take a shower every day” are good starters. Then work on the laundry, dishes, and regular household chores a bit at a time (say trying to do one or two a day to start). You may feel bad for sitting around and not getting things done, but after a miscarriage it may take a while to get there. Don't put to much pressure on yourself to be back to normal right away.
The same often goes with friends and co-workers. After giving yourself some time alone, start meeting friends again in small controlled situations. We found it easiest to start with friends that we knew had gone through miscarriages. We also found that it really helped to talk to them about things.
For work, a social worker suggested just going in for lunch with some friends before you start, or even just stopping by to pick up something. Basically, if you can find a way to initially just go in for a short visit with an easy exit, that may make it easier to face. Remember that people will likely just be concerned for you and want the best for you.
A Few Tips For Others
Listen and Understand
Often just being there to listen is great. Keep in mind that people going through this may feel guilty for dumping on you. They may be afraid to upset you.
Bring Food and Help Out
When we went through this, I would be at the hospital all day. There were several times when I came home and just found a package of frozen food on the doorstep (it was winter, so that was fine). We also had a couple of family members who cooked for us. It was a great help. It doesn't need to be fancy. I know for us, we really didn't want to eat anyway. I ate because I knew that I had to, and I had to feed the kids. It took a while for us to want to eat again or enjoy it.
Take The Kids
I don't know what we would have done without my Mother-In-Law who took the kids for several days while my wife was in the hospital. It allowed me to just focus on being there for my wife. Our parents also just took the kids away and gave them attention. This gave them the attention that we had trouble giving them, and gave us a break.
Keep in mind that some people may feel the need to keep their kids closer and may not like this.
Give a hug
What can I say, sometimes the best things are the simplest.
I remember the first time that my Dad saw my wife, he just gave her a big hug and told her that if she needed any more, there were plenty more. He said that a friend had told him to just be quite and give her a hug.
Keep in mind that at this time, people will be far more touchy than usual. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer as to where the boundary will be. Some people will need to talk and others will need to just carry on. All you can do is to be there for them and try to respond to what they need.