I get asked quite often why there is a big age gap between kids 2 and 3. The five-and-a-half-year’s difference makes people curious why we began our journey through babyhood once again. When asked, I usually smile and say simply, “timing was right.”
The truth is there wasn’t supposed to be such a big gap.
The rain poured down outside as I walked down the stairs into the basement one morning. There was a good foot of water welcoming me. As I stepped into it, I realized it wasn’t just water. Our sewer line had backed up into the basement. Our upstairs neighbor called a plumber, but they couldn’t come until late in the evening. So from 9 am until late into the evening, I carried buckets of sewage out our backdoor and dumped it into our backyard. I yelled and even cried with exhaustion as I fought a losing battle with the rising water.
Then my wife walked into the basement and hugged my sweaty, tired body and said, “We’re going to have another baby.”
Suddenly, I didn’t care about the basement anymore; I just wanted to hug my wife. We smiled and kissed. She asked me if I was happy and with poop dripping from my pants and shoes, I said I was very happy.
Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to meet the source of the happiness. We had a miscarriage.
My wife told me she was miscarrying as she laid on our bed. My stomach dropped and I felt like thousands of pounds were hoisted upon my back. It was still morning, so I got the kids dressed, fed, and off to school. I returned to my wife, who was still in the same position. I didn’t say anything and neither did she. We just occupied the same room for a little while. She didn’t want to talk and I’m not sure if I really wanted her to. But the silence was backbreaking.
I think I muttered a few words and I think she muttered something back. Nothing real was said. Just murmurings. I wanted to comfort her, but I couldn’t.
Deep inside, I wanted to be comforted, too. But I couldn’t be and I couldn’t ask anyone to. She took a little nap and I left the room and sat down on the couch with my hands covering my face and wept.
In the days and weeks that followed, we didn’t talk that much about it.
I think we both wanted to forget and by not talking about it we thought we could forget. We hadn’t told anyone about the pregnancy yet so nobody knew. There was nobody to give that sympathetic look. There was nobody for us to talk to. We were alone in our sorrow and we weren’t necessarily talking about it together. So I stuffed it into that place in a man’s soul where things are stored and never let out again.
My wife told me a few months later that she was pregnant again, but it too ended in miscarriage only a few weeks later.
When my wife told me that we were expecting once again, I put up a guard. As the baby grew inside my wife, I refused to let myself get too attached. I didn’t want the ultimate disappointment to happen again. I’d go along with my wife for check-ups and ultrasounds, but I continued to wait for and expect bad news. With my other children, I stared at the ultrasound pictures and dreamed and wondered. This time, I barely looked. Every day I battled to put on the face of the supportive husband, but inside I just couldn’t let myself get close.
When the baby entered the world, I finally exhaled a huge sigh of relief. Everything that had built up inside of me over the years had been released. There was a beautiful and perfect little boy in my arms and I once again felt joy. The barrier of speaking to my wife about the miscarriage was gone. And we finally felt like we could talk about the experience with other people.
There are days though that I still can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have four or five children, instead of three. I always wanted a lot of kids and dreamed of a house filled with beautiful family chaos. Time has not been kind to my body and the days of hoisting babies into the air are coming to an end. To say that I’m completely over the miscarriage would be very wrong. I’m not over it and probably never will be.
I’ve talked to a few guys since then and it seems that we all feel the same way. We want to be there for the women in our life and give encouragement and comfort. To try and make our partners feel better. But inside, we’re breaking.
I’ve also seen what miscarriages can do to women. Not only my wife, but other women that I’ve known. It’s terrible and difficult to talk about. My heart goes out to any woman that suffers through one. And my heart goes out to the guys that aren’t sure how to talk about it, aren’t sure how to relate the feelings of great loss when they barely had anything to begin with.
When we deal with tragedies in life, we try to find some closure. When someone close passes on, we talk about the life they lived and what they meant to us. The moment is heartbreaking and we never fully get over the loss of someone close. With miscarriages, closure is hard to find. A beautiful promise was there and now it isn’t. Your hopes were high and then nothing. There is the physical and emotional pains of the loss for the woman, and you can only watch. Helplessly watch.
I’m not sure what my point in writing this piece was. Maybe I wrote this for my own cathartic process. Or maybe I was hoping to have men start a dialogue about this issue. Maybe it was to let others know that nobody is alone when it comes to miscarriage and there is no shame in it. That it wasn’t anyone’s fault and miscarriage is just one of life’s many tragedies.