The moment you find out you are going to have a kid is one of the happiest times of your life. It may be something you have looked forward to for years, or it might have been a surprise that turned your whole world upside down. You begin thinking, planning, and realizing that a little person is going to depend on you from now on. It gives life a whole new meaning.
But what happens when all your dreams and plans come to a crashing halt? How do you deal when your future life gets ripped away from you?
It's a little known fact that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. This is obviously a very painful experience for women, but the trauma that men experience is less acknowledged.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, the most common cause of miscarriage is a genetic abnormality in the embryo. Essentially this means that neither parent is the cause of the miscarriage. It's not because you partied too much the weekend before you conceived, or because you didn't take enough vitamins. Miscarriages are nature's way of getting rid of a bad pregnancy.
Nevertheless, it still hurts.
The way that men handle grief is often very different from their girl. While men can exhibit typical signs of grief - being sad, feeling hopeless, or losing interest in things - they can also be irritable and angry, work constantly, or drink too much. Men do not grieve as openly as their partners.
It is also very common for men to feel like they have to put their feelings aside because it is their job to support their girl, who actually physically experienced the loss. In a survey, almost half of men said they didn't share how they were feeling out of fear of saying the wrong thin or causing more stress.
If you have experienced miscarriage as a dad, hiding your grief is not the answer. Tough times in life are more manageable when you ride through the storm and feel your emotions instead of ignoring them or burying them. Management of your own emotions is actually a much better way to be in service to your family. You are able to process, heal, and get back to fighting shape much faster.
Here are a few ideas to take care of yourself after miscarriage:
- Talk to a therapist. If you thought therapy was taboo, now is the time to become more open. Talking to an unbiased human who is trained in the field will do wonders for healing.
- Remember that this will pass and you will get another shot if you desire. Even if it's not in the form of your own child, simply mentoring a kid that needs you can be a source of relief.
- Talk to family and friends. Remember, a quarter of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Chances are they experienced it too.
- Join a dad group such as the FlyDad group. There is a plethora of support in there.