Monday, 14 November 2011

Husbands Struggle Too

This is harder than I thought it would be. Not just for me, but for The Hubby.

He keeps up a strong front most of the time and it's hard for me to read where he's at. We have a lot going on right now. In addition to this new pregnancy, my father in-law has dementia which is much worse than we thought. We know this because we just got back from a trip home and saw first hand just where he is. It's too much to go into here but The Hubby had to make some hard decisions while we were home and he didn't necessarily get the support from his siblings that I think he deserved.

So our trip home was very much an emotional rollercoaster. On the one hand we got the amazing news that I am pregnant again. On the other hand we were slapped in the face with the reality of life with dementia. By the time we got home we were both exhausted, physically and mentally. Add some work stress into the mix and the hubby is completely overwhelmed.

I knew he was stressed but had no idea how much until he shared his feelings with me the other day over breakfast. He is absolutely terrified that something is going to go wrong with this pregnancy. Apparently one of the reasons he's not sleeping (in addition to the jetlag) is because everytime I get up to pee he's worried I will have a miscarriage. Now I'm getting up at least once a night (sometimes two) to pee and had no idea that each time it sends him into a panic.

He also panics every time I call him. Each time he's about to answer the phone he's sure I'm calling with bad news. Of course I'm just calling with boring every day stuff and had no idea the sight of my name on his phone is having that effect on him.

The other night he was up much later than I was. Turns out he was looking through all our old pregnancy photos, old facebook posts, and back through the archives of my blog. He said he felt crazed, like he couldn't stop himself. He read the old posts, looked at the old photos, and cried.

It's as if he was driven to remember the pain. When I asked why he said that everytime he feels happy about this new pregnancy he instantly feels guilty. As if somehow being happy again is leaving our son behind. Like we're going to forget him and how sad we were when he died. We talked some more and cried a bit. I told him how glad I was that he shared his fears with me. He smiled and said, "Well now you have something to write about on your blog just in case you get writer's block." That made me laugh.

I wish I could take away his worry, but I can't. I wish he didn't have so much on his plate right now. My primary focus is dealing with the anxiety of this pregnancy, but he's doing a juggling act with chainsaws right now. I just wish that somehow I could step in and help him carry his burden. To lighten his load, even if only a little bit. So that he can sleep through the night without all the fear.

I completely understand where his fear is coming from and have been wondering the same thing myself. How can the happiness of this new pregnancy and the utter devastation of the last one live side by side? Is it possible to feel the joy and hope of this new life without forgetting the love and sadness we felt for the one we have lost? Are we somehow dishonoring our son by allowing ourselves the possibility of happiness again?

How do people manage pregnancy after loss?

I want to be happy about this but I don't ever want to forget about my son.
My firstborn.
Who we never got to take home.
Who we love dearly.

Is any baby going to be able to fill the hole he has left in our hearts? More importantly, do we want that hole filled?

pouring my heart out with shell


  1. What a beautiful, poignant post. I'm sorry your hubby is struggling so much. He sounds a lot like mine, who, during our twin pregnancy (which resulted in a 2nd trimester loss), also panicked each and every time he saw that I was calling. We've already talked about a new strategy the next time we get pg (if there is a next time), which will be for me to always start with "Everything's fine, I'm OK," before saying ANYTHING else. (I was really sick during my previous pregnancy so every time we talked I sounded horrible, which scared him even more.)

    As for filling the hole, I believe the answer is no. What I've heard from other babyloss (and older-child-loss) parents is additional children cause our hearts to grow larger so that the giant, gaping holes left by our losses become proportionately smaller...but they're still very much there. Right now I'm working on imagining the gaping void in my heart filled with a glowing ball of bright white light, rather than being a void of pain. Sometimes it helps...not always, but sometimes.

    Hugs to you...

  2. I'm sorry for the hardship of the differences in dealing with pregnancy after a loss. I agree that the answer is no to filling or wanting to fill the spot your little one held/holds. I think it's important to still acknowledge they were here even if for a short time. I think there will be some comfort in having a baby here and home with you but it won't change everything entirely. A couple of my friends have lost babies late in pregnancy and frequently talk of them...meaning they think of them even more. It's okay to remember and be sad. I hope it doesn't overpower the good of now for you both though. Take care and best wishes and prayers for you guys.

  3. I can't even imagine how you're feeling right now but I'm so glad your husband opened up to you about his fears. I feel like they hurt just like we do but they have the added stress of feeling like they need to be strong and silent about it. I hope at some point you guys can move past the anxiety but I know it won't be easy. I'll be keeping all three of you in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Your son will always be so loved. The new baby will have a part of him, I think he/she come from the same place, sharing the same womb in which your son lived for 36 weeks.
    My husband is going through same things like yours, he too is terrified when I get up n the night to go to bathroom thinking am having a mc, he is also terrified each time I call him thinking it's bad news. I hope this thing works for me, but most importantly for him. It's sad to see my husband who otherwise never complains about anything in this.
    Hope all goes well for you.

  5. You will never replace the one that was lost, but God does not give us room for just one in our hearts.

  6. This new pregnancy has been especially hard on E, too. He talked in the beginning stages about how he wasn't sure this child could ever be appreciated and bring out as much excitement as Andrew did-- being our first and innocent picture of growing a baby. He is warming up now that I'm nearly 6 months and has felt kicks, but it is hard.

    We've both shed quite a few tears over this emotional journey. I completely understand all the words you typed. It's so incredibly sweet that he has such a heart for your babies.

  7. Congratulations on being pregnant again, I've been following a while and am delighted for you both. Great that hubby can speak up about how he is feeling.I can not begin to imagine how hard it has been for you both over the last year and as I have not lost a child I ca not pretend my experience compares to yours but my baby did spend three months in intensive care after a horrendous pregnancy and I know all about living with fear. I found these cute little pod casts invaluable in helping me to deal with my anxiety, any time I felt stressed or had unwanted thoughts I just popped one on a felt a whole lot better after ten mins.
    Here's the link, for you or hubby x

  8. Oh annoyingly, it won't let me copy the link! Ut it's called meditation oasis, u can google itx

  9. This is a beautiful post. This is such a hard/wonderful time for both you and your husband.

    That hole in your heart will heal over time, even if you never had another child, but that doesn't mean that you would ever forget. Just like a new baby doesn't replace it's living sibling, your new baby won't replace your firstborn. When you have another baby your love just grows to fit. You have no more reason to feel guilty for loving this new baby than any other parent expecting their second...or third or 20th child should be. I hope that the two of you can find some peace, and can get some sleep. Your poor husband :(

  10. This is so bittersweet.

    I'm not sure anything will ever replace your first child, your son. And as your blessings grow, I don't think you would want anything to replace him. But here is the bittersweet gift that you will take from this:

    With every breath that you love your next child, you will love more deeply. With each milestone, each birthday, each holiday and celebration, you will soak in the moment and cherish it just a little bit more. With each first milestone, each smile, giggle and kiss, you will treasure more intimately.

    Because you lost your first child, you will love your next with a depth you never thought possible.

    The paradox is that your next child, in eaching you about love and spreading your heart to its full capacity, will ease the pain and you will ultimately find a measure of peace with having an angel baby.

    Love and hugs to you and your husband.

  11. It has been a rocky road for us this pregnancy, with many of the same issues that you've mentioned (hubby scared about every toilet trip, every phone call, every twinge of pain...). We're still in shock that we've managed to survive losing our little girl, and still scared to accept that in a very short time we should have a new child in our lives.

    I feel that when our little girl died she actually left two holes - she left a 'parenting' hole - that one I think can be refilled by a new baby. But, she left her own unique Mallory-shaped hole that will never be filled. Perhaps it will be the same for you. Your son has a special place in you that nothing can ever fill, but a new pregnancy and the resulting new baby will surely do much to heal the wounds left by not getting to parent that first beautiful boy.

    I'm so very pleased that you're getting another chance at this and look forward to cheering you along. It seems like only yesterday that we were where you are with a new little heartbeat bringing us equal amounts of joy and fear. I hope that this pregnancy passes swiftly and uneventfully for you.

  12. I believe that you can simultaneously experience joy on a new child while still being devastated over loss. I also had a hard time with that when we adopted our daughter. I feared it would be disrespectful to my sons who were lost if I felt joy in this new child. But, in fact, they are separate, and one does not diminish the other. I can and do regularly feel my heart swell with love and joy in the simple things that are my daughter, and moments later become overcome with grief over the twins.

    I am so glad your husband is able to share even the tough feelings. I hope that his fear diminishes as the pregnancy progresses.

  13. This must put some serious stress in both of you. I guess the best thing is to be honest, keep talking about the fears and that he opened up to you is good. I don't know the answer to your questions, but I do think it's possible to love and feel happiness over one child while at the same time grieve another. I can't imagine the new baby will replace your son and maybe that's a good thing!? I truly hope as time pass you will find more peace and have faith in this pregnancy.

  14. I miscarried in between having my son and daughter. It was only 11 weeks in, and I knew that miscarriages are more common than usually realized, and that having carried one healthy child to term it was likely I could do so again. Yet it still hurt so much precisely because, having had my son, I was keenly aware of what I had lost. Will you ever fill the hole left by the loss of your son? No, not entirely. Will you ever be able to enjoy this pregnancy and go on to parent a wonderful child? I'm praying the answer is a strong and resounding 'yes'. You are already parents, but this child will take you further on that journey. God bless, deep breaths, deep breaths.

  15. The other night I got up to pee and almost stepped on a HUGE bug in the bathroom. I screamed. My husband came running, convinced I was having another miscarriage. At that moment, I loved him so so much - from a deep sleep, a miscarriage was his first and biggest fear. I'm not alone in this.

    I think the babylost holes in our hearts are permanent. I never expect to 'get over' Elizabeth's death in any sense. But it's true (as Jenny says) that there is this second hole - not having living children - that maybe, just maybe will be filled someday. Sending safe and healthy pregnancy thoughts your way :)

  16. Oh, my heart goes out to you both. I won't weigh you down with my pregnancy histories but I will tell you that the hole is never filled but it does get smaller. Love and hope will eventually give a grain of sand at a time and you have to hold onto each one of them. My husband and your husband share a lot of similarities. You are not in an easy place but you are also on the brim of what could be incredibly wonderful. Hold your husband's hand, look him in the eye and tell him that no matter always have each other.
    Well wishes for a wonderfully healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.

  17. You're right... sometimes the stress dads and husbands are experiencing is forgotten or overlooked. It's good that you both could talk about his concerns. Best wishes for a healthy pregnancy and safe birth.

  18. All I can offer is best wishes for continued health in your pregnancy and a safe and happy birth. Love is an amazing virtue, and from what you write, shared so deeply between you and your husband.

  19. I had a miscarriage too and I like you, did not realize how hard it was on my husband. I don't know your faith background but I challenge both of you to surrender your worries to God HE can handle them and will do ahmazing things in your marriage and family. Just trust him. I know that sounds cliche-ish but in reality what more can you both do? How your pregnancy goes and your father-in-laws dementia are things that are out of your control. I will be praying for your family.

  20. First of all- congrats on your pregnancy! I missed your announcement!

    Husbands worry, too, so true. Mine tries to act like he has it all together, but I know he worries and just tries to be strong for me.

  21. I have a son who died in infancy and now a daughter, born nearly a year after his death, who is two and half. I am so sorry for your loss. I am so happy for your pregnancy. I read a good book: Pregnancy after a Loss. It is still hard for me sometimes. It does get easier but I, like you, don't ever want to forget my baby boy. My daughter will never replace him but I know that I am better at being her parent because of losing him. Hang in there, it is not an easy road you travel. My husband worried so much during my second pregancy after our loss...I pretty much had to force him down that road. But he's happy he took it now.

  22. Each child brings its own love, you can't EVER love another child more or less than a sibling. The love you have for your son will always stay the same, your new baby will brings its own. You can love both without guilt. That's truly how it works - wait and see. You and your husband will get through this because you're talking and sharing the pain and walking the path together.Hang on in there x

  23. Such a beautiful post... and so lovely that you can talk with each other about it all, as hard as it is. Your husband sounds like such a caring and sensitive person... and must be so hard to see his father with worsening Dementia. I only had a glimmer of the anxiety during a pregnancy after loss... but saw how hard it is and feel for you going through it. Each week must get more exciting but also more daunting... you are so brave and your son will always be with you. Love to you all xoxo

  24. Congrats on the pregnancy, so sorry about the FIL. I think sometimes we let our hubby's be the strong ones, the ones that keep things in (without knowing it), and it's not until they tell us they are worried that we know.

  25. We are still struggling to get to that point - (the pregnancy) but my hubby already worries about the "what ifs" if we succeed. He works long and hard, he is the main wage earner and he tries so hard to be a superman now. Like you I am so thankful for him in these hard times and I feel for him too. Well wishes xo

  26. Very touching post, take it one day at a time.