Miscarriages – How to be the Man in these Moments
They are a horrific experience that no one warns you about, that happen in the midst of what’s supposed to be one of life’s most beautiful and joyful moments. Unfortunately, few of us men know how to handle these extremely challenging experiences. They’re devastating and can have a horrible impact on our family if we don’t know how to respond.
Today, I give you four things that you can do as the man to move through the miscarriage and strengthen your relationship.
The reality is that miscarriages are a normal part of the body’s assessment of whether or not the fetus is okay. Making a baby is really complicated and lots of little mistakes happen. In that process, the body needs a way to double check that it’s all happening in a good manner. Miscarriages usually aren’t a statement that you, as a Mom or a Dad, are not going to be able to have a baby, but just a way for it to get rid of that fetus and move on to the next possibility of being pregnant. Unfortunately, this natural process is devastating, especially for women. If we can step into being the powerful partner they need in these moments, it can greatly decrease the pain, bring us even closer and even better prepare us for having a child.
Here’s how you can handle that impact.
1st Step: Step Up
The first step is for us men to step up in this intense experience. Women are not only losing their baby, and thus feeling waves of intense grief, they’re also dealing with the shifts in their hormones, as they go from pregnant to not pregnant. It actually creates a horrible physiological experience where their emotions are bouncing around everywhere. On top of that, women often feel like there’s something wrong with them and that they are a bad woman who isn’t going to be able to have babies. It can easily lead to a really negative, dark place where they’re worried about their self-worth at their core.
What they need from us at that moment is love, embracement and acceptance. They need a space for all of their bad feelings, lest they feel alone, lost and hurt. It’s our challenge to stand up in that moment and be there in those intense feelings as she swings between anger, grief, guilt and blame.
How do actually do this? What they really need from us in that moment is our attention, our listening and our love. It’s hard for us men to be in relation to those intense feelings as we easily move into a position of giving advice or cheerleading them in attempt to make them feel better. Unfortunately, such actions communicate an underlying sentiment that they should stop feeling how they are feeling and get over it. However that’s not how feelings work. By giving feelings space to exist, they move along. When we go into resistance to a feeling, then they get stuck. If a women is really, really hurting and we can be with them in that hurt, she’ll be able to move to the other side.
Just look her in the eye as she is going through these experiences and breathe in her pain, even if it’s directed at you. Understand the suffering and allow her to move it along. You can say little things like, “I understand” or “I’m so sorry” or “I love you” or “It’s all going to be okay.” But from a sincere place of embracement of what she’s feeling in that moment. Make sure you aren’t communicating that she needs to get over it because it’s too much for you. If you can occasionally give her that kind of attention, that kind of embracement, and that kind of shoulder to cry on, it will allow her to much more quickly move through her grief and get to the other side. Your attention and love tells her that it’s okay to feel so horrible and that she is not alone. That makes facing the feelings so much easier and prevents falling into the pit of self-blame and guilt.
2nd Step: Give her Anchors
The second step is a lot easier. Do concrete things to show your partner you’re there with them. Go out to dinner and have all the things they weren’t allowed to have while pregnant. Have champagne, oysters, sushi and celebrate to some level your relationship. Let there be some joy in the midst of this darkness.
Give them little daily reminders that you’re there with them, little physical things, notes of your love, flowers, chocolates, some item that gives them anchor to hold onto in the face of the horrible feelings that are going to ripple through them for days and days. If they can feel your love even when you’re not there through some tangible object in front of them, it makes baring the feelings a lot easier.
3rd Step: Give Yourself Space to Grieve
The third step is to give yourself space to grieve. It’s hard in the midst of all the things that your wife is going through, in addition to the medical needs, to stop and give ourselves space for whatever emotions we are feeling. We as men aren’t typically very good at grieving. We move more easily to anger, frustration, and denial. Distraction is usually how we handle grief.
Give yourself at least five minutes every couple days to sit down and notice how is this for you. Reflect on the loss, allow yourself a moment to grieve. Perhaps write in your journal, talk to your friends or tell your partner what’s happening for you. Give yourself that space. For me, it took four months after my first miscarriage to really deal with that grief. All of a sudden, I found myself crying for hours. It felt so good to finally process the loss in order that I could move on into life and fatherhood unhampered by those unresolved emotions.
4th Step: Don’t get Stuck in Blame!
The fourth step is to not let the miscarriage lead to you and your partner getting torn apart and feeling anger towards one another. It’s so hard when you are both dealing with that many emotions to not end up blaming the other person and thereby getting stuck in some kind of resentment.
If you feel that happening, come together with your partner and share whatever fears are happening in that moment. Say, “Hey, can you listen to me? I’m really having a hard time here and I’d like for us to be together in this intense process.” Listen to her pain; ask her what’s going on for her so she can feel your acceptance of her feelings.
If you are having a hard time with her grief and the hopelessness or powerlessness that she’s feeling, see if you can breathe that in. Go back to step one and really try to be there for her. Perhaps it would help to ask her to be there for how you’re dealing with the loss. Let her know what you’re going through. If you’re just being quiet and not telling her anything, she will have a hard time knowing if it even matters to you. This can actually be worse for her as she may think that she is the only one having a hard time. Hearing that you are also struggling will enable her to feel partnership in the darkness.
So come together if you feel it pulling you apart and don’t let it be a detrimental impact. If handled well, it can actually create increased intimacy and trust in your relationship.
• Take the space to really hear your partner, breathe in their pain and find how you can really embrace them.
• Regularly do concrete things so they have something to hold on to in the face of the waves of despair that are going through them.
• Give yourself space to process your own feelings.
• If it’s creating tension between you and your partner, take extra time to sit down and talk about what is happening so you can come together to deal with these really hard times.
Thank you for joining me for another episode of Full Frontal Fatherhood. I would love to hear how you have handled these moments and what your experiences have been. Please join the conversation below. Let’s keep this really warm and sweet because these are hard, hard things.
Thank you for joining me for another episode.