Four words, that’s all it took to throw me off course. It had been 15 days since we left the hospital, 15 days of watching my wife try to hide her tears from the public. 15 days of watching the person I love in the most excruciating pain imaginable. For the three months prior to this I had been watching her glow with excitement, at times stealing glances at her across a room and knowing that we had a special secret.
We knew from friends that we were lucky. Some of our closest couple friends and my wife’s best friend from college had all struggled and some are still struggling to conceive. For us, it was Thank G-d easy — surprisingly so to be honest. We thought from hearing the stories of those around us that we would have months of struggling to conceive. But we were blessed.
The moment my wife told me she was expecting was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Three months and fifteen days later four words would wind me, as if I had been punched in the stomach. “How are you doing?” my best friend asked. The same guy that I started first grade with, went to summer camp with and later dormed with in yeshivah. Someone who was like a brother to me, the person who never beat around the bush with me.
He was one of the few friends we had told our exciting news to, having just become a new father himself I knew he would be ecstatic for us and his wife would help mine navigate the Israeli health system on the road to having a baby and beyond.
“How are you doing?” I hadn’t thought about that, I couldn’t. This wasn’t about me. Everyone was letting me know that this wasn’t about me! It was about my wife, her loss, her pain… her child?
For the first time since the doctor told us we had lost the baby, someone was asking me how I was coping. Due to complications- we had to stay in hospital longer than usual, we had to be in a place where we were planning to see our first child born, yet we would be leaving it empty handed and heavy hearted.
Those four words forced me to go from auto pilot to reality. To feel the loss and pain I had been holding at bay. Trying with all my might to suppress the ache because this wasn’t about me. With one four worded question my friend let me realise that this was also about me, this was also my loss, my pain, my child.
The nurses in the hospital, the secretary on the ward, the receptionist at our doctors office and the family and few friends who we had told, all of them had made me feel like this wasn’t my loss. I understand why. I’m not angry with them or hurt by their actions. I get it, for me the most important thing was to make sure my wife was okay. To try in some way to ease her pain, to try in anyway I could to bring the spark back into her sad and tear filled eyes.
But at the same time with those four words I realised what my best friend already knew, I needed to feel this. This was my loss too, this was my pain as well.
The hopes and dreams I had for our little baby were just as real as my wife’s.
We had lost a child, we had suffered the pain together.
We often don’t think about the partner in the relationship, the one whose child has also been taken from them. They too have suffered a miscarriage despite never having carried the baby.
Thinking back on the afternoon of chatting and crying with my best friend I realised how often we forget that just as we would wish the father mazel tov on the birth of a child, when that plan is derailed and there is a miscarriage or loss, he also needs support. Any would be father also suffers a loss that needs healing and support.