I apologize for the delay in posting this. This was much more difficult to write than I anticipated and I wanted to make sure I got it right.
Now that you know more about my husband and I and our story, I thought I would share more of the emotional side of what we are facing each day.
Today, I want to focus on my relationship with Jason after our losses. I think this is a topic that even some of the most wonderful books on loss, gloss over.
Prior to our first loss, Jason and I were still very much on top of the world. Of course we had our ups and downs, just as any other couple moving towards marriage does, but 98% of our relationship was amazing. We were on the same page about (almost) everything! It felt like there wasn’t a thing in the world we couldn’t conquer together. We had difficult times financially, dealt with some very heartbreaking family situations, and even faced being separated for 5 months following a major surgery I had. (I had to move home to be with my parents, who live 4 hours from where we do now. I needed 24-hour assistance for several months, and we couldn’t afford to have Jason quit his job and move with me). Through all of it, we came out on top and stronger for it.
When Jason and I decided we were ready to start our family, we never imagined we would have any difficulty. Of course- you hear about miscarriage, you realize there is always a chance for complications, but, if you are like us,
“We didn’t really think it would happen to us”.
Our first loss was very painful. It was only the 2nd time I had ever seen Jason cry. My heart broke 10 times over watching him cry and knowing there was nothing I could do. Some of my guilt, at the time, stemmed from that moment- watching my husband cry and knowing it was my body that had made him cry.
The first week after our first loss was filled with a lot of emotion for both of us- sadness, anger, guilt, frustration, and confusion. Something changed after that first week though; Jason was suddenly back to “normal”. I recall the first time he said:
“I don’t want to talk about it”.
That very moment was the moment everything changed. He didn’t want to talk about it anymore, he seemed frustrated by my continued sadness, and he was ready to move on. This moment was a major turning point in our relationship. It was the first time we were not on the same page- I would dare to venture we weren’t even in the same book.
My heart was still reeling from the loss- my emotions were all over the board and I was truly unable to step outside of those emotions. My husband rebounded very quickly from our loss and it made me angry. I was angry he wasn’t showing emotion, angry he didn’t understand me, angry he “forgot” our baby so quickly, and angry because I was angry.
Each subsequent loss followed a very similar pattern. We would be on the same page for a week or two and then a switch would flip, and he would be fine and I was not.
I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you this has caused problems with our relationship. It has added stress and tension like we have never known before. It has only been within the last few weeks that I have finally accepted our new “norm”. I have finally been able to step back and acknowledge that it is okay for him to be “okay” and be moving on, because it is also okay for me to feel as I do- torn and still grieving.
Nobody really focuses on what baby loss does to your relationship. Nobody wants to mention the tension, the stress, the pain, and the anger that it can introduce into your marriage. What I want you to know is that it DOES get better. You CAN figure it out.
Here are a few things I have learned along the way, that I hope will help you in your own relationships:
1) It is absolutely okay to feel the way you do. It is okay to be fine one moment and sad the next. It is okay to cry when something triggers your sadness. It is also okay to allow yourself to be happy.
2) Just as it is okay for you to feel and express your emotions, it must also be okay for your partner to do the same. While it would be a perfect world if they felt exactly as you do every step of the way, it is not realistic nor is it fair to have that expectation.
3) Communication- is EVERYTHING. If you are having a hard time with your partner’s emotions- tell them. Chances are, they have no idea they are causing you pain. If you don’t express how you feel, they won’t know how to help. Even though my husband doesn’t feel like I do, if I tell him I am having a bad day, he will be more sensitive to my emotions and more cognizant of his actions. It took me a long time to realize that he isn’t a mind reader and it’s not fair for me to expect him to be.
4) Find someone you can talk to. Sometimes my husband needs a break from talk about TTC, miscarriage, babies, and sadness in general. It is okay for him to need that break- I need it too. It has been so helpful for me to have met Heather and to have her to share stories and emotions with. It takes the pressure off of Jason to be the only sounding board in my life. Whether you find someone in a support group, a pastor/spiritual leader/minister, or seek out a counselor- it is important to have someone you can go to outside of your partner.
5) Step outside of the situation and analyze the expectations. While it would be a perfect world if we could all consider only the needs and emotions of others, it is not realistic. I was trying to force my ridiculous expectations on Jason. I was demanding he feel as I did, grieve as I did, and always be on the same wave length. Looking back, I am clearly able to see it was completely unrealistic and unfair of me to do so. I had to put aside my emotions and recognize that we both grieve differently.
I love my husband with my whole heart. We are perfectly imperfect together and that is okay. We have struggled, but we are strong.
I pray you will find peace with your partner along this journey we are all on together.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
1. God created you and your spouse different and unique. How does each of you express grief differently?
I read a lot about baby loss online or in books. I joined several private online baby loss support groups. I listen to songs that remind me of Hannah every single day. I want to talk about Hannah and most of the aspects surrounding her a lot.
Jason reads a little bit about baby loss online. Jason will talk about Hannah and most of the aspects surrounding her. Jason internalizes more. He can only take in so much before he is “full” and needs a timeout.
We both cry over Hannah. We both are sad over Hannah. We both love when people acknowledge Hannah. We both connected with Hannah. We both love and miss Hannah so much.
2. How has your loss created distance between you and your spouse? Drawn you closer?
Right after Hannah’s death we just had to recognize that we were grieving differently and that was ok. There really wasn’t any distance at all created between us. We have drawn closer together since we were given the fatal diagnosis and since Hannah died. We both lost our little girl. We both love her so much. Times that I am weak, Jason is strong. Times that Jason is weak, I am strong. We have kept God at the center.
3. Complete the following sentence: “I feel loved and encouraged when …” Write down all the ways you feel loved and encouraged and ask your spouse to do the same. Now exchange lists and encourage one another during the next week.
you hold me tight and just let me cry.
you let me listen to the same songs over and over.
you listen when I talk about Hannah.
you bring Hannah up to me.
you take my hand and tell me it’s ok.
you are close to me and nothing needs to be said.
you hug me and hold my hand.
4. Grief over the loss of your child will affect your relationship. Some marriages may become weakened from the stress, while others are strengthened by pulling together through adversity. Guard your marriage and seek help from your pastor, another couple who has survived the loss of a child, or a grief counselor.
We talk to a Christian counselor once a week. We have talked to our prayer pastor multiple times. We also talked to a pastor whose baby was also given a fatal diagnosis (She is 2 years old now! Thank you God!). We are so grateful to have the support, help, and guidance from these individuals. They have truly helped Jason and I stick together as a married couple during this devastating journey. They don’t rush our grief at all.