Thursday, June 07, 2007

Men & Miscarriage

When you lose your baby both the mother and the father grieve for their loss. However in many cases the man, the father, the second half of the couple, can be forgotten and almost seem as if they aren't part of what is happening. The effect on the man is often underestimated. A lot of focus is put on the mother, how she is feeling physically, how she is coping emotionally and the men can be all but ignored. The Father has lost his baby too and his hopes and dreams for the future are just as shattered as that of the mother.

In many cases the partners in the relationship grieve differently. There are no right and wrong ways to feel or grieve. You may feel different from day to day and so will your partner. Some days will seem better and the next might seem worse. Don't feel guilty if you are having a 'good day' or equally if it's bad. Try to take it as it comes.This is normal. Also there is no time-limit to grieving a loss. After months of getting on okay you might suddenly feel very sad again or something might trigger a memory or an occasion or milestone may come around. Sometimes there is no obvious reasons.

Some couples are very close already and their grief and loss bring them closer together as they share the pain that only they can completely understand. In some cases the strain can force couples apart, whether temporarily or not, and sometimes they are grieving so differently that they isolate themselves from one another and at times it seems they are polls apart. Sometimes women feel their partner isn't supporting them, that he blames her, or he doesnt care. Often this is not the case but her partner doesnt know how to react or what to say and so he cuts himself off in order to try to cope as best he can. Losing a baby at any stage in pregnancy is a very lonely and isolating experience, no matter how much support and love you have, so you should take some kind of reassurance from the fact that your partner is feeling the same things as you are even if you can't express that to one another or in the same ways.

Some men may be more upset by their partner's distress than with the loss of the baby. You may not have yet felt that bond with the baby, you may even feel your partner is over-reacting - why would she be this upset about a miscarriage ? Help me understand what my partner is feeling. On the other hand you may be shocked with how upset you are feeling and think you can't cope, especially if it was an early miscarriage. You will cope however and become less overwhelmed by it all, and whereas you won't forget this has happened you will, in time, find some level of acceptance.

It's Okay to Show Your Emotions
Men find that they are expected (or they expect themselves) to be the strong one, not to show their emotions, not to cry, to be supportive of their partner in her time of need. This would be what was traditionally expected of men. Sometimes they aren't outspoken enough to have to stand up for themselves too at this time and make it known that they are grieving too. It can happen that either or both of the partners have never been confronted with any situation like this and have never had to handle emotional issues before and simply dont know how to react. You should feel free to express the shock, anger, sadness, helplessness - whatever you are feeling - in the same way that your partner can express hers. You may not feel it is widely accepted for a man to be showing these emotions about his baby, 'a baby that wasnt even born'. But if this is a baby you've longed for or had hopes and dreams for, maybe even seen on an ultrasound scan, then you already have a bond, you have links to this child and it's quite normal to feel sad, isolated, empty, confused, shocked or a mixture of many emotions. (See Emotions section )

Work - Vs - Time Off
In a lot of cases the men will continue to go to work. Unfortunately there is no rule-book or set of protocols for what you should do, what you are expected to do or what is 'the norm'. Many people through experience realise it's best to take even a little time off. If your thoughts are racing and your head is full of all that has happened are you really going to be able to contrentrate on your job? Will you spend the day worrying about your partner and wishing you were with her ? No matter how important your job seems every other day or how much they tell you that you can't be done without, think about what is more important for you. Obviously if you think you can cope and if you miss one day you will lose your job then you have to make the right decision for you. Most men and women find that they need at least a few days, if not more, to gather their thoughts before returning to work. You may be feeling very tired and emotionally drained this is to be expected with all that is going on. Most employees are entitled to compassionate leave of some kind and most employers will understand. Visit your GP if you think discussing the situation with them will help. They will also be able to give you a medical certificate if you need some time off.

Other People's Reactions
When you do go back to work, or are out and about at home, some people will avoid you, some will only make small talk and never mention the fact that you have lost your baby - this is because they are in an unknown situation and don't know what to say. They may be uncomfortable talking about it or just can't handle speaking about death or loss in any way, especially male colleagues and friends who have never found themselves in any kind of similar situation. Many people will probably ask you 'How is your wife/partner' 'Is she okay' but won't ever ask you how you are. Some don't feel comfortable asking you how you are feeling, but it can be hurtful as it gives the impression that only the mother is grieving the loss and that you haven't lost your baby too. Maybe in some small way you could change things by saying 'We are both very sad / upset' or whatever.

I Want to 'Fix It'
You may feel you want to or are expected to 'do something to fix it' to help your patner, to shoulder some of what she is going through and therefore you surpress what you are feeling yourself in order to help your partner. There is nothing you can do that will change the circumstances and the best thing you can do for yourself and your partner is to 'be there' for each other. Spend time together. Talk about your baby, your hopes and dreams. If necessary say 'I don't know what to say ' or 'I feel very upset / confused / helpless and I'd like to be able to do something to change that but I can't' .Talking to each other, keeping the lines of communication open and expressing how you are feeling is very important. Try not to bottle everything up thinking if you don't show or acknowledge your feelings they will go away or get better on their own. They won't..


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