We all grieve differently. Men equally grieve differently.
From my very limited, recent experience the main difference is what women go through.
The pregnancy is the first step. We have all the symptoms, discomfort but equally all the joy of the kicks and reactions to our environment. We connect with baby on a deeper level during this time than anyone else. Daddy doesn’t feel this the same and daddy doesn’t feel it stop.
Daddy seemed …ok. He almost seemed unfazed by all this. Then Elva arrived and as mentioned in birth post he sobbed uncontrollably. This week we talked more about the birth and it turns out he was in denial. He would likely deny being in denial and it’s not a conscious decision it just happens.
The silence was very apparent for him. I’ve mentioned I found it almost beautiful but to him the silence signalled the baby hadn’t arrive. After being told she had he looked briefly. Said nothing.
He said he expected her to blink, but she didn’t. That’s when he cried.
I held her first and we marvelled over her then I needed to hand her to daddy. He was gutted visibly heartbroken.
To me he hadn’t prepared. I mean how do you really even those told early on their baby may die can’t ever get used to the idea. We all always hope for a miracle. Daddy did too.
I hoped for that miracle too its part of the denial. I knew it was true and I know I knew because it didn’t bother me they only did one scan to check. I had heard no heartbeat multiple times that day, I had felt nothing from her no movement not even a hiccup. I felt the fear course through me.
Daddy only heard the words there’s no heartbeat and it’s not good news. He heard no heartbeat on the doppler he heard the midwife say I needed to go to hospital. He heard me say we need to go because she’s dead. But he didn’t feel any of it he didn’t see her still heart. How could he prepare?!
After the birth he told a friend the birth was traumatic. I remember thinking where was he because he can’t have been with me. Then I started thinking to him it was traumatic an outsider looking in seeing me in pain, something he hates seeing me go through. Literally writhing about the bed and the room saying please help me.
Seeing his daughter emerge and not know how to help, not being able to help. Watching her for signs this was all a big joke. Stillbirth is traumatic! He hadn’t achieved a vbac, he hadn’t felt every part of her arrive, he had carried her for 6 months.
He had spent the pregnancy not getting too attach. Of course he did anyway but he took a back seat… just in case. It’s his regret he did that he thought he was protecting himself but instead he was distancing himself and it still hurt. I told him Elva knew him. Every time he walked in the house she’d kick. He spoke she’d kick and he felt her kick only for him.
He has been the same every child we’ve had. Being careful as he knows not to take it for granted but he’s said next time all the things we should do with the bump. He’s learnt a lesson.
The early days he didn’t seem bothered. I see this a lot on groups. He’s carrying on, acting normal, he never loved our child. He did and still does. It hurts him just as much as you but you feel it at a deeper level because even he recognises you carried your child for months and he would never wish to compete with that connection. He misses that baby just as much and he longs for her home just as much. He finds comfort in his other children, in his work, in routine. You simply can’t function, you’re lost and empty.
Daddy didn’t want to see Elva after delivery as much as me. For him her spirit had left and he considered it upsetting to keep seeing her. I kept going I needed to its where I belonged by her side our hearts physically reunited. I TOLD him she was coming home if he didn’t like it he could go away for the night.. he agreed.
Days after the funeral he thanked me. He thanked me for practically forcing him to see Elva. He wanted to he said but it wasn’t something his family had ever done before. I told him I’d never lost anyone this close in my adult hood before it wasn’t exactly old news to me either. He said he was glad he’d had that time that if I hadn’t been there he wouldn’t have had. He thanked me for bringing her home because he too felt the emptiness had been filled a little and he felt her closer to him knowing she’d been here one last time.
It’s not that he didn’t want that time he just hadn’t know how helpful it could be. He wasn’t moving on from her he just didn’t want to hurt more.
He struggles as do I to look at Elva’s pictures some days. She looks so alive in some its hard to imagine she never breathed outside my womb. It reminds us of what we have lost what we can’t get back. On the good days it reminds us of what we gained. My hurt reminds him of his hurt so he tries to hide his own.
Many of you have said how my writing has brought tears to your eyes. Well a few times my ranting has brought daddy to tears something I’ve never seen. He is deeply affected by this but like me he has a deep love for the most beautiful girl we’ve ever met. We feel blessed she graced our lives but bereft we couldn’t share a life with her.
The man needs asking if they’re ok but often they don’t want to be asked about the sorrow and hurt. They want to be normal, often they may wish to grieve privately. Majority of women I’ve met need to express their pain, they need to talk about their baby they need to feel normal too but their normal is to be a mum.
The same what to say do’s and don’t’s apply but its easier to distract a man in time of grief than it is a woman.