Miscarriage: A Father’s Grief
A father’s grief after a miscarriage is often overlooked. Miscarriage and subsequent pregnancies often center on the emotions of the mother only: the grieving and anxiety of losing a baby, and the nerve-racking experience of becoming pregnant again with a “Rainbow Baby”. A rainbow baby is a baby born after a miscarriage, thus becoming the “rainbow after the storm.”
Sharing Grief With the Husband and Learning To Live With Grief and Joy
Fathers often feel they have to be “strong for the mother,” so they may put their grief on the back burner, all while silently suffering alone. But solitary grieving can take a toll on a marriage, especially during stressful times, like losing a baby.
“Rainbow Mom” Mariah Foster and her husband lost their unborn daughter, Raelynn, late in Mariah’s pregnancy, from a cord accident. She shares their experience and the words of advice from their doctor, who told her to pay attention to how the experience affected not only her, but also her husband and their relationship as a married couple.
“After I lost my daughter, Dr. Litrel asked to see us so he could see how we were doing. His advice was not to try to cover up our grief with antidepressants. He told us to go ahead and scream, yell, even be mad at God – but especially to learn how each other grieves.”
Miscarriage is Hard on Men Too
Mariah said Dr. Litrel told them that the father’s grief is often overlooked, and that he had seen couples divorce after losing a baby because neither understood how the other grieves. “He told me to pay attention to my husband during this time of being sad. He said it’s hard for the man, too – and they grieve in a different way from the woman.
“That conversation opened our eyes. And honestly, the grieving process built on our communication and compromise skills.”
Mariah shares that Dr. Litrel also advised them to ‘talk about our daughter and use her name’, telling us to take time to enjoy each other, so we could accept the loss better and go on with the marriage. He didn’t want us to lose what we had.
He also didn’t want us to try to have another, but just to ‘let it happen’, so he did not prescribe birth control for me.
Smiling at the baby beside her in the stroller, Mariah says, “Eleven months later we ended up having our wonderful Rainbow Baby, Cayson Charles. Cayson means ‘Healer’ in Gaelic,” she explains.
Getting Pregnant Again is Nerve-Racking
Mariah comments that becoming pregnant after a miscarriage is not the purely joyful experience everyone assumes it will be.
“You know, everyone’s excited when you’re pregnant with a rainbow baby, but it’s a lot harder. I was nervous. When I hit nine months and said, “I need to be induced!” I finally ended up having a C-section — and the most beautiful rainbow baby.
“During the pregnancy, Dr. Litrel had us on a strict schedule of seeing doctors and also the specialist. By 29-30 weeks, we were going to the doctor every week.
“Pregnancy with a Rainbow Baby is nerve-racking. You want to feel him every second of the day. When he’s not moving, you’re panicking.”
“The scariest time was at one point, when I slipped and fell at work. I thought at that point I was going to lose him. Dr. Litrel and really, all the medical staff, did everything for us. “They gave me a Doppler (a hand-held monitor) so I could check on Cayson, and seeing him on the screen helped me so much with my anxiety.
“Pregnancy with a rainbow baby is nerve-racking. You want to feel him every second of the day. When he’s not moving, you’re panicking. You lay on your left side, you drink ice water, you try all the tricks the doctors tell you. There were times I went to Northside Hospital and just said, ‘Hey, I just need you to do an ultrasound. I can’t find my baby on the Doppler.’ They were great and really supportive during the entire pregnancy.”
“Losing Raelynn was hard for my husband, and sometimes it still is. He’ll take a picture of Cayson, which is his way of grieving. He’ll say, ‘I want to be with him so much, because sometimes he fills that void.’
When Cayson was crawling at six months, my husband was excited to see him, and he’d say, ‘Wow, Raelynn, look what your little brother is doing!’
Mariah wipes away a tear. “It’s hard to explain how it feels because the grieving never stops. “We actually planted a tree for my daughter, and we watch it grow, and talk about it all the time. We got a bird feeder and all the birds come so we can feed them. It’s really sweet.
“The grievance counselors at Northside are really great and so supportive. On Facebook, there’s a group called Rainbows of Atlanta. When you’re having a hard time — when that anniversary comes up and it’s the week you lost your baby — you can get on that group and post at 4 a.m., and you know someone is going to comment. Someone will be there. It’s so rewarding to see women back each other up. They give advice, and they’re just there.”
Mariah smiles and gives her rainbow baby Cayson (aka the Healer), a kiss. Her eyes glisten, but there is happiness there, too.
After Miscarriage – Stories of Hope
Reading stories of hope from others who have experienced what you’re going through can help you feel not so alone. Here, we share stories from patients who suffered from miscarriage and how they got through it.
Sheila suffered many miscarriages so we sat down with her to get her story and learn what she had to overcome to eventually have three Rainbow Babies.
Jamie shares her story of hope and what helped her keep going.
The following resources are available to help you with the grieving process:
H.E.A.R.T. Strings Support Group – Hope, Empathy, Alliance, Resources and Teamwork