Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Divided by Two

Did you ever notice how "marriage" and "miscarriage" are so similar in appearance, or is it just me? Marriage is just an "-isc" away from a spontaneous abortion (hate that word!). Maybe it stands for Infertility Sucks Coalition? DH and I are definitely two unfortunate members of that club.

When it comes to miscarriage, I know it can do one of two things to your marriage. (1) It can bring you closer to your partner, or (2) it can create a barrier between the two of you. Or maybe it can cause a little of both.

The loss of a child can force you to lean on your partner in this trying time. The baby was a tiny person, created through an expression of love by the both of you. Even if the baby was the result of medical intervention such as IUI or IVF, it is through love (and hope and faith and perhaps a miracle) that the baby existed. And the loss of your mutual creation makes it only natural to seek solace in each other. Who would understand THIS loss better than your significant other? A friend or family member may have experienced miscarriage and loss but they aren't living through THIS one right now. And many of our friends and family members who have miscarried have gone on to have perfectly healthy children. NONE of them have experienced recurrent loss or the fear that you may NEVER have biological children. And try as they might to relate, only my husband was there with me through the entire process. Trying actively for 15 months - not including the years of not preventing. Charting and taking my temp every morning at 7am. Scheduling BD accordingly. Taking pills and scheduling doctors' appointments. Seeing 2 pink lines. Seeing the heartbeat on the u/s. Shopping for baby gear and maternity wear. Then, of course...the bleeding...and the inevitable news that followed. He was the only one there to hold me and cry along with me as we fought to comprehend what had happened and where we go from here. And he was the only one I wanted. Only we knew each others' pain.

On the other side of the coin, the loss can become the elephant in the room. The thing that you don't discuss and try to ignore, even though it impossible to miss. You suffer silently in your own ways. Perhaps you don't want to burden your partner with your feelings since you know they are having a hard time too. Or perhaps you feel resentment or guilt. "My body has let him down again. It's my fault." Or you think, "I'm the one that is bleeding and passing clots. My feeling of loss is more significant. It affects me more." It becomes a competition for who hurts the most. And there is no prize for "winning". Then again, maybe the two of you just have nothing to say and you don't even know where to begin to communicate. And so the days go by, and you become more and more distant from each other. You go on living but the elephant is still there and growing larger by the minute. Creating more and more space between where you are and where you want to be.

I am finding it hard to figure out which category my husband and I are in right now.

With our first loss, we were on completely different pages. From the get go, it looked as though the pregnancy was not viable. He never became attached and he never really believed we would hold the baby in our arms. Hopeful dreamer/naive one that I was really thought it COULD happen. My numbers were going up - not doubling but going up. And I was spotting, but just a little. Not even enough to warrant a pantyliner. I allowed myself to dream and bond with our unborn child. Until the bleeding got worse and I was blindsided by the reality of the situation.

He couldn't understand why I would lock myself in our bathroom and weep until I could no longer breathe. He told me that "life goes on" and that I couldn't live in the past. Basically to just get over it. It wasn't that easy, of course. But I felt so alone during this time. The one person that I thought would understand, didn't. And if that wasn't enough, my SIL announced her pregnancy that same week. DH would act so happy to hear their news and I would just break down. Why didn't he care about our baby? Why is it so easy for him to just move on? Even when she gave birth to Savannah 9 months later, DH stayed in the room and held the baby while I ran out into my safe haven, the hospital bathroom, to ball my eyes out. Our angel was the elephant in the room. I had to come to accept the loss on my own terms, realizing that DH would never feel the same grief I felt. And eventually, I gathered the courage to try again.

With this second loss, we relied on each other. When the ER doc came in and told us "it's not looking good", our eyes both welled up with tears. And DH is not a "cryer." As a matter of fact, I could count on one hand the number of times he has cried. I knew he was hurting as much as I was. We just held each other and let it out, as our hopes and dreams crumbled to the floor. Four weeks have gone by and I notice DH is still troubled. Last night, he snapped at me for something really stupid and I just had to ask him what was wrong. He confided in me that he is "tired of trying" and he feels hopeless. The guys at work talk about their kids and he is sad that he can't join in. He asked me why things are always harder for us than they need to be. All of which I could totally empathize with. And then I heard the kicker: "I don't think you understand." And it just broke my heart.

How could I NOT understand after all we've been through?

I don't think I ever mentioned that DH started a new job. I forget if I did or not. But he just started 3 weeks ago. And he is making a ton more money but of course, has more responsibility. He loves it there so far but I know he is exhausted. Starting a new job is hard enough without having to deal with a loss on top of it. Not to mention he is 2 weeks away from finishing up his Masters' degree. I try to support him through all of his endeavors, and push him when he doesn't feel like he can do it himself. And with this miscarriage, I've tried to communicate how I'm feeling and let him know where I stand. I've told him many times about how I know this hurts him too and that we need to lean on each other when the pain becomes unbearable. What am I doing wrong to make him think I don't understand? So, not only has my body failed him but I'm now somehow failing him as a wife?

I feel like we are divided in half when we should be one. What if he decides he no longer wants to try for children when I am still willing to go the distance? Where do I draw the line? Should I insist that we keep going until we are both financially/emotionally out of steam or should I stop when he says he is done?

He said he just doesn't think he can handle another loss. Neither do I but I'm trying to stay positive and I'm ready to try again. So, what am I to do? I reiterated the testing that I am undergoing so we can try to get some answers. But I just don't know what to say to comfort him. And I feel like there is a wedge between us that is too heavy for me to push away.

I'm not saying that I am afraid our road will lead to the dreaded D-word. We are both pretty adamant about staying true to our marriage vows. I'm just scared. I'm scared that I am hurting my best friend. I'm scared of another loss that will confirm his fears. I'm scared of never being able to give him the family that he deserves. I'm scared he will resent me for not being able to carry a child and will later wish he had chosen someone else. I'm scared to be divided from the one person I love most in this world.


Natalie said...

*big huge hugs* It breaks my heart to see you go through this. I can't imagine how hard it is on your marriage. Infertility is hard enough, but a loss like that... I just can't imagine. I'm sure you two will find some kind of commmon ground and decide where to go from here. It might just take time. But you're strong, Kristen. You'll get through it, a little at a time.

chicklet said...

Ugh. All this shit's so hard without adding work stress, school stress, and marriage stress on top. I don't think you're failing him as a wife though, I just think boys do things their own way and that's probably what he's doing. Boys are stupid none-the-less, but maybe he won't be able to talk about this in the same time as you - he'll open up months from now when he's got some distance from the emotion? Hang in there.

r_is_moody said...

Kristen, i typed this comment twice and didn't like what i said. I guess all i can say is that I'm sorry that you are having to go through all of this too. M/c is so much more than just the loss of a baby.


Trish said...

Seems we're walking a similar path. I also miscarried (still am, actually) this month and my husband also just started a new job.
He literally had to take off a couple of hours his THIRD DAY of work to go with me because I'd started bleeding.

I think that anything this hard does both. Draws us together and pulls us apart. It pulls us apart individually, so it would only make sense that we aren't at full speed together, either.

IF and Miscarriage are huge, huge, huge stressors on a marriage. And the pain is still very fresh and very raw. Give him some time.

We were the same way. He was sad about our first loss but he didn't seem as devastated. Yes, it sucks, but we'll do it again and it'll be fine. That was his POV.
Me, I was a horrid wreck. Couldn't eat, couldn't sleep.. It was awful.

This time, he was the one who took it the hardest. I was so scared to bond with this baby because I was scared of feeling the way I did last time. Plus my numbers weren't great and things were following the same path as the first one.

He's expressed being tired, scared of being hurt again..
which is how I felt after the first one. But eventually, you muster up some more strength and move on.
I think your husband will, too. I'll pray that he does, anyway..

Good luck to you.

Kami said...

My husband and I started going to grief counseling after we lost our son and one of the benefits is we (with the help of the third party) got a better understanding how each of us grieve and what we could do to support each other. I can't recommend it enough.

One of the many eye openers: My husband needs quiet time and space when he is sad - so he was giving me space. I need lots of attention so I was giving him lots of attention. We were trying to help based on what we thought the other needed, but we were really giving exactly the opposite.

I am sorry you and your husband are having such a tough time. With communication, time and maybe a little help, you will find a way to get through this together. I hope you get some answers from your tests as well.

Amy R said...

I'm sorry Kristen. IF seems to bring couples closer and drives them apart simultaneously. I've been experiencing that big time in my own marriage. With regards to your DH, I think we just all handle grief differently. Based on your writings, m/c #1 didn't seem to affect him as much as you. But with this second one, it seems as if everything is now beginning to hit him. Please don't think that you are failing as a wife. Don't even go there with yourself. Just like it took time with you for wanting to try again, its the same for him I bet. It'll just take a bit of time for him to heal.

Hugs to you and I hope you are feeling better today (Wednesday).

Sherry said...

Hey Kristen

Found your blog through stirrup queens' "lost and found" page . . . I so identified with this post. Unfortunately the merry go-round of recurring losses can be rough on your marriage. There's a definite pattern to it - with many valleys to endure.

My best advice (or feel free to disregard as assvice) is to keep talking to each other. Don't let things go unsaid - but at the same time don't be afraid to ask for space or give it when you or dh may need it.

I know, its a delicate dance -here's hoping you will be moving more in step with each other soon.

Feel free to email me or stop by my blog if I can be of any support to you...

Sticky Bun said...

I'm so sorry you're going through any of this right now. And, it is so hard on you both, although it hits everyone at different times and in different ways. I agree with Amy--it just takes time to heal and it sounds like your hubby needs a bit more time this time around.

I hope you're feeling better, and I'm thinking of you...

Caro said...

This post describes so well some of my feelings.


tipsymarie said...

I know what you mean. I think when my husband says I don't understand, he means I don't understand what it means for him. And I guess I don't - just like he doesn't know what it's like to go through treatments and miscarriages.
It is so very hard on a marriage, but it sounds like the two of you are talking about it, which is the most important thing.

Drowned Girl said...

Just saying hi as I see you were looking for other recurrent miscarriers..


Grateful Always said...

I just hope that through this process the both of you have a perfect pregnancy resulting in a child. All of this then will seem so worth it. It's hard though. We went through a similar experience, and somehow I feel as though I have grieved alone. I say take it one day at a time. Love one another... Hugs

Kathy V said...

I came via the creme. Wow! alot to digest through. Very meaningful though. I think you are right. Sometimes it seems as though the "isc" pulls us closer together and other times it seems as though it pushes us apart. It is a constant struggle. Thanks again for such a moving post.

Jen said...

This really hit home for me. I think my husband and I went through both of those different emotional places. Thank you for writing this.