Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

In Consideration of Him December 27, 2012

grief togetherBy Quasi-momma

I once was blind, but now I see, to paraphrase an old hymn.   That pretty much sums up my perception of Hubs feelings about our inability to have a child of our own together.

I’m probably not the first woman to make the mistake of thinking her husband’s lack of visible and expressed emotion meant they were “doing just fine.”  Nor will I be the last.

Men react to loss differently than women. Men have the need to be strong. They don’t like to reflect.  Instead, they act.  I remember after our second pregnancy loss, my parents flew into town to help us through it. During the first few days, Hubs and Pop were just a whirlwind of household projects. It grated on my nerves.  We were supposed to be grieving, and yet there they were painting and replacing fixtures.  By day three I lost it on Hubs.  How dare he take our time of grief and use it as an excuse to take time off to do chores around the house?  What kind of unfeeling jerk was he?  Why wasn’t he as distraught and depressed as I was?

Earlier this year as I started on the path to accepting that “mommyhood” was not in the cards for me we fought again over my need to put some space between me and a pregnant relative.  I begged to be excused from family events.  In the face of his insistence, I lashed out at him in pain and anger.  “You don’t understand,” I hissed. “You’ve got children of your own.  You’ll never know what this feels like.”

I continued to see that way for some time.   But the fact is that he was and is hurting too.  We just hurt in different ways.  It hurts him to see me grieving the loss of a dream.  It hurts him that he can’t do anything to change our circumstance or make our pain go away.  I know he’d do anything to change things if he could. He even tried by helping me look into the only thing that our resources could afford – foster care – and we were both pained to discover that it was not the right option of us either.

I’m now starting to see how badly he wanted us to have children together.  Over time, chinks in his armor are beginning to show.  Sitting in church when the pastor makes reference to his soon to be born daughter, I can both hear and feel him groan inwardly.  At the mall while viewing Christmas trees decorated with pictures and wishes of foster children, I see him choke up just slightly.   When tiny footsteps announce that the children have returned from children’s worship, we exchange sad smiles with each other. And when the inevitable cute baby or “we’re pregnant” commercial graces our television set, I see out of the corner of my eye him slowly extend a middle finger towards the screen if only to make me laugh.

Now that I’ve opened my eyes to these small and different expressions of his sadness and grief, I feel less alone in this journey.  I also feel terrible that I had not seen this in him earlier.  Being at odds with your spouse during this struggle makes the pain deeper for both of you.  I share this in hopes that someone who has experienced the pain of this perceived gap might also see the ways in which their partner also hurts.  After all, you are in this together.

Quasi-Momma (aka: Susan) is living a childless, but not childfree, life as a stepmom.  Her blog, Quasi-Momma, is a collection of her reflections on pregnancy loss, childlessness not by choice, and not-so-blended family life, sprinkled with a little gratitude and lot of heart.  


8 Responses to “In Consideration of Him”

  1. Samantha Says:

    Thank you for this. My husband and I had a big blow-out Christmas Day when the unmarried, not-trying neighbors announced their pregnancy. He thinks I am angry and judgmental; I think he’s being a jerk for not understanding why it hurts. For once, I’d like to see him flick-off the baby commercials on TV. It would make me feel so much better!

  2. Robin Says:

    Thank you for writing this. I know my husband is hurting too but it’s so easy to forget because my grieving involves unexpected, way too often meltdowns involving tears and depression over our miscarriages and loss. His way is just like you write much more subtle and mostly due to his ability to want to “fix” the unfixable. Grieving sucks for everyone, thanks for reminding me to give my husband a break when he’s not emotionally distraught in the way I feel he should be. Instead I want to also recognize these subtleties that show when he needs me most.

  3. Wendy Wallace Says:

    I think it depends on your husband. In discussion with mine, he resolved during his first marriage that he would never have children of his own because his first wife already had children and did not want any more. Then after he got divorced he never expected to remarry someone who did not have children or who would still be young enough to possibly have children. I really have not seen any indication or had him say anything in the last four years since my hysterectomy to give me any indication that he is even a little sad that we can’t have children. Truthfully this has made it so much more difficult for us as a couple because I really believe he doesn’t feel any grief and does not understand my grief.

  4. Jackie Crawford Says:

    My heart goes out anyone who has lost a child in any capacity. My best friend and my sister-in-law each have miscarried multiple times and my heart breaks for them because all they’ve ever wanted was to have a baby and be mothers. Each time it happened, I always fought to find the words to comfort them, until one of my friends told me about a book to get them. It’s called “There Was Supposed To Be a Baby” by Catherine Keating, you can check her and the book on the website I’ve given this book to each of them as a gift and both have said what a wonderful book and comfort it was to them. Thank you for this post, and may you find peace!

  5. eph525 Says:

    I love the idea of flicking off the TV for my wife. Thanks!

  6. Dave Says:

    Interesting site. I’m a male and my partner decided she did not want to have kids. We tried for a while and she changed her mind. I’m left trying to make sense of the whole thing. I think people underestimate the ability of some men to feel just as devastated at the prospect of not having kids when you’ve spent your whole life thinking you would. Women: I totally get it.

  7. shari Says:

    When we realized there were not going to be any children in our lives, we didn’t know how to grieve together. We couldn’t comfort each other. Eventually, he left me because he wanted someone “young and fertile”. It was 4 years before I could even think of dating again. Now, I am at a resigned state of peace.

  8. I can’t tell you how much this resonates with me! Men and women grieve differently and I think men feel the need to be “strong” for us. I will be thinking that he is going through this completely unaffected and then he will turn around a lose it. It doesn’t happen often, though. Thank you for writing this!

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