11 Things Every Grown-Ass Man Does After An Infant Or Pregnancy Loss
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I knew I would need certain things from my partner. I would need his support and I would need him to rub my back when I was throwing up (always) and I would need him to remind me that I could, in fact, handle being a mother. What I didn't realize, what I never imagined realizing, was that I would need my partner to do all the things every grown-ass man does after an infant or pregnancy loss. I didn't want to need these things from him and I didn't want to experience this with him, but we did and, thankfully, his willingness to be a grown-ass man during arguably one of the most difficult moments in our lives, allowed us to continue with my pregnancy and, eventually, welcome our healthy, thriving son into the world.
At 19 weeks, I lost one of our twin sons. His heart simply stopped beating. In an attempt to save our remaining son, I had to carry the body of my diminished twin, and my still kicking, still growing son, up until the day I went into labor. I birthed a son who would take a breath, and a son that wouldn't. I experienced pregnancy and infant loss, and the miracle of life, simultaneously. While I needed space and time to heal (directly after we lost our twin and even after we brought our son home) I also needed my partner to go through the loss with me. I needed him to take time for himself and heal from the loss he was experiencing, even though he wasn't the one who was pregnant and he wasn't the one who had to give birth. I knew that he was just as devastated as I was, and being a grown-ass man meant that he wouldn't be afraid or ashamed to express those feelings and, subsequently, remind me that I wasn't alone.
There is no "one way" to heal from a pregnancy or infant loss and there are countless things couples, both together and apart, do to get through such a difficult time. However, there are things a grown-ass man can do to help not only his partner heal, but help himself heal, too.
He Doesn't Downplay His Partner's Feelings...
Whether the pregnancy loss happened days (or even hours) after she found out she was pregnant or she was near her due date or went through labor and delivery, a loss is a loss is a loss. No matter what you, or your partner, have been through prior to experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss, her (and your) pain is real.
Even though my partner had lost people in his life prior to the loss of our twin son, he never downplayed my feelings or told me to "suck it up" or reminded me that other people have experienced death on a more frequent basis. He made my feelings feel valid and me, entitled to them and while a little perspective was (sometimes) necessary, it was helpful to know that my partner didn't think I was dramatic or weak, because I was hurting.
...And Doesn't Downplay His, Either
There is a lot of focus on mothers when they experience a pregnancy or infant loss, and rightfully so. Often times, it is their bodies that carried the baby they lost; their hormones affected; their emotional states shattered. However, just because a cisgender male can't physically carry a pregnancy (or experience a pregnancy loss) doesn't mean he doesn't experience pain and heartache and sadness, too. A grown-ass man isn't going to subject himself to toxic masculinity, which essentially forbids him to be sad or experience and express his emotions.
The first time I heard my partner cry, it was when I had to call him and tell him that we had lost one of our twin sons. It pained me to hear, and later see, him hurt, but it also humanized a strong, steadfast man, and reminded me that I wasn't going through this loss alone.
He Researches Support Groups And Other Resources
There are so many resources and support groups available to couples that have experience pregnancy or infant loss. While I think it is both partners' responsibility to find those resources, it can be difficult to summon the strength (and wrap your mind around your inescapable reality) in order to do so. I suggest taking turns, that way this necessary step doesn't become a burden for one, specific person.
He Understands That Mourning Is Important...
It is painful and it sucks and it can feel overwhelming and your eyes swell and you can't breath and you feel alone and lost, but it's so necessary. Mourning is difficult, but it's necessary. The only way you and your partner can get through a pregnancy or infant loss, is to sit through that sadness and process your pain. My partner gave me the time and space to do so, and he made sure he did the same, too.
...And That Everyone Mourns Differently
There is no "right" way to mourn. There's just, not. Some people cry and some people spend time alone and some people need to be surrounded by other people and some people put a loss behind them quickly. Some people don't want to talk and some people absolutely have to vocalize their emotions.
My partner and I processed our loss very differently. I wanted to sit in my sadness and focus on our loss and really feel it. My partner wanted to put it behind him as quickly as possible. I needed time alone, while my partner wanted us to spend more time together. Sometimes these very different needs posed a problem, but we learned how to give one another what we needed in order to mourn in a way that benefited both ourselves as a couple, and ourselves as individuals.
He Goes Through The Feelings Of Loss With His Partner...
Whatever you do, don't leave our partner to process the loss along because she's "the woman" and she was the one who was pregnant and she is somehow the only person who is feeling pain. Please.
...But Takes Time For Himself, And Understands That His Partner May Need The Same
At the same time, remember that it is important for yourself (and probably your partner) to take time for yourselves and focus on yourselves, and not your relationship. Because loss can affect us all different, you need to make sure that you're OK first. You can't help someone until you help yourself.
He Doesn't Insist On Getting Pregnant Right Away...
This honestly depends on both you and your partner, but a pregnancy or infant loss can fill your partner with doubt and exhaustion and fear, and that can make even the idea of getting pregnant again, difficult to comprehend. Of course, every couple and every person is different, and there are plenty of couples who want to get pregnant right away, as it helps them heal and move on. In the end, the most important thing is to discuss it with your partner, and make sure you give your partner time to heal before you start considering pregnancy.
...Because It Might Take Time For His Partner To Feel Comfortable Trying
I can't speak for every woman (or any woman that isn't, you know, me) but my son is nearing two years old and I still feel uncomfortable when I think about getting pregnant again. Our twin pregnancy was so difficult and heartbreaking, that I don't want to put myself in the position to feel that kind of loss again. It can be difficult to get over those fears and truly enjoy pregnancy, so it is paramount that you talk with your partner.
He Knows That Pregnancy And Infant Loss Is, Sadly, Common
Unfortunately, 1 in 4 women will experience pregnancy or infant loss. In 2014, it was reported that the United States was the only developed country with a rising infant mortality rate. Sadly, pregnancy and infant loss are common, and while those statics aren't meant to devalue your feelings or police your emotions, it's important to remember that you're not alone. People may not talk about a miscarriage or infant loss as openly and to the point that you realize you're part of a community, but you're definitely not alone.
He Doesn't Assume It Doesn't Affect Him, Just Because He's A Man
Don't let outdated and dangerous gender stereotypes keep you from feeling whatever it is you're feeling. Don't think that you have to manifest yourself into some steadfast pillar of strength, just because you identify as a man. Your feelings are valid and your feelings matter and you're more than allowed to express them. Trust me, your partner will thank you for it.