Friday, April 20, 2012

Ryan's Story -- mourning a life lost and a life changed


Of all the stories I've had the privilege to share, I'm feeling the most honored to share this story -- my husband Ryan's story.

When people began questioning how he feels about my blog, as well as how he and Maddy are handling my grief, he offered to write out our story from his perspective. He wanted to share because he believed that it might help women understand their partner's actions a little better during a loss. He also thought that if men read my blog, they would have a post that they might be able to relate to more.

I agreed with all his reasoning, but secretly, I was just excited because I would finally learn how he was feeling about our loss of Olivia!

I was surprised to learn how differently we have interpreted events, even things that I thought were cut-and-dry.

For instance, our ER Dr. mentioned all of the reasons this pregnancy might not have been viable, but I latched on to the last thing he said, "I'm not giving up hope for this baby." Ryan, on the other hand . . . well, I'll let him tell you what he thought about that.

Thank you, love, for share sharing your story! You are my hero!

Rachel





On Saturday, December 3, 2011 (and I only know that date because I asked Rachel for it), Rachel and I were preparing for a road trip to the wonderful city of Yakima, WA. She was going for work, and I was going because it meant I would get to spend time with her. While I was getting ready . . . ok, while I was procrastinating . . . Rachel decided to show me her positive pregnancy test.

What went through my mind when I saw it was . . . nothing . . . or perhaps everything at once, and it was all so fast that my decidedly slow mental dexterity couldn’t track it.

Excitement for another kid.


Oh wait, how much is this going to cost?


What about sleep?


At least I’m not in school this time.


How much is this going to cost?


If this pregnancy is anything like the last one, this is going to be a rough nine months.


I’m going to have to get a second job to pay for this.


What are we going to do?

Even with all the crazy thoughts going through my mind, I was still excited at the potential for another little rugrat to be crawling around our house. Our trip to Yakima actually turned out to be pretty enjoyable as Rachel and I laid down some dreams and plans for the future. The nice thing was that our house was already set up to receive a 0-2-year-old foster child, so we didn’t have any major furniture expenses to deal with. But the fear of another difficult pregnancy loomed over our heads.


Rachel’s first pregnancy was pretty rough. On top of the midnight trips to the grocery store for whatever she was craving and the puking every time she walked past a trash can, she was plagued with intense morning sickness, was on and off bed rest, and had a couple of scary bleeding episodes. Not to mention the blood pressure and liver issues (HELLP Syndrome) she faced at 37 weeks that resulted in an emergency C-section and a beautiful, healthy, baby girl. I found out later that Rachel in fact could have come close to dying, and we also came close to losing Madelyn.

I really didn’t want the next nine months to be similar to the first pregnancy, and so I hoped and I prayed that Rachel would be well and that I wouldn’t have to wait on her hand and foot for nine months while taking care of Maddy, working full time and running a bicycle repair business on the side.


Everything seemed to be going good . . . too good. Rachel wasn’t sick, just slightly nauseous and only a few smells bothered her. I was happy for Rachel and I really wanted to believe everything was ok, but deep down, it just didn’t feel right. I kept a strong, happy and supportive face for Rachel, but I expected the worst. I just hoped that the worst didn’t mean I would have to choose between my wife and our new baby.


I don’t remember what the date was, but Rachel uncharacteristically called me while I was at work. She told me she was headed to the hospital because she was in a significant amount of pain. I asked her if it was serious and if she thought I needed to leave work to come be with her . . . dumb question. She said I could decide.  I quickly realized I would be a horrible husband if she were in pain at the hospital and I wasn’t there with her because I didn’t want to use any time off and I didn’t want to ride my bike up the ridiculous hills on the way to the hospital.


Rachel had been in the ER for about an hour by the time I got there. We waited another two hours before the doctor came in and nicely explained to us that she probably had an impending miscarriage, but there was a chance that it could be any number of other things. He said Rachel should have her blood drawn Friday and then see her doctor on Monday to either confirm or deny a miscarriage.


Honestly, I was expecting the news. It hurt, but I was expecting it. I was sad, but Rachel was devastated. I didn’t have time to be sad. We still had hope, but our moods were decidedly sour. Two days later, on Friday, Rachel bled a lot and passed some large clots and what we thought might have been the baby. At this point, our hope pretty much disappeared.


The following Tuesday came, and again I received an uncharacteristic midday call from Rachel. This time however, the only words she could get out between gasps and sobs were, “. . . my dad . . . is taking me to the hospital . . .”


I didn’t hesitate this time. I knew I had to get to the hospital. (I also drove my car that morning, so I didn’t have to ride my bike up any hills.) I told my coworkers I was leaving and went to my car. As I was climbing into my car, it hit me . . . my wife really sounded like she could be dying. I was afraid. My best friend could be dying.


At this point, I would like to say I raced off to the hospital, lovingly embraced my wife, we just had a little scare, and little bean-shaped Olivia was fine. But that isn’t how this story goes. Instead I just sat in my car and cried. I was so worried that I might lose Rachel that I froze . . . and I cried. After a few minutes of just sitting in the car with the door wide open, I pulled myself together enough to start the car. I thought at this point it would be good to call my parents and tell them that Rachel was on her way to the hospital. When my dad answered the phone, I just cried. I don’t think I said anything for the first minute or two.


I’m not normally an emotionally expressive person, so to cry on the phone to my dad was rather embarrassing. He handled it well and said he would pray for us and would contact my mom (which was good, because I didn’t really want to do any more crying).


At the hospital, Rachel was waiting to go into surgery and was in obvious pain . . . but she was still alive and to my relief, was expected to live. She had an ectopic pregnancy and her fallopian tube had ruptured causing internal bleeding.


After the surgery, we went home, and for me . . . it was relief. There was finality to our pregnancy. There was no more waiting to find out if the baby was going to live or die, and there weren’t going to be any more trips to the emergency room. We were on to the healing.


But for Rachel, things were very different. And I was very ignorant.


Rachel was doing pretty well for the first couple of days after getting home from the hospital. It wasn’t until the drugs wore off that the devastation and grief hit Rachel. She was experiencing emotions and grief at a level I could only grasp at, let alone try to understand and help her deal with. She shut down. Her actions were mechanical, her interactions were forced and she was depressed beyond anything I had ever seen before. I had no idea what to do.


By nature, I fix things. I love to fix things when they are broken. I run a small bicycle shop out of my garage because I like to fix broken things (and I like bikes, which is a great combination by the way). I get really frustrated when I can’t fix something, especially when I can’t fix it because it doesn’t make sense to me.


That was Rachel. She was broken and I tried to fix her, but she didn’t make any sense to me. So the more I tried, the more frustrated I became. I prayed and I worked to make her “snap out of it.” I was trying to confine her ever-changing grief to a box of my own design and it didn’t work.


Eventually and unfortunately, the frustration came out at the other people in my life: my daughter, my coworkers, and even my family. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t get my wife to just deal with the grief and move on that I would yell at my daughter and hit walls (because that makes sense). I couldn’t yell at my wife because I felt like the tiniest wrong word would send her off the deep-end and I would never get my fun, motivated, strong, and joyful wife back.

When I failed to fix the problem, I became depressed, and I began a new type of mourning. I was mourning for the loss of my wife. There was no hope in the foreseeable future. My mood and my actions became very sour and very bitter. I no longer cared. I just wanted to get away from everything, to go on a vacation from life.


For three months, I struggled to fix my wife and only became more frustrated and depressed. I couldn’t handle the household by myself (at least not while wallowing in self-pity), I turned my back on God, and I was failing to fix my wife. I felt like a failure. I was a failure. My wife needed me, but I couldn’t handle the failure. My daughter needed me, but I didn’t want to lash out at her so I just wasn’t there. I needed my wife and my daughter, but I couldn’t face them without feeling guilty for not fixing things. I needed God, but my failure and guilt were too great a burden for me to lay at his feet.


I would love to say that I just gave up and God fixed everything without me needing to do much, but again, that isn’t how this story goes. I did give up, but I didn’t give up quickly. Eventually I gave up on trying to fit Rachel into my box, and slowly she is finding her own box. I gave up trying to control my family, and slowly I’m getting to know them again. I gave up trying to find the quick solution that would make everything hunky-dory again. And I realized that very few things will ever be the same as they were.


It has been a slow, painful process. In my frustration I have hurt my best friend,  I have hurt my beloved daughter,  and I have hurt myself. But I am very thankful I know an awesome God who forgives even me, an awesome wife who loves me, and a daughter who is not yet old enough to carry a grudge.

Are things perfect now? No. Every day is a new day that brings its own set of problems. We are still dealing with the after-effects of a lost pregnancy, depression, and frustration (not to mention all the things we were dealing with before we even got pregnant), but there is at least some hope. Things are slowly returning to something that at least appears to be “normal,” and we have a few things we are looking forward to.



I feel like every pregnancy loss story is so important and deserves to be told. If you would like to share your story, please email me at renyeart@gmail.com. We can post your story anonymously.

My goal in sharing stories on this blog is:

1) To honor our beloved babies and keep their memory alive.
2) To validate and honor the grief of the moms who have lost their little one.
3) To be a resource to women who are hoping to find someone, somewhere out there, who can relate to their feelings of loss. I hope this blog will be that resource.

23 comments:

  1. Ryan, I am in tears! The love you have for Rachel is so beautiful. Thank you, Ryan for sharing your side.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great writing and so great to hear the father's side. Thank you for sharing Ryan!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The one word, that stuck out for me in your post was HOPE. That word, right there, is the cement/glue/bond-o that holds everything together and up.
    You are a blessing Ryan. Thank you so much for all that you do.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is a blessing to hear Ryan's side of the situation. I know that you two and Maddy have seen some hard times, but it is good to hear of God's grace and mercy in your life as a family.

    You're right, Ryan, that things will never be the same, but by sticking by Rachel's side and supporting her, no matter her mood, you will discover a new "normal", and life will be joyous once more. It may be a while before ya'll get there, but I trust in the Lord's plan for your lives, and I am glad to hear that you, as the leader of your family, do too. It is critical that the man be the head of the household, and take the lead, no matter how good or trying life may get. That is God's design for marriage, and we as wives need to be able to rely on our husbands, even when you are not capable of being strong, but just knowing that you are there for support is sometimes all we need.

    I'm praying for ya'll. -- Stevie

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow. Thank you for sharing your side of grief Ryan. Well written. It has given me insight to what my husband has gone through this past year with our loss.

    ReplyDelete
  6. so honest & real of you ..thank you for sharing your side ..praying that things will level out and your new normal becomes very enjoyable & blessed!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Ryan for sharing your story. I'm also the father to two healthy children born alive and one son that was miscarried. My wife and I were young when we found out that we were expecting a child. We had been married almost two years and were planning on waiting to have children when God allowed us to conceive Peter. We were very anxious about being parents and decided to surprise our families at Christmas with the news about our first child. There were never any signs of problems and we were so excited it was difficult to keep the "secret". We scheduled our first doctor's appointment to confirm that we were nearing the end of our first trimester and we could tell our family at Christmas. The morning of the appointment my wife woke up in pain and we panicked when we realized what was happening. That Doctor's appointment didn't turn out the way we'd planned. He confirmed the loss of our son and told us to rest, take care of ourselves and that there would be other chances of having a baby. Don't try so hard, was his words to us. Grief set in for me and it was the most miserable Christmas of our lives. We were three days away from Christmas when we lost our child. God healed our hurts but the scar is still there after all these years. We are grateful for our children but we can't wait to met our son one day when we arrive in Heaven.. In the years since losing Peter, we've lost our parents as well. It's comforting to know that they are in Heaven with Peter and enjoying their first grandson. I just wanted to share too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I really enjoyed hearing both sides of the story. I want you to know that I am pro-choice, as the labels go, but also pro-life. I've always felt a deep sorrow for miscarriages, and I remember very vividly as a young girl, my mother telling me about the child she lost before between me and my brother. We would sit and debate names, what our family would have looked like if it had been a boy or if it had been a girl. But what I remembered most was how my mom helped other women in our church community at the time grieve their own losses. She was the only woman I ever knew who openly discussed it and offered support. I remember she explained to me one time how she created a "grieving box" for each child and helped other women create one. She said you put in the things you collected for them, wrote letters, put their name there, put your tears there. Much like a funeral, you created a space to remember them, to honor them. I have sharp memories of watching her sit in pews with women as they shared their boxes and cried together. It was my mom's own private work, her own way of offering support. And I've always held that experience of being a young girl bearing witness to these grieving rituals in deep respect in my heart. I know it hurts deeply, as all goodbyes must. I hope this story can to, perhaps, be of use in your healing. In Harmony, Anonymous

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I too am middle of the road and see both sides of choice and life. Besides what The Scriptures say about judging others; I am reminded of what Pastor Joyce Meyer says, "You know, what you know; and you don't know, what you don't know." I have absolutely no idea what it's like, or what is going on in the heart and head, of someone faced with abortion. And having worked with so many in healthcare--I can say with confidence that most men who are faced with the life of their wife or child--will choose their wife. Like I said, we have no idea unless we've been in someone's shoes...Anyhow, I love the idea of the grieving box! I might borrow the idea, (so thank your mom too!), when I work with my clients. It is much like a funeral, or a naming ceremony (of which I participated in for mine). It really helps with closure and especially acceptance. Blessing to you.

      Delete
  9. Thank you so much for sharing. I had a miscarriage two years ago and haven't been able to get pregnant since. It is nice to know how my fiancé might have been feeling and is still feeling through the situation.

    ReplyDelete
  10. My husband was amazingly strong, saying he must be for me - never crying in front of me, being my rock through each surgery, and holding me through the countless crying spells with each one of our 4 miscarriages. It always touched my heart when I later found my baby books in odd places where he had hidden anything to remind me of my pain. But I never knew what was going on in his head. I never knew how he felt and always wondered if he was sorry he didn't choose another who could give him children. Your story gives me clarity. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Very Familiar with all Of this. My Wife And I Lost Two Children About Three Years Ago. Our Whole Family Would Sit And Pray That God Would Send Us Another Baby. Especially My Daughter Who Was About 8 or 9 @ the Time...she prayed More Than Us All For A Baby Sister. The Joy On hr Face When we Told Her we Were Pregnant Was Priceless. The Realization That God hears And Responds To Our prayers Was For My Little Girl A Pinnacle moment In Her Own Faith...then My Wife Began Having complications That Ultimately Led To A Miscarriage. My Wife Recovered Fairly Well...it Was My Daughter I Worried More about. She Had Concluded That This Was Gods doing as If Somehow He Was Playing a Cruel Joke On He. Answering Her Prayers Only To Take It Back. I Was Dealing With A Child Who Was not Only Grieving Her Baby Brother Or Sister But Even More Importantly Her God. It Took Time But Eventually She Would Come To Understand That The God She Was Blaming Was The God Providing Her Comfort In Her Own Grief. Thank You For Being A Voice For Grieving Fathers.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for your story. I had a miscarriage in September 2013. I was around 7 weeks and passed everything at home. Some how managed to get through that loss with the hopes of trying again. I became pregnant sometime November 2013. I had an ultrasound around 6 weeks, and again at 8 weeks, everything was fine, our baby had a heartbeat. Approaching 12 weeks, I woke up to go to the bathroom, I saw a good amount of blood and thought I was dreaming. I had to wake my husband for him see, because I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I had very little cramping and no pain. After speaking to my doctor I was reassured that bleeding can be normal and since I wasn't having pain the doctor stated everything was probably fine. I already had an ultrasound scheduled anyways a few days later. For the next 2-3 days after bleeding I felt like something was wrong. My gut told me I was no longer pregnant, all my symptoms were gone....that quick. I still had hope that we would go to our appt and see a healthy heartbeat, unfortunately my instinct was right. I just didn't want to believe it, as we stared at the screen and saw this little baby with no heartbeat. I asked the sonographer to do a transvaginal ultrasound...just to make sure...I had to have a D&E 3 days later. It has been 3 weeks and I still can't believe it happened again. I accepted the first loss, but just didn't anticipate another loss 4 months later. Even though I know this happens to many, I can't escape the feeling of loneliness. My husband is so supportive, despite the fact I've unintentionally have been selfish by not asking how he's doing. I've been so sad since our recent loss, I feel like I will not come out of this depression. I feel guilty for the bitterness towards those who are expecting. I was glad to see your wife's post as well. To hear, "at least it happened early, or..just be grateful you have a healthy child already, or..it was just bad luck, you can still try again"....is so frustrating. Especially coming from people I know that are pregnant. Again I don't mean to be selfish, but I avoid anyone pregnant...I just can't deal....but each day is a new day, and I just try to get through it. I'm a pediatric nurse in a private practice, so I'm constantly reminded of our loss with the many pregnant mothers or newborns and the coworkers that are expecting. Thank you again for sharing, I know we are not alone.
    Kimberly

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's hard when there is unequal grieving. Our pregnancy was planned, and I really wanted another baby, but I rebounded from the loss within a few months... my husband did not. Exact same event, but we processed it so very differently. I'm a farmers daughter and I'm used to seeing pregnancy loss and newborn loss. It happens very regularly in the animal world. It is completely normal, and I internalized that lesson as a very young age. While I never wanted to experience it first hand, I already understood it at a deep level. It just is. Plain and simple. No one's fault. You cry and you move on.

    He did not have that life experiences to help him cope. I had trouble understanding how upset he was since it happened primarily to me... to my body. He was not the only who had to be rushed to the ER because he was having trouble breathing from the excessive blood loss. The guy isn't supposed to be the more emotional one. Likewise, he had trouble understanding why I was so calm. Didn't I care about our baby? Everyone is different. We feel what we feel. The only thing we can do is to let the other people involved feel differently, and to try to understand them the best we can.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you so much for sharing your side of the story. My husband and I have gone through 4 miscarriages in the last 3 years. And there have been times when I don't know what my husband is thinking about this. As we are still plugging along and working with a specialist, I tend to forget about what his thoughts are. Not saying that I will immediately do that all the time after reading this post, but I will make an effort. We both have our different battles dealing with our grief. But now I hope we have a better understanding. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  16. (I hope you'll forgive me, I posted this on your wife's post, but with over 1,000 comments, I hoped by posting here you might see it.)

    Let me begin by saying I am a Catholic Priest, and I saw your blog as someone shared it on Facebook. On behalf of our Church, I want to sincerely apologize for any clergy who did not value your precious gift of a child for the short time you carried that little boy or girl.

    It is unfortunate, although often grace filled, that I somewhat frequently encounter women and couples not long after they learn they have miscarried. I always offer and encourage families to think seriously about having a funeral for the baby, as it gives everyone a while to acknowledge that child was a real person and gives them a time and place to grieve.

    Only a few months ago, I got a 2am phone call from the hospital, that a 19 year old girl and her 19 year old boyfriend were having a miscarriage. I rushed to the hospital to find her holding her little boy. I cannot imagine their pain, but I could certainly see it in their eyes. At the same time though, as I walked along with that family, we put an obituary in the paper for her little boy. (Most newspapers will post obituaries for miscarriages if you ask) Then, a day or two later, we celebrated a funeral for that baby in the Church. The couple's friends and family came, we brought some of our funeral choir, and did everything we would do for any other funeral.

    Then, our local support group for miscarriage, infertility, adoption revocation, and pregnancy related issues, Elizabeth Ministries, came to the funeral, let the mom and dad know who they were, hugged her, and told mom and dad they had been there, and let her know, any time, day or night, please call any of them if they needed to talk.

    I only wish more Churches could understand how common and how tragic miscarriage really is. Thank you Rachel, your blog is an answered prayer. To anyone else who reads this. If the day comes, if you feel strong enough, and if you attend a Church, please ask what your Church does and offer to help. I could visually see the cloud lift from those two 19 year olds. The pain was still there, but they knew they were not alone.

    ReplyDelete
  17. We lost a baby at 6 months. I was devastated. I am so glad to hear the emotions you went through as a husband. My husband was always very strong for both of us. One day, though, many months after my miscarriage, we were just driving down the freeway listening to the radio. I looked over and saw that my husband had big tears running down his cheeks. When I asked why, he kept looking straight ahead at the road and answered, "I was just thinking about Hailey." It was only then that I realized the pain was still there for him as well. He was very patient with my depression and grief. Looking back, I feel very selfish with my pain. I wanted him to hug me, comfort me, and be sad with me. He did. I thought our pain was identical. I realize it was not. It was very moving to me, Ryan, to hear you talk so sweetly about your "best friend," your wife, and how so much of your concern was over her well-being. I think all we "moms" can think about is the well-being of our child. After I lost Hailey, all I wanted to do was go to heaven to be with her. It was very difficult to focus on life here. It was the first time in my life my "citizenship" switched from this world to heaven. My husband is in heaven now, too, and I look forward to being with them again for all eternity! The pain we experienced together through my miscarriage made me feel closer to my husband than ever. I understand it is such a great pain that it oftentimes tears couples apart. My baby was as fully human and loved as my then 2-year old toddler was. I have never thought about the pro-life movement and thinking of those lost babies as "more valuable" somehow than my miscarried child. But, I understand it and I do see it in the Christian community. I was expected to "get over it and get on with my life" quickly and soon no one wanted to hear about my loss. I needed to grieve and take the time to mourn my baby. I applaud you and your wife and this discernment. The glorious truth is that miscarried children, as well as aborted children, are being cared for right now by God himself. One day, we will all have the opportunity to love, nurture, and enjoy our child. The grief will be erased and our loss will be redeemed. God will make everything alright - to His glory and to our satisfaction! God bless you. I grieve with you your three precious children. How very blessed your eternity will be! I can't wait to meet my sweet Hailey.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Beautiful to hear it from a man's side. Now I know what my friend's husband must have gone through when she miscarried. My friend had been in complete despair and her physical health was very effected as well. She was extremely weak for about a month and needed him in ways I can only imagine. I think I tried to fix my friend in some ways too and that was a mistake that I have vowed never to make again. btw here is another good miscarriage post I found http://stitchthebest36.deviantart.com/art/How-a-miscarriage-effected-my-being-pro-life-427100834 that you and your wife may like.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It's so nice to see a man write about miscarriage. I've lost 5 babies to miscarriage and it probably took me a month or more with each one before I didn't spend most of the day in tears. My husband's way of dealing with it was to pretend it never happened. I named the babies alone. He never did and still does not call them by name. He said it's easier for him to just forget, not that he's bad, but that is his way of dealing with it. It just hurt much the worse for me because I felt like he was saying it never happened. No one in my life, save for my (traditional) Catholic priest gave me any comfort. He was amazing and showed me the Church's teachings on miscarriage and how our children go to limbo and are eternally happy there and know and love their parents eternally, regardless of the fact that we have not met. Another one of our priests helped us bury the remains of the only child who was big enough to have a visible body. What a comfort it is to have a simple tombstone in place! To have proof that a miscarried child existed. :) I am glad you gave your wife time to grieve and didn't try to force her out of it in the end. I am so sorry for your losses!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I lost 4 babies. 3 due to miscarriage and one that was going through heart failure in utero. It took a long time for me to heal. I won't say get over because you never really get over it. It's been 9 years since I lost my first and sometimes I still think about her. She would have been my only girl. It's nice to hear the story of the loss of a child from a man's point of view. When we were told that are child was dying it was one of the few times I saw my husband cry. And although he seemed to take it better than me I know it hurt him too.

    ReplyDelete
  21. God bless you for your witness and testimony.

    I send you my most recent column here about a miscarriage my wife and I had a couple of years ago.

    More people need to talk about this in order to heal and know we aren't alone in our pain, sorrow and eventual understanding that God's will is what's best for us all.

    God bless!

    Rey Flores

    http://thewandererpress.com/frontpage/honoring-the-dignity-of-our-miscarried-children/

    ReplyDelete

There was an error in this gadget