So based upon the title many of you can probably guess what this post is about. I hope you will forgive me in going to a bit of the personal and not a finance topic today. I am writing this with the full knowledge and permission of Mrs. ROB. It has been a tough few weeks for us and it is one of the reasons why I haven’t posted as much on this blog and really haven’t done any writing at all over the past few weeks. I wanted to write this primarily because there are a variety of articles regarding miscarriages, grieving and women, but not many articles on men. Don’t get me wrong I am not trying to detract from the pain that women feel and Mrs. ROB is going through, but I wanted to give a male perspective on the subject.
A Little Background
Readers of this blog know that we in the ROB household have been trying to be parents for quite some time now. In fact, I would say that I have wanted to be a parent for over a decade. It is probably one of the reasons my marriage to my ex ended because she didn’t want to have kids. Mrs. ROB is totally different. She wants to have children and is willing to consider a number of options. We have been trying to have kids the natural way really for the past five years or so. We have also explored adoption, but we preferred to try the natural route as our first option.
I have chronicled our journey through IVF in a few different posts (here, here, here, and here). After going through four different IUI treatments we finally got permission from our doctor to begin the IVF process, which we started in July.
Let me just here complement my wife. She was trooper through the whole thing. She was fantastic and did everything the doctors told her to do before, during, and after the treatments.
Anyway, the treatments involved a month of birth control pills, a month of injections of various medicines, and then came time for the egg retrieval and my contribution. In August, we found out that we had pretty good success. We actually had six embryos that were created and three that were deemed to be pretty good (they weren’t late bloomers like two of them were).
We implanted three of these embryos on the third day of the retrieval. Prior to this we had explored the option of what is called PGS or Pre-Genetic Screening. Apparently, PGS helps test whether or not the embryos are healthy enough because most miscarriages are presumed to be because of anomalies with chromosomes. Where health insurance doesn’t cover IVF, PGS appears to be pretty normal. Our good friend had PGS done and is one of the reasons why she had a happy, healthy little girl. For us, PGS is an extra expense. It is not covered by insurance and our doctor didn’t recommend it for reasons we are still unsure.
So we didn’t have PGS done ahead of time, but we implanted three embryos and began what is called the two-week wait. You basically have to wait two weeks to determine if we were pregnant or not. I fully admit that toward the end we did take a pregnancy test early (and it was positive). We had a blood test scheduled and found out later in the day (this is late August/early September) that Mrs. ROB was indeed pregnant.
To say that we were excited was an understatement. We called our parents, told close friends, and parts of our family, but we didn’t want to announce it to the world quite yet. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops I was so excited. Here I had been waiting for this moment in my life for over a decade and it seemed like it was only a few months away.
Now they did caution us to not get too excited because the first trimester is the most difficult and you never know what could happen. Well that didn’t happen. Actually, the reason why we know about some of the problems in our basement is because we started fantasizing about redoing it to create extra room for the kid.
I can’t speak for my wife (I know she did) but I started looking up all kinds of stuff: strollers, cribs, bags, toys, bassinets, etc. We talked about how we were going to redo two of the bedrooms upstairs to create an office/guest room and one and make the office the nursery. We talked about different furniture to buy. We even bought one piece of baby clothing item because all seemed to be going well.
My wife had all of the “normal” signs of pregnancy. She had severe morning sickness for a bit (which I guess is good). She was tired, sore, etc. It was great (and I say that tongue-in-cheek).
About five weeks in, we had our first ultrasound because the doctors were concerned that my wife’s hormones levels weren’t progressing like they should. We went in for the ultra sound really scared, but there was our child on the screen about the size of a grain of rice. The doctor gave us both a picture of the ultrasound (I still have my copy in my wallet). However, the doctor wanted to monitor the progress of the baby.
The following week my wife went in and got to see the heartbeat for the first time. While the baby seemed a little underdeveloped the heartbeat was strong. I fully admit I spent hours googling different levels, measurements at certain times, etc, all in the hopes of reassuring myself that everything was going to be ok.
So the following week we had another ultrasound. I didn’t get to see my child’s heartbeat the last time so I was really excited to be there for this one.
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t get the chance.
When the doctor was conducting the ultrasound and didn’t say anything I could just tell something was wrong. I could feel Mrs. ROB tense up. And after what seemed like forever the doctor stated she felt a heartbeat, but it was maternal. In other words, we had lost the baby. My wife had miscarried.
My Feelings Afterward
After receiving the news I know that we were both devastated. I could see the look on my wife’s face and all I wanted to do was make the pain go away. I think I was in shock at that moment because while I got a little teary I didn’t cry as much as I expected. In fact, I think I made myself numb to the whole thing. I didn’t know what to think. Here was this wonderful event that we had both wanted and been waiting for for years and it was taken away.
I can’t imagine the pain that my wife was going through. Not only emotional, but physical. I would have done and would do anything to take that pain away from her.
For the past two weeks I have run the gamut of emotions. I remember getting in the car and not sure how I drove myself to work. I think I missed time in there somewhere. I know I screamed at the top of my lungs when I was by myself.
I told my students what had happened and they were great. We told our families and some close friends and they were great as well. My dad was really upset. And when my dad is upset (he is very stoic) you know that it is a true loss. He kept saying he didn’t know what to do and I told him there was nothing that he could do.
And that was the truth of it. There was nothing anyone could do. It was no one’s fault. I know the statistics and I know that miscarriages happen, particularly for women over 40, but I thought we could beat the odds (and the odds weren’t bad). My wife did everything right. So it was no one’s fault, but I couldn’t help but think about what if.
For example, the day after my wife heard the heartbeat we flew to a wedding. I wondered to myself if we hadn’t flown would everything be ok.
I felt/feel out of control. I don’t know what to do. My natural inclination when I see a problem is to fix it. I can’t fix this. I can’t do anything except try to be there for Mrs. ROB and grieve on my own. But I don’t know what that is supposed to look like. I feel like I should be more upset, more reserved, more whatever. I feel helpless and I HATE that feeling. That is probably why I want to get out of debt so much because I feel out of control in my own life.
I think the biggest sense of loss I have is in imagining the life that could have been. A colleague friend of mine brought that up to me. You let yourself imagine what it is going to be like. I imagined midnight feedings, Christmases, going to Disney World, helping them with their homework (not even sure I could), disciplining them, thinking about their milestones and wanting to see them. Because I am into personal finance I started budgeting things about with regards to diapers, food, college education, etc. Yes, I know I got ahead of myself, but I can’t help it and I actually liked it. I mean it freaked me out a bit, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
And when you realize this life you have created for yourself in your head won’t happen it takes every ounce of my being from screaming at the top of my lungs why.
I fully admit I was angry with God.
I mean I am a good person. I try to do the right thing. I take care of my family. I try to be a good friend, husband, brother, uncle, etc, but the one thing that I wanted in life more than anything always seems to be a bit out of reach.
Yes I know that it is a bit dramatic, but in the moment it is how I felt/feel.
I also have thought that maybe it isn’t in the cards for me. I mean I am 43. Am I past my prime? Am I past the time I can have/will have kids? Maybe it is time to move on to something else?
Now I am not going to because we will try again and we want to be parents, but in my quieter moments I fully admit that I think those things.
I think about this everyday. And yes it is a little easier than just a couple of weeks ago, but I am still heartbroken. I will still carry the ultrasound with me and think about what might have been.
I know that I have to throw myself in my work, try to be best husband I can to Mrs. ROB, and focus on the things I can control, but it is hard. I scold myself for not getting back to work as voluminously as I should. Yes I know I can give myself a break, but part of how I cope is by working. If I don’t and let my mind float I could be even more miserable than I appear to be.
I am good at appearing that everything is alright though. I fake things well. Outwardly, I smile and do my work, but inside I think I am still a bit devastated, but I know I have to soldier on because if I don’t I will make myself crazy.
I am not sure how many other men have experienced this and what they have went through, but that is my story.
I am lucky though. I have a beautiful and supporting wife, a great dog, family, friends, and a job I love. I have a home, cars, money in my retirement savings. I get to travel to two different countries in the next two months. And it isn’t like we won’t try again.
I have to remind myself of that, but that still doesn’t change the fact that I think about what might have been. The future that our little family would’ve constructed together. For me that is what aches the most and will probably take the longest for me to get over.