We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program....
I'm not one to talk much about personal things but I'm trying to take Bri's lead and get some of the sadnesss out. It's selfish— maybe if I write it down I will feel a little better.
When Bri called me from her OB's office, I was just getting ready to go to the gym. This is the only time I've been happy that I didn't get to the gym. I had been waiting for her call after the appointment but I figured since I hadn't heard from her and it was already an hour after the appointment time that things were fine. I wasn't worried about the health of the baby. What I was concerned about was that she wouldn't like the new doctors. Or that she would find out that they were actually too full to take her on as a patient. So when she wailed into the phone "It's dead", I couldn't believe it.
As I jumped on the subway (I learned from her past experiences to never take a taxi downtown from Midtown in the middle of the afternoon) to meet her at the doctor's office I thought there had definitely been a mistake. I thought I would just insist that they redo the ultrasound. Surely they would find out that things were fine.
When I got to Briar I hugged her and then immediately quizzed her if she had seen the ultrasound. I said maybe it was a mistake. But she assured me that the news was real. The last things I remember from that day were my thought "We need to try to have another baby immediately" and the midwife explained the various options of removing the dead baby. The rest of it is a blur.
I guess men (and partners) are sort of the lucky ones in this situation because we don't have to go through the physical process and pain that accompanies it. I wasn't the one who was going to have to have a dead baby sucked out of me. I wasn't the one who was going to have my hormones go haywire. But I was the one who could immediately feel the loss and the sadness. Bri spent the next 24-hours fearing the medical process while I spent the next 24-hours in mourning. When Bri woke me up in the middle of the night crying because she was freaked out about the fact that there was a dead baby inside her and it had to come out (holy shit), I was a zombie. I felt paralyzed by grief.
I think most people assume men don't feel as upset as their wives when a fetus dies. I'm not sure why this is but I can guarantee that they are wrong, wrong, wrong. My good friends know how horrid I feel and have checked in with me constantly, but my work colleagues don't really know what to do. I know that's partially because I hadn't even told everyone at work that Bri and I were expecting a baby (it's not something that really comes up for men and it's not like I had the automatic topic introducer of maternity clothes). The people who knew about the baby in the first place— such as my boss and my staff— are treating me gently. I have gotten a few "I'm sorry" emails. But that's it. It seems like I am expected to be over it. No one knows what to say to the father— we're supposed to just move on. Meanwhile everyone knows that the mother is going to devastated. I'm sure I won't cry as much as Bri and won't talk about it as much, not because I'm recovered but because that's how I am. In actuality I feel more sad than I have ever felt in my entire life. I know what it feels like to be clinically depressed. I know what it's like to be desperately suicidal. However, I have never known this type of sadness.
I know we will most likely go on to have a healthy baby some day and I know we'll eventually be able to put this behind us. I also know that even when Bri does conceive again that it will never feel the same as it did this time. I don't know if either of us will allow ourselves to feel the sort of happiness without trying to check our hearts a little in an attempt of self-preservation.
The only good thing that came out of all of this is that never during one minute of it did I not feel like a father. Never did I think of the sperm donor.
When we went into the whole process of trying to conceive, much of my time was spent feeling emasculated because of the fact that we needed to use donor sperm. I didn't feel like a real man. I constantly felt that I wouldn't be it's "real" father, that a baby wouldn't love me as much as it would if it was from my genetic material, that I wouldn't love it as much as I would love GMB or another child that is biologically mine. I know that all adoptive parents love their children just as much as biological parents, but I still thought that I would be different. I felt angry because Bri became friends online with only lesbian moms using donor sperm— it made me feel like she was trying to say that I was just a lesbian and not actually a man (I know this isn't rational and definitely not PC, but that's how emotions work, OK). I still hate, hate, hate the fact that I don't make sperm, that a baby will never be part of each of our genetics, but at least I know that whenever we do have a baby I will definitely be it's father and love it as much as if it was from my sperm.