9.02.2006

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.

18 comments:

bill said...

My admiration for both of you, for sharing what is incredibly hard, harder than I can imagine, grows. Anything, call, anytime.

Sophia said...

By what you wrote i can feel all of your sadness and pain. Thank you for writing it down and giving great insight on your perspective. I don't think I acknowledged you enough on my post about how you are both in a deep dark place and how very much I want to be there for the both of you. And I'm here even though you don't know me from Eve. Take care.

Gus and Moms said...

Wes. I'm completely awed that you (and Bri as well) are able to write so articulately and heartfelt-fully at this terrible time for you. Although you dont really know us, we are thinking of you guys and are so sorry. Please take care of each other and keep knowing that you will get through it.

Shelli said...

Oh Wes, my heart hurts for you.

Thank you so much for sharing your pain. I hope that it has helped just a small amount.

As I mentioned to Bri in an e-mail, the offer still stands - any weekend day that we're all here, just let us know, and we'll hop on the train, and take the puppers out for a walk for you, or just bring sushi and wine, or whatever.

Just know that we're thinking of you, and I thank you for your bravery to share this. I envy your ability to be so in touch with your feelings.

Anonymous said...

Wes- Fathers who go through this don't get enough attention or sympathy. So sexist of us all. I have been thinking about both of you constantly. I should have emailed you directly and not just sent my messages through bri. I don't know why I didn't. Thank you for opening up and reminding us all that you are also in need of love and support right now. I'm so sorry you have to go through this terrible experience. xo, Asia

charlotte said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
charlotte said...

I cannot imagine this pain. This grief is like no other, and it is aweful that dads are kinda invisible in the process.

And for both of you, our culture fails miserably in the grief and death department. Just utterly fails.

Sonya said...

Thank you for this. I emailed your wife and told her that this same exact thing happened to me and my husband about 3 weeks ago and our wounds are still "open". Your blog entry gave me a better understanding of what my husband must be going through. I know he tries to be strong for me but I can look at him and see the pain.
Thank you again,
Sonya

lagiulia said...

Oh, Wes. Thanks for sharing what you're going through. It was so clear and easy to see what a proud papa you already were. I love and respect you a lot, and I am hoping nothing but the best for you and Briar even during this sad, sad time.

Trista said...

Oh Wes, my heart is breaking for you and Bri. I'm so sorry that this happened to you two.

art-sweet said...

In her post, Bri said you didn't covet anything today.

But I hear you coveting all sorts of dreams that you deserve. To have your penguin back. To be biologically connected to your child. To not have had your dreams shattered.

And damn it, I covet those things for you. This is just not fair.

frog said...

I'm just so sorry, Wes. You and Bri remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Amanda said...

Wes, I am so sorry for you both. My throat swells up and hurts when I envision you getting that phone call. I was also touched when Bri said you apologized to her for saying that everything was going to be OK (as she mentioned in her blog). That was just really amazing. xo, A

Melissa said...

Derek & I just read this together. We've been thinking of you both and are sending you so much love. I hate that happened.

Jen said...

Thank you for your honesty and openness, especially when that is not your custom. I am so sorry for you and Bri.

hd said...

As one of Bri's online TTC friends, I can assure you I've never thought of you as anything other than the father of any baby you and Bri conceive together. I'm so sorry for both of you--you remain in my thoughts.

Listmaker said...

I just don't know what to say. I've spoken to Briar at work but words just don't cut it. Alex changed the subject to himself for awhile which I think Briar enjoyed - who doesn't love a self-involved Brit and his witticisms? I'm terrible at these things whether it is live or on the web. Just know that I'm so blown away by everything both of you have written and you both have been very much in my thoughts over the past few days.

Blondie said...

Wes, you put it perfectly. You sum up exactly what many of us feel, no matter how we're born. I literally hurt, physically, knowing that I couldn't provide my own wife with what she needed to create a child. And I'm sure you felt the same way.

But to have this, to have a child die unexpectedly, suddenly, before it's opportunity in yours and Briar's life could be realized...that's gut wrenching. There's no way that either of you could "get over it" easily, simply, quickly.

Be a zombie. Grieve, rage, scream, cry. All of the above. We're all here for you.