When I had a second miscarriage last month, I was prepared for what to expect in many ways. I knew I would cry at random moments for weeks and months and even years after the loss. I knew I wouldn't be able to face going out in public for awhile after the pregnancy left my body. I even knew what I would need to heal this time around, from lots of extra sleep to a way to mark the loss for myself to a little extra self-care.
But the one thing I didn't see coming after my miscarriage was the devastating effect it would have on my marriage.
With my first miscarriage, I struggled with some pretty difficult emotions. Because it had been my fifth pregnancy, I had a pretty carefree attitude about going to my first appointment. I don't need you there, I had said to my husband when he offered to take off of work. I've done this before.
As a result, I was all alone the first time when I got the news that our baby had passed. I felt alone in navigating the loss afterwards. I was only 7 weeks along and my husband didn't have the same kind of attachment that I had developed to that baby, especially because he hadn't seen any physical sign of it.
The second loss was very different. This time, my husband came with me. This time, he saw the baby developing on the ultrasound screen. This time, he was there when yet another ultrasound showed an empty screen instead of the baby we both desperately wanted to see there. This time, he grieved with me. And, in our grief, we somehow lost our way from each other.
We were both grieving in separate ways and it felt like this giant, wide chasm that we would never cross to find our way back to each other. I didn't know how to talk to my husband and he didn't know how to talk to me. I wanted nothing more than for him to comfort me, but he felt like he couldn't—so he stayed away. I wanted his arms wrapped around me, while he was wracked with guilt for not being able to protect me. I wanted to talk about our baby, but he found it too painful.
I wish I could tell you that there was a magical, beautiful, movie-like moment where it all changed, but unfortunately, real life doesn't always work that way.
It was an awful, horrible, confusing and completely overwhelming time. I spent many a lonely night after the loss googling "marriage ending after miscarriage" because that's how bad it felt. This loss, for both of us, had changed everything.
I wish I could tell you that there was a magical, beautiful, movie-like moment where it all changed, but unfortunately, real life doesn't always work that way. There was no emotional and eloquent scene like every episode of "This Is Us." Instead, there were literal weeks of me silently creeping through my house, trapped in my own well of grief, and endless fights we picked over other things, like small pinpricks we needed to relieve some of the pressure of a giant balloon of pain.
Eventually, I cracked first. I didn't make a lot of sense, but I finally had one or two giant, tear-filled meltdowns that were a desperate attempt for me to try to talk to my husband about how I was feeling. And those tears were the start of at least of some kind of healing.
As it turned out, we were both too stuck in our own pain to know how to talk to each other. Instead of the marriage breakdown I had feared, as soon as we finally talked through it all, we were able to realize that we had far more in common than I first thought.
I'm happy to report that my miscarriages didn't ruin my marriage like I thought they would. But I'll be honest with you, I truly did wonder if they would. It took a lot of tears and misunderstandings and exhausting talking-it-out sessions to find out way back to each other. I wish so much someone would have warned me how freaking hard it can be on a marriage to navigate an invisible loss, because maybe, had I known, I could have stopped worrying so much about my marriage falling apart.
So, moms out there, if you're reading this, just tuck this away in the back of your mind in the event you ever experience a loss:
Miscarriage can wreak havoc on a marriage. If it happens to you, you're not alone and you're not a horrible spouse or partner. Seek professional help if you can, be open and honest with each other about how you are feeling, and share your grief together, but don't despair if your marriage limps along for awhile. It will take time to relearn how to live together, because you are now both different people with a loss in your heart, in your lives and in your love.