Between 15 and 20 per cent of all pregnancies in Canada end in miscarriage, according to estimates by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC).
Everyone loves a parade. Especially me. Or, so goes the conventional wisdom of people who know me. After all, I was the Canada Day Parade organizer for a decade in my western Canadian prairie suburb.
Many people are looking forward to the upcoming Santa Claus Parade in our city, but I’m not. Far from it. I’ve only attended one time since I left the Executive Director job at the Chamber of Commerce — the organization that runs the parade. It’s just too painful.
Let me explain.
If you’ve ever had a hand in putting together the float that Santa rides on — as nearly every staffer at the Chamber has — you know how much effort, thought, fun, and TIME goes into it. Pulling it out of storage. Cleaning it up. Repairing the broken parts. Decorating the stage.
The week leading up to the 2012 parade was particularly busy. Several evenings that week were spent working. The only time off I would have was the Friday night. Pizza night. I was looking forward to getting home and relaxing with my wife, our then-one-year-old son, and my sister and her now-husband.
My wife was pregnant with our second child. About 10 weeks along. Very few people knew. Only our immediate families, at that point. After a relatively smooth first pregnancy that resulted in our son being born, we had no concept, no understanding of what came next.
We lost our second child that night. Miscarriage. It was Nov. 23, 2012.
I have never forgotten the date. I have never forgotten my sister caring for our 1-year-old son when we raced out the door to the hospital. I have never forgotten how I felt in those long moments completely confused but trying to be emotionally strong for my wife in the emergency room. I have never forgotten my younger brother showing up to the ER just in time to see me break down, standing alone in the bed-less room while my wife was in surgery. I expect I will never forget the emotional pain I was drowning in.
It was the farthest thing from a relaxing evening.
When we returned home that evening, deep sorrow, intense despair, and overwhelming sadness followed. I didn’t know what these emotions felt like until that night. Back then, I wouldn’t have described them that way. I wouldn’t have described them at all. I didn’t understand mental health or my own emotions well enough.
The next morning, I left my distraught and despondent wife at home while I ensured the Santa Claus Parade came off without a hitch. Everyone was having so much fun around me. I, however, wore a mask that morning: My smile.
Inside, my emotions were eating me alive but, as I did so much back then, I used busy-ness to distract me from dealing with those emotions. It was the only way I knew how to deal with them.
It’s been 10 years now. And I’ve learned much about mental health. My own. My wife’s. My kids’. To this day, however, I’m still managing my emotional pain from the loss of our second child.
I’m grateful for the expectant joy we had for 10 weeks. I’m sad for the loss. I’m also grateful — in a bittersweet way — because we would’ve never had the creative, independent daughter we have. Quite literally. The timing of the pregnancies would have overlapped.
Unfortunately, at the time, I attached a lot of my pain to the Santa Claus Parade. It’s a tangled web of emotions and mental health I’m working to unravel. I’m not sure I ever will.
This is why I can’t attend the Santa Claus Parade and likely never will.
I hope that, by sharing my story, other men who have miscarried along with their partner might feel a little more comfortable sharing their story. If there is a stigma about women sharing about miscarriages (and there is), I believe it’s worse for men.
After all, it’s not my body. I didn’t experience the physical pain. So, I shouldn’t have issues, right?
Wrong. Not my body, but still my child. The emotional pain was still just as real for me… and is for all men.
If you’re a father who has suffered from the loss of a child via miscarriage or stillbirth and if you are interested in learning about the male perspective on this topic, there are many more resources available today than were available 10 years ago.
I would encourage you to do your research, find books, or listen to podcasts that speak to you and help you through your grief. There are also many grief and loss support groups available. You can also always reach out to me. I’m not an expert, but I will be an ear to listen.
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