It’s not that we purposely place our husbands/significant others to the side. After all, we can’t have babies without their help but most of the physical and emotional toll falls on the woman. We are the ones suffering the physical pains of losing a baby, giving ourselves injections, experiencing the side effects of fertility treatment, and so on. We become so self-involved and overwhelmed that we may sometimes forget there is someone else experiencing this with us. To be honest, I’m guilty of occasionally doing this. There were a few times where I caught myself so wrapped up in my appointments, treatment, and own feelings and disappointment, that I didn’t’ always “check-in” with my husband to see how he was doing. Part of this is human nature, I believe. We’re so focused and so entrenched in what’s going on in our own lives that we don’t have the strength- or time- to ask our partners how they are feeling.
But more than that, there’s a culture in which we generally expect the men in our lives to “be strong”- to just be there for us and hold our hands without breaking. Men don’t cry, right? They are supposed sit by our side and deal with the same pain, but in silence, without any emotion. A male author, Jeremy Littau, who wrote on the subject says it perfectly when he says that our culture frames pregnancy as ”something that women go through and men just support”. As a result, he had no idea how to deal with his own emotions after his wife’s miscarriage. Because whereas it’s acceptable for women to grieve, cry, and fall apart, society expects our male counterparts to be resilient, positive, and hopeful. That doesn’t seem fair. Despite what society tells us, a man’s heart breaks just like a females. They are without a doubt struggling in this journey too and experiencing similar feelings. They are also most likely feeling helpless in their inability to protect us or “fix” the problem. And yet, they aren’t given the time, or more importantly, the permission, to process their own reactions and feelings.
Wouldn’t the journey be so much easier if it was two people doing this all together, side by side, as opposed to one holding the other one up? I challenge you, the men in our lives, to stop playing the “strong one” and be honest and real with yourself and your significant other. Join her on the journey as equals, connect by sharing how you’re coping, and stop feeling the pressure to always be in control and have the answers. As Jeremy Littau says, “Grieve as hard as you need to, in a way that’s true to yourself and your own pain. Don’t forget your partner, but don’t feel the need to define your grief solely through your partner’s pain”. Take the time to “check-in” with each other and assess where you’re at, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Hold each other up and give each other the time and space to be vulnerable. And let’s remember that while we, the women, may experience the burden of physical symptoms, this affects more than just ourselves. Let’s give the same weight and concern to our partners’ feelings as we do our own. Their sadness, anxiety, and fear may be different than ours but it isn’t any less valid. It’s there and it’s very real.
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