“He was on the edge of shattering. He was so moronic for weeks, that it got to even me in my cloud of mourning the loss of our first pregnancy.” This was one of the statements I got, when I wanted to do this piece on how men are affected by miscarriages.
All you need to do was search and you will find lots of stories, articles, confessions from women, who had gone through this painful experience, all of them trying to find meaning in that moment, when there were just no reason for them to have been denied their precious gifts. But hardly will you find a male perspective but it does get to the male folks too, only they have a way of hiding things and making it seem as though it doesn’t.
I set out to talk to just two women; one older, the other younger, whom I knew had gone through this experience and had no qualms about sharing their story with me and having it published. One of them is Mrs A, who had her child last year and I cannot tell you the number of firsts that baby has celebrated. Mrs A makes it a point of duty to celebrate every first and I happen know some of them. Like the last Children’s Day was the first for her baby, it was a big deal; she had her sisters over with their kids and made a small party out of the day.
Last March, it was her first birthday with her baby, that I tell you, was no joke. Honestly, I’m looking forward to the first birthday of this baby. In all of this, I think, she is literally counting her blessings, hence celebrating these firsts with her baby. But I digress, the journey to this baby was no joke, it was littered with lots of broken dreams and hearts. Thank God, the heart can mend itself.
Mrs A had gotten married right out of the National youth service and soon after their marriage, she had been blessed with a good job in a multinational company, it came with a brand new car and driver. Mehn! She felt like she was on top of the world, even though the hours of her work were gruelling, but she was still balling.
They started trying for a baby, but that proved elusive. She and her gynaecologist moved from one treatment plan to another, did one investigation and then another, trying to look for reasons, Mrs A wasn’t getting pregnant. Nothing worked.
And then after one cycle of clomid, which was done, in a let’s-just-try-it manner, she got pregnant. That was totally unexpected, her very reserved husband even showed some excitement. That was the same man, whom every time, she brought out her bag of medicine had often left her alone to administer the drugs. He couldn’t deal with it. In fact, he once told her, he was the one putting her through all these stress.
His was a peculiar case in that he was an only child, with his mom living with them and reminding them almost on a daily basis that she was yet to carry her grandchild.
So, you can imagine that when they got pregnant, they were very happy, until they went for a scan and the heartbeat had stopped. “That was the saddest day of my life” Mrs A said. “It was as if, someone took my heart, broke it, and for good measures, grounded it into the dirt, so it never has a chance to recover.”
Seeing her face, as she came out of the ultrasound room, her mother-in-law, whom she went with, had gone ahead to call her husband. That might not have been a very good move, considering what came out of it, but then, what else could she have done? When Mr. A came to the hospital and she told him what had happened. He physically broke down in tears, resting his head against the wall and just letting the tears flow. Filled with their emotions, neither could comfort the other.
After he snapped back from his lethargic state, later than his wife did, they took some drastic measures, like resigning her job, in fact, for the next one year; Mr and Mrs A waking and sleeping moments were filled with TTC matters.
God answered their prayers, when next they got pregnant, as they had a baby, even though the pregnancy was filled with so many challenges. So, if they are celebrating every first with their baby, they are just consciously telling God, thank you.
When it came time for me to talk to the other women, who agreed, Mrs Edunjobi, her husband took charge and took my down memory lane to the story of their loss, which occurred even before I was born. What hurt more with this story was that, recalling it made Mrs Edunjobi cry and I did not like that I was the one, who put tears in her eyes on a sunny afternoon. Even Mr. Edunjobi was emotional at one stage but something came out that they hadn’t talked about since that time.
The Edunjobis’ who are blessed with two grown up kids had lost their second pregnancy over thirty years ago in a freak accident, which had seen Mrs Edunjobi losing her baby at almost 25 weeks of pregnancy. They had been happy that they were going to have another child, so soon after their first born until then.
It was the aftermath of the miscarriage that Mr Edunjobi was hurt about more than anything else and for the first time, he talked about how he really felt. “You see, from the day of the miscarriage, it was though, people did not see me or at most, I was an afterthought. Their main reason for coming was to console my wife. If they caught sight of me, as they were leaving, what they often told me after their platitudes was, “Be strong oh! You wife needs you more now.”
By the end of the week, I was fed up with people telling me that. I did not want to be strong, I wanted to cry too (At this, his wife had looked at him, like he had grown horns). The worse was there was no room for privacy in my own home. Too many people, everywhere I turned, there was someone there, all to console my wife!
When I tried to let us have time alone, just so we could talk, just the two of us and maybe work out our healing with each other’s support, I could see, she wasn’t ready, her eyes were puffy and red from crying so much, she had grown gaunt from not eating too and they won’t let me console her or she console me.
That was the day, I decided to take a drastic action, I told everyone we were travelling with our then, one year old son for months and we left for an hotel out of town. My wife was adamant, that she wasn’t going anywhere and to let her be but I insisted. She was not happy with me at all. But it worked. We came back home, at night the next day and that was when, we started to heal. No seeing people, who were crying and our son demanding her attention, helped her to heal quicker than she would have done. It also gave me time to work through my own emotions.
Having gone through that experience, I have come to realise that most men too need emotional support during trying times, we are African men taught to hide our feelings, but we are also humans.”
So, for over 30 years, Mrs Edunjobi did not know her husband took her away from their home after the loss of their second pregnancy, because he wanted to work through his own emotions. She just thought, he was being selfish. Now, she knows better.
Ladies, it’s time to recognise the fact that men grieve losses, they might not do it the way we do, but that does not remove the fact that they indeed grieve the loss of a child, a dream of becoming daddies.
With that in mind, let’s give them room to express their hurt and not try to force them to be macho.
Food for thought!
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