“Men Have Miscarriages, Too”

There are many articles on coping with grief after the loss of a baby. These are usually targeted at the mother, as are support groups both online and in person. But there are now fairly ample resources for men and husbands, too; several blog regularly on illustrious sites such as Glow in the Woods. Magazines recognize that fathers have a unique grief that societal gender norms tend to mask: men aren’t “supposed” to cry, after all. As this recent article also notes, a man’s friends may ask about the loss, but usually to inquire as to how the woman is doing: How’s she healing? How’s she feeling? She’s fine? OK, let’s stop talking about it, then. How about those Wildcats?”

I appreciate articles like this, but it frustrates me that they all assume that a couple who has lost a child is a married (or at least, partnered) male-female pair. They rarely if ever (okay, never that I’ve seen) take into account that some babyloss mothers are single, and some are in same-sex relationships (and some babyloss fathers are as well: losses can happen through surrogacy and adoption for them just as for everyone else).

Ever read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” or a similar book? Ever notice the chapters on fathers, the assumption of the “he?” Now, I’m not really on a bandwagon here; I get that most people who read these books are married women with husbands. But in today’s society, come on, it shouldn’t be a given.

In my situation – and I can only speak on my own situation here – the non-birth mother (in my case, K) is not a man, does not grieve like a man (if there is a “manly way of grieving, which I don’t necessarily believe, though I do get that there are societal pressures on men to show emotions differently than women). She is the other mother to our son, though not biologically (but when has that truly mattered in a family?). Yet she did get treated like the man in the miscarriage story when we lost said son. She was asked about me, how I was doing. Many people were confused that she had lost a son – she hadn’t been pregnant, after all, so if they didn’t know I existed, they assumed she had had a miscarriage, which led to a different type of emotional conversation, the constant coming-out process. A female same-sex partner is treated as a husband, but is she allowed to show her emotions as females are “allowed” to do?  Honestly, I think people expect not; I think they assumed K would function as the “man” in the family and be the strong one, the supporter, the protector. But it’s not fair for her, as it isn’t for men.

Anyway. I clearly haven’t thought this through all the way yet, it’s just something that has bothered me for a while, the assumption of husband, father.

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6 Responses to “Men Have Miscarriages, Too”

  1. Grief is so individual. Men grieve differently to women, as my other half and I have discovered. I am very open and emotional, while he is practical and will keep things to himself (but of course still feels the emotions of loss). The thing that I find really frustrating is that that means he often gets treated differently to me. He lost his son too – it hurts equally even if it might be expressed differently. And there is the added pressure that it is assumed he has to be strong for me (and he is a great support). Your account of K being treated as the husband, but not being ‘allowed’ to express feelings like we females do is interesting in a sad way. You’re right that in today’s society books should not assume the expectant parents are a woman and a man.

    With bereavement, society forgets we are all different and grieve in different ways whether we are a mother or a father, woman or man, in a same-sex or a straight relationship. Ultimately, our child has died, it is the worst thing ever, and we all need support that meets our needs, without additional societal expectation nonsense xx

  2. typhaine says:

    I think the pressure for grieving in gender-appropriate ways is damageable to most of us but yours and K’s situation definitely shows how this binary model for grief can especially impacts those who do not conform to a hetero/biological family structure. I am sorry bereavement resources do not take into account your experience.

  3. kaitlynva says:

    This was also super difficult for me as a single mom grieving not just my baby but also loss of my male partner. Labor prep was a nightmare, I’d be into a meditation when all the sudden they’d mention “your partner” and I’d start bawling. There are so many resources directed toward “grieving as a couple”, and those were painful too… Even the few movies on the subject tend to focus on hetero couples moving through grief together. Just thinking about how I endured that is so overwhelming – very thankful for my therapist who helped me learn to own my own story when I really had no one to relate with!!

    • babylossmama says:

      Thank you for sharing your perspective! I can only imagine how hurtful it must have been to keep hearing “your partner” and get all the assumptions of couple-dom. I just don’t understand that assumption in this day and age! I”m so sorry you had to go through this alone, though, and am also grateful you had a good therapist who helped you own your story.

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