It’s Father’s Day, another one of those annual events on the post baby loss calendar to endure and survive. There are still fry ups, handmade cards with scribbled kisses and a whole day dedicated to Dad’s but in our house one of the tiny people who gave Rob his father status is missing and that changes everything. One of the things I’m coming to realise about Fathers Day, and the reason for my blog today, is that there is a startling difference between today and the days which are dedicated to me as a Mommy. I have had two Mother’s Days without Alex and I am so thankful to have been surrounded by love, thoughtful messages and a whole crowd of people trying their best to make the day pass as gently as possible. And yet sadly, the same can’t be said for Rob today.
I would really like to say that this is a one-off occurrence but the lack of attention started on the day we first heard those devastating words in hospital. It started precisely when I was whisked off to surgery and he was left in a room totally alone, in shock and cradling our lifeless baby. Everyone’s focus, which should have been concentrated on welcoming our new born baby shifted to me and the things that they could do to support me. It felt so wrong to me even through the black fog of grief, so much so, that I didn’t just cry for our baby, I cried for Rob too. I cried because no one was there for him and it felt so unfair. He was and is my rock and I am only here writing this blog today because he carried me through our loss until I was strong enough to cope on my own again. He did everything I couldn’t. He held me tight whilst I sobbed into the early hours, he took care of our boys when I couldn’t bear to show them my tears yet again, he fielded the concerned texts and calls, he answered the dreaded questions when our neighbours asked where our baby was. He did it all, and I hate to say it but he mostly did it alone. I heard him being asked countless times how I was doing but I don’t recall being asked the same amount in return.
He did what was expected, he was the stereotypical ‘strong’ man, conditioned not to show any emotion and just get on with things. But why should it be that way? As a Mother I was encouraged to show all the facets of my grief openly, without judgement and I am certain that it helped me to deal with it. It seems odd to think that men aren’t encouraged to do the same. Men need support too, maybe not in the same forms as Mothers but they need it all the same. I can confidently say that I could not have done some of the things that Rob did following Alex’s loss. Carrying our little boys coffin in to church is one that always comes to mind. His strength confounds me, I know I wasn’t much of a support to him in those early days and I will always wonder how he managed to carry on and do those things without the network that I seemed to have around me.
So why shouldn’t he get a simple call or text on Father’s Day to check how he’s doing? Because he’s strong? Because he doesn’t need the support? Because its not the manly thing to do? Or maybe because he’s over it now? But he has also lost a child and whilst he may not have suffered the same physical effects from pregnancy and birth that I did, his heart also broke that day and continues to ache every day ever since with the weight of our loss. His loss was equal to mine, we both lost a son, he also lost all of the tomorrows with Alex and still ponders on the what could have beens just like I do.
I haven’t written a blog for quite some time but I just had to today to highlight the importance of not forgetting that Daddy’s hurt too. Whilst I strongly believe that there is a lot of work to be done to improve the care of men following the loss of a child I would just like to end it today by saying to all of the Daddy’s with a child in their hearts that I hope you have a gentle Father’s Day. You are all incredible and I know that your baby’s will be watching over you today with nothing but love and admiration.
And if you know a Father who missing a child today I’m sure a little message to let them know that you’re thinking about them would be very welcome.
Rachel & Alex xxx