A dad shares his emotional story of dealing with miscarriage.

'How would we bounce back from this? This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. Not for us.'

"Having children is going to be great! Nine months will fly by, and we’ll be parents. How exciting!" This was our thinking before it happened.

It was early August, and my wife and I were trying for our first child. We thought of all the possibilities of names, of the different transformations we could do to our guest room, and of the extra joy that would be present within our lives and in our family’s lives.

Photo via iStock.


We figured that if she ended up getting pregnant, it would work out perfectly: She could go on maternity leave during her summer break (she’s a teacher). So we checked ovulation charts and tried to time everything perfectly. We changed our diets and drank minimal alcohol and caffeine; we wanted everything to be just right.

At first, everything felt perfect.

We started taking the cheap pregnancy tests. Once they started reading positive, we sprung for the higher-end ones just to be sure. Everything was working out just as we had planned: We’d have our summer baby, and my wife would have plenty of time to stay home with the kid.

We hadn’t planned on telling anyone until the first trimester was out of the way since the most risk typically occurs during this time period.

Then we went over to some friends’ house to watch football a couple weeks prior to our "planning to tell" date. They started asking questions once they saw that my wife wasn’t drinking. (She doesn’t drink much anyway, but for her to not even have a glass of wine was odd to them.) So much to our chagrin, we ended up telling them. Then we went home.

We were getting ready for bed that night when it happened.

My wife yelled my name from the bathroom. She came out in tears. Something was wrong. There was blood. We googled it. It might not be that big of a deal, the internet said, but we called the doctor, and she said to come in the next day.

I remember that next day like it was yesterday. I had a job interview for a job that I was really excited about at the exact same time as her appointment. I bombed the interview because I was so nervous. My wife went in, and they took her blood. They did an ultrasound. The baby had a heartbeat, they said, but it was very faint. She would have to get her blood taken again a few days later to compare.

A few days came and went. One of our good friends from out of state was visiting, and we were planning on going to dinner with him. We told him ahead of time about the situation, so he knew that we might receive good or bad news sometime during dinner.

We were nearly finished with dinner when the call came. Things were not good.

They told my wife that it wasn’t a viable pregnancy and there was nothing they could do. She could take pills or let her body do the work. We said goodbye to our friend and went home.

The next week was hard. I remember holding my wife, crying with her. Our dreams, our plans — they were shattered.

Photo via iStock.

How would we bounce back from this? This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. Not for us. I was doing my best to be strong for both of us. This was the worst thing I’d ever been through. I couldn’t imagine what she was feeling. It was hard to eat. Hard to sleep. Hard to function, let alone be strong enough and assure my wife that everything would be OK.  

During the next couple weeks, friends, family, and our church pastors came and prayed with us and sat with us.

People tried to offer us encouragement. Things like "everything happens for a reason" or "it doesn’t make sense now, but it will." None of these things were helpful (other than the people being present with us).

Eventually, we learned how common miscarriages are and how many people experience it throughout their lives. The numbers (10% to 25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage) were very eye-opening.

No one talks about miscarriage. It’s taboo, but it shouldn’t be. As human beings, we need to talk about these things more openly and grieve together and grow together. Our struggles and our triumphs are what bring us together.

It’s been nearly two years since my wife and I experienced the tragedy of miscarriage.

Reece, our son, is now 11 months old. It’s crazy to think that if we wouldn’t have been through what we had, he wouldn’t be here with us. He is our joy and sunshine every day, but we still mourn the loss of our first child.

But now, I often wonder what I can do to help other people, especially men whose partners are going through this same thing.

Photo via iStock.

As men, we’re often so sure we should be strong that we don’t show emotion. But I will share what I learned in that moment when we got the news: It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to let someone else pick you up.

It’s OK — and helpful — for all of us to be vulnerable. It’s OK to grieve and to mourn when life feels too heavy to bear. We will all become stronger together, and apart, if we let ourselves feel.

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Whenever someone's words or behavior are called out as racist, a few predictable responses always follow. One is to see the word "racist" as a vicious personal attack. Two is to vehemently deny that whatever was said or done was racist. And three is to pull out the dictionary definition of racism to prove that the words or behavior weren't racist.

Honestly, as soon as someone refers to the dictionary when discussing racism, it's clear that person has never delved deeply into trying to understand racism. It's a big old red flag, every time.

I'm not an expert on race relations, but I've spent many years learning from people who are. And I've learned that the reality of racism is nuanced and complex, and resorting to a short dictionary definition completely ignores that fact. The dictionary can't include all of the ways racism manifests in individuals and society, and the limitations of dictionary definitions make it a poor tool for discussing the topic.

Since "racism" is such a loaded term for many people, let's look at such limitations through a different complex word. Let's take "anxiety." According to Merriam-Webster, "anxiety" is defined as "apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness, usually over an impending or anticipated ill."

Now imagine thinking that you understand everything that encompasses anxiety from reading that dictionary definition. Imagine thinking you could recognize the signs of anxiety in someone based on that definition alone. Ridiculous, right? The dictionary doesn't explain that some people's anxiety manifests as anger, even though it does. It doesn't say that anxiety sometimes manifests as withdrawal or aloofness. It doesn't say that you often won't see obvious signs of fear or nervousness in someone experiencing anxiety.

The dictionary doesn't offer anything close to the reality of what anxiety is or looks like. It would be silly to say that someone isn't experiencing anxiety because they're not clearly showing signs of nervousness like the dictionary definition implies. Just as the dictionary definition of anxiety is not comprehensive, neither is the dictionary definition of racism. Yet people keep using it to "prove" that something or someone isn't racist.

Fox News analyst Brit Hume just pulled that trick on Twitter to try to back up his claim that Donald Trump's "go back to" statements to four Congresswomen of color weren't technically racist.


The first Merriam-Webster entry for "racism" reads "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."

Merriam-Webster

First of all, I'm not sure how this definition actually makes Trump's statements not racist. A belief is not always conscious, so even assuming that his racism is unconscious, a white man telling four women of color to "go back to" their countries of origin—despite three of them being born in the U.S. and the fourth being a naturalized citizen of the U.S.—is pretty objectively racist. No one knows exactly what is going on in the President's head, but such statements only being made to women of color would certainly be consistent with the behavior of someone with a belief in white people's inherent superiority.

But that simple definition isn't truly definitive, either. Shortly after Hume's tweet, Merriam-Webster pointed out a usage note for the word "racism," which clarifies that dictionaries do not provide the be-all-end-all definition of words.

Anti-racism advocates have tried time and time again to explain that racism is not as straightforward as someone saying, "I think I'm superior to people who don't share my skin color." Racism is almost never that blatant, and yet oodles of Americans refuse to call anything less than that kind of bold statement "racism." We have a long history showing exactly how white supremacy—the origin of racism in the U.S.—exerts itself in both strong and subtle ways, and thousands of hours and pages of education from experts describing how racism works on an individual and societal level. But people still insist on the simplistic narrative of "Racism=hating people of a different race."

I've seen many people, including Brit Hume, argue that the word racism has lost all meaning. Frankly, that's a copout. Racism—as both a conscious or unconscious belief of racial superiority and as a system of racial prejudice blended with power dynamics—has a broader meaning than one person hating another person for the color of their skin. But that doesn't make it meaningless.

I've also seen people complain that "everything is racist these days," but no, it's really not. We simply understand more about racism now, thanks to the field of race studies and to people of color offering their time and energy to explain it, so it's easier to identify in its various forms. In my experience, when someone's understanding of racism reaches a certain stage, they start recognizing it in places where ignorance or unconscious bias may have caused them to miss it in the past. That's not imagining racism where it doesn't exist or "calling everything racist these days"; that's simply seeing reality more clearly.

When you really dive deep into the historical, psychological, and sociological reality of racism in America, it becomes painfully obvious that racism is far more prevalent and enmeshed in our society than most people think. Until defensive, mostly-white folks stop automatically denying racism every time the word is used and stop throwing around dictionaries to avoid having to do that deep dive work, we're not going to make real headway on this issue.

Let's stop pretending that the definition and supposed overuse of the word "racism" is the problem, when the problem is racism, period.

Democracy
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