Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Father's Heart

Triggers mentioned (miscarriage, molar pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, infertility, subfertility)

"O eternal Trinity, You are a deep sea in which the more I seek, the more I find, and the more I find, the more I seek to know You."            -- St. Catherine of Siena

This year is the first time my husband is a father for the observance of Father's Day.

He has not lost any sleep from crying babies. He has not been repulsed by any stinky diapers. He has not spent hours of endless worry. Fumbled with swaddling techniques. Dealt with fevers. Or throw-up. Or any of those things.

We never met our children. We never got to celebrate any good news. We have no stories of hope and wonder and anticipation. We have no baby onesies. Or crib. Not even an ultrasound.

Today doesn't bring us the joy of children; it brings only confusion and a search for meaning.

Instead of oozing fatherly pride, my husband fumbles through unknown territory, struggling to process how he is a father and at the same time lost in what it means live up to that title. I wanted him to experience fatherhood in our marriage, but of course this isn't what I envisioned.

Today, like all holidays and anniversaries - -  we just stare at each other and remember the two times over this past year that we learned we were pregnant while I was experiencing miscarriages. We think about the panic involving opposite Rh factors and the worry involved with whether I would develop destructive antibodies that first time. We think about the horrific bruises on my arms from the blood draws when the phlebotomists blew my veins. We think about how much of those experiences were lived in the bathroom, where our anguish was echoed back to us in an eery cacophony amid the tiled walls. We think about the feeling of emptiness that we both struggle with today and how it is as sharp as it was last year when it happened the first time.

And at the same time, academically at least, we know that we are parents. And my husband knows that he is a father today. We process the spiritual loss like Mary suffered the death of her own Son. We process the physical realities very differently though, but the loss is the same.

There is no life ahead for two babies that most certainly had our dimples. There are no smiles or coos from two babies that definitely had our blue or green eyes. There will be no future for two babies that would have had our pale skin and our wavy hair. And even while we sit here and think of all the things they must have been.... we can't begin to imagine who they were.

How do you grieve someone you can't picture? I've come to the conclusion that the only answer to that question is that my entire faith is based on grieving the loss of a man I never met or saw either.....and so should I be grieving my own children. Maybe more than any other time in my life have I now begun to understand what it is like to have a connection to Mary. Oh how she must have suffered...

So today is Father's Day, the first of many to come for us (and for so many who have walked this path before us). We hope to learn more in the days ahead about how to better process the pain and hurt we feel in such a raw way now. For now though, we are on our knees. And we are mourning what might have been. And yet we are tasked with trying to conceive hope again, if we are to answer God's call in our life to be parents to living children. Anyone who has been in the same position knows what a feat of strength that takes. (That said, I refuse to draw distinction for our lot in life from the reality of so many other couples who struggle with subfertility, infertility, molar pregnancies, ectopic pregnancies, or miscarriage. A void is no less painful because of the circumstances surrounding it and the glory of God and His sacrifice cannot be found in such a distinction - of that I feel certain.)

If nothing else, today has been a reminder to both of us that our strength and hope have only ever come from the death and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that is no different today than it was before we were parents.

Today, this blog is dedicated to all of the fathers  - here and on the other side. And to everyone with a father's heart (thanks Lauren!). And to all of the children not with us (yet or anymore). God bless you. And God bless my broken-hearted husband.

1 comment:

  1. I don't have an answer to your question. Humans love concrete ideas, and abstract ideas are so hard for us. I feel for you both today and prayed for you at mass.