I had it wired. I read the books. I attended the seminars. I had t-shirts, even a lapel pin, that touted my proud claim to be a "Promise Keeper." The second line of my personal Life Purpose Statement was a bold pronouncement that I would support and encourage my wife in all ways and love her "as Christ loved the church." We'd already ridden the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy together three times and had three wonderful boys to show for it. So when the happy-go-lucky lady I'd always known dissolved into a sobbing mess one day, I didn't even flinch. I was ready to take care of things.
Her shoulders hitched as she tried to force out words that blindsided me. "I … I was pregnant … but I lost the baby."
She'd found out she was pregnant four weeks into her first term, but wanted to surprise me with the news during a weekend getaway we'd planned to take in another two weeks.
As many as 50 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, most unnoticed by the mother. But for the 15 to 20 percent who miscarry and are aware that they were pregnant, the ordeal can be traumatic. It's a tragedy for which a husband rarely prepares. I never considered it until it happened—and then it became clear that I didn't have a clue how to help her deal with it. It was months before I realized that, despite my prideful notions about my capacity to love and empathize with my wife, miscarriage was an emotional experience I could only try to understand.
There are many circumstances that may significantly affect the physical and emotional facets of this trauma. Was it a planned or unplanned pregnancy; a repeated or one-time occurrence; spontaneous or a medical necessity following the death of the baby; an early-or late-term event? The impact of each will vary. But for husbands there are three considerations that may soften the pain for you both, no matter the specifics.1