Building a relationship that survives miscarriage

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this topic since I started writing Stella & Dane. This couple has pretty tough beginnings, small town, disapproval, and both of them have a lot of growing up to do.

I know that in this story, they will weather more than the average couple. Two miscarriages. Multiple rounds of failed IVF. Eventually, they will give up on having children. And due to Dane’s terrible past, they won’t ever be able to adopt. I’m sure Stella often wishes a baby would drop from the sky.

By the time we meet them in my book Baby Dust, they are a well established couple, one to be envied in their devotion to each other after all this history. But how did they get this way? What built a relationship like that? It’s been on my mind as I form their love story.

I’m not sure I have the answer. The father of my angel babies and I divorced, and that shared history was lost. He and I were the only people who were really close to those babies and those hopes. It’s a hard thing. We clearly didn’t have what Dane & Stella had. We fell apart.

Recently two of my baby loss mom friends got divorced. In both cases, the men just walked out of the relationship. How does this happen? What causes it?

And more importantly, what creates a relationship that weathers this?

Disappointment in how the father handles the loss is one of the most common sources of upset in the emails and messages that I get. The fathers aren’t sad. They don’t get it. They want the moms to “get over it.” Is this part of what creates the rift? How do we get past that and back into a loving relationship?

I’d love to hear from moms with wonderful supportive partners after a loss.

And if you’d like to see how Stella & Dane develop, I have a mailing list where I share their story as it goes along. Currently they are still young and immature. Stella’s grandmother, the only person she’s ever felt loved her, has just died. And she’s ready to blow out of town, with or without her new man, Dane. But life is about to deal a severe blow, a course of events that their lives will never recover from. If you’d like to follow it, you can sign up and get updates as long as you want, unsubscribe if it doesn’t interest you.  Stella & Dane’s list.

I’m about to get remarried. I can hope I’m doing better this time around, and we’ll have to adopt as I’m too high risk for babies anymore. I’m looking for answers too.


9 thoughts on “Building a relationship that survives miscarriage

  1. My husband and I have a stronger marriage than most people I know. We have under gone fertility treatments with many months of disappointment, then we finally had our beautiful son. 3 years later, we became pregnant without even trying! We were ecstatic. Unfortunately, we miscarried. The doctor told us it was probably a fluke that we got pregnant, then boom, pregnant again, all on our own. We were beyond thrilled, but guarded. We again miscarried. We’ve tried for the last year and a half to conceive again, but it hasn’t happened. Through out this our relationship has grown and we are as happy and as close as ever. My husband was very very sad after we lost our babies. He grieved with me. I think that helped. We recently helped with a program at our church for people that have lost babies. My husband said he felt like he was suppose to be strong during our miscarriages and carry on, even though he was as sad as I was. I think talking and being open to share your sadness with your partner is essential. You have to work through your grief to heal and if you don’t do it together, you’ll not heal together.

  2. My husband and I survived the loss of our daughter last year. Her passing occured a year after we were seperated and reunited. Our seperation stemmed from a lot of hardships in our life, and finally led to our seperation when I had severe post-partum depression with our second baby. But we agreed to change and make things work, and a few months later I became pregnant with our daughter. The entire pregnancy was difficult. But what got us through it was that we realized a year earlier that when hard times hit, you have to hold to each other, not find something else to give your emotions an outlet, such as friends, hobbies, etc. When we lost our daughter, our marriage stayed strong, but it wasnt easy. We mourned in different ways, and from experience I can see why the husbands would walk away. We women are so outwardly emotional. I hung pictures all over the house of our daughters ultrasounds, us holding her at the hospital, the dried flowers from the funeral. I wanted to talk about her. I felt if I didnt have a constant reminder of her everywhere I looked, I would feel as if I was losing her memory too. My husband was different. He still doesnt look at her picture on the wall in our bedroom. He didnt want to talk to people about it. He didnt show his tears. At first it made my angry
    that he wasnt as open as me. But he wasnt wrong, he was just dealing with it differently. And I had to stop pushing and overwhelming him. I had to stop and realize that she was his daughter too, he was in pain, and I needed to let him heal his way, and be there to give him a hug or hold his hand when I knew he had so much on his heart but never said a word. Mothers so often try to control the healing process because they feel its a right they have because of the close bond they had with the baby as they carried it. I always need to remember that fathers have their own bond as well. In a way, I could see it being more painful for fathers. They never held their baby and felt the kicks and the hiccups. Its hard to navigate a relationship through such a loss, but the keys to getting through it I’ve learned is Selflessness, Love, Laughter and Faith… Which was our daughter, Mikayla’s, middle name. We trusted God and his plan and held to each other and it made us a stronger family.

  3. Robin & Chelsea, thank you so much for sharing. I think I agree that you do have to grieve together, and that you have to give each other space to grieve in your own unique ways.

    Very wise, ladies.

  4. Communication is definitely the key to getting through a loss. It is a strain on any relationship but if you can get through it, it makes you stronger. We had only been married a few months when we found out I was pregnant, I was only 19, and in a new town away from my family, Sadly I miscarried at 9 weeks. I felt overwhelmed, I hadn’t had chance to get used to being pregnant before it was snatched away again. I told myself it was too soon anyway, I was still getting used to a new place and a new marriage and ploughed myself into work and waited many years, then we felt the time was right. We began trying when I was 28 and I got pregnant right away and we were so very happy, but things didn’t feel right from the start and sadly I had another loss at 6 weeks. I knew we had to try again quickly if I was going to at all, by now the heartache was becoming very hard to deal with and I felt the relationship was taking the strain. I got pregnant quickly again but again I lost the baby at 9 weeks. I felt my husband didn’t really understand me at all, he just felt we’d keep trying and trying and trying until we succeeded and he seemed so strong and almost not bothered in some ways but I was grieving for my little angels and it was so very hard for me. I found that third loss so difficult, I almost had a breakdown. If my husband was here he irritated me, if he wasn’t that irritated me too. I was so angry at the world and everything in it. It lasted for months. Eventually, We got testing done but nothing could be found as a cause for the losses. My specialist was male and he was wonderful, he made me see things from the male perspective, he said that my husband was bound to be upset and would be hiding it well, trying to be brave and strong for me. However he admitted that try as he might my husband would never understand the way I felt, he said that us Moms bond with our baby from the very first moment we find out, the baby grows inside of us and they mean the world to us. A man almost needs an outward sign, like a bump, its not that they don’t care, it just that they can’t relate like we can. He said women have the most amazing feelings, on a totally different level to men. From that moment on, I had a new respect for my husband, perhaps he was struggling too but hiding it. We talked and talked and talked and we’ve come out of it all the stronger. We still don’t have any living children and won’t now but we have the strongest marriage and for that I’m truly thankful.

  5. Hi Deanna,
    Though my boyfriend and I just learned of my M/C and it was a very early pregnancy (only a 5 week loss), we are coming out of it on top. We have an incredibly strong relationship and intend on getting married within 2 years. We do want to start a family together, so I think this will only strengthen us. He lets me cry on his shoulder when I’m sad about the M/C. Just hugs me and says he loves me.

  6. After three years of marriage and two years of dating prior to that, my husband and I have weathered two miscarriages, three big moves, and significant family and financial storms. Our family and friends know us as a solid couple and that image reflects reality. The key to our relationship is constant communication. Even when it is painful to discuss or we would rather just ignore it – we talk. Additionally, I see a counselor for myself because I deal with depression as a part of my everyday life. With her I have learned to be a better partner to my husband, especially when sadness casts a shadow over me. During my first pregnancy, I felt like something was off and my husband thought I was just worrying. When my fears were proven true, he was in shock and initially emotionally pulled away. Despite his urge to pull away, he always supported my grief and held me while I cried. Eventually, I saw him grieve too – internally, in his own way. We never judged each other for how the other grieved, it was both personal and shared at the same time. Being in our mid-30s, we have friends who are done having children, friends who don’t want children and friends who are going through similar struggles. It was helpful to not know we are alone and that there are other options, this site and the forums that used to be on it gave me so much strength. When we lost a second time from a possible ectopic (never confirmed), my husband and I took action together to see if we can find answers as to why we are losing. While no reason was found, what we did during that time was find strength as a couple. We talked through all the possibilities – What if we can’t ever get pregnant? What if we do and then lose again and again? At what point do we stop trying? Do we adopt? Do we want the same things going forward? If we didn’t, we knew we had to deal with that before moving forward. So we talked until we were sincerely on the same page. Right before this recent pregnancy, that so far has held beyond the first two, my husband and I were walking in a forest and he turned to me and said, “I used to think having a child was about the child, but I think now that it is about our journey together and a child just adds to that journey – whether it is biological or adopted it is our journey that matters.” I can’t begin to express how much his ability to show compassion and empathy means to me. We work hard on our relationship and it isn’t always pleasant, but we ask for outside help when we hit road blocks that we can’t overcome together. Both of our parents and most of their friends have 40+ years of marriage from which we have learned. We know marriage is hard work and we believe that even if we lose this baby, we are going to be okay because with each attempt at pregnancy we are one step closer to growing our family – we have a flexible limit on the number of losses we will endure before we start the adoption process. Even if we decide not to adopt, we are committed to make our relationship work, one way or another.

  7. I just want to add – part of the communication is being honest with ourselves before we talk with each other. I know that sounds hokey, but it is too easy to agree to things and not force yourself to figure out if it is what you truly want. I ask myself, why do I want ____? to get to the essence of my motivation.

  8. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without my husband during our loss(es). We finally got pregnant last year after years of not really trying but not preventing either. It was a big surprise, but a welcome one. But we found out at our first appointment (and after 3 weeks of spotting) that the gestational sac was empty and we had lost our baby 🙁 DH was just as affected by this as I was…well, as affected as he could be not carrying the baby. He held me while I cried…and cried with me. He didn’t blame me. He was just there for me when I needed him. And now, 6 months later, I still have bad days and he just listens. He doesn’t like to talk about it a lot, but he lends his ear when I just need to talk about what happened…or what could’ve been.

    We got pregnant again the first cycle after my D&C, but lost it 4 days after finding out. This one was also difficult, and also he couldn’t relate to it as much as I could, he was still there for me and knew how difficult it was on me.

    We are much closer now having gone through this together. I can’t imagine where I’d be at this point without him by my side!

  9. We lost our first son when he was 40 days old, having been born at 24 weeks gestation. As is anyone’s loss – it was awful. That last week in the NICU, when his health rapidly declined, there was little sleep, many tears, and fervent bargaining with God – when we were not normally in regular conversation with him otherwise.

    My husband was the strong one, though he says the same of me. I blogged throughout keeping our friends and family updated on Grayson’s decline, and then about my feelings afterwards. He kept the bills getting paid, the house maintained, neighbors lined up to watch the dog.

    I had already used much of my maternity leave when Grayson died, but I had 3 more weeks off, where my husband had to return to work with about a week.

    I think two things heavily contributed to us being able to keep our relationship strong through this.

    First – we’d been married 12 years already at the time Grayson was born. We had already been through a “honeymoon period”, then into a steady decline of taking each other for granted, an emotional affair and threats of divorce, which did end up in some pretty severe depression on my part – I made an attempt on my own life. It was hard, but we got through that. We set some ground rules on how we would behave when we disagreed, how to fight fairly, maintaining respect for each other in the process, and as a result – how to love each other more fully and offer support through hard times. This foundation gave us somewhere to start on how we should or shouldn’t react to the other’s grief. We let each other be sometimes, but made sure to be present and supportive so that alone didn’t become distant/out of touch with the world/depression.

    Second, though my husband was hesitant, he did agree to join a group therapy session for parents grieving the loss of their children (be it from miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or older children in accidents, with cancer, etc). He went because he wanted to support me, but found it as a productive outlet for his own feelings. There were other men there, too – and they were able to relate to each other in a way that a woman usually cannot.

    Our second son was born a year after our first son’s due date, or 14 months after Grayson died. It was scary getting through that pregnancy, with the fears of history repeating itself. Even now, I sometimes worry I will walk in and find him dead in his crib, as if I am not meant to raise children, but these feelings are momentary. By working together, and having each other’s backs, we have survived a parent’s worst nightmare, and are giving our younger son the best example we can of a healthy relationship like we hope he can one day have with a partner of his choice.

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