We had been going to these appointments for a few weeks now and every week seemed to be better than the last. The babies were growing at a very similar rate and both seemed to be faring very well. We let our guard down just long enough to think we might get through this without incident and now look what happened. And the worst feeling of all is my feeling of helplessness. Being a fixer by nature, when I see something broken it’s my job as the “man” of the family to fix the problem. Now all of a sudden I’m up against a problem I can’t fix.
I feel so distant from Vicki even when I’m close to her. I can get involved in other things long enough to forget about the loss of our baby but Vicki must live with the problem every minute of every day. Every time Cody moves, she is reminded of Robert. Every time she looks down at her bulging stomach, she is reminded of the demised twin that must be carried to full term. Oh, to be able to take out a magic tool and make the pain go away but I look into my box of tools and come up empty every time. Somehow, holding her hand and giving those reassuring hugs doesn’t seem to be enough but it’s all I can do right now. For as much as I’m with her, she is all alone on this part of the journey.
Something brings me back to the real world. It’s the sound of the doctor telling Vicki to push one more time. With another gallant effort, she pushes with all her remaining energy. First, a little head appears, all wrinkly from months of swimming in a pool of amniotic fluid. Then the shoulders come quickly followed by the rest of the body. Within minutes, a new life has entered the human race. He fills his lungs with his first breath of life and lets out a scream to announce to the world, “Hey, I’m here and damn proud of it.” Minutes later, without the fanfare of a mighty shout, Robert is delivered and quickly whisked away to be prepared for viewing.
This moment is the epitome of bittersweet. On one hand, we are celebrating the birth of our new son, Cody Alexander; however, we are also mourning the loss of son, Robert Evan. Although I had three months to prepare for this moment, the tears were quick to flow from a well I thought I had buried deep inside. Over the last few weeks I had been so careful not to allow myself to think of this moment and when it came I found myself quite unprepared for it. And the tears flowed: the uncontrollable sobbing brought on by a loss I never felt before. Looking back, for a brief moment I think I know how Vicki must have felt all along.
The tears have stopped now but the pain lingers on. Because I’m a man, society has decreed that I should put this matter behind me and get on with the business of life. In trying to do just that, I denied myself the due process of grieving which, in hindsight, more than likely did more harm than good. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would allow myself to open up and realize it’s all right to be scared and feeling totally out of control. Had I given myself the opportunity to do just that, I could have sought comfort from the one place that it was so available…my wife. Never again will I be a victim of the silent crying.