Category Archives: Paul

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This Is Not A Punishment

Loss, especially one that doesn’t make sense, and one that takes away so much potential really leaves you grasping at straws. The danger is grasping onto the wrong straw, the short straw, the straw that tells you that something in your past is the reason why you are experiencing something in the present moment. 

For me, every one of our losses has opened the door to guilt that stems from a decision in childhood.  When I was in 4th grade, I kicked my teacher. I kicked her hard. It was an extremely violent choice. Consequences stemmed from this incident. I was put into a separate school. I was labeled “aggressive” and “bad.”  

I was dealing with an unstable and tough home life. I was still finding the right tools to learn with my Dyslexia, and I was angry, so I acted. 

When I returned back to my regular school after a year and a half, I began hearing rumors about myself. In those 18 months, I changed, my life changed. I was hitting my groove of understanding what I needed to do in order to be safe, to have others around me be safe, and to grow as a young person should. So, hearing the rumor that my actions caused someone to lose a baby, really, really, hit me hard.  My friends, my family, kept telling me to focus and move on from the rumors and eventually I came to terms with them.

With our first loss,  the guilt pushed in. At first,  I rationalized it. I said “Ok, 1 for 1 apparently, ok.”  Then our second loss happened, and it broke me. I felt punished, I felt like I was the reason this happening to us. By our third loss, I felt like it was squarely my fault. I felt like this is on me, this is karma, this is my atonement, this is my burden. 

Recently, I have explored this in counseling and even typing this, it makes me realize how silly it is. Right? I can’t find anywhere in my bible creating such a link. There are other problems in my life that I don’t make such a link…so why does this impact me so? 

I think, because this grief sucks. There is no reason for these losses, but as humans, we need to justify it somehow. We need to blame someone, somehow, and well, our past transgressions fit nicely into that. I think for me, not physically experiencing the losses as my wife did, made me search for physical pain. Replaying how it felt to hurt someone, replaying how that contact jolted my body, really created that feeling, that sullen connection. 

October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month (PAIL), I feel like the best way to raise awareness is to chip away at the falsehood that a loss is a punishment. There are so many people in this crappy club and we need to be open to the shame that others feel when experiencing pregnancy loss. We need to support each other and to call it out. Especially us guys in this club. We have to be prepared to not “bro out” but to listen. We need to be more vulnerable with each other, especially when it comes to some of the shame we push down.

I share my story today in the hopes to be vulnerable. I share my story with the hopes that you reading this may feel ok to be vulnerable, too. Because when we feel like we deserved this, it creates a wedge between coming to terms with our grief and moving forward in life with this grief. This is not a punishment.

Category : Paul , Volunteer Bloggers


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Burgers, Brats, and a Bit of Grief

Since our losses, I really hate small group settings with other guys, especially if I do not know them very well. BBQs have become especially anxiety-inducing.  Mostly because after the baseball talk is over, after I find out they don’t play fantasy football, that they’re not into Marvel or DC Comics but love the Walking Dead, (I even binge-watched GOT to cover my grounds)  the talk always turns to kids. Not just kids, but having more. 

Not to sound flippant here, but to be honest, the odds are if you are in a group of 3 other dudes and yourself, that no other guy in that group has experienced pregnancy loss. That’s awfully isolating, right? Especially if the chest-puffing begins with the details ”Yeah, we’re good with two, but if three happens, that’s good too” or “They’re our last, no matter. I’m getting snipped.” Then sitting there trying to time your bites of your burger just right not to get drawn in, all eyes turn to you: ”So how about you guys? When is J getting a little brother or sister?” 

At this moment, the nervous chewing begins and lots of thoughts pepper internally. Do I lie? Do I joke? Is this a chest-beating social interaction where they are establishing virility and want to know if I am manly enough for the pack? Am I going to make this an awkward situation if I just drop my truth? Am I going to cry when I talk? Will my voice crack? Awww…crap, this burger is now a liquid and I have to talk. 

It’s kind of like being a deer in headlights. For a while, I just laughed and lied and changed the subject, especially when we were only a few weeks or so removed from the pregnancies. Now recently I was in this same situation above, and I changed my response. In a deadpan voice I spoke my truth. Not graphic, just the truth. 

“Welp, we’ve had a few losses.” The air was sucked from the little circle in which we found ourselves. It got uncomfortable, some condolences were given, and some primal grunting, and a “well look at that” and they exit.

While yes it was uncomfortable,  it created a moment of realization. In that group where everything was stripped away,  there were feelings and authentic reactions. 

That is where we have to start. That’s where healing is, in being authentic about the grief and letting it happen whatever and wherever it needs to happen. 

And while this conversation ended the way it did, being honest has opened the doors to other conversations with men about this. You hear stories about infertility, you hear stories of grief, and those connections build. These conversations not only build an important bridge to others but one that allows you to cross the chasm of your own grief. In the end, talking about the losses helps you continue this journey that will never be over and one you never asked to start.

Category : Paul , Volunteer Bloggers


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Let’s Grieve Like a Hero

The last place you thought you’d get a mild Endgame spoiler would be a blog on experiencing pregnancy and infant loss, but yes I’m going to write something spoilerish, so if you want to and haven’t seen Endgame yet, go see it and then come back and read this…

Grief for men in mainstream film is rarely depicted accurately. If you’re a dude in a blockbuster movie, grief makes you do two things: Channel all of it into anger and revenge, or channel it into revenge and anger. If you go by the summer blockbuster, your grief is gone the moment you exact revenge. In real life we don’t get that luxury especially when you can’t wage war across universes when it comes to your grief over a pregnancy loss…I mean who is there to even fight?

That is why when I saw Avengers Endgame the other day I was shocked by Thor (no pun intended). In Endgame we see the Thunder God lash out to seek revenge for his grief and frankly gets it, about 10 minutes into the film, but it doesn’t fix anything, it doesn’t fix his grief.

In the following scenes, you see how much it actually impacts him. He isolates himself, he drinks a “God”ly (pun intended) amount, he’s letting his anger seethe out in weird ways, and most importantly he’s low, he’s real low.

I immediately related, and not just because I had a Thor-like body all of a sudden but because I saw my own grief on that screen. I felt what it was like to talk to family and friends, ashamed and anxious. I felt that self doubt that I would ever be “myself” again.

It was real grief on the screen…it was grief that doesn’t just go away with one single act of revenge. It depicts the journey that grief is. In three hours you see Thor’s anxieties and insecurities, you see him run, you see him hide, you see him open up his heart, and watch as he lets some of that go.

One moment hit me hard in particular as Thor stands upright, for what feels like the first time in the movie, outstretches his hand and waits. What he summons isn’t just an old friend but something that defines him as a person, something that tells him he is worthy, and it comes to him.

I can’t tell you how often on my grief journey I have felt less than, unworthy because of my grief, but in truth, grief doesn’t make you unworthy, it doesn’t make you any less of a hero or a person. It means you ARE human, it means you ARE being heroic because you are feeling.

I really urge you to find a way to see that, even if when you hold out your hand you don’t receive what you lost, you may find something else, some power to continue on that hero path you are on.

Category : Paul , Volunteer Bloggers


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5 Ways to Start Communicating After A Loss

Ever talk to an animal and expect a response? Like the Zebra is going to say “Hey Chuck, thanks for being here. The reenactment of the Lion King scene is at 2, get there early it fills up quick”? This is the argument I have with my Mom whenever she signs to gorillas in ASL at any zoo we go to. However, there will always be a barrier between that animal and you, no matter how hard you try. Maybe, this is why after our first loss it was so hard for me to communicate with Sara, because it felt like there was this barrier that seemed insurmountable.

In reality, it was more because we were both underwater and we couldn’t truly understand each other, but we were saying the same thing. So how do you communicate after a loss? While not perfect here are some things that worked for us.

Counseling: It really helped to be in a setting where we could work on the mechanics of our communication. While yes getting the emotions out is important, getting the top off the jar, really changes the function of the jar. Try to find one that specializes in grief, or even in interpersonal communication.

Find thunder buddies: Find a couple or a group who has gone through a similar loss and feel comfortable speaking about. It was so helpful to come together to speak to another couple in a group dynamic and more one on one. Then come back as a couple and debrief. Often times Sara and I would share easier when we could phrase similar feelings expressed by our friends.

Non-verbal: Rub shoulders, hug tighter, hold hands, or even use facial expressions to communicate. I have a really hard time shutting up so this is tough for me. After our first loss, sometimes Sara didn’t want to talk. Rubbing her shoulders or hugging her tighter allowed me to feel if her back had knots which means stress and this information helped me create a less stressful environment.

Laugh: Watch stupid movies, go to a comedy club, go to a concert, and just laugh. While you may feel guilty those moments during a tough time will allow much-needed levity.

Acknowledge and reaffirm roles in the loss: It is so easy to want to point fingers, to feel guilt and shame. However, it is essential to talk about the roles in the loss. Start by speaking to your doctor as a couple. Get the facts. Then try to talk about your role in that fact, not your role in that feeling. This doesn’t assign blame but instead gives an opportunity to grow together out of the swamp.

Finally, one more, which technically makes this 6… don’t forget to say “ I love you” because truly, in the end, you can hear that and feel that from miles and miles away and no matter how deep underwater you might feel.

Category : Paul , Volunteer Bloggers


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What Am I Doing Here?

It’s a question that I’ve asked a lot over the years.  I’ll admit sometimes, more than others, mostly in college, I truly had no clue. Most of the time I can answer that question with the simple answer of “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have said/done that.”

On that summer day, as I sat in silence with my wife, on that hillside, under a small tree which seemed to give just enough shade just for Sara and myself, I asked myself quietly “What am I doing here?”

We sat silently watching people’s lives continue as our lives were changing.  We tried to reason and answer the question with short bursts of denial. “Well, we have one more blood test to check numbers!” “The doctor didn’t say that the baby wasn’t actually not viable!” In the end, the truth was…I was there, we were there because we had a miscarriage.

There is no reason for that moment, to that destination. It’s a place that has no real answer. Because “here” after a loss is relative. It’s nowhere, it’s everywhere, and my experience was completely different than Sara’s because, well, she was having a separate experience of that same loss.

It’s that fog that created so many issues after our first loss. It tripped us up. We retreated to our corners, to find our own answer to “What am I doing here?” That isolation is a terrible place to be. It took me so long to talk to someone, it took me so long to reach out to other men who also had a miscarriage, it took me too long to recognize my wife’s own issues and needs. All because I was asking “What am I doing here” and not seeing the truth of the situation which is “We are here.”

It sucks, but it’s true. We are here. We are in a horrible club, bonded by grief yet we are here, cemented in the strength, together. It’s maybe not the answer to the “What”, the “How”, the “When”, the “Why” but it is the answer to the “Who”.  We.

Through The Heart is a wonderful resource for the We. I feel grateful that I will be able to share with you my story, my thoughts, my experiences, through my lens and I look forward to growing in 2019 through yours.

Category : Paul , Volunteer Bloggers


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If you've come to this blog, it likely means you have suffered a pregnancy loss of some type. We are so sorry you have found yourself here, but hope the stories of life after loss can help you on your road to healing and recovery. Remember, we are all in this together!

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