My Husband the Hulk

  For my husband, among the whole range of horrible emotions in the wake of Isobel’s death, anger has been the predominant force. 

Simon is angry with society, who do not pay enough attention to stillbirth. He rants about the amount of money spent in Northern Ireland on the pointless sectarian conflict when it could be invested in research and health care for pregnant women. He’s angry with the medical profession who do not have enough awareness or knowledge of the warning signs. Simon is angry with the welfare system which has forced him to return to work before he feels ready, as the statutory sick pay is woefully inadequate. He is angry with the very idea of religion, and with the people who speak of his daughter being in a better place than with her loving parents. He is angry with his mother who does not mention our loss and instead sends us pictures and videos of things like dogs swimming to cheer us up. He is angry with friends who have not visited. He is angry with Arsenal who let him down by losing the first game of the season. In addition to all these targets of his rage, at times, Simon is angry with me. 

This evening, after his first full day back at work, Simon came home tired, upset and in need of some TLC. Unfortunately I had plans with friends that had been made a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t been out of the house all day and with Simon at work, was really looking forward to seeing my friends. Maybe I should have cancelled my plans and stayed at home with him but at the time it felt that what I needed to do for my own wellbeing was to go. I was also conscious that my friends would worry about me if I cancelled at such short notice, not to mention that one friend was already on her way to pick me up. Off I went, with Simon in what can only be described as a ‘huff’ and refusing to kiss me goodbye!

Fast forward a few hours and now I’m home, having not really enjoyed the evening anyway with part of my mind at home with my cross husband. I found Simon in Isobel’s room, curled up with the blankets that wrapped our baby during her brief time with us. He told me he doesn’t want to speak to me and asked me to leave the room. I know that he is hurting and he needs me right now and I know that underneath he wants me too, but his anger makes him push me away. It is the most ironic and unhelpful of coping responses. 

Nothing makes me feel so alone like Simon being annoyed with me. I have reached for my phone to ring my mum or a friend but I can’t (won’t?) talk to anyone because I don’t want them to think badly of him for how he is dealing with his grief. I sit alone and think of the relationships that disintegrate following the loss of a child and I worry that Isobel’s loss will shatter us rather than strengthen us. This feels too much to cope with for a couple in our first year of marriage. Another ‘should’ to add to the list, we should be enjoying our honeymoon period not drowning in our grief – dragging each other further down rather than supporting each other to float. I’m aware that I’m catastrophising; one arguement does not a divorce make. (What do you call an arguement when no voices have been raised or harsh words spoken?!). However for the first time since we met, I can imagine how this could develop, I can imagine a future when we are not together, and that scares me more than anything has scared me since this whole nightmare began. The thought of losing Simon after losing Isobel, well, I can’t even finish that sentence. 

I know that while Simon directs anger all around, at everyone and everything, really he is only angry at one fact: Isobel died. He is angry because he wanted her, because he loved her and because she is not here. So I will try not to take it personally, I will try not to retaliate and I will resist being pushed away when the anger comes for me. I will remember how amazing Simon was from the moment we heard that Isobel’s heart had stopped, how he helped me through labour, how he held our little girl and looked at her with such love, how proud I was when he spoke so beautifully at her funeral, how he has held me so tightly every time I’ve cried. 

I will remember that I love him and remind him that he loves me and I will hope that that will be enough. 

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15 thoughts on “My Husband the Hulk

    1. Oh Tanya, I’m so sorry for your loss. I just wish no one ever had to go through this. I will read your blog as you get a chance to write it. I too have PCOS and my daughter was conceived after being told we wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally so it makes it all the more difficult to lose our wee miracle baby. I have no good advice or words of comfort for you but feel free to message me any time xx

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      1. It’s very sad that anyone has to go through this šŸ˜¦ I wish we didn’t either. I can not imagine being full term and it happening. It hurts enough with it happening in the middle of my second trimester!

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      2. It hurts like hell Tanya! I know we were closer to meeting our baby than you were but it’s still such a painful loss at any stage. How are you keeping? X

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      3. I know what you mean, sometime being positive is way too much of a stretch! I had a set back with the post-mortem results last week so am still reeling from that a little but trying to regain my balance! Went to a SANDS support group tonight, it’s good to chat with people who totally get it!!! I’d recommend giving a group a try if you haven’t already x

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      4. I never did a post-mortem as I’m pretty sure a placental abruption was my problem. However I am still waiting on those results and not sure how I will react when I get the pathology report. I need to look into groups as I think it would help or some sort of counselling. So did the post-mortem give you anything new or was it unhelpful?

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      5. I’ve written a post about it, basically we got an answer but it’s a rare condition that could happen again and there’s no treatment as yet so it all feels a bit hopeless at the minute. Just trying to process it all. It was definitely hard seeing all the details in the report and imagining my baby as she was dying. No one should have to have those images in their head.

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      6. I don’t believe that babies can feel pain in the womb. Maybe you can take comfort in knowing she always felt loved by you. I have been doing a lot of reading on spirit babies and our life paths and I feel it’s calming me. I feel like no baby should ever have to die but maybe it happened for a reason. There’s also the idea that their soul can come back. I understand that knowing this could happen again would make you scared though as its a terrible pain to bear šŸ˜¦

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  1. My husband and I also each dealt with the loss of our daughter very differently. Gender and personality certainly impact how we cope with the loss of a little one. A couple of things that we found helpful early on were meeting with the doctor who delivered Isabelle to ask questions, meeting regularly with a grief counselor, developing a few traditions in which to remember her, and taking a weekend trip together just to spend time removed from everything. I definitely had days when I was really angry about our situation and how unfair everything seemed to be, but looking back on it, those days became fewer as time progressed.

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    1. We’re generally really good at talking but that particular night it took a while to get there! We’re both determined to support each other and come through this together but it’s so hard when we’re both struggling. We’re going to see the hospital psychologist which hopefully will be useful in talking about how we’re both reacting. We are hoping to meet with our consultant next week to get our postmortem results and I’ve no idea if that will be helpful or might set us back. I guess it’s just plodding along as best we can and dealing with everything as it comes along. Thank you for sharing some of your experiences, it is really helpful to know we’re not alone in struggling with this xx

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  2. Oh boy do I relate to what you wrote here, specifically about your husband. When my wife and I lost our baby boy, we both grieved in very different ways. The important thing… the VITAL thing, if you don’t want to become another statistic … is that you always come back together after the “different” grieving styles. Give each other space, yes, but don’t let the other person retreat too far. In my time since… 15 years now… I’ve met a lot of people and spoken to numerous groups, and the marriages that fail do so because the couples give each other TOO much space and they just go their own way into their own grief.

    There has to be something MORE… Yes, grieving is necessary, but you can’t allow yourselves to be labeled solely or defined as Parents of a Child Who Died. You’ve got to do something more with your suffering and grief. The couples I’ve seen make it, they became a support for those who went through the situation after them. They were a link in the chain that binds us together. That’s what we’re here for.

    I’m not going to hit you with religious things because, well, despite being a Christian myself I know how much I HATED pithy Christianisms when I was going through the point where you are now. So what I will say is this: You have a role to play now in something beyond yourself. And you can do that better if you’re together. So yes, give each other space, but come back together. Always. To cry, to be angry, to listen, and eventually to laugh, enjoy being newlyweds, to finding that “new normal.”

    More than anything else, that needs to be your No. 1 priority now, because like I said, you’ve got work to do in the future. Not now. Now, you hurt. You grieve. But you get up eventually, and you do your work. People will need you.

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments. I can see the wisdom in your words and hope so much that we can keep coming back together in our grief. Things have been better since I wrote this post and we’ve had some positive times together which has made me feel more hopeful. My husband is the closest I will ever get to my baby and I’m determined not to lose him too!!

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