The Toll of Pregnancy And Child Loss On Couples

August 12, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone

"There comes a point where it all becomes too much. When we get too tired to fight anymore so we give up. That's when the real work begins. To find hope where there seems to be absolutely nothing at all." - Grey's Anatomy 

Do not be fooled into thinking that my husband and I have have the perfect relationship. We don't. No one does.

We're not legally married, but have been and live together for a long time and consider ourselves "married." After losing Elijah, things aren't the same anymore. I'm not saying this to blame ourselves or our loss, but that after the whole traumatic hospital, birth, and now, grieving experience, it is taking a toll onto our relationship.

Before getting pregnant, we were going through financial difficulties. After loss, we are now in a very deep financial rut. Things just keep piling up and nothing seems to give us a break. While we are struggling, it seems that help isn't available and pretty much on our own to figure out how to get out of this mess. I honestly have to say that even family isn't available, everyone has their own problems. So now, we feel like a burden or at least, I feel like my own burden.

I also have to mention that after a stillbirth, it gets expensive. I was very fortunate in having health care coverage to pay for all of the hospital expenses. I saw on paper that it costs about an estimated $1,000 or more for a vaginal delivery and about another $1,000 for an emergency c-section! Additionally, we were on our own with paying for Elijah's cremation, which was about three hundred or so dollars. A burial would have been much more costly! You would think that for a very, very small baby - smaller than the average size - you would at least get some perks (and we did, we got the urn for "free") but a cremation is so unreasonably expensive!

A stillbirth also costs you your sanity and well, your whole life. We both have paid so much and were left empty - in our pockets and our arms.

I often feel that this loss took everything from me. I now understand when parents say that their "kids are everything." 

On the bright side, I never thought of my son or having kids as a burden. Children bring to us something in life that money could never buy and I have learned this since I was young. I know that if Elijah was here, it is likely that we will still have financial issues, but who doesn't? At the very least, I would have had a son who loves and depends on me. I would have had the blessing in my life of the opportunity to witness the growth and unfolding of something so innocent and beautiful - something that I co-created with my husband and the Universe!

Unfortunately, I have heard of many couples separating or on the verge of separating because of certain experiences after loss. Because apparently, men and women grieve differently. The pain of losing a child is just too much and loss can intensify everything. Things escalate faster, emotions rouse even harder, misunderstandings can become constant or a norm, many suffer silently or hide, some run away, or seek desperately for something to heal or take away or distract the pain.

I pray so much that couples find a way to make things work, work together, and be patient and gentle with each other. They created a beautiful baby that died knowing nothing but that their parents love them and it would be a tragedy to not only lose a child, but a bond that created the child... I also pray for the same thing for myself and my husband.

However, staying together after loss isn't easy; I know from my own experience.

Losing a child is much bigger than financial woes. Losing a child means that there was a death and it takes a great deal to heal after the death of those we never expected to lose. 

Losing a child is no ordinary or average situation to experience in relationships or marriage. Losing a child is a loss of a lifetime and is never something you can forget. I am sure that whether separated or still together after loss, losing a child has scarred mothers and fathers for life. Because losing a child isn't some petty argument, losing a child is a loss of a life of all three - the child, the mother, and the father. And if there were multiple losses, this just increases the pain.

It takes a lot of continuous forgiving. Forgiving of the self, of your partner, of others, and of loss. And we all know that forgiving doesn't come easy. It also takes a lot of energy to get out of this limbo, this between world of grief and trying to live life and be grateful. Yet, we may never even get out of it and just learn to live in two worlds, like myself. And let me tell you, living a double life is confusing, frustrating, and isolating. The only blessing I can think of is that you can gain a bigger perspective, you can see and experience both worlds in one enormous and grand canvas.

I read a story last night about a teen girl who suffers from pulmonary fibrosis. She struggles to breathe from lungs that only function at 20 percent of the normal lung capacity. She inspires people through her "talks" about finding peace and happiness out of her disability and struggle. Unexpectedly, one of those people she inspired is myself.

She inspired me after reading her words, that since she has pulmonary fibrosis, she might as well have a "happy pulmonary fibrosis."

Every breath of life is precious. Though Elijah never had his first breath of life, he lived inside of me. The fact that he lived meant that he was and still is a precious life.

Maybe what I am trying to say is, since I am struggling with my relationship with Elijah's father and that I lost my son, I might as well have a happy struggle and loss. I know that that's a peculiar thing to say - happiness and struggle/loss are polar opposites - but I might as well do whatever it is in my heart that I know makes me happy. I deserve to be happy anyway. After such a loss, I deserve nothing but to smile and dance with joy again, as do other parents of loss and everyone else.

Through all of my struggles and pain, I know that there will be a day that I am truly grateful for it all. Maybe it should be at this very moment that I am, but currently, what makes me happy is sharing and expressing my truth. 

Grief and living life isn't pretty, it's messy and it can get very dark, and it's a damn frustrating struggle to keep a relationship and marriage afloat in the midst of it all. It's a juggling act of letting go and setting boundaries, and of taking care of someone else, while you're also in pain. It's a call for self-love and true love.

If I have made healing after loss look easy, I have fooled you. Know that I have worked my ass off and given my soul to live another day after losing my son. 

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