Twelve months ago I wrote the words that follow:
‘Tomorrow I say goodbye to my daughter, my little Angel. She was born in the arms of God on the 11th March 2015 at 7:55am. It is a day that I thought would never happen to my family, and to be honest, it should never happen to anyone.
It has been the hardest and most heart wrenching time in my life. The feeling that we have done something wrong, the feeling that I will never have a child of my own with my genes. I was so looking forward to being a Daddy. I am lucky to be dad to my stepchildren, although they are not just ‘step’ children to me, but I also wanted to be ‘Daddy’. I wanted my little girl to run to the window when she heard the garage door open to see if I was home. I wanted her to rush to me as I walked in the door for a cuddle. I wanted her to climb up on the couch and fall asleep in my arms.
Today, twelve months later, I sit in another hospital room – the same as the one I sat in when we lost our Angel. The difference is, today I sit here holding my beautiful rainbow baby daughter, Summer. I have had tears of joy, but I also have had tears of sadness, and altogether they make me feel blessed because I now can be a Daddy. I can see her waiting at the window when I arrive home from work. And all the things I wanted before can happen, and more.
Losing a child at birth doesn’t only affect mothers. It also leaves a lasting hole in a father’s heart as well. I had a conversation with another father in the parents lounge in the hospital this morning at about 3am while we were both giving our partners a chance to sleep without a crying baby.
This father asked me if Summer was my first child, and at first I said, “Yes, my first other than my stepson Max”, but I corrected myself and said, “No we actually lost a baby this time last year”.
To my surprise, the father I was talking to had also lost a child at birth a few years back, and now had been blessed with a rainbow baby. He said that he didn’t talk about the loss of his baby often and it made me realise that I don’t either. But the big question is why? Why as fathers don’t we talk about the loss of our babies? Why is it something we keep to ourselves? Is it because we didn’t carry the baby inside us for months? Or is it because we didn’t have to physically birth our little Angel baby? Is it because there’s a perception that it only affects the mother and we don’t want to seem weak? All of that could be true and valid, but I know first-hand that it does affect us as fathers, in many ways too, and that there should be nothing wrong in acknowledging that.
The moment I heard the words, “I am sorry. There is no heartbeat”, my heart sunk and I instantly felt empty. It affected me when I watched my wife go through what she went through to deliver Angel. I hurt that day twelve months ago, and I still hurt today. These Angels are still a part of us and we have still lost a child. Fathers need to be supported as much as mothers, and need to know it is ok to talk about their Angel. Fathers could be supporting other fathers to help remove the stigma around Dads and stillbirth.
Make it your resolve to talk about it and not hide the fact you are a father of a stillborn baby.
Written by – Matt Casey, father to his Angel baby.