My wife and I were ecstatic! Our first baby! We talked about names, what we thought they would look like, and hoping they had some of each other’s features. My wife communicated how she was excited for raising a baby with her sister and friends who had just started the journey with us. I, on the other hand, had my own excitements. I looked forward to little league, playing catch, wrestling in the living room, and sitting on the couch just holding them. I, like my wife, was looking forward to a third member of our family that we could love unconditionally. It seemed that we and every one of our peers were entering the next chapter of adulthood together—children.
Joy turned to sorrow though, as we discovered that our little man’s heart stopped beating just shy of the end of the first trimester. Leaving that hospital was one of the heaviest walks I have ever had. Walking in celebrating life, walking out mourning death.
My wife and I were devastated, both suffering. Her suffering bore an incredible weight. I remember waking up at night to her weeping, saying, “I just want my baby, Lord.” I hated those nights. Weeks afterward, I found myself in a weird spot. I was experiencing a different kind of pain. I wasn’t carrying the child, but I still had a connection. I didn’t share all the dreams my wife had with motherhood, but my fatherhood dreams came crashing down. I found that most counseling blogs or articles written about coping with a miscarriage were written for women. By no means am I minimizing that pain, but I asked myself “How do I mourn?”What promises of God can help me? What truths can I cling to in times of pain? How is God working this for good in my life and in my marriage?
Below are three lessons I learned as a father through miscarriage:
- My wife needs Jesus more than me
When I saw my child’s lifeless body on the ultrasound, I felt completely hopeless. Helpless. I couldn’t protect my wife from this kind of pain. I remember in premarital counseling being told that I was called to protect her, die for her whenever, wash her with the Word…but I wasn’t prepared for this. As a husband, I found myself in a position that could do nothing—humbled.
It was in the next few weeks after the death of Jerusalem (the name of our first child) that I learned that my wife needs Jesus more than she needs me. Matthew 11:28-30 says for all who are heavy laden to come to Jesus and he will give you rest. Through the death of Jerusalem, I learned that I served my wife as a visual reminder that she needs grace from Christ more than she needs me.
Husbands, this is a different kind of pain because you have to show weakness here to point your wife to the only strong source in her life—Jesus Christ. To truly comfort your wife and for you to experience peace, go to Jesus! He is the only foundation that can take the weight of any sorrow you bring.
- I learned to pray with my wife authentically
The best prayer life I had with my wife were the weeks following our miscarriage. I experienced God’s Spirit move in new ways once I learned to just pray at every moment. I tried to distract us from the pain at first, but it only put bandages on bullet holes. The different kind of pain I had to embrace here was to pray while weeping and communicate the lack of answers I had. In this season I learned to pray Scripture. God’s Word. No phrase of mine will cure my heart, so I had to learn what God’s Words were. Only when we soaked our tear-filled prayers with his life-giving words, did we find hope. In other words, we suffered with hope.
- Jesus is a better father than I’ll ever be
The hardest part of Jerusalem’s death for me was accepting the death of my child. I never met him, but I had an emotional attachment to him. If God’s Word is true, which it is, I know that Jerusalem has a personality, he is a unique person, and no one else will be like him. As I mourned the loss of Jerusalem, 2 Corinthians 4:14 brought me the most comfort out of all the beautiful promises of God. It says: “knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.”
We know that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. His heart was stopped, yet three days later it started again. My son, though his heart stopped, one day it will not stop. One day Jerusalem’s body will have no issues and be whole, completely right, and it is solely by the power of Jesus Christ and his perfect grace. It was here I learned that Jesus is a better father than I’ll ever be. Jesus Christ cares for my child more than I ever could on this side of grace. Knowing the character of God, I can know that one day I will see Jerusalem again.
Husband…father…your experience with a miscarriage is indeed a different kind of pain. Many won’t ask how you are personally doing; some will disregard it completely. Know that Jesus sees everything. Know that Jesus cares! Learn to lean into Christ’s grace in your marriage, learn to pray authentically with your wife the promises of God, embrace the goodness of God that Jesus is a better father than you, and rest in the fact that one day all will be made new before the Lord with perfect heartbeats, all looking at the beauty of Christ.