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Miscarriage: My Husband Seemed Relieved!

QUESTION: I recently had a miscarriage after an unplanned pregnancy. I was devastated, but my husband seemed relieved, though he never said so. I have wanted a baby so much since then that I almost can't think of anything else. My husband cannot understand it. I really love him, but this is driving me CRAZY. How can I accept his feelings?

ANSWER: Both you and your husband shared initial upset and ambivalence when you believed you were to become parents unexpectedly. The visceral experience of pregnancy no doubt helped you attach to this reality in a deeper and more immediate way than might have been the case for your husband. You may have been working on the bonding necessary to welcome your child, while he was working through the anxiety you both shared. It is natural that you would be expressing the grief about this sudden change in events, while he would be experiencing the relief.

Your husband's "relief" in no way obliterates loss, however. It is possible to experience both sadness for the loss of the pregnancy and relief that your preparation for parenthood is now extended. Do not expect him to grieve in exactly the same way you do, but do not mourn in isolation. Plan a ritual together for saying "good-bye" to this potential child. Take a walk to a special place in nature, plant flowers or throw a stone out to sea. Create a ceremony to help you release your sadness and crystallize the feelings that this pregnancy has brought forth for each one of you.

Talk together about what this journey has put you through, and the feelings that have arisen. Create a safe atmosphere for differences so that your sharing is productive. Honest expression of feelings and the ability to accept similar as well as different emotions about this experience can provide opportunity for greater closeness instead of distance.

It is not unusual for a miscarriage to blossom into a commitment to parenthood. In your case, pregnancy has clarified your desire and readiness for motherhood. Share this transformation with your husband. Perhaps he has experienced something similar. Your next pregnancy may well be a planned one. Perhaps you will find that this pregnancy had its own purpose that has been fulfilled afterall.

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Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter..

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