The following article comes from a fellow grieving dad and guest blogger Thom Gonyeau. He is kind enough to share his story and also discuss some of the challenges he faces as he moves forward through the aftermath of losing a child. I can relate with many elements in this piece. My wife and I also went through extensive IVF treatments and have given thoughts to future adoptions, but I deal with the fears of losing another child. Anyone else deal with fears as they move forward?
Scared to Look Back – Afraid to Look Forward
Every grieving dad’s story is unique. I know mine is. Like many couples, my wife and I (who married late) struggled to get pregnant. We used the wonders of modern science to work on our behalf and were successful. Our first pregnancy with twins ended in a double miscarriage. The next round of IVF again brought joy, but when our daughter, Catherine, was born prematurely at 21 weeks (two years ago today), we could only hold her a few minutes before she passed. We experienced a new, deeper level of grief. But our story (nightmare) was far from over.
Forming an adoption plan has its own series of landmines, but loss of a child wasn’t one that concerned us. We were focused on dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s and hoping the birth parents wouldn’t change their mind. They didn’t and our son, Grant, was born last October. We were instantly submerged in caring for our little guy, enjoying the sweetness, and craving sleep. But all that changed on Thanksgiving Day when our infant son, safely nestled in his car seat, sleeping peacefully in our safety-conscious car … just stopped breathing.
What was to be a joyous introduction of our son to my wife’s family instead became a tragic day. I can recall with no effort images of shock, emergency, trauma, hospital, and ultimately hopelessness. No man should ever see the lifeless body of his son. No man.
The last year has been sometimes a blur, sometimes a prison. It’s unthinkable what message the universe might be sending our way. The countless tears and ever-present anxiety are never far away. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the love, support, and care of friends were just as close. Laughter and good days even found their way back to our doorstep, though the memories of six short weeks with Grant offer sobering contrast.
The call came not long ago. There’s another little boy in our future. My wife and I struggled (with the help of our grief counselor) on the timing and the circumstances. Could we possibly open our hearts and home to another male infant born in October? The similarities to our situation just a year ago are startling. We did our version of contemplation and talking and find our way on the path to adoption.
He’ll arrive in just a few weeks, just a few days short of the anniversary of Grant’s birthday. Clearly, the universe has a cruel sense of humor or a mysterious way of helping us move forward. Religious or not, it’s hard not to believe that our first son is shepherding to us our next son. Perhaps his message is that he’s ok. Perhaps his message is that we’re ok. Either way, our hearts just keep growing bigger to make room.
Yes, looking back is scary. These past two years have been filled with dark days. And yet, it’s no easier to take that deep breath and move the body and mind into what will be. But something tells me, we’ll find the courage to welcome a little boy with open arms and open hearts. Resiliency, grace and hope as our guide.