From Hate to Healing
Guest Post by Kristyn
I found out I was pregnant 6 months after our wedding. As I watched that second little pink line on the pregnancy test get darker and darker, I instantly fell in love with the tiny being inside me. I remember my husband Mark just staring at me as I told him we were having a baby. I jumped up and down, and he sat quietly smiling. That sums us up: I’m a dreamer and overly emotional. He’s practical and in control of his emotions.
We were living our dreams. My belly grew, we picked our son’s name, we planned our life. And then the world came tumbling down when we learned our son had alobar holoprosencephaly, a fatal condition. The day I delivered our tiny baby boy Joseph, I was in awe of his tiny feet and tiny ears and perfect little lips. He was mine. I was his mother.
Mark stayed strong. He took care of me. He held my hand when we picked Joseph’s casket. He didn’t flinch when I asked the mortuary if I could hold my son again. He didn’t judge me when I didn’t leave the house for two months because I was afraid to see babies and pregnant women. He went to the children’s birthday parties I couldn’t attend. He went to work. He moved forward. And all I could do was sit in my baby boy’s nursery and sob until I was numb.
One day I was so angry at Mark. Why did he not want to go to our support group anymore? Why did he not cry? Why did he not talk about Joseph more often? Then the words came like daggers to my heart. “This isn’t like when my dad died. This doesn’t affect me like that did.” And that’s the moment it happened. I hated my husband.
Life went on. We had a daughter Leah. She was my rainbow baby. Her birth brought happiness to my dark world. Twenty-two months later, our son Evan was born. His sweet and gentle spirit made everything better.
Right before Evan’s first birthday I started to suffer from severe anxiety. Mark would sit up at night with me as I had panic attack after panic attack. He would rub my head for hours and hours until I fell asleep. He loved me when I couldn’t love myself. And yet, I hated my husband.
The anxiety got so severe I started seeing a therapist. Three sessions in, we talked about my grief versus how Mark grieved. The therapist saw it. I didn’t have to say it. “You hate him for what he said, don’t you?” she asked. I nodded. She encouraged me to talk to him about it. I resisted. There was nothing he could say that would ever make up for what he had done.
A few months later, we attended the funeral of a friend’s triplet babies who had been born prematurely. I watched my husband break down. I held him as he sobbed in my arms. I looked at him and my heart broke. I knew it was time.
At home, I sat on the bath tub while he was brushing his teeth getting ready for bed. I looked at this man who is loved by everyone, who is kind to everyone, who is the best dad any child could ever have. He was my world and I carried this hate. I had to ask him.
He said he didn’t realize the magnitude of his love for Joseph until we had living children. I became a mom when I got pregnant, but he didn’t feel like a dad until he got to parent our children. He didn’t know how to bond with a baby he only got to see for 15 minutes. He couldn’t let himself cry or be weak because he had to stay strong for me. He said that at the funeral earlier that day, he finally got to grieve for Joseph. He knew I was finally strong enough to hold him up. It was his release. He said nothing in his life could ever hurt as badly as losing Joseph. It just took him time to understand it all.
Everything changed after that. I realized I never hated my husband. I hated that I wasn’t strong enough for him to be weak. I hated that I didn’t take the time to understand his journey. I hated that I gave up on him.
I’m so grateful he never gave up on me.
Kristyn von Rotz is the cofounder of OC Walk to Remember, a nonprofit organization that supports families in Orange County, California, that have lost a baby in pregnancy or infancy (ocwalktoremember.org). She has three living children, and is the mother to Joseph, and an angel baby lost to miscarriage. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org