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Men Have Miscarriages, Too

I never once stopped to ask my husband how he was handling the loss. After all my introspection and self-discovery, the one thing that escaped my notice in the weeks after the miscarriage was that it wasn't my loss -- it wasloss. I am not alone in making this mistake.
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I used to brag a lot about myself being someone who very rarely was feeling down or sad. Not that I was always cheerfully happy, but most of the time, I was just fine. But it has been some time since that has changed. I'm not quite sure why or when exactly it started, but that scene reversed. I'm usually feeling down, with peaks of happy times. When I'm close to my friends I feel very well. Happy. Fulfilled. And then those moments pass and I'm back to the blue. It bothers me a lot, but I don't know for sure what to do. I suspect it has something to do with concerns about the future. I'm already 21 years old (turning 22 in April) and I'm not established in any path. I always had all of those plans and everything was set in my mind when I was younger. I imaged that by now I'd be in a whole different place than where I am now. Plans didn't work out. Things were set back. I see friends and people my age getting up to their goals and Iᅢ까タᅡルm here, stuck at nowhere. Some are graduating, some are getting married, moving out of their parentᅢ까タᅡルs and Iᅢ까タᅡルm so far behind, in every aspect; romantically, professionally and academically. This year I finally got into college (in here we have public and private ones. The public are the best, but also very hard to get in. I wanted one of those) but Iᅢ까タᅡルm no longer sure thatᅢ까タᅡルs the major I want. Iᅢ까タᅡルve always been good in math, computers and logical stuff, so I went to Information Engineering.  I thought it was the right, Iᅢ까タᅡルm good at it. The first semester was hard to go through, but I got very high grades. Four As and one B. I got the content pretty fast and I didnᅢ까タᅡルt have great difficulties. But I was not happy. I wasnᅢ까タᅡルt amused, didnᅢ까タᅡルt think it was interesting, wasnᅢ까タᅡルt motivated. Differently from a photography class I took over summer, to which I woke up thrilled and excited to go. In my college, I wake up every day discouraged, wanting to get back home. I donᅢ까タᅡルt know, maybe itᅢ까タᅡルs because itᅢ까タᅡルs the beginning. The courses are still introductory and so. But what scares me is that I also like so much to create. Design, photography and that side of the coin. What if thatᅢ까タᅡルs actually what I want to do for my life? I donᅢ까タᅡルt want to go to work every day and feel as I feel when going to college: just a damn obligation. I want to feel happy about what I do, I want to be motivated and think that Iᅢ까タᅡルm making a difference. Iᅢ까タᅡルm afraid I wonᅢ까タᅡルt feel that way working behind a computer. On the other side, everything is very expensive here and you need to have a good job to live well. As a photographer or a designer, that would be really hard. Those fields are much underrated in Brazil. They donᅢ까タᅡルt pay well and itᅢ까タᅡルs not even seen as a real profession. Of course, if you are very good you can work on magazines and editorial stuff, but thatᅢ까タᅡルs really rare. Iᅢ까タᅡルm not THAT creative or good to get one of these top jobs. So probably Iᅢ까タᅡルd end up shooting marriages and prom parties, which wouldnᅢ까タᅡルt also be that amazing. Shorting it all: Iᅢ까タᅡルm completely lost. I have no idea what to do. Keep on engineering or change tracksᅢ까タᅡᆭ Iᅢ까タᅡルm old already and I canᅢ까タᅡルt keep relying on my parents forever. Iᅢ까タᅡルm ambitious and want so much of my life, but I donᅢ까タᅡルt know how to get at it. So many choices, so many doubts and mostly no goddamn answer.
I used to brag a lot about myself being someone who very rarely was feeling down or sad. Not that I was always cheerfully happy, but most of the time, I was just fine. But it has been some time since that has changed. I'm not quite sure why or when exactly it started, but that scene reversed. I'm usually feeling down, with peaks of happy times. When I'm close to my friends I feel very well. Happy. Fulfilled. And then those moments pass and I'm back to the blue. It bothers me a lot, but I don't know for sure what to do. I suspect it has something to do with concerns about the future. I'm already 21 years old (turning 22 in April) and I'm not established in any path. I always had all of those plans and everything was set in my mind when I was younger. I imaged that by now I'd be in a whole different place than where I am now. Plans didn't work out. Things were set back. I see friends and people my age getting up to their goals and Iᅢ까タᅡルm here, stuck at nowhere. Some are graduating, some are getting married, moving out of their parentᅢ까タᅡルs and Iᅢ까タᅡルm so far behind, in every aspect; romantically, professionally and academically. This year I finally got into college (in here we have public and private ones. The public are the best, but also very hard to get in. I wanted one of those) but Iᅢ까タᅡルm no longer sure thatᅢ까タᅡルs the major I want. Iᅢ까タᅡルve always been good in math, computers and logical stuff, so I went to Information Engineering. I thought it was the right, Iᅢ까タᅡルm good at it. The first semester was hard to go through, but I got very high grades. Four As and one B. I got the content pretty fast and I didnᅢ까タᅡルt have great difficulties. But I was not happy. I wasnᅢ까タᅡルt amused, didnᅢ까タᅡルt think it was interesting, wasnᅢ까タᅡルt motivated. Differently from a photography class I took over summer, to which I woke up thrilled and excited to go. In my college, I wake up every day discouraged, wanting to get back home. I donᅢ까タᅡルt know, maybe itᅢ까タᅡルs because itᅢ까タᅡルs the beginning. The courses are still introductory and so. But what scares me is that I also like so much to create. Design, photography and that side of the coin. What if thatᅢ까タᅡルs actually what I want to do for my life? I donᅢ까タᅡルt want to go to work every day and feel as I feel when going to college: just a damn obligation. I want to feel happy about what I do, I want to be motivated and think that Iᅢ까タᅡルm making a difference. Iᅢ까タᅡルm afraid I wonᅢ까タᅡルt feel that way working behind a computer. On the other side, everything is very expensive here and you need to have a good job to live well. As a photographer or a designer, that would be really hard. Those fields are much underrated in Brazil. They donᅢ까タᅡルt pay well and itᅢ까タᅡルs not even seen as a real profession. Of course, if you are very good you can work on magazines and editorial stuff, but thatᅢ까タᅡルs really rare. Iᅢ까タᅡルm not THAT creative or good to get one of these top jobs. So probably Iᅢ까タᅡルd end up shooting marriages and prom parties, which wouldnᅢ까タᅡルt also be that amazing. Shorting it all: Iᅢ까タᅡルm completely lost. I have no idea what to do. Keep on engineering or change tracksᅢ까タᅡᆭ Iᅢ까タᅡルm old already and I canᅢ까タᅡルt keep relying on my parents forever. Iᅢ까タᅡルm ambitious and want so much of my life, but I donᅢ까タᅡルt know how to get at it. So many choices, so many doubts and mostly no goddamn answer.

Of the five stages of grief, I tend to linger in anger the longest. After I miscarried my first child, I simmered with anger for weeks, furious at the world for a variety of reasons. Infused with my old energy now that my pregnancy was no longer exhausting me, I attacked my home in an effort to clean my way to healing.

In all my furious scrubbing of baseboards, though, I never once stopped to ask my husband how he was handling the loss. After all my introspection and self-discovery, the one thing that escaped my notice in the weeks after the miscarriage was that it wasn't my loss -- it was our loss. I am not alone in making this mistake.

Time after time, when a woman bares herself and talks about her miscarriage, the story is the same: I feel so alone, it's like my husband doesn't even care. He doesn't say anything to me. It's like this never even happened for him.

Even taking it outside the intimacy of a marriage, or even an extended family, let's consider how society treats men whose partners have lost a baby. Men are rarely asked how they're coping, and the focus is often placed on the recovery of the woman. How's she healing? How's she feeling? She's fine? OK, let's stop talking about it, then. How about those Wildcats?

As an artist and a filmmaker and an activist, my goal is to take the taboo away from miscarriage and change how people talk about loss. Many other women share my goal, and share their stories with the world in an attempt to take the shame away. We have absolutely no hope of doing that if we leave out half of the population.

We simply need to start acknowledging that men suffer a loss when a pregnancy is lost. Women don't have a corner on the grief market.

Our culture is rife with stereotypes about how a man should feel or should behave in the face of hardship. It's enough to discourage most men from entering the conversation at all. We raise men to be strong, the emotional pillars of our families. They should "be there" for their wives when they cry. It's hard for many men to show some vulnerability and admit that they mourn their lost child as much as their wife does.

Add in our cultural attitudes that tend to dismiss early loss, and it's even more improbable that a man is going to raise his hand and say, "Hey, I'm hurting here."

Does a man not get just as invested as a woman when those two lines turn pink? Does his mind not race with possibilities and anxieties and dreams? Just because a woman doesn't have a living child, that doesn't mean she's not a mother. And just because a man doesn't feel the nausea and the fatigue and the pain of pregnancy, doesn't mean he's not a father.

If we want to live in a world where miscarriage isn't a dirty word, and families feel free to mourn the babies they lose, then we need to start including men in the conversation. We can't try to normalize something while expecting half of those affected to quietly stand by.

As with most things, it starts at home. It should have started at my home. I should have asked my husband how he felt when we lost our first. I should have told him that he was free to feel however he wanted to feel about it, and he could share those feelings with me when he needed to.

When a woman tells me that she's lost a pregnancy, I shouldn't only ask how she's doing. The question should be how her family is doing, and asking if any of them need support.

We need to start giving men permission to grieve when they suffer a loss. And make no mistake about it, they've suffered a loss just as surely as the woman has.

Many people would agree that our culture needs to stop treating miscarriage like a dirty secret. We have a long way to go on this journey of taking the silence away, but one of our first steps is clear. We need to take the burden of silence away from men.