My first miscarriage happened pretty early, when the two lines had barely formed on the stick. There was more confusion than sadness since we really hadn’t digested the fact that I was pregnant in the first place — even if it was just for a minute.
My second miscarriage, however, now that one was a gut punch. We had known I was pregnant for a few weeks. We had told a few close friends and family. I was exhausted and had morning sickness. My hormone levels were rising, and things looked good. Until they didn’t, of course.
At nine weeks, I had a D&C. My mom stayed with us for a few days, and I was generally doted on, cared for, looked after.
My husband, on the other hand, was the caretaker, the listener, the shoulder to cry on. He buried himself in work and remained stoic. He had the difficult conversations with his family, telling them the news so that I didn’t have to. He was a silent bystander to my pain, while carrying the weight of his own.
One more miscarriage, a corrective surgery, and a few rounds of fertility treatments later, I gave birth to our son, Teddy — our rainbow baby. And through it all, my husband listened to me cry, he dealt with my postpartum depression exacerbated by multiple miscarriages and infertility, and he absorbed our pain and reassured me everything would be okay, while sifting his way through his own pain as well.
Like lots of men, my husband grieved and mourned the loss, but with much less attention and care as the woman who physically suffered the miscarriage. But loss is loss, whether it is physical or not, and he felt it too.
Newsflash, folks: Men have emotions too, and dads experience that strange mix of bittersweet poignancy, fear, relief, and joy that one can only feel after experiencing a pregnancy loss just like moms do.
Which is why we love these rainbow dad T-shirts so much. The shirts were designed by mom-of-two Bryn Huntpalmer, who hosts the podcast “The Birth Hour.” After reaching out to fathers to hear their stories, she realized how often dads are left out of the conversation when it comes to pregnancy loss.
“There are lots of different ways to recognize the moms of rainbow babies and even the babies themselves, but not much for dads,” she told Scary Mommy. “But dads are affected by a pregnancy loss too, and often they suffer silently as they are the ones charged with the job of helping the mom through her grief.”
The hardest part, she said, was designing a rainbow shirt that men would want to wear. Based on feedback for various styles, she and her team ultimately decided to go with a vintage, surfer-vibe rainbow. And we think she picked a winner because this shirt is all kinds of awesome.
“Even though it’s the mother who carried the child, the father imagines the kind of dad he will be from the second they find out they are expecting, and when a miscarriage or stillbirth occurs, it is just as devastating to him,” she told us.
Huntpalmer hopes that these shirts will help the conversation around pregnancy loss continue to grow, and that men will be brought into that discussion more. The shirts are a great way for rainbow moms to recognize the support their partners gave and continue to give them, while also acknowledging the loss the couple has endured. There’s even a kid version of the shirt, so dads can match their rainbow kid. Dads are encouraged to share their photos and stories on social media using the hashtag #rainbowdad.
“A subsequent pregnancy with a rainbow baby can be scary and fraught with anxiety, and there’s nothing quite like that first reaction from Dad when he meets his rainbow baby.”