Loving a woman who has experienced trauma in her life isn’t always easy. The baggage she is carrying around is much heavier than any overstuffed purse you have found yourself holding outside of a dressing room door. She will try to carry the baggage on her own, clumsily fumbling under its weight, not wanting to burden you with it. Being the man you are, you inevitably take some of the weight from her shoulders and put it on your own. The heaviness nearly takes your breath away.
My husband is an amazing father to our 11-year-old son, but I’m not at all surprised. I knew he would be a great father long before we had a child together because I saw how great a stepfather he was to my first son. I know what you are thinking, there are many men out there who are amazing stepfathers, what is so special about this story?
Well, my husband never got a chance to meet my first son because before he entered my life, my son Dylan passed away shortly after birth.
The day Dylan died a piece of me died too. I no longer had a whole heart to give to someone because a part of mine was forever gone with my son. It’s a strange thing to be the mother of a baby who is no longer alive. You never get to parent in the traditional sense of things like teaching them to read or disciplining them when they made a mistake.
The way I parent Dylan is much different than how I parent my son who is alive. It looks and feels different. It is speaking his name and acknowledging he is my firstborn son. It is working on changing the way the world treats bereaved parents. It is walking beside other families who have to walk this journey as well. It is paying for a stranger’s birthday cake at our local bakery every March 20th for as long as I live.
I remember the first time I told my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, about Dylan. I was afraid of showing him both my physical and emotional scars, afraid to scare him away. He held my hand as he listened to my story and immediately asked me what his name is.
No one has ever wanted to know my deceased baby’s name, but he did.
When the pain of our first miscarriage together was too much for me to handle, my husband held me up.
When I dealt with extreme fear and anxiety during our next pregnancy, he held me and reassured me. Never once did he tell me to forget or get over what I had been through. We welcomed our son and our hearts rejoiced.
When I finally had Dylan’s ashes buried he helped me with the funeral expenses and was there praying for me, holding me as I wept.
When I formed a team to walk in Dylan’s honor he wore the #teamDylan shirt and walked beside me.
It’s a strange title to be given, stepfather of a child no longer alive, but he does it with love and compassion.
Loving a woman who has experienced the loss of a child, whether it was a miscarriage or years later, is knowing that you are giving your whole heart to someone who is missing a piece of hers and loving her anyway.