Several years back I miscarried our third child. The pain and guilt were difficult to handle. What did I do wrong? Was it something I ate? Was I exercising too much? Was it all the alcohol I had at the wedding before I knew I was pregnant?

I carry that pain and guilt with me. Over time, I’ve been able to let go of some of it, but not all. My heart longs for the child I held for 10 weeks, but never held in my arms. The what-ifs still linger in the shadows of my mind, and in times when I feel unworthy as a mother, they haunt me.

I’m open about my miscarriage. I’m willing to talk about it. I’m willing to listen to others’ pain and guilt regarding their miscarriages. There are times when I talk about my angel as if (s)he is with us. Even my kids talk about their sibling in Heaven.

It’s in those moments when I am reminded that I’m not the only one who carries pain and guilt for our loss. It’s in those moments I catch my husband flinching, looking away, looking sad, or becoming silent. He’s told me he feels guilty for excluding our infant when someone asks how many children he has and he answers with “Four.”

You see, even though he’d been there when I started bleeding days earlier, and he was with me when he went in for an emergency ultrasound, he wasn’t with me the day my body removed the baby. He carries the pain of loss that I do, but I believe he carries double the guilt. 

He couldn’t do anything to save the baby. He—as a father and protector—he could do nothing to stop the miscarriage. He wasn’t there to say his good-bye. 

In addition, he feels guilt because he wasn’t there for me. He was at work. I tried to call him several times when the bleeding and pain were so intense there was no denying what was about to happen. He didn’t answer my calls. (We found out later that not a single call or message from me showed up on his phone.)

He wasn’t there to hold my hand when the contractions seized my body and I would double over in pain. He wasn’t there while I tried to spare my children the fear of seeing their mother in such pain by hiding in the bathroom.

He wasn’t there to console me when I flushed the toilet, knowing I was flushing away my child’s body, but that it was also too small to find.

He wasn’t there to call his parents to come watch the other kids. He wasn’t there when I had to tell them we’d been pregnant, planning to surprise them with the news, but no longer.

He wasn’t there to take me to the doctor. He wasn’t holding my hand while I sobbed and the doctor worked on me. 

He wasn’t there to help with our two children. He couldn’t hug them and cry with them while we told them their sibling had died.

He wasn’t there when I dropped my kids off at daycare and went home to cry and get ready for work. He wasn’t home when I got off work and brought the kids home.

He was home that night. He cried with me and held me while I told him we’d lost the baby. He apologized repeatedly for not being with me, cursed his phone for not working correctly, and listened to our innocent children explain that their sibling was in Heaven.

Thankfully, we have open communication in our relationship. We are both willing to talk to each other and others about our miscarriage. I know he hurts because he wasn’t there. He knows I do not hold the absence against him.

Even though I know it isn’t true, there are times when I feel like I failed as mother because our child died. There are times when he feels like he failed as a father and husband because he wasn’t there when our child died.

But it isn’t true. We didn’t fail. In our grief, we turned to God and to each other. We continue to help each other when the pain or guilt creeps out of the shadows. Our relationship is stronger since we went through this pain together. We pay tribute to our Baby Jordan, especially in October (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month). We can also say our love for our children extends from Earth to Heaven.

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.