Ask Your Father

This Dad's Viral Photo Reminds Everyone That Pregnancy Loss Impacts Fathers, Too

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

As society breaks away from the unspoken stigma attached to miscarriage, more women are coming forward to share the emotional and physical pain of their loss. Yet, despite our increasingly enlightened stance on the subject, we have yet to fully acknowledge the impact such loss has on the fathers involved. That's why, as part of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, Al Ferguson posted a now-viral photo that simultaneously honors his lost children and offers insight into the grief of those dads who are often overlooked. 

"I've had a cry today. Well actually quite a big cry, but that's OK," the founder of The Dad Network wrote. In the photo, Al has his arms wrapped around his wife, Jen, who's wearing a shirt that says "angel momma" across the front. Both are holding a tray of tea lights, with each candle representing a baby the couple lost to miscarriage — seven children total.

"It's OK to not be OK and it's more than OK for men to cry. Thinking of everyone affected by baby loss this evening," Al added, using the #menhurttoo hashtag to reinforce the fact that men have just as much to lose when it comes to miscarriage.

Al's followers, of course, were empathetic and appreciative. As one person commented, "So amazing that we are all talking about the topic but hard to have another reminder of our pain and loss too x Hoping you are both doing okay Xx."

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In fact, Al's post inspired many parents to share the scope of their own losses. "Big hugs to you and your beautiful family and everyone out there who has experienced the loss of a baby," another commenter wrote. "It's so brave to share your experience. It will help others to know they're not alone. I too lost 5 babies but now have three gorgeous children."

"Have been watching my 6 candles give off such a beautiful glow," another said. "So sad but also I am so blessed to have my little one. Thinking of you and can't thank you both enough for encouraging so many to be so open. It is the most awful thing in the world but support and community is so amazing." 

"You're so inspirational,"a commenter added. "I'm utterly heartbroken for you. I went through my second miscarriage this summer - an IVF baby after 3 years of trying and nothing. The pain emotionally and physically is still horrible. You're right - it is OK not to be OK."

While researchers have already proven that men are almost as likely as women to experience postpartum depression, it only stands to reason that pregnancy loss would impact them the same way, too. If we truly hope to destroy our culture's pervasive gender stereotypes, we need to recognize and validate men's vulnerability so future generations will understand that there's no need to suppress or withhold any emotions, especially grief and sadness, as the case may be.

Cover image via  Manop_Phimsit / Shutterstock

(H/T: The Bump)

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