After the birth of Oscar and Bella my life changed. I became a father.
After the death of Oscar and Bella my life also changed. I was still a father, even if my first children only lived for 10 minutes, but it was different.
I should have been learning how to change diapers, a task I had never done. I should have been learning why trying to get a child to burp was so important. I should have been learning how to fish tiny arms through tiny sleeves. I should have had cute pictures in my wallet to show the other guys at work. I should have known the tiredness that comes with late night feedings.
Instead I was learning about death certificates. I was learning what steps needed to be taken to cremate my children. I was finding out about the grieving process. I was learning to read pathology reports. I was finding support groups to help my wife and I find others who knew what we were going through. I learned about the constant tiredness that comes with grief.
I wanted so badly to be the father in a traditional sense. I wanted to come home from work and have my children run up to me and give me a hug. I wanted to go to father-daughter dances. I wanted to go father-son camping. I wanted to be everything my worthless dad was not. I wanted these things so badly that I forgot to be a father to my children. I could not see myself as a father because it was not the experience I had expected, the experience I had wanted.
I think the first time I really understood that I was a father happened a few months after the loss of Oscar and Bella. I was riding in the car with a friend of mine that I met because of the loss. We had just left from a get-together where one of the other guys started telling dead baby jokes. Those jokes were never funny, and even less funny after you have been through what we have. I had frozen though. I could not bring myself to stop this guy from telling those jokes. My friend however was able to, and calmly explained to him both of our situations. So as we were riding and talking about the jokes the topic of being a father came up. I thanked my friend for stopping the guy from telling those jokes and remarked that I guess that is what being a father was for us. It took me seeing what a good father did, and what I should have done, to know that I was one. Even if I wasn't, in that moment, the best father I could have been.
While I am sad that Oscar, Bella, and Tittle are not with me I am not sad that I am their father. I will not get to watch them grow up. I'll never take Bella to a dance. I'll never take Oscar or Tittle camping. I'll never get to see them grow up and find out what they would have become. My job as a father for them is different. I will make sure that no one forgets they existed. I'll make sure that their little brother knows he is not an only child.
The way I see it this blog is a big part of being a good father to them. Over 800 people have visited this blog since I started writing. If even 10% of those visits are unique visitors over 80 people know about my children. I am willing to bet 80 people don't know my living son.
Feel free to leave a comment. I would love to know who is reading these posts. Share this with anyone you think would benefit from reading it. If you are a father or mother who has suffered through loss, speak out and break the silence. The loss of a child will only remain taboo as long as those who suffer do not speak out.