A Father's Tears

This patient who in the recent past has affected my life most profoundly never actually took a breath on this planet. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

I received his mother, AA, to a room on our floor shortly after midnight one night. She had presented to ER at 15+ weeks gestation with ruptured membranes and intermittent lady partsl bleeding; the OB staff suspected chorioamnionitis as the culprit. Rather than risk the infection becoming overwhelming, the decision was made to do a dilatation and evacuation later on in the morning. She was accompanied by her mother and father; her baby's father was at home.

I settled AA into her room, showed her how to use the call bell, and let her and her parents know that I was there if she needed anything. Her assessment was within what I would have expected for an early second-trimester rupture of membranes. She had received 1000mcg of Cytotec in the Emergency Department and had received 2mg of Morphine IV for pain prior to arrival on the floor. She was not in any pain and I was hoping she would be able to sleep a little before going to the OR for her procedure, as this was her first pregnancy.

About 20 minutes later, AA's father came rushing out of the room and asking someone to go to the room immediately; the only words he could get out were "the baby". I knew instantly what was happening. I got her into bed (she had gotten up to void), called for help, and could see her baby's tiny legs hanging from her lady parts. We got the OB resident to the room and she delivered the baby. Five minutes later, the placenta was delivered as well.

Throughout the entire situation, AA was amazingly calm. I talked to her as soothingly as I could and reassured her that she would be taken care of. The OB resident was very professional and reassuring to the mother, and I had great colleagues who helped me more than I can articulate.

After the delivery, I asked AA if she wanted to see her baby, and she said that she did. AA's mother did not want to see the baby, nor did she want her daughter to. When things calmed down, we talked about this some more. AA's mother asked me if the baby was well-formed, and I said that he (she delivered a little boy) was, albeit he was very tiny and his eyelids were still fused. She continued to be adamant that no one should see the baby.

This opened up an opportunity for us to talk about the grief process. I made it clear that we would not force anyone to do anything, but that often, families experiencing a fetal loss are greatly helped by seeing the baby that they have loved and cherished. Having something concrete to grieve so often helps them incorporate that soul into their lives in a meaningful way. I think, though, that more than anything, this lady was afraid that the baby was grossly malformed and did not want to see that. I think this because once we talked about how he looked, she seemed more comfortable with the idea of her daughter seeing the baby, though she herself still did not want to. That was okay by me, as long as AA got to see the child she had tried to four years to conceive.

I weighed, measured, and took pictures and footprints of this baby for her, and told her that whenever she was ready, I would bring him to her. She was ready right then; I got the baby and before handing him to her, described him once more so she knew what to expect. She cradled her son and touched him, and her eyes welled up with tears. I could tell she wanted to be alone with him. I left the room and allowed them their time and space to say goodbye. I felt very privileged to be able to give that to her.

What I will remember most, however, is this baby's father. He came after AA's parents had gone home, and after AA was finished holding her baby. I was in the room going over some paperwork stuff with them, and it hit me: I need to offer him the opportunity to see his baby if he wants. To the surprise of both of us, he said yes without a second's hesitation. I gave him the choice of bringing the baby to the room or having him come with me to where the baby was. He wanted to come with me. I'm not sure why, but I guess it doesn't really matter.

I took him into the room where his son lay wrapped in a tiny blanket, and let him know it was ok to open the blanket and touch the baby. Almost immediately, this strong, macho, man's-man burst into tears. He asked me to leave; I was happy too and told him to please take as long as he needed. I stood far enough outside the room to be available but not intrusive. I heard the sound of his weeping in the hallway and it was one of the most heartbreaking sounds I have ever heard. Tears began to roll down my cheeks in front of God and everybody, and there was not a thing I could do to stop it. I didn't really want to anyway.

Shortly thereafter, the baby's father came out and allowed as how he was finished saying goodbye. I walked him back to AA's room so they could be alone together and went to prepare the baby to be taken down to pathology. If I live to be a hundred, I don't think I will ever forget what I saw when I walked back into that room. Beside the body of this beautiful tiny boy were wet marks from the tears that his father had cried.

Daddies lose babies too, and I am forever grateful to the baby that taught me that.

good story..... one thing that most of us forget is people shows affection personally in their way. not always to show sadness in crying. but yes, tear is good...

This is a very touching article sometimes some nurses aren't understanding to people's feelings. Thank you for sharing this it really means a lot to me. We as nurses see a lot of sad things and most of the time nothing positive comes out of them some nurses become cold and hard but people still hurt and we as nurses need to be a bit more understanding. I'm not saying all nurses are this way but I have seen a lot that are.

This nurse that sent this in has my total respect I know it was hard on the nurse.

God bless all your families friends and homes

Specializes in Wannabe L&D, NICU, or OR.

thank you soo much for that story. I know from my previous losses of a child that a father does need to greive but in their own special way. Fathers feel the need to be strong for the mothers but who is there to help the greiving father???? We all need to step back and remember that fathers are effected just as much as the mothers. Beautiful story!!

That was such a profound and moving story.

Thank you

Specializes in CST in general surgery, LDRs, & podiatry.

years and years ago i lost a baby. the baby's father was not allowed near me to comfort me or for me to comfort him or for us to grieve together. we lost each other in the process. i have carried this pain with me for over 30 years, and have recently become reacquainted with the man i lost and we have finally had the chance to grieve our respective losses and offer comfort to each other. the depth and extent of his grief, and the fact that he carried it with him for so very long, stunned and saddened me and we took much comfort in communicating our feelings to each other.

all this time - i thought i was the only one who felt this loss so deeply. reading this gave me insight into what he might have been going through so long ago, and i could visualize him in this man's place, and i cried fresh tears for the three of us, and for this family and their loss, which i feel so keenly.

i had spent several years of my career working in labor and delivery, purposely, to help women bring their precious children into the world and hopefully create happy families. i cry a little inside each time i hear that first cry, but know that i am doing all i can to make it better for someone else.

What an inspiring story. I lost a son 23 years ago and this posting made me feel like it was yesterday. Josh was born with Trisomy 18 and died when he was 7 days old. Father's are so often forgotten. My husband was affected profoundly by his birth and death yet most attention was towards myself. We would have loved to have had you as our nurse.

Specializes in hospice.

What a touching, beautful, heartbreaking post. I truly am at a loss for words.

:crying2: very sad, but thank you very much for sharing

Thank you for sharing this very touching story,it helps to reminds us to consider everyone in their grieving process.

Specializes in Post Anesthesia.

Thank you so much for pointing out that two people are involved in the process of making and/or loosing a baby. As a guy I am always dumbfounded by the lack of awareness people show for the father's feelings when a baby is lost pre -term. The cry for child support of shared responsibility has always been prefaced with " it takes two to make a baby you know" but I have never heard someone express support or sympathy to any father of a miscarried baby. It always seems "they" make a baby but only "she" looses it. Thank you for recognizing the fathers' feelings and allowing him to grieve. I do not want to diminish the profound loss any woman must feel when the life she felt inside her is lost- it must be devastating, but dad does have a relationship with this tiny child as well and I so pleased to see a nurse that saw it.

This is a very well written article -- I am in tears! :cry:

I cried the most with the last part of your story.