Special Issues for Fathers
Sometimes mothers are anxious to have another child more quickly than fathers. If you are not in agreement, it will be important to discuss your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly in order to work towards agreement, as you will need each other’s support if you decide to have another child. For both men and women, there will be an increased sense of risk and awareness that something could go wrong with this pregnancy.
Men may express their grief differently to women. Some women comment that their partners do not express their grief as openly as they do, and family and friends tend to offer more support to mothers than fathers, since outwardly they seem to be fine. They may escape from reality at work, but their grief is just as real and deep. After the death of a child, fathers may feel a sense of guilt or failure in their role of ‘family protector’, and regret wasted opportunities:
“If I had known that we had so little time with him [Ben], I would never have gone back to work.”
“We got pregnant the month after Ben died. We didn’t know what to feel – excited, guilty, scared … I miscarried at ten weeks and felt totally vulnerable, totally fragile. I felt that the universe was out to get me and my family. I decided at that point that I didn’t want another child – the pain was just too great! It was Michael who said ‘ Everything really good in life involves some level of risk. Are you prepared to take a risk to achieve an amazing end?’ … Along came Gemma nine months later. She was, and is, our gift from God. She restored our faith in the world. She helped to teach us to laugh again. She gave Michael the opportunity to enjoy every aspect of her. She gave him an outlet to express all that he would have liked to have given to Ben. She helped to fill a very big void in the core of his being. His face lights up when she comes into the room.”
“After five miscarriages, I didn’t realise how much it had affected my husband until our baby was born alive. Now my husband doesn’t want to try anymore and I have to respect his position.”
This article was prepared using extracts from Another Baby? The Decision is Yours.1 The full text is available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.
Last reviewed: 21/6/21
1. Bereaved Parents & SIDS and Kids Victoria. (2003). Another Baby? The Decision is Yours: A Booklet for Parents Whose baby or Young Child has Died and are Considering having Another Child. Malvern, Vic.: SIDS and Kids.