Can Marriage Survive When the Unthinkable Happens?

Today’s post from Intimacy in Marriage is real, and raw, and a gruelingly painful description of a marriage fighting to survive the death of a child. Within our Thriving Marriages community are so many people who have been through a traumatic loss of some sort. I hope today’s thoughts provide you with a sense of hope: you can make it through this.  

I found out I was pregnant with our fourth baby when I was 40, and our three other kids were 14, 16 and 18.

Another baby was about the furthest thing from our minds, but we couldn’t have been more excited!

I started planning how we would fit a tiny human into our busy lives with three teenagers. I constantly thought about how much fun it would be to cuddle and nurture another little one after all this time. (I should mention that I’m a neonatal ICU nurse and have always LOVED babies!)

At 11 weeks into the pregnancy, the doctor called with some test results that confirmed our baby was a boy and that he had trisomy 18, a rare chromosomal abnormality that comes with many possible complications.

I have taken care of a handful of these babies and I knew all too well what that meant. Our baby boy, Nathan James, wouldn’t be with us very long.

For the next 25 weeks I treasured my ever growing belly and every kick, squirm and wiggle. At 36 weeks, I delivered Nathan and he lived for two short hours. It was the sweetest and most peaceful home-going I have ever witnessed.

About three weeks later (and against doctor’s orders), I needed to be held and comforted by my husband. That was the first time I had a break from the overwhelming, unending sorrow that threatened to consume me.

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Over the next several months, making love was the only relief I had from the grief that was my constant companion. Sex became more about me and my grief than about the two of us coming together, and my husband felt used.

We began to fight about it regularly. The fighting, along with missing my son so much I physically ached, left me feeling so hopeless and alone that I didn’t want to live anymore.

We had to find our way out of this and get back to each other. After a lot of talking, crying, praying and seeing a therapist, we are finally connecting in a much healthier way.

It hasn’t been easy and at times it’s been really ugly, but we are on the right track.

Sex can still be comforting on those hard days when the grief is heavier than normal. I think God intended it to be this way and for that I am thankful. My husband no longer feels used and is enjoying being with me again.

Some healing is taking place in my heart and I am finding joy in taking care of my tiny patients. I’m especially fond of the little red headed boys God sends my way that remind me so much of my Nathan.