For many around the world, the concept of a shield is the idea of knights in massive armour, carrying shields with the chivalric coats of arms. They protect the wielder from harm whilst the other arm carries a sword, mace, hammer, etc. It can be made from anything from cardboard to Vibranium, and can be small and light, or heavy and huge. They are made for all sorts of reasons, and for all sorts of missions, quests, but above all: removable protection.
It is armour to protect us, but we put it down; we store it when we’re safe.
For child loss dads we never want to put it away, in fact we carry it all the time, ready to protect ourselves.
When my wife was pregnant with our first, Melody, I had already experienced that loss, having lost Sophie my first daughter to stillbirth. When she first told me she was pregnant I was terrified, we had had two miscarriages the previous year, and my biggest worry was that I’d never get to be called “Daddy”, I’d never hear that word that turns any man into jellied mush… So I carried that shield with my family crest on, and protected.
My wife became seriously ill with HG, and I was terrified –terrified that events would happen all over again. But Melody was born; born early, admittedly, but she was bloody strong, a fighter like the Scottish warriors of old. She fought hard too, coming off her ventilator in less than a day. So the shield got put down.
And then the nightmare happened again: she died, and I held her in my arms like I did Sophie, watching her pass.
So the shield came back up, reinforced.
And then my wife was pregnant again; this time we made it, despite my wife suffering horribly again, and then again with our last. I sat helpless, terrified, as all dads do whilst their partners/wives suffer through it. All we can do is bring them inside the shield.
To put it in another context, it’s like Battlestar Galactica: we’re the Galactica and its famous Vyper squadrons, valiantly defending the Colonial Fleet from the Cylons, fighting against seemingly impossible odds.
It’s hard to let go of that shield, however, and put it on the rack for another day. It’s hard, but not impossible. There are battles to come, some more important than others.
Sometimes it’s okay to keep the guns stowed and the Vypers in their launch tubes…
Sometimes it’s okay to put the shield down….
Melody’s Dad – John writes for his own blog, although somewhat quiet, please pop over and have a look. Hairy Dadders