What to do on Fathers Day for a very recent almost-father?
June 8, 2011 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I gave birth to a stillborn baby last week, just in time for Fathers Day. What can we do with ourselves that day?

I'm the partner in question on this post from last week. As you might imagine, we're still devastated and emotionally exhausted, and I'm still early in physical recovery too -- I can walk for about half an hour per day.

We're looking for ideas for what to do on Fathers Day that are along the lines of distraction rather than acknowledgement. Some criteria:
- in or around the SF bay area
- we like being outside
- can't tolerate too much exposure to infants, kids, or pregnant women at this point in our healing process
- don't have our own fathers nearby or any other family obligations
- activity level restricted to "mellow", with walking the only doctor-approved exercise right now

For that matter, if you've been through baby loss and have experience with re-emerging into the wider world, where you're surrounded by joyfully bountiful (and entirely oblivious) normal people, what activities have eased you in, and what has helped?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Go on an easy hike, and avoid these places.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:37 PM on June 8, 2011

I don't know what your financial situation is like, but why not get a hotel room somewhere out of town? Go on a short road trip, stay the night somewhere.
posted by hermitosis at 12:38 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Anonymous, I am so, so sorry for your loss.

I don't have any SF suggestions, just wishing you and your partner well. I find that when my partner and I have gone through horrible things, focusing on each other's happiness (and knowing you can't completely make the other person happy) has worked a bit.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:38 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd look for a quiet B&B in wine country. It tends to be a older and child-free crowd up there. I'm so so sorry for your loss and hope that healing is swift. You're in my thoughts.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:46 PM on June 8, 2011 [25 favorites]

When I was doing research for our honeymoon, I ran across a number of places north of San Francisco that rented cabins/cottages near the ocean. I was somewhat disappointed with the one we got, since you couldn't actually see the ocean from the cabin, but it did have a hot tub, a full kitchen and a fireplace. And it was really private. Plus, the drive north was beautiful.
posted by desjardins at 12:46 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

First, I am so sorry for your loss. Second, I am struck by both you and your partner's amazing care and concern for one another and I'm glad that you have one another to rely on as you grieve.

I would second a brief road trip if you can foot the bill. Maybe to a cabin in the woods? You would be somewhere beautiful, quiet and surrounded by nature, but could also take time to rest and be indoors as needed.

My thoughts are with you both.
posted by goggie at 12:50 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am so very sorry. I know this is terribly painful.

A family in the church I pastor recently went through this. A few of the things I learned from them is that the original due date is a very difficult day when it arrives, so be prepared for that.

Also, I have found that many people suffer in silence after losing a pregnancy. You will likely find people you know who will open up to you (very emotionally so) who you never knew had been through this.

This family also marked the occasion by planting a tree and then spending some time out of town at the beach. It seemed to help.

Be good to each other. I am so very, very sorry. I wish I had more I could share with you here.
posted by 4ster at 12:53 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

First, I replied in the other thread, and I hope you were able to find some peace from all of us who reached out to you. My heart goes out to you and your partner and I'm so very sorry for your loss.

I would nth the suggestion to get out of town, preferably where you won't be likely to run into glowingly pregnant women or parents with kids in tow. A B&B sounds just about ideal.

If that's not in your budget, if you were me, I'd just stay in that day. Rent a BUNCH of movies (comedies, action/adventure, etc.) and order in lunch and dinner and just lose yourselves in Hollywood for a day.

I hope you both find comfort in each other and in your friends and family. Hugs to you.
posted by cooker girl at 1:03 PM on June 8, 2011

Something like the Muir Woods (not that I have any knowledge of them)?

A walk through some redwoods could be nice and quiet, and give you some consolation in the continuity of life, or some such.

Sorry for your loss.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:05 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

My sister and her partner, in a similar situation, planted a tree. It's quite big now.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:05 PM on June 8, 2011 [10 favorites]

I am very sorry for your loss. I too know this pain. It is a true, powerful, and life-altering loss. Allow yourselves time to deal with it. I wouldn't suggest getting away or driving for long periods.

Spend time with each other; remember all the joy your little one brought you. Do something to commemorate him/her (planting a tree is a very nice idea - I have one of my own) and take the time to do that so you can go as slowly as you need.

I can't stress that enough. Take your time. Let yourselves cry and comfort each other in your home. Your plans for the next little while should just involve being with each other.

I am so sorry. I will remember you and your little one.
posted by MustardTent at 1:29 PM on June 8, 2011

Muir Woods is always full of children. The Point Reyes seashore tends to be quite isolated, especially the less-accessible places between Limantour & Wildcat beaches. Nick's Cove, on Tomales Bay, has beautiful cabins and great food and may just be a good place to be quiet and spend time together.

I am so sorry for your loss. Friends of mine had a stillbirth at full-term, and the grief is unlike any other kind of loss. Be as kind to yourselves as possible, and when you're ready, let others be kind to you as well.
posted by judith at 1:33 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd say avoid the national parks as well, except for Point Reyes, which seems to be one of the least-visited in the area--and it is beautiful. We once stayed at Ten Inverness Way, which, at least at the time (2004), was geared towards couples, rather than families. It was an enjoyable, quiet, very civilized stay at a gorgeous old Arts-and-Crafts house.

I do hope the weekend goes well for you. I'm so very, very sorry. I've never lost a child, so I couldn't possibly know that kind of grief, but I do know that planting a rosebush or a tree in our backyard in memory of loved ones has in the past given us great comfort and the feeling that they are somehow still with us and part of our life.

But not being able to be a parent has been tough for me on Mother's and Father's Day, so I do know that feeling. Perhaps you might go out for drinks/dinner with friends who are childless-by-choice and with whom the subject of children is unlikely to come up, if you have any such friends.
posted by tully_monster at 2:49 PM on June 8, 2011

I am so sorry that you and your partner are going through such heartache.

My partner and I have had this happen to us, not once but twice: the first loss was years ago, at 22 weeks. Our second loss happened last summer, at 18 weeks. I wish you didn't have to walk through this pain. The most important thing that I can say is to take your time with the grief and be gentle with yourselves and each other -- and it sounds like you are.

Last summer, for our wedding anniversary (which for us was also a challenge, as is mother's day, father's day, the first cycle of holidays, and, especially, the due date and then the anniversary of the loss -- those suck big-time), which was a few weeks after the loss, we decided to skip our traditional romantic getaway and hole up at home.

And we ordered a new bed instead. Also, we bought lux sheets, and spent a lot of money making our bedroom really lovely. My partner says that we spent our way out of grief, but mostly, we just distracted ourselves with something tangible that we could look forward to: a major household project that had the benefit of being realizable in a short period of time. It was a surprise to me that on the day our new bed was supposed to be delivered, I felt something that wasn't all sadness, there was a mild bit of interest, and I even found myself kind of looking forward to the delivery truck driving up.

Take it easier than you want to, than you think you should. Honestly, with a loss this recent, I'd recommend staying close to home. Random encounters can trigger an avalanche of grief, and you might find that you really don't feel like being at a nice restaurant two hours from home because something just cracked and all you want to do is go to bed and cry. The hormones alone cause such unpredictable spasms of grief that sometimes don't have a particular reason, so I found that having a safe place to retreat to quickly was very important to my mental health.

Those first important dates, we basically chose to ignore them completely and focus instead on keeping things as normal as possible. I hope that helps, although nothing really does but time and tears and love for one another. Also, though this won't mean much to you now, it does get better -- it never goes away, but it does get better. Sending good thoughts your way.
posted by mmmcmmm at 3:41 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

Do you have family nearby? Friends without kids? When you're grieving, sometimes distraction is a huge help. Watching movies, going to dinner, etc.

I am so sorry for your loss.
posted by theora55 at 4:58 PM on June 8, 2011

Point Reyes is great and STUNNING, but the walk out to the lighthouse has some steep stairs that might give trouble if you're supposed to be taking it easy physically. Also it's kind of a shame to go there and not walk out. I think the wine country is a great idea. Very relaxing. So, so sorry about your loss.
posted by sweetkid at 5:17 PM on June 8, 2011

I'm sorry for your loss and have no idea what you are going through. The following suggestion may not be appropriate for what you are looking for at the moment, but I'm offering it in good faith.

Have you had some kind of ritual to acknowledge what has happened and mark it officially? It doesn't need to be religious or public. While it can seem odd to do something like that, not doing it is very disorientating too. We have markers like this to acknowledge we are feeling awful, and things will begin to slowly move onwards and upwards after them. Right now you are bereaved, perhaps you need to be mourners for a little while too.

Get a friend to find a local celebrant, pastoral care worker or buddhist who can do something simple and thoughtful with you. You do not want to be making these calls yourself, it will be exhausting.

The rest of the retreat ideas sound wonderful too. Take very good care of yourselves.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 7:31 PM on June 8, 2011

I am so, so sorry for the loss of your baby. Last year my husband and I were also faced with the death of our own baby shortly after birth. For us it happened a mere five weeks before Mother's Day. I understand you must be feeling completely lost and heartbroken right now.

When it came time for Mother's Day we got out of town. We couldn't avoid babies and pregnant women everywhere we went but we did our best. It was still painful but it was so much better than being at home where everywhere we looked we were reminded of what "should have been."

I wish I knew more about Northern California so that I could give you some specific ideas about where to go but I suspect some of the previous responses have already done that.

As for re-emerging into the world of normal and blissfully unaware people...well, that is a slow process. People will never fully understand what losing a baby is like if they have never been through it and it can feel quite isolating. We found a grief counselor who helped us tremendously. I have also found quite a bit of support through a wonderful online community of mothers and fathers who have also experienced the death of a baby. Should you be interested in these websites, please Memail and I can give you specifics.

Be gentle with yourselves.
posted by teamnap at 8:51 PM on June 8, 2011

I am so sorry for your loss.

What about a day of nurturing your body? Would taking a hot tub or getting a massage be too much for you? Maybe at somewhere like Indian Springs (Calistoga - take mud baths), Orr hot springs (a hippie type place where you could stay at cabins and soak in large hot pools or a sauna), Berkeley's Sauna (private rooms), or Kabuki Spa (women only on Sundays, though). All those places tend to be primarily or exclusively adults.

If you want a lead on a 5-mile hike at Tilden that usually isn't crowded, memail or email me. It might be physically too much, however (2-3 hours). Do avoid Muir Woods and Pt. Reyes as noted above. There is a great, easy redwoods hike near Orr Hot Springs, Montgomery Woods State Park, if you go there. In my memory it wasn't too crowded.

I'm so very sorry for your loss.
posted by salvia at 11:42 PM on June 8, 2011

Bless your hearts. I wish I could hug you both.

Being able to duck away when you need to might be a big plus in favour of the ranch/B&B/spa suggestions.
posted by batmonkey at 1:33 AM on June 9, 2011

Be good to yourselves and focus on pampering each other. I am sorry for your loss.
posted by maggieb at 6:18 PM on June 9, 2011

It's not getting outside, but my wife and I found incredibly stupid movies to help. Harold and Kumar hold a special place in our hearts now because they allowed us to close all the blinds and turn off our brains and the rest of the world for a few hours.

Also, when you and he are ready to face the world again, encourage him to find someone to talk to. Between the societal taboo about talking about infant loss, and the expectation for men to "be strong", it's can be very hard to vent, rage or break down when it's really needed.
posted by Morydd at 10:43 AM on June 10, 2011

Napa or Sonoma? Some of the big wineries with picnic areas get all kid-encrusted, but it's easy to avoid those. I remember Sterling being particularly wonderfully scenic.

My wife and I lost an infant. She was a twin, and we threw ourselves into taking care of the surviving twin. I don't know how else we would have gotten by. Are there any trips you've been thinking about taking, or major projects you've been considering, that would eat up a lot of your energy and time?
posted by gurple at 3:32 PM on June 10, 2011

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