Remembering Doria

One Father's Journey after the Death of his Daughter

Every Journey Has A Beginning

Good evening! My name is Erik. I’m working on a PhD in History at Iowa State University, but that’s not really central to this story.

I’ve been married to an amazing woman for 11 years now. For the first 10 of those years, we understood that we couldn’t have children, so we learned to be just fine with that.

In January 2011, we got an amazing surprise. The impossible happened! We were expecting a child! Like so many do, we found out the sex. We had a little girl on the way!

We sailed through the summer with what the doctor called “a perfect, textbook pregnancy.” At our appointment the first week of August, our doctor (a great guy all the way!) called us his dream patients, always so happy, filled with good questions, and never a hint of problems with this pregnancy.

Becky and I raced through that whole summer, transforming our study palace into a place almost ready for a baby girl. I’ve never seen so much pink and never thought pink was anything special or to be avoided, but pink turned into a favorite color quickly.

On August 17th, we went to the full term stage of pregnancy, and we had our final 2 week appointment with the doctor. The three of us told jokes, talked about how everything measured perfectly again, and filled that little office with laughter. Then the doctor set up to do that Doppler test and hear our daughter’s heartbeat again. I made fun of his artwork, and we laughed, agreeing that medicine was a better place for him than the art world. We chuckled and laughed as he placed the Doppler thing on Becky’s stomach.

Then came silence. And more silence. And our doctor stopped laughing. Becky stopped laughing. It became very clear that things weren’t funny anymore.

The doctor went for the portable ultrasound. More silence. We went to the other room for the larger machine, all of us grasping at straws. No sound, and clearly nothing moving behind her little ribcage. Our miracle baby didn’t make it.

We coordinated with the doctor to go across the street and induce labor. Becky and I settled in to that room we’d been so excited to see on our earlier tour. Eventually, it was time to make some phone calls and e-mails to notify people.

That brings us (finally) to the purpose of this blog. As I started looking around that night, putting my research skills to use, I found that there are a lot of things out there for mothers whose children are stillborn. There isn’t much out there for fathers. So, putting some old leadership ideas that I used to use in the National Guard and read about in Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life, if I’m the one with a burden, I probably should do something about it.

That’s my goal here. I am not a long-term grief expert. I’m not even 2 months along. I am simply hoping that this thing might help somebody out there.

I should put my cards on the table. I’m one of those born-again Christian guys. I tend to write and think from that perspective, because that’s what I believe. At the same time, even though I teach at a Bible college and believe in theological precision, grief isn’t very precise, so this will have moments that simply aren’t precise. I’m a dad who can’t raise his child, and that’s not real precise sometimes.

So, here we go. Something I never really considered doing over a subject I never really thought was possible. Welcome to the journey! I hope you find this as helpful as I will :)

12 thoughts on “Every Journey Has A Beginning

  1. Dear Erik, Thank you for sharing your family’s story with us. Doria looks very beautiful in the pictures on the blog. I am glad that you got to hold her and spend time with her. Of course, that time was different than hoped for and far too short, but maybe it is equally important to you as it was to me with my children. We cherish the short moments we got to spend with our children. It is helpful to have other fathers share their feelings online. Please keep on posting. Jens

    • Jens:
      Thanks!
      Probably the best way I could say is that every moment counts 🙂
      BTW, I’ve only gotten to spend a couple of minutes thus far with your blog, but it looks beautiful. We can press on together!

  2. Hi Erik. My name is Mark and I am a contributing blogger and Father’s Advocacy director for papasofpreemies.com. We are a support group that focus’ on helping Dads cope with their NICU or traumatic birth experience. Your blog hit home for me since our children were born just 8 days apart. Our site is very focused on prematurity but we are open to other experiences, like mine, CDH and yours. I was wondering if you’d like to share your story with us or if I could repost your blog on our site or Facebook page. If your interested please let me know.

  3. I’m going to post it on our Facebook page tonight. It’s such a courageous story that has to be shared. Thanks for letting me share it. It’s Papas of Preemies on FB if you want to like us and share it.

    • Great!
      I liked the page, so I’ll share it right away.

      Thanks for sharing it! That was the whole point for each of us in this thing.
      Thanks for your courage in doing these things, too!

  4. brought tears to my eyes thinking of my husband through our journey of loss. So glad to see the mans point of view. Love your blog!

  5. Doria’s Daddy,

    I commend you for doing something with your grief and with the gift that is Doria. On March 15th, 1998 my wife and I lost our son Ethan on his due date. Your story is hauntingly familiar as we had a very similar experience of silence as nurses and doctors frantically searched for a heartbeat that wasn’t there.

    In the months that followed, I created a website memorial for Ethan on which I shared photos, poetry I had written, and connected with hundreds of others from around the world. We shared in our respective grief and offered each other comfort and support as strangers, yet friends. Very similar to what you are doing with this site.

    In the years that followed – and after Geocities took down the memorial site – I found the need to continue to remember and honor my son. I ended up writing a fictional novel that was inspired largely by our loss and much of the story is a (somewhat) fictionalized account of what we experienced. Like you, I found that there wasn’t as much out there for fathers and my hope is that – although the book is fiction and not entirely about stillbirth – dads will connect with it and wives will perhaps better understand their husbands. If you are interested in reading it, I’d be happy to gift you a free copy via Amazon. Yes, I’m trying to sell books. Yes, I’ve just started a blog and am trying to establish an author “platform” as they call it. But my offer to you isn’t about any of that. It’s a thank you for doing what you’re doing. It’s letting you know you are not alone as you are letting others know that they aren’t either.

    If you’re interested, please email me at DerekRempfer@yahoo.com and let me know what email address I can send a copy of the book to. It’s an ebook format only at this point, but can be read from the Kindle app on any device (in other words, you don’t need to have a Kindle to read it).

    God bless.

    Ethan’s Daddy

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