Father’s Day. A day to explicitly honour fathers and paternal figures around the world.
A day that for many, including myself, is the cruelest day on the calendar.
My dad is awesome
Don’t get me wrong – I have an amazing father. My dad, Fred Carsley, worked as hard as he could to provide a great life for my entire family. He wanted us to grow up with many of the advantages he wished he had when he was a child. Thanks to my dad and my mom, I was lucky. I played every sport you can imagine growing up, went to great schools, attended summer camp and so much more.
When Father’s Day rolled around every year, I would ask him, “Why isn’t there a kids day?”
His answer, “David, every day is kids day!”
He was right.
So while it’s my pleasure to honour my dad for the father he is and for everything he’s done for me, I wish Father’s Day would disappear from the calendar this year. That’s because I was supposed to be a father this year and I’m not.
A vicious cycle
My wife and I have been very public about our struggles with infertility. Between failed IUI and IVF treatments, the postponement of our egg donor transfer due to COVID-19 and our miscarriage last October, we were both feeling sad, deflated and frustrated. I was beginning to wonder if my dream of fatherhood was nothing more than a dream.
And then, about two months ago, we had a positive pregnancy test. Maybe this was finally our time. Maybe Father’s Day 2021 was going to be a happy one.
At seven weeks, my wife went in for her first ultrasound. Our baby had a strong heartbeat. This had to be it. Our time had finally arrived. The universe couldn’t possibly be that cruel and shatter our dreams again. The thing is, our first miscarriage occurred just past the eight-week mark, so we wanted some reassurance. As concerned parents, we had to know our baby was okay.
Fast forward to Tuesday, June 15. The nine week ultrasound. What was supposed to be nothing more than a quick checkup on our little baby, turned into another chapter of our never ending nightmare. No fetal heartbeat just after eight weeks…again. Miscarriage. Our baby was dead.
Father’s Day realities
So here I am, a childless father, just one day before Father’s Day. I am a father who just wants the opportunity to live up to the example my own father set for me. I am a father who feels a sinking pit in my stomach every time I see another dad with his child in my neighbourhood. I am a dad just waiting for mine and my wife’s story to have the ending we’ve been dreaming of.
As you all celebrate with your dads this year, take time to think about and empathize with those who really struggle with Father’s Day. Think about the many people who have lost their fathers, or who never had fathers to begin with. Think about the fathers who have lost children. Reach out to every single one of them if you can.
Don’t ignore their feelings. Their pain is real and your compassion can make their Father’s Day a little easier to cope with.