Josh Garry from Auckland, NZ, and his wife Vicky welcomed their first child Ryker into the world in 2015 – but his little heart wasn’t beating.
Due to a placental disruption, Ryker sadly died at 31 weeks gestation, and waiting for him after Vicky went to labour was a tiny white coffin.
Thankfully, they were given four days to cuddle and love Ryker before saying goodbye.
After preparing for parenthood and excitedly awaiting the birth of his son, Josh said the unexpected loss hit him hard.
Josh vividly recalls trying to hide his own pain because he was the father.
‘I felt I had to be ok, I still felt like I had to be the man of the house and show my partner I was strong,’ Josh told that’s life!
‘People make assumptions that fathers aren’t as affected and dads believe it is their duty to carry this burden for their family as a matter of pride.’
Josh said he also avoided speaking about Ryker’s death in fear of making other people feel uncomfortable.
‘You think it’s easier for everyone if you keep your heartache to yourself,’ he explained.
‘We actually became more mindful of what others didn’t want to hear, than what we probably needed to say.
We have since spent a lot of time trying to break that mold and never miss an opportunity to speak proudly about Ryker,’ Josh added.
Josh buried his grief for more than a year before finally seeking help, and now he wants other parents to know there is no shame in not coping.
‘Men naturally find it harder to talk about these things and are often harder to approach,’ he added.
‘I ask that my fellow bereaved dads stand up with me and speak of their babies with pride, the little angel deserves it.’
Josh and Vicki have since had their son, Benjamin, who was born without any issue.
Whenever people ask Josh about Benjamin, he proudly tells them he is their ‘second born’.
‘Losing Ryker made us stronger together, but there have been many times since that it has pushed us to the limit we didn’t know existed, and threatened to tear us apart,’ he said.
‘Having Benji really healed our hearts, there is no doubt about it.’