By Ray Downs
By Lindsay Toler
By Danny Wicentowski
By Lindsay Toler
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Allison Babka
By Lindsay Toler
If that means men's desires must fall by the wayside, then so be it.
Keyes, however, offers something she thinks is therapeutic for waiting-room males, even if they aren't able to be in the procedure room or the recovery room. In the waiting room in her clinic, she keeps two journals labeled "For Men." In them, men can read letters, poems, rants and doodles from other men who have sat exactly where they are sitting and then add their own thoughts.
Keyes hopes to publish the journal entries one day.
"I think it's one of the biggest gifts that we give men, that we don't censor it, so that some of them can say that they're really angry or brokenhearted," she says. "Some of them are kind of self-loathing. I think that it's a way for men to feel like they understand how other people feel, which can help them to process their own feelings."
One of these journal entries, made in all capital letters, reads: "To my unborn child: I'm sorry that we were not ready, and I'm sorry I hurt your mom's feelings by saying we were. She was right as she always is. Now is not the time. I hope you can forgive me, I hope God can forgive me, I hope I can forgive me. I don't know what else to say."
Another, dated October 10, 2008, reads: "I am a grown man, but after reading this book, my body feels little and my heart does too...Right now this really isn't time for a child. I always promised myself I would honor and do right with my kid. I think this is doing right. For every man who looks at this, you are already a man for even coming down here."
Aaron Gouveia, a 31-year-old newspaper reporter from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is a man who has seen two outcomes of pregnancy — both the pain and loss of possibility that come with abortion and the joyful satisfaction of fatherhood that tantalizes would-be fathers.
Gouveia blogs on his site, The Daddy Files, about raising his two-year-old son, Will. When his wife learned she was pregnant with the couple's second child, he blogged about it.
When Gouveia and his wife were told in early July, thirteen weeks into her pregnancy, that their child had a genetic disorder called Sirenomelia that affects 1 in every 100,000 fetuses, that their baby had no kidneys or bladder, and its legs were fused together, and that there was no chance of a live birth, he blogged about that, too.
"I saw this kid's hands," he writes in a blog entry titled "All Out of Miracles." "The complexities of the spine. The beating heart. This baby wasn't just an amorphous blob or a speck on a grainy black-and-white ultrasound picture. It was formed with a head, a body, legs, femurs. We're just about at 15 weeks, and this is a goddamn little person who is dying inside my wife. And a piece of me has died with him/her.
"I tried so hard to be strong for [my wife], but I failed miserably."
A few short weeks later, Gouveia and his wife walked through protestors on their way into the abortion clinic, his wife crying as protestors screamed that she was killing her baby, and Gouveia sat alone in the waiting room, not allowed in the operating room with her.
"There's nothing worse than hearing that you're going to lose your kid, and it's out of your control; you're completely helpless," he says.
Now, with weeks' distance from those hours in the waiting room, Gouveia has scheduled private counseling, calling his recovery "a work in progress."
Though he has never met Joe — the St. Louis man now working with the Catholic Church's post-abortion programs — Gouveia echoes the male conflict many associated with Project Joseph identified.
"Since the baby's not inside of you, you don't know what level you can be affected by it. You feel like you shouldn't be," Gouveia says, "so you stuff it all down in there."
Joe and Gouveia are more alike than they would probably think.
Both are haunted by the loss of their unborn child, and both find that sharing their stories with other men in their situations helps them cope, Gouveia on his blog, and Joe via the upcoming Project Joseph retreat.
Joe says that he participates in prayer and clinic protest because of a "passionate desire to help others stop the madness that allows this to continue." Gouveia is considering volunteering as a clinic escort, to try and protect women and their partners from the harassment he and his wife endured.
Politically, their reactions are polar opposites. But across the country and across the 30-year span between their wives' abortions, some of the pain they feel may be the same.
"If you're married to someone, and you love them, maybe even if it's not physically happening to you, it is happening to you," Gouveia acknowledges. "You're a couple: What happens to one happens to the other. If I could have traded places with my wife, I would have in a heartbeat.
"The only thing I could do was try to make some good of the situation."