Photo credits: Joshua Middleton
When I found out she was pregnant, it was like a shot of dopamine surged through my blood and left me in a state of euphoria. I felt like I had finally caught a break in life, God had finally answered one of my prayers, to be a father. It seemed that after everything I had been through, from surviving death from a flesh-eating disease, to being diagnosed with HIV, I deserved to have something good finally happen.
As we began to plan, excitement began to take over. Every moment seemed like a dream, but this was really happening. All the feelings when diagnosed seemed to disappear while feelings of joy filled every inner most part of my being. My mind and body prepared for one of the greatest responsibilities one can ever experience in life, the birth of one’s very own child. Little did I know that this joy we were experiencing would be taken from us so soon, in the blink of an eye.
In the middle of February, shortly after a day filled with love, Valentine’s Day; we would find out that our baby had left the womb without ever getting to meet its parents. Our angel was lost due to a miscarriage. The doctors could give us no reason as to why it happened. We were one of the many parents who lost their child in the high risk initial three month period after conception.
Instantly those fears and thoughts that went through my head when diagnosed came back to haunt me. I felt like I had failed yet again, failed to protect, whether it was myself or my child. Not that I could have done anything to prevent it, nor could my partner as she was doing everything possible to keep in good health, however, these were all thoughts that went through my mind. Tears ran down my face as it seemed as if my dream of having a child would never come to pass. I read through bible verses and listened to songs dealing with loss to help me process this unexplainable grief.
Depression sunk in quickly and it hit harder than ever before, it’s still a daily struggle. Hidden behind the smile of a passionate HIV activist, my emotions were tearing me up inside. It spiraled me into what used to be recreational gambling for entertainment into an active addiction that left destruction in it’s wake. Instead of accepting the fact I will never know the reason why it happened, especially after everything in my past, it left me with only two people to blame: God and myself.
How else could such a tragedy be explained? It brought me back to the age old question, why do bad things happen to good people? I stopped believing in the saying “everything happens for a reason,” because the truth is, sometimes there isn’t always an explanation as to why things happen. It’s been an internal struggle within myself that has challenged both my spirituality and mental health. It’s not only been a challenge healing and moving forward as an individual, but also put a strain on the relationship with my girlfriend.
It was like I had to go through the cycle of grief all over again, I felt so empty inside. I never could fully comprehend when people said, “a child should never go before their parents,” until it happened to me. The difference in my case is, I never even got the chance to hold my child. The “what could have been” moments lay plastered in my mind as it just reminded me of how unfair life is at times. We hadn’t even reached the point where we knew the sex of our baby, I personally think it was a girl.
The truth of it is the miscarriage is still hard for me to talk about to this day. This was an emotional piece for me to write and one that brings back so many of those feelings. I am pushing through it the best I can and know one day I will see my baby in the heavens and have all my questioned answered. I continue to live life to the fullest because I know that is what Giovanni or Esmeralda would want for its parents.
I may not understand why things happened how they did however it brought me to a place that has seen me grow more as a person inside. With each day the sun shines a little brighter and the beauty of nature seems all the more evident. I’ve begun the process of navigating through the complicated mental healthcare system, have stopped emotionally self harming by gambling to serve as an escape, and have memorialized our baby in various ways.
I’m a father and one that will live his life as an example for his children. Our baby got to skip this whole world often filled with pain and disappointment, the only thing it felt was unconditional love. Daddy’s angel may not be here with me on earth but will always live on the inside of my heart as my personal guardian angel watching over me from above.
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A personalized memorial we put together at the cabin for the baby with both letters inside from myself and baby’s mother Maria.
Joshua is one of millions of people living with the HIV and has decided to share his experience in order to break the stigma. His unique perspective as a straight man living with the virus propelled him to become an activist in hopes to show that this virus truly does affect us all. Through his blogging, videos, and public speaking he shows the world that life is what you put into it, despite one’s circumstances.

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Information and Resources from HIVE

As Treatment as Prevention (TasP) and PrEP become more well-known across the U.S., we are wondering how men who have sex with women are finding out about the possibilities for safer conception, what they think about it, and what barriers remain.

We love sharing stories about men living with HIV who are having, have had, or want to have children. Applause for clinics who are routinely offering PrEP to women, and clinics who are telling people living with HIV that TasP works.

We are on a journey, learning and growing together. Want to share your story? We can work with you if you prefer to be anonymous. No professional writing skills necessary. We offer a $50 stipend for each blog that we publish. Contact caroline@HIVEonline.org

Check out the links below for resources around TasP and family building options.

Prevention Access Campaign

Thinking About Having a Baby?

We’ve Been Seeing if We Are Ready, Are There Any Risks Involved?

Pietro Vernazza: Safer Conception Options for Serodifferent Couples

Disclosure: PRO Men

Adherence: PRO Men