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Fredrik Eklund: It Hit Me so Hard I Couldn't Function
The #MDLNY agent opens up about his heartbreaking miscarriage...
I'm known for my happy spirit and tough business manners. You know me as 'the closer and the listing machine.' I do deals, I negotiate, and I move mountains for my clients. My entire life, when I look back at it, has gone pretty much according to plan. Not all the time, perhaps, but for the most-part, yes. Of course, I've had my fair share of failures in business, I was single for years before meeting Derek, and I've felt a lot of guilt over the years for leaving my family behind in Sweden. I'm not perfect in any way, but I've never been really sad or down for long periods of time. Whenever there is a challenge, I go head-to-head with it until it is solved. When there is personal drama, I fix it or move past it. I like to take the higher road and lift myself up whenever possible. I've even written a book on the topic of finding yourself and sharing that self in an honest way with the world.
So let me be honest here: Getting pregnant via a surrogate was part of the plan. I've always wanted children -- always -- as far as I can remember. Even as a child myself, I wanted a family of my own one day. Kids are everything to me; the little innocent angels light me up, perhaps because I'm such an overgrown kid myself. When filming MDLNY the previous four seasons, I didn't keep our struggle to become parents a secret. I've always believed -- actually known in my heart -- that we were going to be fathers.
Last summer, we had several positive pregnancy tests with our twins. We named them. We even bought them clothes and things...well, I did most of it. I was flying so high: I can honestly say those were the happiest weeks of my life. It gave the world such light -- such a dimensionality -- that everything felt purposeful and right. I felt right. This was my meaning, my time, my place. Our time! A little boy and a girl, him from Derek and her from me. How could something so precious and perfect actually finally be happening? It was too good to be true.
I guess the miscarriage in itself shouldn't have been that surprising after all. I had heard how common it is, how people try again and again, and how difficult it can be. But, what really surprised me was how it hit me emotionally. It hit me so hard I couldn't function. First, you get the phone call. Then, you freeze. You hear your heart beating in your ears. You lose balance. You sit down on a bed. Everything gets black. You call Derek. Then you cry together. You lose words, because words are empty and won't do anything anyway. You want to scream. You get so angry. You think of them. You say their names. You think of where they went. You think of the life together that is lost. You open your eyes and they are not there.
6'5" tall men are not supposed to act like this. We are not supposed to cry and cry and cry. Cry at work, cry in the gym, cry on the streets -- whenever, really. It could come completely unexpected and could happen at any time; the crying would wash over me. Derek took it so much better than I and explained that this was just part of the process; it really is part of becoming a parent, to be able to let go of the control, etc., "Let life play its part and let the unexpected lead us."
But I took it personally. I felt robbed of something so holy to me: our children. The miscarriage came like a sudden slap -- perhaps it was because we had been challenged for so many years by not being able to make our own children biologically, or perhaps it was seeing my brother have three beautiful kids. I can't explain it, but it shut me down completely.
The city I had worshipped for almost 13 years suddenly felt hostile. Everything lost its taste and smell. Work was fine, but it didn't mean anything. The lust for life -- that insatiable hunger for more and better and BIGGER -- was suddenly gone.
At that very same time, production started for season 5. First, I said I wasn't even going to film. I couldn't -- I mean, who would want to watch this emotional wreck? Who would want to see someone cry like this? I knew if I sat down in that interview chair, I wouldn't be able to keep it together. I even told Bravo and the producers to find someone to take my spot on the show. I had to be replaced. Then there was a nasty article in the gossip press that I had been fired for diva demands, which hurt me because I just couldn't film at the time and couldn't have been further from the truth. Everyone working on the show was supportive and gave me time, and after more crying and thinking, a little Fredrik-voice inside whispered: "Talk about it. Let it out. Don't be afraid. People do care. Don't hold back. It is common, yet not a lot of people talk about it. Perhaps you can help someone out there that have experienced something similar..."
So I did. I struggle with it a lot this season, and I'm still broken. It's better -- it's actually a lot better, because the brokenness kind of tapped into an unknown emotional cord or connected to a sensitive, deeper place within me that I didn't even knew I had...and that is a good thing. I've never been a hard person, but New York (also what I do for a living) can harden you over the years, but this entire experience taught me to admit that I'm sensitive and can be sad too. Very sad, apparently. It's not a bad thing, it's actually a good thing to be able to channel sadness and try to work through grief, as long as your open about it. It's really the only way.
I've also seen so much beauty come out of this. People I don't know, people I thought I knew, people I know now for real - sharing their similar experience. Everyone seems to know what we've gone through. My family, the dogs, and Derek (most of all) are closer to me than ever before. I've discovered things about myself and the world I never would have otherwise. The world doesn't seem hostile anymore, it seems warmer -- yes, a bit broken, but with a lot more love for sure.
Finally, I want to comment that this is after all a real estate show. People tune in for the most expensive real estate on the planet, and I acknowledge that. There will always be trolls online critiquing me for being open about this journey -- two men trying to become fathers, but I don't care. This is me and this is all of me. I sell real estate, but I'm also a person with a big open heart.
I did decide in the end to start and finish season 5, but only on one condition, which was a promise to myself: To be completely honest, wherever that would take me.
Thanks for giving me time to be me. To aim for a new beginning.