All of These Things She Held in Her Heart: One Mother’s Story of Miscarriage
By Catherine Daub
We lost a little baby last month. Lucy Agnes. She was only five weeks and five days old, although I was 10 weeks pregnant. I don’t usually share when it comes to miscarriage. I think many of us don’t. But this time I feel compelled to do so. As we all have the common goal of turning our culture back to life, at some point the pro-life movement as a whole must put a greater focus on how we handle, talk about, and care for those whose hearts have been broken through miscarriage. And we must find a way to honor the lives of all those little saints who are in heaven watching over their families.
At this point in our journey, we have more children in heaven than we do on Earth. We have lost nine babies at various stages of development, and, as I reflect on this journey, I realize that each and every experience carries with it a uniqueness similar to my childbirth stories. I don’t know exactly why, but that thought and the thought that we have a little army of saints in heaven offer me some comfort.
There have been miscarriages where I’ve told everyone, miscarriages where I told a few close friends and family, and miscarriages where only my husband and I knew. I know the experience of miscarrying a baby is not unique to me. In the circles I frequent, I know very few moms who have not suffered the loss of a little life. It’s so heartbreakingly common. When you open yourself to life, you are also opening yourself to the possibility of loss. That thought never dawned on me until we lost our first baby 10 years ago. Sometimes that loss comes through miscarriage. But it can come in other ways—infertility, adoption plans that don’t work out, a wayward child, the loss of a child at any time, divorce, and the list goes on. A woman open to life and love can often find herself feeling quite alone in a loss that she finds hard to share.
“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
Those words kept popping into my head in the roller coaster weeks where we went for blood test after blood test and several sonograms. There was the hope as HCG levels rose, followed by the crushing blow of finally—after two sonograms—seeing that little lifeless baby in my womb. Why couldn’t I explain how I was feeling? Why does my heart keep hoping even when the evidence before me points to loss? Why is it so hard to even admit I’m mourning? Why couldn’t I tell those who love me most and want to help me what to do to help? Why do I keep saying I’m fine when I’m not? I realized it’s because, as moms—especially moms who are open to all of the little ones God wishes to bless us with—we are agreeing to an unspeakable joy and an unspeakable pain all at the same time. And sometimes all a mom can do is hold these things in her heart.
I know you’ve all felt those moments of joy so incredible that there were simply no words. All you wanted to do was rest in that glorious moment and take it all in. At the same time, we’ve all felt that sharp sting of pain—deep and lonely—that again no words could possibly describe. Miscarriage is one of those pains. It just is. And try as I may, I cannot put into words what I feel or how I feel about the little one I carried. I cannot explain what it’s like to say goodbye right after hello.
There is no other moment in life where you can fall in love in an instant—at that very moment when the test comes back positive. There are just no words. Even if that love is joined by fear of the future or worry about circumstances, it’s an unexplainable and deep love that is unique to you and your journey. And maybe that’s why, whether that moment ends in the tragic unexpected loss of life or the tender experience of a newborn baby to hold, there is a uniqueness that only you will ever know or experience. And maybe that’s why we moms know all too well what it means to hold these things in our hearts.
All of our children touch our lives in a deep, unrepeatable way. This little one left me with a lot to say about miscarriage and the pro-life movement, but I’ll save that for another time. For now, all I really want to say is that if you are a mom who has lost a little one, you are not alone. Your baby is a unique unrepeatable gift from God, and even though he or she was chosen to live next to God in heaven instead of in your loving arms, that little one is still very much a part of your family.
And I want you to know that, if you’ve lost a little one, the grieving process belongs to you. There is no right way to do things. Personality, temperament, situations, conditions, and many other things play a part in how we handle miscarriage.
So, whether you named your baby, you didn’t, or you are still thinking about doing it years later, it’s okay. Whether you were able to bury your little one, you let the hospital do it, you weren’t able to, or you didn’t even know it was an option, it’s okay. Whether you had a Mass of the Angels, you didn’t, or you had no idea you could, it’s okay. Whether you grieved publicly or privately or you are still grieving, it’s okay. Whether you miscarried at home naturally or needed to have an operation, it’s okay. Whether you conditionally had your baby baptized or you didn’t know that was possible, it’s okay. And if you’ve had multiple babies lost through miscarriage, it’s possible that circumstances did not allow you to handle each one exactly the same. And that’s okay, too. There are so many things we moms hold in our hearts.
We must all pray for one another as only people open to life would know how. Join us in prayer today for all mothers carrying little ones or praying that they will soon be carrying a little one. Join us in prayer for moms who are scared and moms who are struggling to say goodbye. Join us in prayer for moms who either just received or are praying they do not receive bad news about their little ones and for moms who hold so much in their hearts that sometimes it’s all they can do to breathe. Pray with us today for their hearts, their healing, and their families.
Prayer remains the best tool we have as we build a culture of life. And offering support, comfort, and prayer for those families who have suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage at any stage of development is certainly a wonderful and important part of building a culture of life.
If you are a mom struggling with loss, here are two of my very favorite resources for help and healing:
I pray that they bring you comfort as well.
Catherine Daub is the director of the Culture of Life Studies Program.
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at cultureoflifestudies.com/blog/miscarriage/?utm_source.
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