I was just over 13 weeks pregnant when I miscarried this time. Because of a previous miscarriage, my doctor ordered an early sonogram to set my mind at ease. I saw the heartbeat of my precious baby at 8 weeks. Already this child was beloved. Regardless of that vibrant heartbeat, my child died shortly after the sonogram. I found out at 13.5 weeks when I started to show symptoms of miscarriage.
Years earlier, the first time I miscarried, I was a newlywed. I didn’t know my faith and wasn’t practicing it. My husband’s and my reaction to becoming pregnant progressed quickly from surprise, to fear, to elation. And then I miscarried at 13 weeks.
Without faith, losing my first child was just one big awful painful experience that I tried to stuff inside of me so that it wouldn’t swallow me. I wept until there were no more tears and then I tried to focus on the future. No one knew what to say to me and just about everything they said hurt me. “Oh there will be others,” “it wasn’t meant to be,” “there must have been a deformity, better that it wasn’t born.” In hindsight, through the eyes of faith, I know that all of their comments lacked the intended consolation because they didn’t acknowledge the baby that I lost, the viable life. They didn’t acknowledge that I was entitled to grieve this loss because it wasn’t a just a medical term, a miscarriage, it was a baby.
I stuffed it all in after the first miscarriage and thought I was coping very well. Life was back to normal for a while until out of the blue I became deeply sad. I was on the verge of tears for several days. I couldn’t understand why I felt like weeping until I realized that it was the week of my due date: my body, my whole being, was missing my child that was to have been born. Recognizing and admitting the cause of my sadness helped to alleviate it some and gave me some peace.
Over the years I gave birth to 3 beautiful healthy children and, praise be to God, my husband and I began to learn about and live our Catholic faith.
However, despite now being a faithful Catholic, the second miscarriage was still heartbreaking. Although I had never held this child in my arms, I believed that she was a girl and I had felt her presence in my womb. Her hormones mingled with mine, leaving me nauseous and lethargic. I anticipated her birth and met her in my hopes and dreams. I felt her loss in the depth of my soul. I wept. Although my husband handled it differently, he was deeply affected as well. And now I couldn’t just stuff it all inside of me, I had 3 children who had lost a sibling and were also grieving. So I prayed and I tried to be strong. A kind priest said something that I found comforting: “A baby is a baby no matter how small. Some are born into our families and we raise them. Some go straight to heaven to intercede on our behalf.” His words brought me comfort because they acknowledged my baby as a person and a member of our family. They also reminded me that this baby had not been erased, that although she would not be a part of our family on earth, she would still be a part of our family through the communion of saints in heaven.
The priest also quoted John 11:35 And Jesus wept. I appreciated the scripture, but at the time its meaning escaped me.
Two days after the miscarriage my husband was scheduled to travel for business. I told him that he should go. I wanted to try to get back to normal and really didn’t think there was anything he could do for me at home. He left for the trip. The night he left, after I put the kids to bed, I regretted encouraging him to go. I was overwhelmed with sadness and grief. Through my tears I prayed in a desperately demanding sort of way. “Lord, intellectually I know that you are there, but right now I really need to feel your presence physically. I need to feel your comfort, your embrace. I need you to hold me. I need a big strong shoulder to cry on. Please Lord!” And then I cried myself to sleep.
In the morning I went to daily mass for the first time since I had miscarried. My grief and fluctuating hormones left me feeling emotionally unstable so I didn’t want to be near anyone. I sat in the very last pew. The closest person was at least 15 rows ahead of me. Then a few minutes after Mass started, a young man and his son came in and sat directly in front of me. The man was extremely tall, at least 6’ 6”, and his son seemed to be around 8 years old. My thoughts were not particularly charitable: “REALLY??? There are 30 empty pews and you have to sit right in front of me.”
During Mass I couldn’t help it; I began to weep softly and silently. I was distracted and looking off to the right when I felt something touching my left knee. I turned and saw that it was the man’s hand. He bent backwards just enough to reach me. I have to say that having a stranger place his hand on my knee would normally have upset me, but oddly I felt comforted by this stranger’s gesture. Then at the sign of peace, the man effortlessly leaned backwards and embraced me. I felt consoled, physically. After Mass he knelt beside me in the aisle and told me that he was praying for me.
Immediately I knew that our Lord, in his great compassion, had answered my prayer and had sent this man to comfort me. He was so tall, and so compassionate. I felt our Lord’s embrace and our Lord’s love and comfort. I prayed with gratitude in my heart for this tangible answer to my previous prayer.
A few days later a woman who had been at that Mass approached me. She wanted to know who the man was that had knelt beside me. I told her that I didn’t know his name but it seemed that he had been sent by God. She told me that she had been in line behind him to greet the priest on the way out of Mass. She said that he was weeping. I remembered, John 11:35 And Jesus wept.
Recently, John 11:35 was included in the Gospel for Sunday Mass. The priest’s homily touched on why Jesus, who knew all and could change all would weep. He said that Jesus wept out of compassion because he knew how painful death was and that, but for the fall, death wasn’t meant to be.
I know with both my intellect and my heart that Jesus was with me every step of my struggle through these miscarriages. He was grieving with me and helping me to carry the pain of losing my babies. I find great comfort and strength in that. It makes our heavenly Father’s love so tangible to me.
Yes, I have lost two babies, but I have also received a gift. If you have ever miscarried, please take any part of my story as your own. Know that our Lord was with you as well and wept for the loss of your baby also.
Together, my children and I named their two siblings, Jack and Lily. There is great dignity in having a name. We registered them in The Book of Life at the Shrine of the Holy Innocents, dedicated to the memory of children who have died unborn. They sent us a certificate that we keep in our family photo album. I believe that Jack and Lily may be our most powerful intercessors.