My nightstand was cluttered with pre-natal vitamins, anti-nausea medication, and five positive pregnancy tests—all little reminders of the small life inside of me. In the span of a few short weeks, these items had become daily staples.
When we arrived at our first prenatal appointment, we were overjoyed to see our baby’s picture for the first time. We knew it would be the first of many pictures to come. First day of school portraits, graduation announcements, wedding albums.
Even though I was extremely lethargic and hungry all the time, my husband and I were first-time parents filled with excitement for our first OB appointment.
The News We Never Wanted
But all that quickly changed. I instinctively knew that something was not right or normal during our visit.
Outside the exam room, you could hear babies crying as their moms entered and shut their own exam room doors. Inside our exam room was a different story.
I had just told the sonographer that he had the best job in the world. Now, barely a few minutes had passed and I could tell there was something abnormal about our baby as my husband and I stared up at the sonogram screen.
The silence left room for doubt.
The pauses. The lack of explanation.
Angle after angle. More prodding.
Thirty minutes later we were back in the lobby, waiting to see our doctor again.
“I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you all the days of my life.”
My husband and I repeated our vows to each other as I struggled to keep any tears from their ducts.
When the doctor called us back, he told us that our baby was not developing like he should be, given the expected measurements of a healthy pregnancy. He was 95% sure it would result in a miscarriage but, being a Catholic OBGYN, he told us to pray that God’s will be done, even if the outcome we so desperately wanted was not the outcome that we would receive.
I struggled to look at the sonogram image of our baby. To be honest, it would have been much easier to turn away and avoid looking at the screen.
Grieving the Loss of My Baby
At our second appointment, when the miscarriage was confirmed, we asked our doctor if we could have a printed picture of our baby’s sonogram. Not because it was easy or comfortable to see, but precisely because it was hard.
As we looked at our baby’s sonogram picture, I recalled praying with my husband each morning while facing a crucifix that hangs in our apartment.
At first glance, the Cross is excruciatingly painful, filled with human frailty and suffering. It would be easier to turn away. In the Cross of Christ there is both joy and grief, life and death, pain and awe. Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross is the most beautiful and holy source of love. There are similar sentiments towards our baby’s sonogram picture—the very first and the very last picture we have. It is filled with both joy and grief, life and death, pain and awe. The image on that sonogram is a reminder of our baby’s beautifully human existence.
Divine and Human Comforts
Some days the grief is manageable, and others overwhelming. I’m learning more about what Jesus means at every Mass when He says through the priest, “This is My Body, given up for you” (Luke 22:19).
One of the comforts that I carry with me is knowing that my baby’s DNA will always be a part of my bloodstream. It’s a reminder that his own life is now woven into the very fabric of my life. I like to think that his DNA is now helping to give me life, that his DNA is now a part of the very lifeblood of my existence.
Another comfort is knowing that our small family now has one foot on earth and one foot in Heaven. This is why I am so grateful for the Mystical Body of Christ, the Communion of all the angels and saints. We created another soul for God, and it increases our longing to be with him and Jesus at the end of this life. I read a quote from a priest who said, “When someone dies with Christ, their death becomes a resurrection.” I like to think the same is true for our baby.
Needed Support for Grieving Families
Miscarriage occurs in one in four pregnancies. You likely know (or not know of) a family member or friend who has lost a baby. While it may be common, statistically speaking, the death of a baby will never be normal. Many couples carry a lonely and quiet grief, either out of a fear in letting people know or out of a sense of shame. We do a great disservice to grieving mothers and fathers when loss is met with responses such as, “Time heals all wounds,” and, “You’ll have more babies in the future.”
There is a lot of room for improvement within our culture and our Church (especially in the focus of ministries and resources like this one) for how miscarriage is addressed and acknowledged, especially for grieving families.
After our miscarriage, I think I Googled everything I could think of to help me keep one foot in front of the other. The aftermath often involves carrying a silent, invisible cross while simultaneously trying to pick up the pieces of ordinary life.
What Helped Us
Two things that have helped my husband and I in our ongoing healing were:
- naming our baby as a way of affirming and acknowledging his existence, and
- receiving a blessing for grieving parents.
If you have experienced a miscarriage, I am so deeply sorry. My heart hurts for you and with you. You have a right to your grief, however that may look for you. Your baby is just as real as any baby, and your loss is just as real as any human loss.
Our Little Intercessors
To all of the little ones who serve as a great cloud of witnesses, thank you for reminding us that we are on our way Home to you.
I do not think that the sorrows and the troubles endured could possibly be compared with the eternal happiness of my children with God. Through (their) intercession, I received a very extraordinary grace. -St. Zelie Martin
We’re praying for those of you who have experienced the devastation of miscarriage. If you’re comfortable, please leave the name of your babies in the comments below—we’d like to pray for you and honor them.Grieving the Loss of My Baby #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Kathryn Brandt is a wife, daughter, high school campus minister, theology teacher, and mom to one little saint above. She loves finding the simple, little joys in life and she’s a big fan of a good worship playlist, medium roast coffee, and the natural beauty of sunflowers. Some of her favorite things include the Litany of Trust, Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’, frozen margaritas, and dancing with her husband in their living room.
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