Nearly three years ago I was happily pregnant with my sixth child when I went to the doctor's office for my first ultrasound. I was ten weeks along and I was so looking forward to my first glimpse of this wee one within. I love ultrasound technology and greedily anticipate every appointment so that, like a big goofball, I can blow kisses and wave at the little wiggle-puss in my womb.
When, after a good thirty minutes of trying, the technician told me that she just could not get a good look at the baby, I was not overly concerned. The doctor said that when they are so little it is not uncommon to not get a good look and he asked me to return the following week. He took some blood and off I went.
As I said, I wasn't concerned. I had healthy pregnancies. I had five totally normal, uncomfortable, boringly average pregnancies.
Imagine my shock and horror the following week when I was told my baby had died at about eight weeks gestation. It took a full minute for me to figure out what they were saying. Then the doctor and the technician gave me a moment alone. I remember thinking that they would come back in a minute and explain the mistake to me. You see, I have healthy babies. I do not have miscarriages. After a minute a nurse, who had been with the practice a very long time and had seen me through those previous five pregnancies, burst through the door and took me in her arms. The floodgates opened.
They remain open. After three years and a beautiful set of twins I am still so sad about the child that I never was able to hold.
One thing I found helpful was to enter my child in the Book of Life at the Shrine of the Holy Innocents in New York City. You can name your baby and the name is inscribed in the Book of Life, where there is a candle always lit and the 12:30 Mass on the first Monday of every month is offered in honor of the babies and for the comfort of the families that grieve. After a while I received a beautiful letter from the pastor of the church as well as a certificate with my baby's name. This made an enormous difference to me. My baby mattered, she had been important and there was now a record of the life that had meant the world to my husband and I.
Four women I know have, over the past month, experienced the trauma of a miscarriage. When you surround yourself with pro-life Catholic families who regard babies as gifts and not burdens then you are going to hear this kind of news on occasion and sometimes frequently. Why does this happen? God calls us to be open to life and when we are it sometimes goes inexplicably wrong. The fact is, that we are never likely to know this side of heaven the reason for the passing of these beautiful children and it is not for us to question the plan of the Almighty. What we do know is that that child that we mourn now sits at the throne of Christ. That child is now a mighty intercessor for the family he left behind and he is privy to all of the wonders of heaven that we cannot even imagine. That child loves God and those he left behind perfectly – a love we cannot imitate here bound on earth.
Mothers of these lost babies should know that they have done their job and fulfilled their mission to obtain heaven for their children. They have given freely of themselves and allowed God to create life and to claim that life for heaven. Parents who cooperate with God's grace in this way can be assured that their sadness leads to joy as another voice joins the heavenly choir and sings their praises for all eternity.