Miscarriage: Ramblings of the Grieving

Today I am on my way to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. My husband and I decided to make a very last minute mini-vacation, so that we could spend some time together as a family during this period of grief. Ever since I learned that our baby died, all I have wanted to do is sit in the sand and listen to the waves. Nothing more. Just the crashing of the waves and the sense of smallness that comes from proximity to the ocean. This isn’t a typical response for this mountain girl, but it is what I need at this time. I’ve always wanted to visit the OBX and while the timing could be better, perhaps now is when we were supposed to go all along.

There is no running away from grief, but a change of scenery can offer new perspective and even the freedom to fully grieve. It seems perfectly natural to cry and unleash sorrow while sitting beside the ocean. There is a type of purification in it. The raging waves match the agony of loss, while the water washes away and cleanses the anguish. Water is always a reminder of Baptism. That may be why I need to go. I am struggling to see the goodness of God in all of this. He knows that. He also knows that my healing begins with beauty. That is why I have a rose garden dedicated to all of my babies. My husband will select a rosebush for the loss of baby Andrew.

Once the initial grief has subsided, it is beauty that always brings me back to the Father. In the beginning the anger, anguish, and pain is too overwhelming for me to turn readily to Him through the overt actions of the Catholic tradition. I am weak that way and my faith is still too fragile. I haven’t been able to pick up my Rosary, pray Lauds, or even pick up my Bible in a week. Holiness is a journey and there are times I feel like I haven’t even stepped onto the path. My trust has been shattered. I am still a baby on the spiritual journey and while the loss of my four babies has not turned me into an atheist, it has certainly returned me to a childlike state. I guess that is part of the point of suffering. All of the theological study in the world cannot prepare me for the devastation of losing four babies. All of the answers are in my head, but they cannot get past the immense emotions and pain that are raging inside of me right now. I know in time I will find consolation in theological study, which I enjoy so much, and the answers, the few we have in the face of such mystery, will sink deep once again. My copy of the International Theological Commission’s, The Hope of Salvation for  Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized, sits on my desk waiting for when I am ready to re-read it.

None of this means my faith is gone. I do not grieve without hope, but the pain is too new for me to pretend that I am handling this situation in a saintly manner. Although I am not sure most of the saints would be able to ignore their humanity and the devastation of death completely either. We grieve precisely because death is unnatural for human beings who possess an immortal soul. We are the bridge between the material and the immaterial. Our human experience is through body and soul. Grief has become a “natural” byproduct of the Fall.  At this point, I am not able to chalk this all up to the will of God and move on. I am not going to pretend that I am anywhere near that point right now. No. It doesn’t contradict any of the words I have written in the past. Even though I hurt now, I have no doubt that somehow I will come out of this a better Catholic. I don’t know how or when. Even though I am angry at God and feel like He has taken my beloved child from me and I cannot understand why, He will lead me through all of this, even if I keep a bit of distance in the beginning. This is an honest look at grief, at least my grief.

Mass is hard right now. All I can do is sit in the back and sob all of the way through. There are so many babies. Their cries, laughter, and squirming reduce me to a pile of blubber. They are the reminder that I will never get to hold my child, or hear them laugh, or fight them through Mass because they can’t sit still. What a blessing to fight a child through Mass! How many parents, including myself, have never thought of it in that way? The first Baptism after this loss will be very hard. The Baptisms always hurt right after the loss. It reminds me that I won’t get the joy of bringing my child to become a member of the Church and to have original sin washed away. I have been robbed of that joyous occasion. True that I trust that they are in Heaven, but that aspect of my motherhood is gone.

I can’t bring myself to go up to Holy Communion. My agony is so great at this point that I can’t seem to put one foot in front of the other to go. I still go to Mass. In times like these, it is a blessing that Mass is an obligation and requirement of the Faith. It keeps me going, when my pain would rather keep me home. The sense of betrayal I feel makes it hard for me to go forward. Somewhere beyond the grief, I know that He is waiting for me, but I am having the hardest time going. I need to get to Confession, not because I am particularly concerned about grave sin, but because it has helped me after all of my miscarriages. It helps me get through the anger and gives me hope in the darkness. Confession is a habit my husband and I formed early on in our marriage. He goes weekly and I go bi-weekly. I should probably go weekly while I am grieving and because it will help on the path to holiness. I should start going weekly, period. Confession will give me the strength I need to walk up for Holy Communion during this time of great suffering.

Losing someone we love requires us to learn to walk again. We have to learn to live differently. Our hopes and dreams that revolved around that person are gone. There will be no crib. Our daughter will not get to know her brother, or her other brother and two sisters we trust are in Heaven. We don’t need to re-organize her room so that she can share a room with her new baby sibling. All of the baby items we purchased are in a corner upstairs next to my desk. I harden my heart whenever I look at them otherwise it will reduce me to sobs. We were planning that this Christmas would be about preparing for the baby and now I can’t even bear to think about Christmas. I don’t need to buy big sister items for my daughter or to ask my family that their gifts this year be for the baby. These are all things I had already thought out and planned.

My dad pointed out to me the other day that because our culture dehumanizes the unborn, we often forget that a person has been lost in a miscarriage or an abortion. An unrepeatable, incommunicable (to use a philosophical term), unique person. The baby I just lost had within him all of the potential that God created Him to be from the moment of conception. His DNA was formed, the God given life within him that would make him the man he would become was all present. The baby I would have given birth to would have become a child, then a teenager, and then a man. This is reality. I wasn’t going to give birth to a water buffalo. I was pregnant and going to give birth to an amazing, unique person and that person has died. There is a void in my heart that will never be filled for the rest of my days on this mortal coil. There are four persons who I have lost and who I miss every single day.

Side Note: I am intentionally putting the word “miscarriage” in all of my titles on this topic. This is to help those who are also grieving a miscarriage to see that these posts are about miscarriage grief. It works better for search engines too. My ramblings may just be ramblings, but I hope that they help others feel not so alone who have been through this type of suffering. PAX.

Dealing with Miscarriage Part II: Grief

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Blessed are they who mourn; for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:5

Grief is one of the most difficult aspects of life.  We are guaranteed that it will come our way.  Most of the time it blindsides us.  Grief in miscarriage can be lonely, deeply painful, infuriating, and cathartic all in the same day.  The grief sets in when we are told that our child is dead or it may set in once the bleeding starts or stops, or it may take years for the grief to overtake us.  Miscarriage is something that our society, and I hate to say it, the Church largely ignores.  This is probably for a number of reasons.  I would say some of it has to do with the abortion culture, some of it is privacy, and a lot of it is fear.  Fear on the part of the family who has lost a child.  They are afraid to share their pain and experiences with others, even their own priest, or their own spouse.  This can also be mixed with embarrassment thanks to a culture that does not acknowledge the brief motherhood and parenthood of the family involved in the loss.

 
My own experiences with grief in my miscarriages have varied widely with each loss.  My ability to deal with my grief has been affected by my own health or mental well being at times.  I too have fallen prey to being embarrassed to talk about it, usually after someone has unknowingly said something insensitive to me.  My first miscarriage was the hardest to share with people.  When I found out about losing Michaela’s twin I was in shock.  It was not real or tangible for me.  I did not actually see my body lose the life.  I told family and friends about it, and they brushed it off.  While I know they did not mean to hurt me, they did.  By telling me to focus on my daughter who was alive, they essentially told me that I did not have a right to grieve.  That may not have been what they meant, but that is how I took it.  I am here to tell you that you have a right to grieve the loss of your child or children.  Take as long as you need.
 
I was violently ill through most of my first and only full-term pregnancy.  I could not leave the house for the first month of “morning sickness”.  I was too sick to focus on much grief.  I was just trying to survive.  I finally got to a point when I could return to the Women’s Bible Study at the home of a friend of mine that I attended.  She promised to clean the bathroom, which I had to use regularly to throw up what little I had eaten or drank.  It was there that I opened up a little bit about what happened, and it was then that I learned that there are a lot of women who have lost children in miscarriage, but have remained silent about it.  Why?  They have been hurt by others, they felt alone, even in the Church, or the grief was too much to bare.
 
I finally found a couple of women who had been through it.  Not only had they been through it, but they had had multiple miscarriages.  I did not know it at the time, but I would be one of those women too.  My friend who led the Bible Study asked me to go to Franciscan University with her on a youth minister’s retreat.  I decided to go, but was hesitant because of how sick I was with the pregnancy.  By the grace of God, I did not get sick the entire retreat.  My morning sickness returned when I got home.  It was during that retreat that some sense of healing began.  During what Franciscan calls the Festival of Praise, I had a prayerful vision of Our Lord holding a baby wrapped in a pink blanket.  I was only 3 months pregnant at the time, so I did not know that I was having a girl.  It was then that I knew that Michaela would be a girl and that we had lost her identical twin.  I cried.  I cried healing tears.  I cried as I felt my heart being ripped from my chest.  I cried until peace enveloped me.  Afterwards, I shared the experience with my friend.  She said she had had a similar experience with one of her losses and she knew immediately what had happened to me.  It was then that healing began.  I was finally free to grieve.
 
Throughout all of this I did not talk much to my husband about it.  He is much better at accepting God’s will than I am.  So while he was sad, he chose to focus on Michaela and taking care of me during the pregnancy.  As a mother, I needed a chance to let go of the child I would never hold.  When Michaela was born I was overjoyed.  I did often think of her twin, though.  I would see twins and cry.  I would see twins and wonder.  My husband admitted to me that at times he thought about it too.  I still think about it every  now and then and my daughter is 2 years old.  I will see identical twin girls and look at my daughter and wonder what her twin is like and how it would have been to be the mother of twins.  That wound is still with me.  Time has just made the pain less acute. And I try to trust that she is with Our Lord.
 
My second miscarriage in March of 2012 was more difficult.  I was devastated.  I had really felt like we were having a boy.  I was excited, pouring over boy’s names.  Picking out saint names that my husband would never go with i.e. Augustine, Xavier.  I felt pretty good during the pregnancy.  I was motivated and glowed.  I only threw up a couple of times.  I thought maybe this one will be different.  It was different, but  not in the way I thought.  I lost Caleb Augustine at about 7 weeks.  The most painful part for me was having to flush my child down the toilet.  It ripped me into pieces.  My heart broke in such deep ways that I felt like I would  never recover.  I felt alone.  My husband is always so strong in these situations when there was a part of me that needed to see him fall apart.  I needed to see that he felt as devastated as me.  Instead, he later told me that he wept in private to stay strong for me.  I didn’t want him to suffer like me, but I needed to see that I was not alone.  I still haven’t seen him grieve in front of me after three losses.  I have had to accept that he grieves differently from me.
 
Grief varies from person to person.  Experts tell us that grief has five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  Quite honestly, I only remember being angry, depressed, and working on acceptance.  I am not sure how you bargain with the loss of a child.  I think there are parts of me that denied it in an attempt to move forward.  With my second miscarriage I spent quite a few months in depression mode.  I would cry at random times. I would hurt when I saw other babies.  I was afraid to try again.  I guess one day I woke up and was able to hope in another child.  It was a process.  I also organized a Mass in  November of 2012 for all families who have lost a child, no matter the circumstance or age.  It was closure for families who have experienced miscarriage.  I think that it gave me some closure since we have not been able to have funerals for any of our lost children.
 
I got to a point where I desperately wanted to get pregnant again.  It took a couple of months to get the double pink line.  I was so excited.  I took a picture of the test to share and I drew a picture for Michaela to give to Phil announcing her coming sisterhood.  I was so happy.  Then the pregnancy symptoms hit and I was the most miserable I have ever been.  I spent hours on the couch.  I struggled to function both mentally and physically.  I spent days vomiting followed by days of debilitating depression and anxiety.  I was on a roller coaster that I had not bought a ticket for.  I did not understand what was wrong.  I wondered if I was actually pregnant with twins this time.  Then my first ultrasound came and I got the news I was not expecting.  There was a gestational sac but no fetal pole, that meant no baby.  The doctor tried to reassure me that I might be off on my dates, but any good Catholic woman who pays attention to her cycle knows better.  My husband tried to reassure me, but deep down I knew the baby had died.  I started lightly bleeding a few days later.  Then a second ultrasound confirmed that the baby had died just days after conception in what is termed a blighted ovum.  The problem was that my body thought I was 8 weeks pregnant.  My HCG was at 9000.
 
I went through an agonizing week of waiting.  I stayed home because I was not sure when it would hit.  I truly felt like I was in my own personal Agony in the Garden.  I was waiting to lose my child.  I was waiting to physically suffer.  I was waiting…When the miscarriage went wrong and I was laying on an operating table about to go under, all I could do was pray.  I barely remember it. I was so doped up on morphine and then the lights went out for the surgery.  I remember being cruciform and bleeding out.  I vaguely thought about how Christ bled out for so many who would deny Him.  He bled out for nothing.  My heart ached.  I felt like I had gone through Hell for nothing.  I bled for a baby long dead.  I hemorrhaged for a child I would never hold, hear, or see on this side of eternity.  I immediately fell into anger.
 
I was angry at God.  How could He make me hurt this much?  Why had he taken 3 children from me?  Why the depression and anxiety?  Why the trauma of emergency surgery? Why? Why? Why?  Two days after the surgery I stumbled, literally, into Confession with our then new priest, Fr. Mike.  I sat in front of him and poured out my heart.  I cried.  I told him how angry I was, how hurt I was.  He stayed and talked with me for a while.  He told me that my anger was natural and that it was good for me to share it with God, just not to stay in that anger too long.  He reminded me of how we all have to be purified in the fire of suffering.  I left Confession feeling a bit better, but the anger stayed with me.
 
I then went through and still am struggling with a period of intense fear.  I feared for my life.  I feared for my family.  But, most of the fear has centered around me dying.  I have thought that I have had so many life-threatening conditions over the last few months.  I am 32 with a family that has a history of long life.  The chances are slim that I am dying and yet it became an obsession.  I will look at my daughter and cry, sure that I am leaving her.  My husband finally explained to me what is going on.  He said that I have not dealt with this miscarriage fully and that because I have lost three children, I am convinced that something must be seriously wrong with me.  I think that he is absolutely right.  I recently read a quote from CS Lewis in which he talks about the death of his wife Joy Gresham, “Grief is a lot like fear.”  This quote has been so true for me this time around.  I have been confronted with my own mortality in a tangible way, but I have also lost three children, it has been compounded with a recent sudden loss of a dear friend from my Navy days.  I have been in a state of grief for three years.  I have lost a baby a year for three straight years.
 
There are days that I am petrified by anxiety and days that I can not cauterize the wounds pouring from my heart.  I pray. I look for answers.  I get angry.  I struggle to trust Our Lord’s plan.  It is a circle that I keep going in.  I find peace and then the wound re-opens.  I find peace and then I fear the worst.  My arms ache for the children that I do not get to hold.  There are holes in my heart that will never be filled for the rest of my life.  I see new babies and think of my own.  I would have been due with Marie Therese, our most recent loss, about now.  I miss her and her siblings.  I miss them terribly.
 
That’s the thing with miscarriage.  There are so many anniversary dates in the beginning.  First, there is the day or days the loss takes place.  Then, there is your due date, and then before you know it, it has been a year.  Even though I do not desire to envy anyone, there are times when I see friends’ babies at church and I am jealous.  They are cuddling their new baby while I am being torn apart.  And this has nothing to do with not being thankful for my daughter.  She is the most amazing person and I love her more than I ever knew I was capable of loving.  There is a connection between a mother and their child that is so strong that when it snaps, even at seven or eight weeks of life, it leaves a lasting imprint.
 
I am still grieving the loss of Marie.  It has been seven months, but I still feel the pain acutely.  The grief with this loss is compounded with the trauma of the loss itself.  I am afraid to get pregnant again.  I don’t know if my heart or body can take it again.  More than anything it is my heart.  How many times must I feel the joy of pregnancy only to be devastated by another loss?  This is what I keep asking God.  How do I trust?  My biggest struggle.  I know with every fiber of my being that Jesus Christ is present body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Most Holy Eucharist, but I am scared.  I fear what he will do with me?  I told my Confessor this and he told me this is a rational fear, but that I must learn to trust that He will do what is best for me and that is to make me a saint.  I guess it is only now that I am learning just how hard to path to holiness i.e. sainthood really is to tread. .  I know that I am supposed to embrace the Cross.  I always think about that image in The Passion where Jim Cavizel, who is depicting Christ, kisses the Cross.  How do I kiss this Cross?  These are the questions I struggle with daily and they are some that I will discuss tomorrow when I write about the Church and miscarriage.
 
My prayer is that my story brings you healing.  I do not wish to re-open old wounds.  I can tell you that I cried my eyes out as I wrote this piece.  My heart also hurts for you who have been through this pain.  May Our Lord and Our Lady bring healing and peace to your heart.

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for Miscarriage

I started praying the Rosary this evening and started feeling a pressing of the Holy Spirit to share some thoughts on each of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for families who experience the pain of miscarriage.
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The First Sorrowful Mystery-The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane
One of the hardest parts of miscarriage is all of the waiting.  When you initially suspect you are losing your child, you have to wait to confirm.  Then the ultrasound confirms that your baby has died.  The waiting begins for the miscarriage to begin, or be over.  After the miscarriage itself you wait for the agony of the grief to subside.  You wait  to feel joy, peace, or even whole again.  So much waiting.  It can be difficult, but uniting this to Christ’s agony the night before he died can help bring you comfort.  With my last miscarriage, I was exhausted and hurting from all of the waiting.  I was waiting to bleed out my child.  It was agonizing for me.  Think of how Christ felt knowing that he was about to be tortured and crucified.  Most importantly think about how much weight he felt taking on all of our sins.
Look at what Scripture says about the Agony in the Garden. Matthew 26:36-46 “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”  He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”  When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.  Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Look at how Our Lord felt.  He was overwhelmed with sorrow.  Isn’t that how it feels to lose a child?  Don’t you too want someone to keep watch with you in that hour of loss?  The pain is unbearable.  Lift your pain and suffering to Christ.  He knows how you feel.  He wants to comfort and wait with you in that hour of need.  He always wants to be there for you.  It is hard, but try.  I know how hard it is to just give the grief over to Him.  You may feel anger, betrayal, or incredible sadness. Or, like me, you may feel all of these emotions.  Give it all up to Him.  Every single emotion, thought, feeling, action.  Ask Him to sit with you in your agony.  Ask Him to welcome your child into His Kingdom.
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The Second Sorrowful Mystery-The Scourging at the Pillar
Our Lord was brutally tortured before he was taken to be crucified.  Anyone who has seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion has caught a glimpse of what Our Lord endured for us before his death.  Miscarriage can be deeply painful physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Depending on the severity the physical pain can be unbearable.  As difficult as it is, offer up each cramp or wave of pain to Christ.  He knows extreme physical and emotional pain.  There will be moments when the grief alone will feel like torture.  Give it over to Christ.  Share with Him your burden.
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The Third Sorrowful Mystery-The Crowning of Thorns
In a great moment of humiliation and torment, Roman soldiers crowned Our Lord with a crown of large thorns.  It is deeply difficult to be crowned in loss.  We may intellectually know that suffering is a part of this journey, but none of us is prepared for the heavy burden of loss, especially losing a child or children.  It is a crown no one wants to wear, but when we lose a child in miscarriage we are given our own crown of thorns.  Unite that loss with Christ.  When someone says something insensitive to you about your miscarriage, remember that Jesus was humiliated as He died for us.  Ask him to help you endure the crown of loss.
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The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery-The Carrying of the Cross
This is the longest portion of the journey.  We must carry the Cross of miscarriage with us for the rest of our lives.  “And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha.” -John 19:17.  Christ had to carry the Cross and we are assured that we must follow Him.  We must bare the pain and anguish.  It may lessen its sting over time, but it never truly goes away.  We must remember anniversary dates, see other people having babies, or miss the children we never got to hold.  Ask your children in Heaven to pray for you as you carry this Cross.  Ask Christ to help you shoulder the burden. Remember how He loves you. In your moments of despair ask Him for help. He is always there, especially in the darkest moments.  He is there helping us put one foot in front of the other.  He whispers to us that we can go on and he helps us carry the Cross.
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The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery-The Crucifixion of Our Lord
The darkest moment in human history came before the brightest.  Our Lord died on the Cross to bring about our salvation.  Miscarriage comes with the death of a child.  Or for many, multiple children are lost over time.  We must learn to give those children back to God.  They are His.  It is deeply painful.  It is hard to let go.  We must unite our own loss and suffering with the power and pain of the Cross.  The Lord who offered Himself up for us will take good care of our babies.  They are, and always were, His.  I struggle greatly with this truth.  In our moments of deep grief, pain, and agony, we must give it up to Christ who died on a Tree.  We can also ask His Mother to pray and comfort us.  She stood by and watched her Son die.  She knows the terrible pain of losing a child.  This is especially helpful during the miscarriage and also while dealing with the grief.  This life is the Cross, but remember the battle is won.  We are a Resurrection people.  We hope in the life to come.
The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are the perfect prayer for women and families dealing with miscarriage.  Prayer may be difficult.  The nice thing about rote prayer is that it can help get us through the really tough times.  It guides us when we feel like we cannot go on.  Ask Our Lord to comfort, heal, and strengthen you.  Ask Our Heavenly Mother to guide you through the grief back to Her Son.

Dealing with Miscarriage Part I: The Physical Experience

Today was my final blood draw that was the end of a month of bloodwork to figure out why I keep having miscarriages, post-partum depression/anxiety, and severe PMS.  It was the miscarriages that really led to me finding, or rather she found me, a doctor who was interested in figuring out if I have a hormone issue.  In my next post I want to focus on that experience and the breakthroughs going on in NAPRO.  I am writing about miscarriage because it is a deeply painful experience for families.  It is a pain that most people suffer in silence and there are limited resources to help those dealing with the grief.  This is further complicated by a society that has deluded itself into thinking that an unborn child is not a human baby.  This first part is just going through my own miscarriage experiences at the physical level.  I will then write posts on grief, the spiritual component and Catholic response, and also about resources that are available especially through NAPRO doctors.  So here is the beginning of my story.

In November of 2010, just three months after I got married to my husband, we found out that I was pregnant with our first child.  We were shocked, as most new parents are, but overjoyed.  Shortly after I found out I was pregnant I had some bleeding and called an OB/GYN I had seen advertised on the back of the parish bulletin.  He saw me the next day and told me that we had to wait another week to see if the baby was healthy or not.  After a week of fear, we were overjoyed to learn that our now daughter, Michaela, was perfectly healthy.  However, I was not prepared to learn that she had a twin who had died.  I was stunned and confused by the news.

Miscarriage was never on my radar, after all my mother never lost any children.  What did it mean to lose Michaela’s twin?  My doctor told me that mentally it would be harder than physically, because my body would re-absorb the lost baby rather than have a full miscarriage.  My first pregnancy was a mix of joy and grief. I mourned privately.  This loss was difficult for people to understand.  They all wanted to me to focus on the child who was still alive and I was, but I also grieved the loss of her twin.   I was also violently ill with “morning sickness” for almost all 9 months.  It was a humbling experience that taught me a lot about sacrifice and marriage.

Once I had our beautiful daughter, I would wonder what it would have been like to have twins.  I would see twins and my heart would break or I would cry.  I was so thankful to God for our daughter, but it still hurt.  The grief lessoned as I began my duties as a new mom.  The grief never fully goes away, but time does dull it.

Five months after Michaela was born I discovered that I was pregnant.  We had always planned to be open to children and rarely used the Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP we had been taught.  I was in real shock at first.  I had just had a baby a few months ago along with an unplanned c-section.  After the shock wore off and the happiness started, I began to think about names.  I had always thought Michaela’s twin was a girl, but with this pregnancy I started to think about boy’s names seriously.  I had started getting the pregnancy glow and I was not nearly as sick as I was the first time around.  That should have been a clue. 

I woke up one morning and just did not feel pregnant anymore.  It was a strange feeling.  I ran to the store to get a pregnancy test and the pink line was very faded.  I knew in my gut something was wrong.  Sure enough, in the middle of the night I started to bleed and by 6am I knew that our baby was gone.  It just happened to be the day that our first ultrasound was scheduled, so we went in, and after seeing the images, my doctor sympathetically told me what I already suspected.  We were scheduled to leave for DC that day, so we packed up the car and headed out of town.  We stopped at our church and asked our priest to pray with us and then proceeded onto DC.  The next few days I bled out my child and grieved.  My heart broke in new and profound ways.  I have never known the kind of grief I felt knowing that I was flushing my dead child down the toilet.  All of my miscarriages have been first trimester.

I cried off an on for months.  I was scared to get pregnant again.  My heart hurt too much.  I read the only book I could find for Catholic women on miscarriage.  The resources are scarce.  I talked it over with friends of mine who had lost babies.  I talked to our priest.  And finally I asked our priest to do a Mass in November for families who have lost children, no matter how old.  It was a healing moment.  We never got funerals, so this was good-bye along with prayers for the dead.  I started to feel ready to try again.  We had been open, but I had not gotten pregnant.  I don’t think I was ready.

In early January of this year, I discovered that I was pregnant for the third time.  I was so happy.  Michaela and I made a picture to take to Phil to announce that she was going to be a sister.  But this pregnancy was different.  It was awful.  I was throwing up three days a week and then spent four days feeling like I had debilitating post-partum depression.  I could barely function.  I was wondering what was different and then my early ultrasound came.  Oh how I hate those ultrasounds!  There was a sac but no baby. The doctor tried to tell me that I could just be early or ovulated late, but I knew better.  I pay attention to my body.  A week later my doctor confirmed that the baby had died very early, but my body still thought I was pregnant.  He told me my options were to see if it happened naturally or get a D & E.  For a woman like myself who works to stop abortion and help women in crisis pregnancy, the thought of the same procedure as an abortion did not sit well with me, even if it was for medical reasons and the child was dead.  I said I would try naturally.  After all, I had already been through this.

The next week was horrible.  The bleeding was slow and I felt physically drained.  Then on Sunday night, February 17,  I started to bleed heavily.  At first I was relieved that it hard started, but very quickly I knew that something was wrong.  When you miscarry, the blood is not supposed to flow freely out of you.  You are only suppose to fill a pad every 30 minutes to an hour at the heaviest part. I was filling pads within minutes and then seconds.  I was sent to the ER where they treated my like an actual emergency.  It is actually scarier when the ER responds to you like it is supposed to.  No waiting and a lot of running.  I just remember them trying to get two IVs in and then being rolled into surgery.  I was doped up on morphine at this point.  Having an emergency D&E is a surreal experience.  You go into the hospital bleeding to death and a couple of hours later you walk out barely bleeding.  Thankfully, I had friends who had been through this and I called them right away.  I knew it was dangerous, so I got to the hospital before I needed a blood transfusion.  Ladies, if you are bleeding this much, do not wait.  Go to the ER.  Even if they send you away, it is worth it.  I have had multiple friends who waited too long and needed transfusions and in-patient hospital stays.  You can black out and bleed to death.  It is not something to mess with.  My first miscarriage was a lot like the heaviest days of my period, not like this miscarriage that got to a point in which I would fill a pad by just standing up.

This miscarriage has been the hardest on me.  I still have not recovered physically, mentally, or spiritually from it.  I already had grief to deal with and then had to go through the trauma of a life-threatening miscarriage.  Thank God I live in this time of modern medicine! My body still has not reset to its normal cycle.

I wrote this post to give you a little background on my own personal experiences.  I hope it does not re-traumatize anyone.  I hope it makes you realize that you are not alone.  Feel free to share any of your own stories here.  Tomorrow I will write about my experiences with grief.  If you need a good saint to ask for prayers from I find St. Gianna Molla to be a good one and, of course, Our Heavenly Mother is always willing to listen and pray for you.  I always ask her to care for my babies.  God bless.