Miscarriage, Grief, and the Need to Write

I fully intended to take a break from writing. I thought that my anguish would keep me from putting down a single word, but the opposite has happened. I have written and submitted two articles on miscarriage in the past 48 hours and written 30 pages in a journal I purchased for this trip into grief. Countless people have asked me to write a much needed book on miscarriage. Perhaps it will come out of this fourth loss and perhaps not. All I can do is scribble in my journal what feels like the ravings of a person detached from myself.

For the writer, pain tends to bring forth work that is more real, raw, and intense. It is as if we can see the human condition more clearly through the haze of our grief. It is the only clarity given as all else appears a dull gray. There is beauty all around, but I cannot touch it right now. I sense it from memory, but there is no deep connection to it at present. This is typical of the grief stricken.

I am re-reading C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed. In my view, it is the most honest look at grief that has ever been written. I largely skipped over the Introduction. I have been a Madeleine L’Engle fan since childhood, but her theology always leaves something wanting and is too relativistic. She is a much better fantasy writer. I recommend skipping straight to Lewis’ work if you have the same volume as I do.

While some of the experiences of grief may differ from person-to-person, Lewis looks at every aspect of grief in relation to himself, his lost wife, and God. He freely admits the struggle between believing in a benevolent God and a malevolent God. The problem for a Christian is that we tend to no longer be capable of atheism. Once we have met the Living God, even our grief doesn’t fully send us into an existential crisis that ends in materialism. We may have an existential crisis, but we usually end up in the Father’s arms once the intense pain and anger has subsided. No. The battle wages over God’s goodness.

I am thankful that Lewis delves into this struggle. It is one I face, and have faced, through all of my losses. A pregnancy feels like a promise and a miscarriage makes it all seem like a lie. The heart beating on the screen is the definition of hope and then that hope and joy is stolen. Instead, my heart is ripped from my chest and I am left reeling. I am turned into an empty shell that has to be filled up again. My previous joy and excitement over the coming of another child is taken away and I am left sobbing in front of an ultrasound picture and the onesies I picked up to celebrate the new baby.

The problem with the grieving is that we are a bit inconvenient for everyone else. We are a reminder that death is real and that deep suffering and agony await all of us. We don’t know when that time will come, but we don’t like to be reminded of it, especially us Americans with our keep-insanely-busy-in-an-attempt-to-outrun-fate-or-destiny-or-whatever-we-imagine-is-really-in-charge. Pain makes people scatter and only the truly brave are able to stick around and enter into the suffering of others. This is an experience that I have been through four times, as well as in the grips of PTSD and post-partum depression, and as a  9-11 relief worker.

In truth, it has made me more patient with the weaknesses of others. I know that most of my friends will run away during this time. The truly close ones will stick it out, but others will wait until I am less likely to break into uncontrollable sobbing or when I can at least hide my pain better. My suffering makes people uncomfortable and I know it. What they don’t realize is that I am not looking for them to fix it. They cannot fix it, nor can I. All that is needed is authentic compassion, but even that is hard for people to summon. We assume because we have never been through something that we cannot be compassionate. I didn’t lose anyone in 9-11, but I rushed in to help as a relief worker. My presence was enough. Your presence is enough to the grieving people in your life.

Platitudes get the grieving nowhere. It is useless to tell us that they are in a better place, something was clearly wrong with the baby, or it was God’s will. How is that supposed to take away our pain? Somehow the loss is supposed to be assuaged by this knowledge and yet the ache still remains. The grief doesn’t lessen because somebody tries to tell us something that makes them feel better in that moment because they are not the grieving. In reality all we can say to someone who has lost a loved one is “I am so sorry for your loss”. That’s it. Nothing else will help or matter to the person who is mourning for someone they loved. Nothing will bring my child back. Something being wrong with the child does not take away the pain of lost motherhood. Even though A Grief Observed is about his wife, Lewis has the clearest understanding of what miscarriage or the loss of a child means, and why theological platitudes are unhelpful to those in the grips of early grief:

If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing, that she may still hope to ‘glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild.

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.

We have a tendency within the Church to not allow people to grieve. We think that theological explanations should be enough. This is an utter denial of the human experience. It is to ignore the horrendous reality of death and the toll it takes on all of us. The separation between a mother and her lost child is an infinite chasm on this side of eternity. The pain of never hearing the child’s first cries, or seeing their first steps, or witnessing the man or woman they would become renders a mother heartbroken in ways previously unimagined. I cannot make you experience my pain, but the level of its intensity on certain days almost makes it seem like it will kill me, but it won’t. Grief takes us to the outer reaches of suffering. It takes us to our limits, but we survive it, even if we don’t think that we will in certain moments.

So why is it that we try to brush this pain off and pretend that the tenants of our Faith are enough to take away that grief? This isn’t even a Catholic approach, for Pete’s sake! We are body and soul and our bodies and souls grieve. We do not pretend that death isn’t real. We do not pretend that grief is not crushing. It is soul-crushing. It is a journey that must be walked. No amount of exegesis is going to remove the suffering that must be experienced when a child dies. The theological and spiritual answers and eschatological hope are only healing after the deep pain has run its course. I am a theology graduate student. I know what the answers are supposed to be, but that doesn’t take away the intense agony and grief. The hope of Heaven cannot shorten the journey that must be walked through this grief.

The Cross comes before the Resurrection and the Cross must be endured first. I once again must walk to Golgotha, to the foot of the Cross, and take the agony I feel to His feet. I must cry out “why” and endure the pain of loss. And, yes, I will wonder if God is good or not. It is hard for a mother to imagine why she got to see a strong heartbeat two weeks in a row only to have it snatched away from her days later. It makes a person question, but God makes us stronger through the questions and the suffering. At least, that is what I remember even though I don’t “feel” it right now. My faith isn’t dependent upon my feelings. If it was, I would have left after 9-11, or during the PTSD, or when I lost my first child in miscarriage. Thank God my feelings matter so little.

Side Note:

  • Some of the resources for Catholics who have suffered from a miscarriage are dreadful. I think this is a cause of frustration for so many families. I know it has been for me and my friends who have suffered from miscarriage. The resources are sparse and some of the ones that are available are inaccurate or do not clearly understand Church teaching. The concept of unbaptized babies is a gray area theologically, but the nature of the Sacrament of Baptism is not.

    There is no doubt that a devout Catholic would have Baptism in mind for their lost child; however, a miscarriage means the child has died. We do not baptize the dead. Sacraments are reserved for the living. There may be a rare case when the child is born from induced labor and may take a few breaths. That child can be baptized. Those of us who have suffered from 1st trimester miscarriages are not able to baptize our children. By the time the baby’s body passes out of our body the child is dead. More often than not, we are not even able to find the body for burial. I have never gotten a funeral for any of my miscarried babies.

    Even though we cannot baptize them, we leave our children to the mercy of God since He knows we most certainly would have baptized them had they been full-term. In the grips of grief with my second one, a priest had to kindly remind me that I could not baptize my dead children. This realization was painful, but I appreciated his willingness to be honest and remind me of the nature of the Sacraments. This in no way lessens God’s power or mercy. Grief does make us grasp at straws….

Catholic Exchange: Learning Prudence from Miscarriage, Post-Partum Depression, and NaPro

Two and a half years ago after my last miscarriage, I decided to stop and visit a priest friend of mine who had recently been re-located from our parish. During our visit, he told me something that I had not even considered, nor wanted to consider. It was simply: “Constance, God may only want you to have one child.” He had been our parish priest through two of my miscarriages and he had been the priest to come see me when, unbeknownst to a great many people, I wound up an in-patient at a psychiatric hospital just weeks after having my daughter because I had severe post-partum depression and anxiety. My anxiety was crippling and I could barely function. My priest friend was seeing something that I just didn’t want to see at the time and that is, God has given me a Cross and I need to decide how to live with it and that means making prudent decisions while also trusting in His love and plan for my life.

A couple of months after that visit, a Natural Procreative Technologies (NaPro) physician introduced herself to me. She had heard through the grapevine that I had experienced repeated miscarriage and she was confident that she could help me. I was stunned and had a bit of hope after 2.5 years of devastating losses. She ran an extensive battery of blood tests on me and discovered that I have very low estrogen and progesterone levels. In fact, she told me she was shocked that I had even gotten pregnant to begin with. She prescribed me HCG shots to give myself four times a month in the second half of my cycle. The progesterone corrected immediately, but the estrogen did not and she wanted me to go on estrogen. I wasn’t comfortable with that at the time. We were not actively trying to get pregnant because I was battling post-partum from my recent miscarriage in which I had hemorrhaged and required emergency surgery. Estrogen comes with a one page warning of cancer risks. While that may mainly mean women in menopausal years, it gave me serious pause. My doctor and I decided to wait to use it until we were looking to get pregnant.

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange…

Catholic Exchange: Meditation on the Rosary and Miscarriage

My meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary and miscarriage is up at Catholic Exchange today.

Last month we recognized Infertility Awareness Week. Infertility comes in many forms: those who cannot have children, those who suffer repeated miscarriage, and those who cannot have more children after they have one or two. There are many different types of infertility and it is something that I know well. It is the great Cross of my adult life. I have been given one beautiful and amazing daughter and I have had three miscarriages. Dealing with infertility or the death of a child in the womb, stillbirth, or after birth is deeply painful. It is only in light of the mystery of the Cross that our pain and anguish can make sense. After my last miscarriage, I began to meditate on The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary in relation to miscarriage.

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 with the doctor.  Then the ultrasound confirms that your baby has died.  The waiting starts anew 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 is 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.

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.

Miscarriage and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

This week is Infertility Awareness Week. Infertility comes in many forms: those who cannot have children, those who suffer repeated miscarriage, and those who cannot have more children after they have one or two. There are many different types of infertility and it is something that I know well. It is the great Cross of my adult life. I have been given one beautiful and amazing daughter and I have had three miscarriages. Dealing with infertility or the death of a child in the womb, stillbirth, or after birth is deeply painful. It is only in light of the mystery of the Cross that our pain and anguish can make sense. After my last miscarriage, I began to meditate on The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary in relation to miscarriage.

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 with the doctor. Then the ultrasound confirms that your baby has died. The waiting starts anew 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 is 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. Give the agony over to him. 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.

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 of Christ 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. You do not suffer alone.

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 and the lack of understanding that you may encounter. Unite yourself to the glorified Christ and ask him for the strength to endure this crown of thorns.

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 bear 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.

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 have struggle greatly at times 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. As I carry this Cross, I will be praying for all of you.

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.