(WARNING: This is a long blog!)
She was supposed to be our “rainbow baby” – the joy after the storm.
When we found out we were pregnant again, 4 months after losing our baby Gale, I was excited. The likelihood of miscarrying again, back to back, was very low. My doctor had me come in within a couple of days of my initial call to check my HGC levels to make sure the pregnancy was strong. I registered “low”, but passable and was put on progesterone supplements. A couple of days later, my HGC levels were checked again and were soaring.
At 8 weeks, we loaded up the whole crew and waited to see the newest member of our family up on the “big screen”. After waiting through a “full work-up” OB appointment for me, the kids running through halls and the staff being kind enough to put up with all the noise, we finally got to see the baby. Her heart was beating like a champ, the kids were thrilled to discover they were going to have a new sibling (“Please, not another girl, Mom,” said our 5 year old, only son), and I felt confident that we’d be celebrating another birthday around Thanksgiving. My doctor scheduled me for another ultrasound at 11 weeks “just to be sure of things”.
As the weeks passed, there was nothing to indicate anything to worry about. I had usual nausea & tiredness. My belly seemed to pop out early (i guess a 5th pregnancy will do that to you!), so i quickly switched to maternity clothing. Everything seemed perfectly run of the mill when my next appointment rolled around, so I thought nothing of picking up my son from preschool and taking him with me because i thought he’d enjoy seeing his baby again.
While we sat in the waiting room, my little artist child drew a family picture, complete with a baby in heaven (“There’s Gale!”) and a tiny one in my tummy. For some reason, it was a really long wait that day. And, I had some anxiety about the ultrasound that I couldn’t explain. The night before, my sister had asked me if I was excited about it and I had responded, “I’ll be excited when I see a healthy baby.” I guess there was something inside me that knew things were slightly amiss.
My doctor had out the doppler, to listen to the heartbeat, but couldn’t find it. She said wasn’t trying very hard and since i was only 11 weeks along, I probably just needed the ultrasound equipment to pick it up. If she had any concerns at that moment, she hid it well because I didn’t notice that she was agitated or concerned.
Though the ultrasound tech was trying hard to pick up the heartbeat, I immediately knew from how my baby looked on the monitor that she was no longer living. Not only had my mother, a former crisis pregnancy center ultrasound tech herself, once described to me how a baby that is not living looks in ultrasound (like a bug, with legs and arms sticking out, instead of curled up), but also I could see right away that she wasn’t moving or wiggling, like i knew she should’ve been at her size.
The rest of the appointment was a blur of crying, hugging, praying with my doctor, making plans for a D&C (a very personal choice, but being a little past 11 weeks, too many potential complications plus having no idea when i might miscarry while trying to parent 3 small kids at home made the decision easy for me), and asking a lot of questions while trying to answer my son’s.
And, it was in these moments and the days to follow that being “pro-life” really took on a new meaning for me.
I had read a blog after my first miscarriage that said, “Tell everyone, EVERYONE, EV.ER.Y.ONE. that you want to take your baby home after your D&C.” I wasn’t sure how many people that might mean when i initially read that blog. As it turns out, it’s many.
I started immediately with my own doctor, telling her that I wanted her to be as careful as possible removing our baby so that we could take her home and bury her.
But, it she wasn’t the only person I talked to.
I told the lady who called to tell me they had scheduled the surgery that I wanted my baby to come home with us. I told the registration person from the hospital. I told the SECOND registration person who called me to make a note of it. I told my doctor again the morning of, when they did another ultrasound to double check the loss of life. I told the nurse who was assigned to me while I was in my hospital room. I told the anesthesiologist. I told the director of the hospital operating room who came to talk to me about it. I literally told anyone who had anything to do with my surgery that my BABY, my CHILD was coming home with me so we could bury her.
The phrases “products of conception” and “fetal materials” were often thrown back to me or used in reference to our baby. But, I made a conscientious effort to reference “our baby, our child, our daughter.” I wanted them all to know that there was NOTHING about that member of our family that was a “product” or “materials”. She was a life that was created specifically by God and valued, cherished, loved, and wanted so badly by us.
Needless to say, the day of my D&C was quite difficult. While I waited for my surgery, i just cried and cried and told my baby I was sorry that this was how it had to go, even though I already knew she was in the arms of Jesus, safe and happy. And, I offered up all my sorrow that day for the mothers out there who choose death over life through abortion. I knew my baby was no longer living and I knew what a D&C entails, but I felt such relief after it all ended as I knew I was no longer carrying a lifeless baby within my body (a great physical AND mental burden in and of itself).
We were lucky to bring our daughter who we named Seraphina Joy (our Fiery Angel of Joy!) home with us from the hospital that day. The following weekend, my husband built her a beautiful little coffin that our children happily painted a rainbow of colors. We were able to bury her in our backyard with a sweet little stone to mark her grave, something my son loves as he proudly shows people “the graveyard in our backyard!” When we buried her, we all cried again and thanked God for her little life, but that moment was a huge point of healing for me. It closed the book on her short little life and allowed me to begin to move on.
I found out later that my witness to life didn’t end with me telling everyone that we wanted her to come home after the D&C. My incredibly wonderful doctor told me that she really had to go to bat for us to have that desire fulfilled. Their practice had just moved to a brand new hospital and we were THE FIRST PEOPLE to ask for our miscarried baby to come home with us. There was no protocol in place and there was red tape that our doctor had to work through. But, she didn’t give up the fight because she is also a person of faith who values life and respects her patients. We unknowingly, by virtue of our dedication to being pro-life, set the wheels in motion for future patients who might be requesting the same thing as we did.
This is what my 2nd miscarriage taught me – what “being pro-life” really means. It doesn’t just mean holding a sign or marching with 1,000s of others, though that is very important. For me, it meant standing up for the dignity of my child to doctors, nurses, and the secular medical world. It meant calling her by name and letting those medical professionals see that I was unwavering in the discussion of my CHILD, her LIFE.
Yes, this miscarriage was harder than my first one for a number of different reasons. But, I am so thankful for Seraphina’s short life. I live in the hope and pray that God was able to use her and us as champions for the pro-life movement and that our witness to life will make a difference for another family at that hospital in the future.
(NOTE: We buried Seraphina in our backyard because there is nowhere local that does burials for miscarried or very small babies. We discussed this matter with a close priest friend, as we did not have the funds to afford a full funeral service and plot for our daughter. He advised us to choose a quiet place on our property that we knew would not be disturbed at any point by digging or landscaping of any sort.)
this was amazingly powerful. You are exactly who this little angel needed as a mother. Thank you for standing up for her and everyone that will come after you at that hospital. We love you.
Love you Rebecca, your family and your sweet angels! 👼👼.
My heart is still vulnerable, but as painful as this is to read, I know how important it is to do so. It is important to you as a writer and as friend, as well as it is for me. I am not a writer, so none of my heavenly babies have such a beautiful story written about them or how their short lives mattered and shaped our family. But their lives did matter. Their lives had purpose. Their lives are making a difference in this world even today.
Some of my losses I kept for me and me alone, some were shared only between my husband and me, while others were shared with family and friends. And the most recent has yet to be processed. I am not sure why each one was so different, no rhyme nor reason, just what my heart was telling me at the time.
But with each – I can still remember the moment I found out I was pregnant. For some, the hello and goodbye were one in the same. Yet, with each, my world stood still, even for a brief moment, I rejoiced in the miracle that God had granted me. I fell hard and hopelessly in love with each baby, even though I knew the odds were not in our favor. Love and hope is much greater than the pain of facing unfathomable loss. Each time it was so painful to surrender my baby back to God. Each time begging God to reveal – why? What is the purpose.
Each of my heavenly children are loved, deeply, deeply loved. I love them just as I love my two boys that still hold my hands today. Their lives, although short – serve a purpose! Each of them changed me forever in ways that are too profound for my words. I only hope that my actions show what my words fail. Collectively my children have taught me that life is a precious gift to be celebrated no matter how long or short. Yes, there are moments that life is unfair, painful, confusing, unpredictable, in-explainable, and heart breaking, but life, when viewed as a whole, is beautiful! My children taught me that being kind, gentle, obedient and a servant of God is not a weakness (as the world sometimes sees), but a brilliant inner strength that God has cultivated within me, so that I could do the work that He created me to do. Without trudging along this path and surrendering my children back into His arms, I would never have learned to use all the gifts He so thoughtfully knit together for me and me alone. He has sent me on journeys to love and serve children and families in many different ways.
To avoid feeling the pain, would be living a lie, because my children were apart of the plan from the beginning. Although their loss is still felt, I would never change a thing. I can find beauty even in the heartache. There was even beauty to be found in surrendering your precious baby back to God.
Thank you, RRMM. Your babies lives have already found purpose. Because of them, I was able to see things that were being lost in the noise of life. You have a beautiful gift and God is using you greatly.
Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom, love, and suffering…my heart is moved for you and your family in your many hellos and goodbyes…but, what an army of saints you have in heaven, praying for you, your husband, and your boys! Your own personal Church Triumphant beside the throne of the Lord…a hard earthly reality, but an incredible heavenly gift!! Much love to you.
Thank you for sharing. Thank you for putting almost my exact experience to words. It was like reading my own story. My heart mourns for your loss and rejoices is Seraphina’s new life. I am sure she is playing with my son, Nazareth, 17wks, in heaven! God bless you.
I am sorry for your loss! My sister lost her daughter, Rose, last October also at 16 weeks…I know that was a great cross for her as I’m sure it was/is for you. I believe all our Little Saints are in the front row of heaven playing and worshipping our Lord in Eternal Glory together! Can’t wait to meet them all!!
AMEN! Know you and all your loved ones are in my thoughts and prayers
God bless you,
Bless you. We had a miscarriage in February of this year, and we were the first people in over 30 years that had ever asked the hospital to get the remains back. It was a huge pain, and they resisted. There was no protocol, tons of red tape, but we were able to bury our little child in a Catholic cemetery with an area for infants, children, and miscarriages. I wrote about my experience here: http://arimack.blogspot.com/2017/02/