Finding meaning in miscarriage
January 27, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two years ago today, our lives changed. Our little baby was born, but much earlier than she should have been. She was really no bigger than two peas. My wife Erin had noticed the telltale signs of miscarriage a few days before. We felt hopeless in escaping this tragic event that we feared was unfolding inside her body. Then the cramping started. All we could do was wait and pray, and wait some more and pray some more.
Then a couple of days later, in the early morning, Erin passed the placenta and amniotic sack, all intact with the baby inside. Everything fit in the palm of her hand. I immediately baptized the baby. We named her Perpetua Christina Marie. Then we held one another and our little baby and wept. Grief over the loss seemed to surge over us like a huge dark wave. It was overwhelming. But then, in the midst of it, I had the inspiration that we should give this grief over to God, as a kind of offering. It was an act of the will to do this, not something that we felt like doing. Out loud we offered everything over to God. This did not lessen the grief, but it gave it a meaning that somehow made it more bearable.
Later that morning we visited our midwives. They examined the remains and said it looked like the baby had died at about 6 weeks, which would have been about a week before Christmas. The midwives were very supportive. They acknowledged our little baby as a person. They shared in our loss. They helped us to look to the future by telling us they were sure they’d be helping us with our next baby (which they did!).
Thinking back to Christmastime, Erin remembered how she had been experiencing a sense of emptiness. Being unable to pin it on anything at the time, she had dismissed it. We now think that she was already subconsciously experiencing the loss of the baby. Looking back at her journal from the time the midwives had said the baby had died, Erin had written a line from Psalm 86 that had stood out to her. It read: “Your love to me has been great, you have saved me from the depths of the grave.” We think that God was telling us through this passage that he was present with our little Perpetua at the time of her death, saving her through his love. This was a great consolation to us.
On the way home from the midwives, we stopped for a late breakfast in town. This was a rare treat, our little way of deciding to celebrate the life of our daughter. When we returned home, we gathered our five children around to break the news to them. We told them that they had a new little sister named Perpetua and that she had been called home to heaven, much sooner than we would have liked. We told them that she had joined her brother and sister in heaven, who had been miscarried earlier, and that they were all having a lovely time together. We said that the three of them were now rooting for us to join them. We said they were interceding for us and helping us to become holy. We said that Mommy and Daddy hope and believe that someday we will all be together again, where every tear will be wiped away and death will be no more. Yes, that will be a great day indeed.
We decided to show the children the remains. We opened up the tiny sack and saw the tiny little head with little black dots for eyes. We could see the tiny arms and legs. The kids took holy water and each of them blessed Perpetua. I kissed her before wrapping everything up in paper towel to be stored until burial.
Later that day, our spiritual director visited and gave Erin Holy Communion and our Lord filled her with his presence and peace. That night, we decided to celebrate the short life of our daughter with a feast. My mom brought over a chili dinner, and we uncorked a bottle of wine. Later we made some homemade chocolate-chip cookies and ate them with ice-cream.
We buried Perpetua in the summer in a special place in the cemetery, just for miscarried babies. A monument, with a beautiful picture of Our Lady and the Christ child snuggled against her, marks the spot. On the stone is written: “Dedicated to the memory of the children resting here who await the resurrection.” The parish priest celebrated a beautiful rite and we laid her to rest. Then we sang “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
The two words that Erin and I had for this baby while she was still with us were “praise” and “blessing.”
While our grief over her loss was great, it was mingled with a strange joy that God was working through all of this. Through the scripture, God had let us know that he was looking after our daughter. The miscarriage had become a profound opportunity for us to speak to our children about looking forward to heaven. This had increased our faith in God’s promises and given us a boost of hope. We could already see how God was blessing us by our daughter’s life. And now, Perpetua sings the praise of God for all eternity while blessing our family through her constant intercession on our behalf before the throne of God. We now see how God can bring lots of good out of a miscarriage. We now see, more than before, that in his will is our peace, and by his grace we are filled with that peace.