Artists for Life

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Miscarriage Loss...And Gain.

I have neglected things here on the blog for a while. The primary reason was fatigue and sickness due to pregnancy. Then, at 12 weeks, we lost our little baby and I have been slowly recovering physically and emotionally from this very sad but beautiful journey.

We are a pro-life people in life and in death. We recognize that even our unborn child (only 2 inches long in life) lived for a purpose and we did our best to love him in life and treat him with dignity in death. Miscarriage is a loss...An empty womb. But recognizing the value of the life of my baby is a gain. I have a son forever!

As I've traveled this journey, it has become clear that many, many parents have already been down this same road and a great many will be where I walk. How can we deal with miscarriage as a pro-life people? I'd like to share some things that I have learned....

1. Do we deliver at home or the hospital?

There are certainly situations that require hospital delivery. Pregnancies that are far along or earlier pregnancies that show obvious signs of difficulty fall into that category. The desire to stay at home may meet with the necessity of greater medical care. But if a women does choose to go to the hospital, there are things she should be aware of.

Most doctors will throw away the body of a baby prior to 20 weeks simply because death certificates are not issued before that time. If you want the body of your child respected, then be prepared to fight for it. My midwife was very glad that I chose to stay at home. She described the process of trying to retrieve the baby from the hospital doctors as "difficult".

We delivered our baby at home and were able to see him and hold him. That's not possible for everyone, I know...But very worth it if it is a possibility. Stay in touch with your doctor regardless of your situation and be bold in defense of your preferences with regard to the body of your child.

2. Consider naming the baby.

During my personal grieving process, the greatest moment of healing came with naming our child. We did not know with certainty whether our baby was a boy or a girl but we took a leap and named him anyway. My husband chose the name Matthew. And in that naming I understood fully that I had a son. My arms were empty but my heart was full. My tears were a mixture of sadness and unquestionable joy as I imagined the meeting I would have with him some day.

I strongly encourage anyone who has lost a child (at any age) to consider naming him or her. It will bring you closer in love and knowledge to your little one and one step further in your healing.

3. What do we do with the baby's body?

This is not a simple question when the child is earlier than 20 weeks. Again, 20 weeks appears to be the cutoff age for a death certificate (at least in my state) and as I was told by an OB at the Catholic hospital in my area: "Honestly, they just throw them away before that...But I guess you could bury it in your backyard." She offered this directly after my loss and in response to my question about where I could bury my child. I made a mental note never to seek out this women for care!

Fortunately, many cemeteries will bury your little one regardless of age with a letter from your doctor (proof of pregnancy). A Catholic cemetery in our area will be burying Matthew, at no cost to us, in a special section dedicated to infants. They will also provide the headstone free of charge. It is a beautiful example of Christians walking the talk and I am profoundly grateful. We also had the option of burying him with a relative already at the cemetery and that would have cost us about $200.

The following photo was taken of a burial box that was lovingly made for Matthew by our friend, Jim Kelley. The box measures 11 x 7 x 6 and is constructed using pine. Not all cemeteries allow wood but our funeral director is providing a concrete enclosure for the box at no charge. Jim does not have a website but I will happily forward your information if you have an inquiry for him.

Contact your church leaders for any information they might have specific to your location.

4. Should we tell people about our loss?

Absolutely. Your baby's life was beautiful and worth remembering and honoring. By acknowledging the loss we are also acknowledging the life. Perhaps your example will inspire others to look at an unborn life in a new way. I hope and pray that mine has.

And if you are a member of a church, I strongly suggest having a memorial service or Mass which your friends and relatives can attend if they wish. My sister-in-law lost her baby 3 months before I did and we had one Mass said for both Matthew and Caeli (her baby). We did not advertise widely but our closest relatives and dearest friends attended. We were also surprised to see other members of our church who heard "through the grapevine" and wanted to lend their love and support. Our service was perfect and I will always carry that memory in my heart

5. How can I support someone who has experienced a miscarriage?

Please do follow your instinct and just love them as well as you can. There are so many ways to show support. I can list a few here but I'm sure there are many more. Please feel free to share additional ideas in the comments.

-Acknowledge the loss. Please don't ignore it. Set aside your own feelings of discomfort and offer your sympathy. Even if it seems to remind the mother of her grief, she will not be sorry that you have expressed your love. She may, however, notice if you seem to disregard her loss. And she will feel isolated and alone in her grief if none have the courage to walk with her.

-Ask if they've named the baby and use the name when speaking with and writing to them. If they haven't chosen a name, please remember not use the term "it" when referring to the child.

-Let her talk. Although a miscarriage seems "small" to others, it's a pretty big deal to the person it happens to. I am very blessed with people who allowed me to pour out my thoughts and feelings and I can see how difficult it would be to have no one.

-A miscarriage is like a mini labor. It can be physically exhausting, quite painful and sometimes rather lengthy, and does require a period of recovery. Consider sending a nutritious meal or offering to watch other children to allow mama that recovery time.

-Do send an expression of sympathy. A card is a beautiful way to let someone know you are thinking of them. I recently purchased several beautiful cards from Loss Remembered and unfortunately, have had occasion to use them all. I intend to purchase several more so that I never again delay or miss the opportunity to send a token of love and support.

-If you are close to the family or simply want to do something more, consider a small memorial gift. A personalized Christmas ornament is a lovely choice. A very close family member (husband or parent) might consider memorial jewelry for the mother. It is a beautiful way to honor the life and loss of her baby and her motherhood at the same time. The picture below shows a memorial cross that I purchased for my sister-in-law. It was handcrafted and personalized for her with her baby's name and a '2009' charm on the back by Totally Crosses.

This memorial necklace made by Peace of Mind is a personal and touching way to express support.

See Handmade for Life's list of jewelry artists to request custom work.

Other ideas include a memorial plant for their yard (such as a rose), a donation to a crisis pregnancy center in the baby's name, or a basket of pretty bath and body items to comfort and pamper mama.

-Pray for the family. A woman's grief often runs deeper than anyone can see. I have heard many stories in the last few weeks of women who suffered intensely after an early miscarriage and were offered no support from a spouse or family. Depression is common.

We live in a world where babies are throw-aways and a woman is so often expected to forget and move on quickly. The smaller the baby, the less we are supposed to grieve. But our pro-life hearts know that every life has an equal value and purpose and that we are called to love each and every one.

I offer the suffering of my loss in solidarity with all mothers who are victimized by abortion. I pray that they may find healing, consolation and forgiveness through the lives of their heavenly children.

Other Miscarriage resources:

Pregnancy Loss


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for posting this--I went through a miscarriage last September and I agree with everything you wrote. I also shared my loss and was grateful for all the support received--there were so many more women who understood my experience than I could have imagined! --Julie (Stamp4Life)

  2. Thanks, Julie! I agree that there are so many more people going through this than I ever imagined. It is such a good thing to be able to share with those who understand and to reach out to those who need support and love. I'm so glad that you had people to stand by you in your own grieving and I'm sorry for the loss of your little one.

    I have heard of people having their ultrasound photos made into pendants similar to what you make as a memorial. Have you ever done that?

  3. Thank you so much for this Melody! It has been over 8 years since my miscarriage, but that baby is still so much a part of my life. We named her Sarah and still wonder about the life God took so quickly, yet praise Him for it. I have a blanket of hers that I will always treasure and while her grave is unmarked we know where it is and will continue to visit it from time to time.
    It is so good to know that life begins at conception and to see how the Lord works wonders even with these wee ones.
    Thank you for your transparency,

  4. Amazing post, Melody...thank you for all the thought you put into this. What you wrote is further validation of everything I have felt since Baruch died - I knew nothing at the time about miscarriage and delivered him in the hospital and can verify everything you said about that. My biggest regret (crying as I write this) is that we did not hold him and look at him longer. I felt very intimidated by being in the ER and did not then know how to assert what I wanted and needed (boy, do I know better, now!).

    Later I had to have surgery because I was not healing from the miscarriage as I should have, and our insurance would not cover it at first because the hospital had miscoded it as an abortion procedure. Talk about adding insult to injury! I had bled and grieved for my baby for a month after the miscarriage, and then to have documentation somewhere that said that I had chosen to abort this little loved one was an attack beyond words.

    This is a post in itself...thanks for listening, and encouraging others to listen, also.

  5. Hi Melody--I've never used an ultrasound in a pendant but I don't see why I couldn't. I have been making baby footprint pendants with rhinestones for each baby.

    Another note on the post--I had a D&C & upon waking up afterwards, the first thing I remember is the nurse whispering that she was sorry about my baby. I think I was most struck that she said "baby" (as did the nurses I was talking to before the procedure). It was so comforting to me.

  6. Karista and Shannon-
    Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your experiences. It's just more evidence of the strength of a mother's natural love for even the littlest of her children. You ladies are such wonderful mommies:).

    Julie-The footprint pendants sound so pretty!

    Do you think that our little ones are singing and playing together up in! What a comforting thought:).

  7. Melody, I already posted in your other blog, but was so happy to also find this information. I miscarried yesterday, at home, at 10 weeks. I wasn't able to contact my parish priest yet, and couldn't sleep tonight with all of this going through my mind. I can't thank you enough for sharing your experience and your knowledge. I know it will be difficult for people to understand my grief and need for a burial or memorial of some sort at such an early stage, so it gives me comfort and courage to read your post and the comments. Thank you again. And God bless!

  8. I miscarried 23 years ago and still remember that the doctor allowed us to see and hold our little boy. That was a treat, since we have 3 daughters and no other sons. Our boy is in Heaven. I never thought of naming him, but I'll remember him always.
    Joy from

  9. Hello, there ... I just stumbled across this site and have just been amazed by what I see. I've not thought about crafting/drawing for the pro-life movement until this very moment ... I didn't think about how my drawings could do anything, but now I see that I can. I just need to brainstorm more ideas ... What I do have, though, right now are little miscarriage memorial cards (free ones): I know the pain of miscarrying a child (it was 12 years ago, but I miss him still) and pray daily for families who have recently suffered a miscarriage ...

  10. I lost my little Alex 6 years ago and it's amazing how much it still hurts. We made a tiny casket and buried him under the dogwood in our yard. He was so tiny but he was such a huge loss. An angel stands guard and his memory lives on. Thank you for posting your story.



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