Catholic thoughts on miscarriage

I am currently in the waiting game of miscarriage. Thirteen days ago at 10 weeks 4 days, I unexpectedly began to cry. I don’t cry. Like ever. So, I knew something was up. I also had zero energy or enthusiasm, and the first words out of my mouth to a friend — without even thinking about it — “I think I’m miscarrying.” I dreaded saying that and hoped what I was saying wasn’t true.

But on our way home a few hours later, I continued to cry, and I found myself calling my mom with an SOS! That also never happens unless things are desperate, and the last time I did it was when I miscarried almost 3 years ago. My mom called right back that they’d be there the next afternoon, and would I please take a covid test to be sure it’s not just that? (Has anyone every been disappointed with a negative covid test? I sure was.)

At the midwife’s orders, I got in bed and slept the rest of the day. And the next day. And the next. The children played with Grandmom and Grandpop. My husband heroically folded five (or was it seven?) loads of laundry. By the time of my ultrasound on Tuesday, I actually felt pretty good and told a friend on the way there at that this point I’d be surprised if I miscarried as I was feeling okay. But alas, God had chosen to take this little one home to Himself.

One reason I use the midwife I use is that she is balanced between what our bodies are able to do naturally, and when to step in with medical intervention. She explained that if I was in the typical ob setting run by male doctors, I would have been ushered almost immediately to surgical intervention, ie a d&e or d&c. But, she said that’s not necessary. It’s just fine to go home and wait it out, even if that takes a while. So, that’s what I’m doing. So far, we’ve horrified at least three people with our decision, as, in their medical-interventionist mentality, they don’t see how our bodies could possibly be able to process this without what they call “surgery”.

But really, d&c and d&e are the names of the two surgical abortion procedures that are primarily intended to kill people. Yes, it can be and is used as the means of forcing a clean-out of the womb after the baby has died. It is a forcible opening of the cervix, the ripping apart of the baby’s body, the scraping of the sides of the uterus with a foreign object, the effects of having hormone levels suddenly interrupted, natural processes disturbed. The machine they want to put in my body when I’ve miscarried is exactly the machine used to kill people. The person operating the machine (who can’t honestly be called a doctor for doctors heal people not kill them) is an experienced hit man who kills people for a living. And to let that man near a sacred part of my body with instruments he also uses to kill people to tear apart the precious body of my baby… unthinkable.

Here are some tips if you are miscarrying:

  1. Make your decisions without your medical provider in the room. Especially if you have an ob, not a midwife. Medical providers do not have the right to tell us what to do, only to advise. There is no harm in taking a day or two to think, mourn, relax, sleep, and maybe even get another opinion.
  2. Get a copy of this book “Made for This” by Mary Haseltine. She addresses pregnancy and birth in her book in an uplifting, realistic way that’s unmatched. Pregnancy books almost exclusively land at one of two ends of a spectrum with medical advice only at one end and yoga advice only at the other. Haseltine’s book is for real people to read. She has a whole chapter on miscarriage, which she calls “Loss”.
  3. Waiting out a miscarriage isn’t bad for your body, but could be very good. The surgical procedures have side effects when used for miscarriage just the same as when used for induced abortion. Your baby’s body will be torn up, and you might be denied having his little body back for a burial. Waiting may take weeks; don’t fret about that. Consider that your body has a lot of hormones to process, and the natural process of opening up must take place. God designed us that way. If a true emergency comes up, such as infection, be smart and call your medical provider. (I’m not a doctor; this isn’t medical advice, it’s common sense advice that doctors don’t tell!)

Our first miscarried child is Rose Catherine. She is a joy to our whole family, and the saint we celebrate. While our born children have commemorative wood blocks with the statistics of their births and sacraments, we have a block for Rosie with her miscarriage statistics. The scripture on it reads: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. As it has pleased the Lord, so He has done. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” All these are on the mantle, and next to Rosie’s is a little unborn baby doll. The children talk to and about their sister in heaven.

Miscarriage is, of course, something you never expect, but it’s not something to regret. I think that perhaps parents just need to know to reach out the Church first, not the healthcare system. My midwife was right with me by text and walked me through the practical things, never making it a traumatic experience or medical event. Our priest happened to call my husband the exact moment I was in the bathroom miscarrying, and he handed me the phone. He talked me through a conditional baptism and assured me that my child was with God. The next week, he met with us, then he took us a few days later to a Catholic cemetery to bury the child. It was all as beautiful as it could be. I hope that all moms could have a priest be as good as ours was to us, and that parents need to learn to turn to the Church when this type of death happens, to seek guidance for the soul, rather than invasive, traumatic intervention. For example, other moms have told me that at a hospital, they will refuse to give the body of the baby back to the parents. Or, if they doctor suspects miscarriage, he will force a d&c; then the bill comes, saying mom had an abortion. Yes, Catholic pro-life moms have a right to be traumatized by that.

We celebrate Rosie. We got Unborn Baby coloring books to celebrate together after her death. Before Rosie’s due date, I was pregnant again.  This time, we didn’t wait to get the celebratory coloring books, but began celebrating baby as soon as I knew. We told the children that it is God’s ordaining whether baby would miscarry or come to birth, and that all of us must die sometime, and the goal for each of us is to go to Heaven with the good God. I didn’t miscarry, and baby was born as my children attended the March for Life with family friends!

I do not think that a support group is necessary for this type of life/death event; while it can be traumatic due to medical mistreatment, it is not something to be lamented, and for there to be a support group sends the wrong type of message to others, especially young people. If a parent did something to cause the death of the child, then there are (very good) post-abortion ministries to seek healing and to come to the Sacrament of Confession. But, in miscarriage, that’s not the case. We have seen every moment of it as grace.

I don’t know how long I will wait for my one glimpse of my baby. I don’t know what the name of our miscarried baby will be, likely to be named for the day he passes from my body, just like how Rosie got her name. Now we have TWO saints in heaven! And I trust God and the way He made me.

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