Saturday, December 13, 2014

In defense of natural miscarriage

One thing I was sure of even the first time I miscarried: I did not want a D&C. Even before the doctor had definitively told us, "I'm sorry, there was no movement," I turned to Father and told him that no matter what, I did not want a D&C. I wanted to carry my baby until God decided it was time for him or her to be born, and go through the labor and delivery. I wanted to complete the cycle that had started months ago. I wanted to give my baby no less than I had given any of my living children: the dignity of birth.

Unfortunately, the doctors did not see it the same way. They were very surprised at my decision and urgently counseled me against it. It would be "too hard, emotionally," I would "never be able to go into labor on my own." The best thing for me would be for me to have a surgical procedure to dismember the "tissue" and suck out the pieces. So neat and tidy. At least, that's what it appeared to be to them. But my biggest concern was not my doctor's convenience.

The first time I miscarried I had an uphill battle. I was patted on the knee and told that this is what the doctor would recommend to his own wife. I was refused any other options (medical induction, etc.). I went home and prayed. Two days after that appointment I went into labor and delivered my beautiful little boy at home without any complications. When I went back to the doctor I was accused of having procured some medications to induce labor on my own. I never walked back into that office again.

We held Innocent and loved him, wrapped him in a soft blanket, took photos. We let the other children see and touch him. We buried him with respect and a hand-carved cross marks his grave. In the end, I felt that I had done everything I could. I had no regrets. The time during the wait to miscarry was difficult, but I wouldn't have traded it for the sterile convenience of a D&C. I had to trust that God would carry me through the valley, and He did.

We've done that three more times.

I never had such a difficult battle with miscarriages two, three and four as I did with the first. My doctors were kind and compassionate. They did everything they could to ensure that I would deliver the baby naturally. They believed, along with me, in the sanctity of the body made in God's image.

It's hard to wait. It's hard to walk around with a swollen belly, knowing your child is already with God, but not able to "move on". It's hard to wake up every morning and wonder if today is the day, and go to bed that night feeling sad and increasingly a little more desperate. This is a death watch. Once upon a time, people died at home. When death was near, relatives and friends would gather in the home and keep watch, praying and offering comfort. It was understood that only God knew the hour of death.

This still happens in hospitals and nursing homes and, thank heavens, at home with hospice. But increasingly there is a movement toward the elimination of suffering. Euthanasia (poorly named) is being touted as the best and easiest way to die. Why sit by your loved one's bed and wait for them to die? Get it over with and move on. That's basically what a D&C is. And the unfortunate and ugly reality is that D&Cs are surgical procedures and pay more. They can be scheduled at the doctor's convenience. They're quick. It's much tidier that way. (For the doctor.)

I have never met someone who regretted delivering their baby naturally. But I have met a lot of people who regretted having a D&C. People who wished they had been able to see their babies, give birth, bring a natural end to the pregnancy. The natural consequence of the spread of abortion is that unborn babies are being considered increasingly disposable. Human beings are not disposable, whether they are six weeks gestation or 98 years old. God is the Author of life and only He knows the day and time we will depart this life.

As I have said, it's hard to wait. I've waited up to three weeks to go into labor. If you know someone who is waiting to miscarry, support them. Watch with them. Be with them in this dark time and you may be surprised by the grace you're given.

.      .      .      .      .      .

Yes, it happens that no matter how long you wait you do not go into labor. I know at least one person who waited six weeks and finally had to have a D&C. If you're showing signs of infection or begin bleeding and do not stop, you may have no other option. But this is pretty rare. In general, people find out the baby has died and have a D&C within 48 hours. The majority of doctors do not offer any other option and women don't know that they can refuse and wait.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Site Updates

Melissa has graciously shared photos of her child, Baby Jade, who departed this life just before 8 weeks gestation. She has also shared a short story of her pregnancy and loss on the Your Stories page. Another woman, Mary, has also generously shared photos of her child, Riley Jae, who departed this life at the same age as Baby Jade. Both children can be seen on the Photographs page. I am indebted to both of them for their generosity.

Also, I have finally shared photographs of my fourth lost child, Demetrius. He died just before 6 weeks and I delivered him 3 to 3 1/2 weeks later at home. I never removed him from the sac so that is how he is photographed. We buried him in the same grave as our third lost child, Gabriel.

May the memory of Baby Jade, Riley Jae, and Demetrius be eternal!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Most merciful Lord, we thank Thee for allowing us to share in the wonder of thy creation by being co-creators of these precious lives. We thank Thee for the blessing of time spent with our children, however short it may seem to us in this life, and for the assurances of their eternal life in Heaven, free from all trouble, pain and sorrow. We know that Thou hast immeasurable love for our children, as well as for ourselves. Grant that we may live with peace and gratitude, free from any bitterness, knowing that one day we will be reunited with the souls of our children. O Lord, Thou who will wipe every tear from every face, comfort us in our sorrow, and grant our souls great mercy. Amen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Assistance needed with new resource

I would like to have a page with a list of Orthodox monasteries and churches who make cemetery space available for miscarried infants. Ideally I would list these by state. BUT, while I know of a few, it's not many. So I'm going to need your help!

Here are a few I am aware of. Please add any others in the comments and I will start putting together a page. Share this around so it gets wider exposure. I think something like this would be very helpful.

I do want to keep this to Orthodox monasteries and churches. While I am sure there are many places for Catholics and Protestants to bury miscarried babies, Orthodox Christians need to know what is available to them too (and this is primarily an Orthodox site). 

Here is the link to the page so far.

Note: If you wish to bury your baby at any of these places, you need to contact the abbess/abbot/priest. They probably have restrictions on who can use their cemeteries.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Some site updates and thanks

This post is long-overdue. I need to publicly acknowledge some wonderful people for sharing photos of their children and stories of their miscarriages.

First, Ivy shared pictures of baby Bliss, and Kristen shared a photograph of her baby Ryan, both enclosed in a clot/sac (so you can't see the baby).

Sara shared pictures of her baby Simsim, unique because the baby is between 5 and 6 weeks, very early to see photographs.

Evon shared a photograph of her baby Daniel with details carefully labeled.

Sarah shared a beautiful photo of baby Grace still in the sac at 8 weeks.

Tabitha shared pictures of her ten week baby Angel, both in the sac and out.

Chris shared the story of Xenia Diane, linked on the Your Stories page.

Most recently, Jillian shared photos and the story of her 10 week baby Ever Elliot. I posted these yesterday.

Thank you to all of these generous and loving women. May the memory of their babies be eternal!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Memory Eternal!

International Wave of Light

(Taken verbatim from my main blog, A Creative Slice):

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It is celebrated in many countries around the world although not entirely internationally. You can read a history of the day here.

It is believed that at least one in four women have lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. If it has not happened to you, then you almost certainly know someone for whom it has. I can almost count on one hand the number of friends I have who have NOT experienced it. Despite the overwhelming prevalence, it is a subject that is not often discussed publicly. Women who lose babies tend to suffer in silence. At a time in their lives when they desperately need support, advice and love, they hide away, ashamed and suffering. This is most true of miscarriage. Many in the medical field reinforce the common belief that miscarriage is not a big deal, not much of a loss, especially when it takes place early in the pregnancy. I am here to tell you that it is not the case. I suffered greatly over each one of my losses. Every one is an immortal soul, created by God, and a unique person. They are much-loved members of our family, even though they never drew breath.

I invite you to participate in the International Wave of Light from 7 PM to 8 PM your local time. Light a candle or candles in memory of those who have departed this life too soon. Say a prayer for peace for the grieving friends and family. 

Here are a few things you may want to look at or ponder today:

Lost Innocents: For Friends and Family (good advice)
Faces of Loss (putting a face on miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss)
Solace from Silence: Comforting the Bereaved (on the site, Naming the Child)
A Hidden Community (by Jennifer Hock on OCN)
Free e-books available today:

Losing Alex: the Night I Held an Angel
Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for Grieving Mothers
May the memory of the babies 
who passed so soon to heaven be eternal!

 In addition, just to let you all know (especially those who have asked me about it), I contacted Fr. John Matusiak about the memorial service for pre-born infants approved last year. He was given the job of editing and formatting it and will send it to me when it is done. I will post it here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Additions: Thea's Twins

Thea has graciously shared the story of the pregnancy and miscarriage of her twins with us. She had a missed miscarriage - the babies died at about 6 weeks but she didn't find out until about three and a half weeks later. A week after that she went into labor and delivered them at home. There are very clear photographs on The Actual Process and Photographs pages showing the sacs and Thea's story is now on the Your Stories page. My sincere thanks to Thea for honoring her children this way.

May the memory of her twins be eternal!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Prayer for Unborn Infants

I found this beautiful prayer at the end of an Akathist to the Mother of God. I've added it to the prayers and liturgics page.

Prayer for Unborn Infants

Remember, O Lord, Lover of Mankind the souls of Thy departed servants, infants who died accidentally in the wombs of Orthodox mothers from unknown cause, either from difficult birth, or from some carelessness and who therefore did not receive the Mystery of Holy Baptism. Baptize them, O Lord, in the sea of Thy compassions, and save them by Thine inexpressible grace. Amen.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Photos of Gabriel

I have added some photos of my child Gabriel to the Photographs page. I have not yet written his story. They include a photos of him in and out of the amniotic sac. He was a beautiful baby and I miss him terribly. May his memory be eternal!

Perfect little foot with five perfect little toes

Monday, June 9, 2014

Gabriel [updated]

Within a few weeks I will be adding yet another story and more photographs to this site. Although I've known since Friday, today it was confirmed that we have another baby waiting for us in heaven. Gabriel died at 10 weeks, 6 days. I am waiting to go into labor on my own. I will update when I am able.

Update: Gabriel was born 6-25-14 at 10:42 PM. I posted about it here. Eventually I'll write up the birth story and post it and photographs here. May Gabriel's memory be eternal!

Update #2: I posted some photos of Gabriel here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Vicki's baby

I have just added a new story to the "Your Stories" page, that of Vicki's baby, Gabriel. Vicki tells her story with much love and detail. From finding out with great delight that she was expecting, to anticipating a miscarriage, then finding out all was well... only to hear the devastating news that they had lost the baby, she graciously shares her grief and her faith.

May Gabriel's memory be eternal!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dawn's babies

A big thank you to Dawn for sharing photographs of her sweet children with us. David departed this life at 14 weeks and was born two weeks later at 16 weeks. Two photographs of him are on the Photographs page and more can be found on his home page (linked there). Hannah Grace was stillborn at 36 weeks. Like David, two photos of her are posted here and more can be found on her home page (linked there).

May David and Hannah Grace's memory be eternal!

*     *     *     *     *

I just want to thank all of you who have so generously shared photographs of your sweet little ones gone too soon. You may never know who it is that is helped, comforted or touched by seeing your baby. I receive so many emails from women who have been comforted by seeing these photographs, women who, through one reason or another, never got to see their own lost babies. Thank you, so much. Also, I really appreciate the emails so many of you have sent, asking for prayers, letting me know how Lost Innocents helped you, etc. This can be a difficult project to work on and just a short note means so much more than you know.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jennifer's baby

Thank you so much to Jennifer and Ernie for sharing photographs of their baby, Journey (a combination of their names). Jennifer was nine weeks when her midwife was unable to find a heartbeat. Almost a week later she delivered the baby, still in the sac and attached to the placenta. While she was almost ten weeks into the pregnancy, Journey had stopped growing at six weeks. The photographs are stunning in their clarity and detail. Much like Sara's baby, Simsim, these photographs will be so helpful to so many women who don't know what to expect and what to look for when miscarrying.

May Journey's memory be eternal!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sara's Baby

I was surprised when I received an email from a woman on the other side of the world, offering photographs of her very young baby. Sara lost her baby at only approximately five weeks and was able to retrieve the body and photograph it. These photographs are now on our Photographs page through her generosity. They do not show a recognizable baby - it's simply too early - and include the umbilical cord and other tissue, but they are very important photos because the majority of women who miscarry do so at this early stage. It will be helpful for them to have some idea of what to expect. Thank you, Sara, for your generosity, and may your baby's memory be eternal!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Valerie's Baby

I want to thank Valerie for contacting me and generously offering the story and photographs of her Little One who departed this life at 9 weeks, 4 days. There is a photo on the Photographs page and a link to Valerie's miscarriage story/blog on the Your Stories page. Valerie has written an honest and beautiful account of her miscarriage. I'm sure it will prove to be helpful to many.

May the memory of Little One be eternal!!