Sunday, March 22, 2015

Babies in Heaven & Dealing with Grief (Part 3 - When the Spirit Enters the Body)



"The Quickening"-
      Some people believe that a child counts as a child once the mother feels the "quickening".  A standard time frame I've heard for mothers being able to feel the quickening is somewhere between 18 and 24 weeks.  If it's not your first pregnancy, that time table is moved back a little sooner.  On my current pregnancy, I happen to have an anterior placenta.  This caused me a lot of distress because I couldn't feel the baby moving for a long time - for a while I felt like it stopped me from "bonding" with my baby in the way I wanted to.  I couldn't feel him for at least a month and a half later than when I could feel my other boys moving.  The placenta was positioned in a way that prevented me from feeling him move - it was like a giant cushion or pillow between me and my baby's kicks.  Even now, my doctor sometimes has to put the Doppler device to the side of where my placenta is to get a good heart beat reading.  Once we saw our first 3D ultrasound at 16 weeks, we could see our little guy moving all over the place, even though I didn't feel him.  So let's just say that feeling the "quickening" is nice & helpful, but it's not always an accurate measurement of whether or not the child is alive and has a Spirit in there.  I absolutely believe that the Spirit enters far before the mother can physically feel the quickening.  How unfair is it to tell a mother who lost their child before they could actually feel it move that their child doesn't count?  What if they had an anterior placenta like I did?  That doesn't mean their child wasn't alive!

The Breath of Life Theory
          Some people believe that once a child has taken a breath, THEN the soul enters the body.  How entirely non-comforting is that to someone who loses a child before they had a chance to take one breath    outside of the womb? (By the way, I have a friend who lost her daughter like that - a day or two before she was supposed to deliver...she had a full term pregnancy, but her baby never got to take a breath).

           Having the Spirit enter the body upon taking a breath is a point far later than "the quickening" theory.  Although I personally believe the quickening theory to be an inaccurate measurement of when life enters the body, I still find it far more desirable than this one.  Whenever a baby moves, there is NOTHING the expectant mother does in order to make that happen.  The child's movement is done completely on their own and the mother has no control over their movement.  People who believe the Spirit doesn't enter the body until the baby takes a breath are in denial.

       Furthermore, why would a breath of Oxygen outside the womb count more than the amniotic fluid that babies breathe inside the womb?  If you were to say that a breath is constituted by the movement of the lungs, this kind of movement actually happens in the womb far before birth.  In my opinion, a baby breathing amniotic fluid (as well as the child's own movement) disproves the "breath of life = the soul of man" theory.

Your Miscarried Spirits Being Born to Other People....

        Of all theories, this is the one that I reject ENTIRELY.

        Some believe that when a woman has a miscarriage, the Spirit that was supposed to go to that fetus will go to another one - either the mother's next child, or to some other mother's child.

         When my sister in law, Felicia, miscarried twins, my other sister-in-law, Lara was pregnant with twins shortly after.  Someone said to Felicia, "Looks like she got your twins."  Yikes!  How unfeeling is a comment like that?  I'm sure it wasn't intended, but what an awful theory!  Felicia felt right away that is NOT what happened with the twins she lost, and I agree with her.  Lara's darling twins are our darling nephews, and the twins that Felicia lost are different people.

        With the order of my miscarriages and with the genetic testing that allowed us to have more information, if it really was God's plan for the miscarried children to go to the next pregnancies I had, then why wouldn't I have at least a girl and a boy in the mix of my 1st three children?  It's because those were DIFFERENT people.

        Within the last year, I was speaking to some mothers who have miscarried in the 2nd trimester - their babies were pretty far along.  They seemed to be unsure what happened to those babies and thought possibly that those babies could be out somewhere in the the world right now in other families.  When I heard this possibility coming from their lips and heard them explain why they would be okay with this, they said - IF this is what the Lord wanted for those children, and if it was in His plan to get them to earth somehow for the purposes they needed to fulfill in the world--even if it meant going to another family--then they would want what's best for that child, and they would be okay with that.  For the first time ever, I looked at this theory in a new light & realized that this idea can come from SELFLESSNESS.  Selflessness is a desirable trait, and I do admire them for that.  Whether or not that actually happened to the Spirit of the child that was lost, in their heart of hearts, they are walking with faith in God's purposes by looking at it this way.

        However, I still reject the theory.  It sounds like reincarnation to me, and I do not believe in reincarnation:  "To Latter-day Saints, the physical body is sacred"  (I will add that the body is sacred, no matter how tiny that body may be.) "One of the primary reasons we entered mortality was to gain a physical body. It is not only a great blessing now, but also a prerequisite to exaltation and eternal life hereafter."  
        This website continues by further explaining: "Reincarnation denies the entire purpose of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Those who believe that spirits and gods can repeatedly inhabit a variety of physical forms do not take into account Christ’s mission and the purpose of the Atonement. For a person who believes in reincarnation, Christ would be but one manifestation of a temporarily embodied savior—one of many possible incarnations.  To accept this premise would be to repudiate the most fundamental teaching of the gospel—that there was a single, unique act of redemption made by the Lord Jesus Christ. By denying the ultimate importance of the Atonement and of Christ’s mercy and love, those who believe in reincarnation fail to see the Savior in his rightful position as King of Kings and Lord of Lords—the only name given whereby we can be saved. (SeeD&C 18:23.)" 



  • When you start to believe, you quit fearing the questions you don't have the concrete answers to.  Last summer (after my 4th miscarriage), I started to get brave with exploring this topic further. I dared to ask my doctor what he thought about life after death in regards to miscarried children.  I told him that on my pregnancies where I have heard heart beats and seen arms and legs moving, that I hands down believed they'll be in Heaven, but I wasn't sure about the other pregnancies that were earlier that I couldn't see.  I specifically wanted to know his opinion on chemical pregnancies - would those count, too?  I wasn't sure when the Spirit entered the body, and when it would "count" as a person for the promise to be able to raise them in the resurrection.  He assured me that even in a chemical pregnancy, a sperm fertilizes an egg, and you really are pregnant.  He said he's inclined to believe that "counts", too, "Because," he said, "What we're talking about here is MERCY and GRACE at its finest."  He glanced at my chart and said, "And by the looks of're going to be busy."  :)  
  • I have a friend, Amanda B., who had 2 children, and then 9 miscarriages all in a row.  She had another miracle baby after all the losses, and is once again currently expecting her 4th baby a few weeks after I have mine.  At a church camp-out we were talking & she told me that in order to be able to deal with all those losses, she HAS to believe that she has 9 kids waiting in Heaven for her.  As we talked further, I asked her if she saw heart beats, or anything like that in the ultrasounds with those babies, but she hadn't.  As I listened to her & her faith in things she couldn't see, I realized just how faithless it was of me to with-hold belief in regards to the 2 babies I didn't get to "see".  The miracle of technology is wonderful and has opened the door to my belief in having those kids again someday, because when the girl and boy I lost were on the screens, I could see them move, and I knew they were their own separate little beings.  But technology isn't everything.  Just because you don't have the opportunity to "see" doesn't mean they're not real little people.  Going back to the beginning of my thoughts on this post....when I said that when you are pregnant, you FEEL something different inside you, and when that child is lost, you feel EMPTY...I believe that "feeling" is the Spirit of that child being with you from the very beginning of their life.  EVERY pregnancy I have had has felt DIFFERENT from the others even at the beginning stages - I believe that's because every child's Spirit is unique.  

  •  It's interesting to me that I had such a hard time believing in hope for my own miscarried children, when I've always had a deep and abiding argument against abortion - my uncertainty in the matter of miscarried children was actually contradictory to my belief in what happens to aborted babies.  A harrowing fear is at the forefront of my personal feelings on abortion:  I would never dare to have one myself, because I would never want to face that aborted child in the after-life and have to realize the horror of what I'd done to end the life of another person.  Also, because of the grief I've experienced through miscarriage - an experience that no one could prepare me for - I know without a doubt that no one really prepares women who choose to have an abortion for the grief they will experience.  Once you're a mother, you're always a mother, and aborting a baby will NOT take away your feelings.  Those women WILL experience loss even though they chose to end the pregnancy...maybe ESPECIALLY because they chose to end the pregnancy.  Abortion is a counterfeit - abortion promises peace for mistakes, but perpetuates grief in harder ways.  As similar as some think abortion and miscarriage may be in the "natural" course of life & death, they simply are not the same because of the choice factor that's involved.  I do try to not harbor feelings against people who have abortions--at times that has been hard because I have offered to adopt the child of more than one friend who has chosen abortion instead.  I believe that if women truly understood what they were doing, that they would never choose abortion. I do believe that the Lord can heal them of those mistakes, but the grief of a choice like that is something I would never want myself or anyone I love to have to carry.


(Image of Mary & Elisabeth from
  • This last Fall, my husband and I happened to be reading in the New Testament for our daily scripture study.  We came to the story of Mary &  Elisabeth in Luke Chapter 1.  We were at the part where the angel Gabriel visits Mary, and she consents to carry the Savior by saying she is the handmaid of the Lord. During the visit she was also told that Elisabeth was in her 6th month of pregnancy.  Mary went to visit Elisabeth (WITH HASTE) and was there for 3 months - there is speculation on whether or not she was at the birth of John the Baptist or whether or not she left to go back with her family by then.  The point is that because of the timing of her visit and the duration of her stay with Elisabeth, Mary was actually in the 1st Trimester with Jesus--not just at ANY time in her 1st trimester, but at the beginning of it--as she arrived to visit.  This was a critical realization for me, because John the Baptist LEAPED in Elisabeth's womb upon Mary's arrival at the beginning of her 1st trimester.  This brought me comfort and confirmed my belief that the Spirit enters the body at the beginning of pregnancy.  Why else would John the Baptist leap with so much joy at meeting His Savior? Even with just a salutation from Mary, when these cousins in the womb were close enough, he felt the Spirit & presence of His Savior.  How powerful.  How beautiful!  How much more cause for me to believe that all my 1st trimester losses (even the very early ones) will "count" for the promise to be able to raise them in the resurrection. 


As I said before - because I have allowed my heart to open up to belief (not just hope), I have become more confident in my stance on the matter.  I believe that there IS life after death for miscarried babies, and I am happy that I can finally say I truly believe that.  True belief has lifted my burden of grief and brought me closer to the Savior.  I'm finding that this belief is also allowing me to strengthen others instead of letting them flounder in doubt and uncertainty as I did for so long hunting for evidences and answers.  My faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has grown, and I am not afraid of being wrong anymore.  I'm not afraid that believing in life-after-death for miscarried babies will lead me to heartache if I were to find this to be erroneous.  I believe the Lord has given me enough evidences to know that I am not wrong to believe in this.  And while without a doubt I believe there is a Spirit in a tiny body once there is a heartbeat, I still believe that the Spirit enters sooner than when you can see it, because of the way you feel when you're pregnant with a little soul.  BUT EVEN IF I WERE TO BE WRONG about that short 2 week window, I am not afraid anymore, because I believe with all my heart in the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that He will make up EVERY loss and pain we've ever experienced in our lives.  I know that He will "wipe away tears from all faces" (Isaiah) and I know that day will be more amazing than we can now imagine.  I know He knows that I have lost 4 babies - no matter how tiny some of the babies were, and I know without a doubt that He will make that up to me & my husband.  The words of my doctor ring true to my heart: "What we're talking about here is MERCY & GRACE at its finest."  

It is my testimony that it is so much easier on your heart to let yourself believe. If you can open your heart to belief, you will heal faster as you let the Lord help you carry your grief.  

It is better when you choose to believe.

(Part 3 of 3)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Babies In Heaven & Dealing with Grief (Part 2 - Emotions & Coping)

HOW TO COPE WITH GRIEF - Emotions, the Grief Cycle, & Lessons from Natalie


July 2014, Friday afternoon 1pm, my doctor was out of town.  I walked into my laundry room and smelled something that made me nauseous.  That was weird.  Uh-oh.  Why was I nauseous?  I took the 4th pregnancy test in the last week or so.  This one was positive.  I had a few business hours left - maybe I could save this one.  Started praying.

I called the after hours line for my doctor - spoke to someone in another office who is contracted to take over his after-hours calls.  "I'm pregnant, and I miscarry a lot.  It's day 38, and I just had a positive pregnancy test, so I don't know exactly how far along I am.  AS SOON as I find out I'm pregnant, my doctor orders blood work and puts me on progesterone.  I need to have a doctor order me a blood test before Sonora Quest closes, and I need to get hormone pills by the end of the day."

"Well, I'm sorry, Ma'am.  Your doctor's office is closed."  (SERIOUSLY? If it were open, I wouldn't be calling the after hours line.)  "The best advice I have to give you is that if there's any bleeding you should go to the Emergency Room."

"With all due respect, if there's any bleeding this weekend, it will be too late, and we won't be able to save the baby.  That's not advice that will help me.  I need to get a hold of a doctor.  Are you a doctor?"

"No, but this is the emergency line, and if there's bleeding that's what you should do."

"This is not the first time I've been through this.  When I find out I'm pregnant, it IS an emergency, because if we don't act fast I can lose it.  This is my 8th pregnancy, and I only have 3 kids to show for it.  Are you saying that if I lose this baby over the weekend, that I can blame your office for it, because you weren't willing to help me?

"Uh, no that's not what I'm saying."

"Then I need you to either get me in touch with my doctor, or the doctor on call."

"Well, I'll try, but your doctor is out of town...."

No joke.  30 seconds later she called back with surprise in her voice, because my doctor actually answers his phone on vacation.  She said she gave him my phone number and he would call me personally.  And he did call--just a couple of minutes later.  He listened & sent me straight to the lab - he told me we might run into trouble, because there was no one at the office to fax in the orders, but to have them call him when I was there, and he'd see what we could do.

At the lab, there was a run around of course.  They wouldn't call him - they made ME call him.  He was surprised to hear my voice & made me hand over the phone.  I can only imagine what he said, because in seconds the lady at the front changed her tune.  She first tried telling my doctor what he had to do, and ended by saying, "Yes, sir, I'll fax that to you."  I tried not to smirk.

About 30 minutes before the lab closed on that day, I had my blood drawn, a prescription, some anxiousness as I had to wait for results, and I just kept praying that the baby would make it - I didn't want to lose another one.

Here we are.  I'm due any day now, and I am able to credit God & my doctor for saving my baby's life on that very first and critical day that I discovered I was expecting.  I know that God hears and answers prayers, because the doors that were stopped for me were opened, and everything fell into place to get this baby what he needed so that he can make it.

There's something that still makes me cringe, though, about having to say, "This is my 8th pregnancy, but I only have 3 children."  I really hate saying that.  Just 2 weeks ago I had to go to the hospital because of decreased fetal movement so they could monitor the baby & I had to explain all over again when my miscarriages were, when my live births were.  I will be happier when I'm able to tie it up again with a 4th live birth.



Whenever you experience loss, there is an emotional grief cycle.  My husband and I started to get worn out from the roller-coaster of emotions you experience with loss.  For a while I thought I was going crazy, until I was given a book about grief.   Then I realized I wasn't going crazy - I was normal!  There are stages to grief.  You can feel all these feelings in any given order, you can feel several of these feelings at one time.  You can cycle through, think you've dealt with it, but then find yourself back on a previous stage.  Everyone's process is different, but everyone goes through it in one way or another.  Here are some stages I pieced together - some from memory...some from Google. :)

1) Shock & Denial
2) Pain & Guilt (I felt so incredibly guilty with my 1st loss.  Logically I knew it wasn't my fault, but I still felt guilt, and so did my husband.  It was so hard to cope with.  We felt guilt again with the others, but we were able to work through it better as we knew we were doing everything in our power to keep the pregnancies.)
3)  Anger & Bargaining  
  • (Anger is a slippery slope.  It's a natural emotion & some even find it helpful depending on their circumstance.  But for me, ANGER itself was the most destructive in the grief cycle & it brought me down the lowest.  There was a moment in time that surprised even me where my anger with the situation shifted to being angry AT GOD.  I honestly think I was only angry AT Him for a day or two when  I finally told myself, "I can't be mad at the only One who can actually help me."  I knew I needed Him & that I couldn't get what I needed from Him by being angry AT Him.  I consciously shifted my emotions & tried to let go of the anger all together. However, even after I chose to not be angry with God anymore, I felt like that anger broke down parts in my testimony - it seemed to take a long time to repair the damage in my testimony that my anger towards God broke down.  Having even a short time of being angry WITH GOD as opposed to being angry with the situation, caused me to have more questions and work through more disbelief in areas of my faith that I had never had issues with before.  Even thought I never quit believing in Him, I think was somewhere between 9 to 12 months before I felt like I had worked through all the weak places in my testimony that were caused by even just a couple days of Anger that was directed towards God.  It was an important lesson to me to be careful with anger.  Move through anger as quickly as you can before it destroys other things in your life.)
4) Depression/Reflection/Loneliness
5) Upward Turn
6) Reconstruction & Working Through
7) Acceptance & Hope



1) VALIDATE THE EXPERIENCES OF OTHERS & VALIDATE YOUR OWN:  Have you ever known anyone who takes the approach that "You have NO IDEA what they've been through?"  In anything they've ever experienced, what they have gone through is always worse than what you could comprehend?   Usually those same people refuse to listen to you far enough to truly care what you've been through and they can't see how you're trying to help them, because they dismiss what you've experienced as being less.  I have decided that people who take that approach to life really just isolate themselves.  It is true that we all have different experiences, and it is also true that at any given time we may or may not understand the exact path another had trodden, but I personally believe that we're all here on earth to learn the same lessons, even if our paths teach us those lessons through different means.

After Natalie lost McKay, I wanted to help her, and I wanted to share something with her that I had learned through my experiences with grief.  Because I'd had miscarriages & felt like McKay's situation was different because she actually got to hold him & had to bury him, I said to her, "Now what you've been through is worse...but I just wanted to share something that might help you."  Natalie, in all of her kindness, stopped me mid-track and exclaimed, "Oh, please don't ever say that!  What you've been through can be worse, because you never got to hold your baby."  For the first time in my experiences trying to cope with miscarriage, Natalie validated my pain more than anyone else ever had - including myself.  When she validated my pain, she helped me to validate my own - all these years I've been trying to say - "It could be worse - this or that person has it harder - it wasn't as bad as it could have been because....."  I even minimized it and would say to myself, "I shouldn't be having a hard time with this...."  And while it could have been worse, the truth of the matter is it's still been hard.  Trying to look at the bright side CAN be helpful in seeing your own blessings, but validating your own pain as well as the pain of others can open the door to more healing.  


I feel so sad for the DeTemple's.  They have had more extreme heartbreak this year.  I finally felt ready to try again for a baby last year, and I couldn't believe it, but they were ready to try again shortly after they lost McKay.  Once again, we were pregnant together, and we encouraged each other through some scary early days & complications of pregnancy.  We gave each other hope, and prayed for each other's babies to make it.  We've both learned in some of the same ways and in different ways that as a mother you should savor each moment of life that you can while you're pregnant, because it's time with that one individual person you're mothering - and they're still special whether or not they make it to a full term birth.  The time you have with them - no matter how long, is a gift.  We were supposed to have babies who made it full term just a few weeks apart later this year.  But once again, the unthinkable has happened, and Justin & Natalie have lost their next baby.  Her name was Charlotte Celeste.  She made it farther than McKay, but she was born too soon.  My little baby boy moves and kicks like crazy, but the night that Charlotte died, he didn't.  Truly, in my heart, I believe that our children are friends, and that he was sad for Charlotte that night.  We all were.

We attended Charlotte's funeral service & Natalie offered to let me hold her baby.  I wouldn't have asked to hold Charlotte at the funeral home, because I had my own personal reservations about death & personally felt like it would be too morbid or too hard to do.  Not to mention it was Natalie & Justin's time to grieve over their daughter. I figured holding a baby at the mortuary would feel similar and/or worse than the way I had felt when I lost my babies to miscarriage.  I never would have asked to hold Charlotte.  But to my surprise after the service, Natalie offered, and handed her baby to me.  What amazed me was that initially it was something I thought that I wouldn't want to experience.  But what I learned in those few minutes of holding Charlotte, is that somehow, it made all of those reservations about death seem "okay" - I can't even explain what I mean, because I can't craft the words, but what I do know is that when I held her cute little 12 oz body with wrinkly skin & and looked at her cute mouth, eyes, nose, and hair bow...I could feel in that moment that there is peace in regards to what will be.  I felt that it was actually a beautiful and rare opportunity to hold a little angel baby in a circumstance like that, and I'm so grateful Natalie shared that experience with me.  Charlotte is a real person, and she is not gone forever.   (Image from Charlotte's Service from Natalie's facebook).

We sang a gorgeous arrangement of Silent Night at Charlotte's service - I will always think of her when I hear the melody - "Sleep in Heavenly Peace".

Silent Night, Holy Night,
All is calm, All is Bright...
Round Yon Virgin, Mother & Child -
Holy Infant so Tender and Mild....
Radiant Beams from Thy Holy Face...
With the dawn of Redeeming Grace...

Because of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can know that all is calm and all is bright.  We can know that lost babies sleep in heavenly peace.  And we can know that the dawn of Redeeming Grace is what saves us from forever heartache in parting.  Jesus was born to save us from the pain of losing children.


One last example of how Natalie opens her heart to others is an example like none other I've ever seen. She validates the experiences of others even if it's different.  In turn, she receives companionship and healing, instead of isolation in her grief.  She posted this as she left the hospital in January:

"My brave and beautiful sister Katie placed 2 babies for adoption and she knows what it's like to leave the hospital with empty arms and no baby in the back seat (On TWO separate occasions just like I've had to do). She told me not to leave the hospital with empty arms, so I didn't. Thanks sis for your love, example, and expert advice. 

I'm so BEYOND thankful for my little miracle Lincoln, that he could fill my arms as I did the thing no parent or mother should ever have to do, leave your baby behind."

When I read this post of Natalie's, I just cried.  An onlooker may have looked at these two sisters and their situations and thought the experiences were opposite.  But how beautiful that Natalie validated the pain her sister experienced, and that Katie validated the pain Natalie experienced; together they could find healing in the traumatic part of their experiences that was exactly the same.  Both of these women are very courageous.

Taking this approach to grief is what Christ would have us to do.  It's the way He meant it to be. It's non-condemning.  It's selfless. And it's strengthening.  In this fashion we can learn from each other, and in this way He helps show us that we are NOT alone.  Even though our paths might seem different, there are similarities that remove isolation and bring us closer to each other and closer to God.  If we will allow it, He will ease our burdens and heal our hearts - and some of the best healing He can offer to us comes from those around us.  We need to remember that strengthening others also strengthens ourselves.

Instead of saying to others, "You have no idea what I've been through", may we find what's the same and uplift each other through whatever pain we might experience.

(Part 2 of 3)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Babies in Heaven & Dealing with the Grief of Miscarriage (Part 1)


When you are an expectant mom, it is the craziest and most beautiful feeling to have a little person growing inside of you.  But when you lose a pregnancy, it's the worst feeling in the world to have something (someone) dead inside of you.  It's morbid.  It's sad & depressing.  It is distinctly different than when you can "feel the glow" of life in pregnancy.

Before it was actually confirmed in the ultrasounds at the doctor's office, I can actually tell you where I was when I knew in my heart that I lost my babies and that the bad news was coming.  Every once in a while, when I am back in those places, I will remember those days, and I still cry.

I have lost babies at 5, 7, 9, & 11 weeks, and while I have grieved differently over each, the initial feeling of loss is always the same.  My friend Stephanie McGuire described it the best - she said that "You feel empty."


In the book, "Mere Christianity", C.S. Lewis comments that it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to believe in God.  Being a believer all my life, I always thought that was a deep and insightful paradox.  What I didn't realize when I read that 10 years ago, is that when life's trials hit you from the blindside, it can try your faith in deep ways.  I know what he means, now.  Even though I have never stopped believing in the Lord, for many years in regards to my losses of miscarriage, I was guarding my heart from actually believing what the Spirit was trying to whisper to my heart.

I asked my parents what happens to the babies in miscarriages & they told me there's not a lot of doctrine on it, so they didn't know.  I didn't particularly find that comforting in the slightest, but I didn't hear much from anyone else or find much in research that brought me any more comfort.

If you've ever only hoped something, you will know it's not like faithful belief.  After I lost my first 3 pregnancies, it hurt so much that I was afraid to believe a lot of things about those babies, so I guarded my heart from believing in a future of life after death for them. It's like if I believed those babies would really be mine again someday, and then if I were to find out I was wrong in believing that, it would hurt even more.  My heart couldn't take that, so I didn't let myself believe.  I only HOPED.



I even had some personal & miraculous experiences that the Lord gave me to help me, but I was still afraid to believe.  I have held these experiences close to my heart & pondered them over the years and have only shared them with a close few; I have only recently felt to share them on my personal, but public blog.  It is my hope in sharing these personal experiences that someone - close friend or stranger - might be uplifted and encouraged as they face their own similar journey of loss through miscarriage (or death of any sort) & the trial of faith that ensues.


The first experience happened before I ever had children.  I was at church, and it was Mother's Day.  I wasn't even married, yet.  As all the little children stood up to sing a special song to their mothers, I had this short but distinct vision in my mind's eye of 3 children singing to me.  It touched my heart so much, and I was overwhelmed.  One of the kids was a girl.  One was a boy.  And one seemed a little fuzzy - like I couldn't tell if it was a girl or boy.  But without a doubt, the impression was that those were my future children - I could feel that they loved me, and I knew they were going to be amazing.  It was an experience that happened out of the blue & I wasn't looking for anything like that.  But after I had that experience, I looked forward to my future family even more than I ever had before.

Imagine the conflict I felt as I lost baby after baby.  I thought I was going to be a mom.  But would I ever have kids if I kept losing them?  When the Lord blessed me with the gift of a child who made it to birth, I figured I would have a girl first (probably because of my Mother's Day impression) - wrong again!

The miracle is that while I have a family now and there are no girls in it, I did happen to have genetic studies done on 2 of my miscarriages.  We were trying to find out why I was losing babies even though we were doing everything we could to save them.  The first pregnancy was lost at home before I realized I had a problem keeping babies, so we couldn't get studies done.  The 2nd pregnancy was a little girl.  She had lymph node and heart problems.  Even though my doctor was doing everything he could do by monitoring my blood work and hormones to help me stay pregnant, if she had even made it to birth, she wouldn't have lived past a year.  The 3rd pregnancy was a little boy.  He had Trisomy 13, and his life expectancy also would have made for a difficult journey and a short life - likely a year or less.  Finding out the "reasons" was supposed to make it better.  Having genetic studies on the embryos was supposed to make everything make sense, but it didn't.  I just felt the same.  It still hurt.  I was still sad.  But looking back now, I cannot deny that the beautiful impression I had so many years ago on Mother's Day was to bring me comfort.  How beautiful that those first 3 miscarriages were exactly like my impression!  One was a girl.  One was a boy.  And one...I just didn't know.


The second miraculous experience happened to me on the day that my adopted Grandfather, Andrew Ferrante, died.  Andrew is a man who has touched my heart and changed my life; I loved him as much as my own biological grandpas.  He used to sit across the street on his driveway in a folding chair and watch airplanes.  I'd walk outside, we'd chit chat, and he always made me laugh.  He grew up in New York & was the son of a boot-legger.  He'd been married twice before and lost each wife at young ages, and his 3rd marriage was to my adopted Grandmother Diana.  They were hilarious together, and they fought about who had a better Italian heritage like you would not believe.  One day I was seriously worried about the quality of their marriage as they were screaming about Cicily & Naples - she was calling him a chauvinist and I couldn't believe what they were saying to each other.  That's when Andrew angled his body at me so she couldn't see his face, and he WINKED.  Whew!  All of that was just a game for them!  They were so funny.

Andrew - as devote as he was in his Catholic faith - and as long as he had ever believed in God, was afraid to die.  I have never seen anyone so afraid to die.  When I got the news, I was out of town at the Whiting Homestead - 4 hours away.  I was heartbroken, upset, and worried for Andrew because I knew he was afraid of death.  I got on my knees, and I prayed my heart out for him and for his family.  With a twinge of a "just maybe" I asked God that IF there was ANYONE in Heaven that I might be in charge of (you know - like maybe the kids I lost)...maybe...just maybe...could He send them to Andrew to give him comfort so he wouldn't be afraid in the after life?

A miracle occurred just a couple hours later, my sister-in-law and I crossed paths with Chris Aberoa as she was walking among the cabins.  Somehow - I don't even remember how - but somehow we ended up talking about babies with Trisomy 13.  She had a child with Trisomy 18 who had passed away, and said there were many similarities between the two conditions.  She said she had met several kids with Trisomy 13, and that they were just the sweetest.  She showed me pictures, and taught me so much about what my son would have been like, and how it would have been like to raise my child like that.  I could feel my heart healing as we spoke for at least an hour or more - out of the blue - 4 hours away from home - with a distant relative who was at that time an acquaintance to me - a random coincidence?  No way.  I felt like God & like my adopted grandfather, Andrew, were trying to communicate back to me after the prayer I had spoken just a couple hours before.

Even then, however, I still hurt, and I remember consciously choosing my words carefully as I ended my conversation with Chris: "I HOPE to see those kids someday."

I knew I shouldn't be, but I was still afraid to truly believe.


The last miraculous moment that happened to me came last year in June.  My friend, Natalie DeTemple, and her husband Justin, had been through the unthinkable.  Natalie and I actually miscarried together in November of 2013.  That had been a shocker for both of us.  I thought Mitchell & I had "figured out" how to have kids.  Especially because after my first 3 losses, I had 3 beautiful baby boys in a row without a glitch.  So why would I lose another pregnancy now?  Why were my hormones all out of whack?  What new issue would be causing this?  With Natalie - she had a beautiful baby boy with a practically text book pregnancy - why would she lose her 2nd pregnancy?  As much as we didn't want to experience it, it was comforting to have someone going through the same thing at the same time - the same week even - so we could rely on each other.

They were ready to try again a lot sooner than Mitch and I were.  I actually had 3 friends total who lost pregnancies with me in November, and it was the strangest thing - they were all expecting another child & were all due in October of 2014.  I was happy for them, though, and expected everything to go well.

It did go well for everyone else, but not for Natalie.  She ended up having complications and she lost her baby, McKay, far too soon.  I called it a stillbirth.  It wasn't until just recently that I found out he was born before the technical definition of a stillborn.  Medically, some may classify his death as a miscarriage.  But he was a fully developed little person - so I don't know how that is considered a miscarriage.  Miscarriage is a bad word anyway.  What's it supposed to really mean?  But truthfully, the difference between a stillbirth and a miscarriage had meant a lot to me, because the only comforting quotes I had ever heard about lost babies were in reference to stillbirths.  Because of that, I excluded myself from the promises and comfort allowed to those grieving parents until I was at McKay's funeral service.

I watched Natalie hold him.  I listened to all the talks.  My husband was there with me.  Unexpectedly, during the musical number, I felt stronger than I've ever felt in my entire life in regards to this topic as I had a sudden personal impression:  Some of the babies I lost were just a few weeks behind McKay - I saw and HEARD their hearts beating - I SAW their arms & legs moving on the ultrasounds - so if all these promises of hope in the after-life would apply to him - why wouldn't they apply to my babies?  As I accompanied a song that was meant to bring the DeTemple's comfort, my eyes welled up with tears, and my heart healed in a way that I didn't see coming for me.  That moment during "Be Still My Soul" at McKay's service marks the point where I had an impression so powerful & impacting that I finally let myself believe.

McKay James is a very special little person to me, because what I have learned from him has changed my life forever.



These several paragraphs may seem like a long explanation, but truly it's a short summary of lessons I have learned through my grief in the last 9 years.  When I lost each pregnancy, the next pregnancy I had would help me deal with my grief in some ways, but I still kept looking at it like, "This is something I'll get over," or "When I get past this...."

The truth of the matter is that grief is not something you get over; it's something you carry.  Once you've carried grief, you'll always carry it, because the people you've lost will always be a part of you and a part of who you've become.  You will feel like that until you're able to see them again someday.  The ability to cope with it increases over time, but time itself doesn't take away your grief.  You can think you're doing just fine, and one tiny thing can trigger a memory or thought about who and what you've lost.

That's when it hurts all over again.  It can feel fresh in an instant.

Just as CS Lewis inferred that it takes more faith to be an atheist, I can share from my personal experience that when you choose to not believe, the burden of grief is so much heavier.  I've never felt lighter in the last 9 years in regards to the four babies Mitch & I have lost through miscarriage, than I have in the last 6 months when I have finally let myself believe that they are not gone forever.  After McKay's service, my husband has has also referred to them more, and we've talked about our lost babies as "our kids". We now have increased hope & belief in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ - that he descended below all things and that His Atonement can make up the pain of all the losses we've ever had - that every baby we've lost in miscarriage will be ours again someday.  We will meet them and raise them in the after life.  It's going to be beautiful.  We know they are special little angels who have taught us many lessons.  Even though they weren't here for very long, we are not the same.

(Part 1 of 3)