Sunday, March 22, 2015

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

ADDRESSING THEORIES AND MY PERSONAL TAKE

THE QUESTION OF ALL QUESTIONS:  WHEN DOES THE SPIRIT ENTER 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." https://www.lds.org/ensign/1989/08/i-have-a-question?lang=eng  
        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.)" 


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BELIEF OPENS THE DOOR TO MORE UNDERSTANDING


SO WHEN DOES THE SPIRIT ENTER THE BODY?


  • 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 it...you'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.


A DOCTRINAL BASED OPINION ON WHEN THE SPIRIT ENTERS THE BODY:





(Image of Mary & Elisabeth from lds.org)
  • 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. 

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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)