We need submissions!

Our cache of submissions from all of you wonderful readers is running dry! If any of you have a story to share, please consider submitting to the blog if you haven’t already. You may email miscarriagememoirs at gmail dot com, or you may use the submission link google doc. It doesn’t have to be brand new or unique for this site–it can be something you’ve already written and/or previously published on your own blog.

Thanks so much for all of your support–I hope this is as healing to everyone as it has been for me.

XOXOXO

-MM

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Esther

MM note: I attempted to contact Catherine, but I hadn’t heard back by the time I published this post, but I just had to share her work. Her follow up post is great as well. Please check out her site! Catherine, if you read this, please let me know if this is kosher. Readers, go support Catherine!

by Catherine Gale

This story begins with a star.

It is the story of a little girl.

This little girl is our daughter, and she lives in heaven.

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On the 23rd February we should have heard her heartbeat for the first time.

On that day we should have come home and made happy calls to friends and family to tell them our news. To make it known that she was there and to make our joy public.

Instead we found out that she had died at 8 weeks and 5 days, and our world came crashing down.

There are no words to describe the emptiness and lack, the horrible grief and the loss of hope.

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But first, the star. For months beforehand, we both had a sense about stars. A feeling.

When we found out I was pregnant, we both knew it was a girl.

We had another name picked for a girl, but it somehow didn’t feel right for this one. I looked at lots of names, and there was one that stood out. It meant star.

—————————————————————————————————————-

Fast forward to that 12 week scan when all our plans and dreams came crashing down.

The doctors did their best to reassure us that miscarriage is very common, that there is nothing we could have done to prevent it: that there is no reason we can’t go on to have a healthy baby. In the midst of it, all I could think was – But we wanted this one

I asked God why we had had such a sense of who this baby was –her gender, her name, if it wasn’t going to work out.

But now I know it was because of that, that he told us. So that we would know who she is.

I say ‘is’ and not ‘was’ because I know with every fibre of my being that she is in heaven.

I picture a little blonde girl with my blue eyes and Matt’s wisdom. I saw a vision of my Dad holding her. She is waiting to meet us.

—————————————————————————————————————-

The storm is not over yet. I have battled physical complications and subsequent anxiety and depression. At the moment, every day is a battle and sometimes I think it will break me.

And yet.

I never understood how there could be joy within suffering, but now I do.

In the midst of pain and anguish and defeat, I feel victory and joy because of the hope God has given us.

I know that God has not forgotten all that’s lost and broken. He will restore all things.

Our story will be one of hope. And this is the start of that story, written on the battlefield. A story for such a time as this.

So today we make her name and her story known.

Her name is Esther.

“Miscarriage Is Normal and Normal Hurts”

by Alicia de los Reyes

At the beginning of all of this, I had a premonition. When I saw the spot of blood in the bathroom, I knew. “No!” I said out loud, involuntarily. But it was barely a spot — more like a very pale pink tinge. It could be the embryo implanting, I told myself. It could be a little first-trimester bleeding. Still, I looked myself in the eye as I washed my hands and told myself silently, “You can handle this.” I kept staring even when the water stopped running. “You are strong,” I told myself. “You’ll be ok.”

None of my clothes fit that night, but instead of feeling huffy and angrily tossing shirts out of my closet, I had happily tugged a loose sweater over my extra-large bra. This bra is usually reserved for two or three days of the month before I get my period; I’d been wearing it a whole week. My belly hung over my skinny jeans, too, a first since the magnificent Ten-Pound Month in college. I was elated.

My happy glow didn’t wear off the entire evening, even though I was barred from the beer festivities. (Officially, I was the designated driver for my husband Andrew.) I drank a soda and sniffed each glass as my friends tasted seemingly every pumpkin beer manufactured in the Puget Sound region. I leaned against the kitchen island and carefully avoided the pepperoni on the pizza, smiling.

I saw real blood just as I was leaving for work that day, a Monday afternoon. Shit, I thought. Shit shit shit. I called my husband. “It could be nothing,” I told him. “But I’m scared. I have cramps.” They’d started on a bike ride earlier in the day, but were so mild I thought nothing of them. Since taking the pregnancy test, I’d noticed every glimmer of a cramp, and a few had come and gone quickly. I was still getting used to the reality that I was pregnant. Not might be, was. But I’d just made an appointment to go to the doctor. It was too early even for an ultrasound.

But I could tell something was wrong when I saw dark red. I ran up the stairs and pulled out my remaining pregnancy test. I couldn’t take it — I didn’t have to pee. And besides, what would it prove? I put it away, ran back downstairs and dashed out the door, trying to make sure I had my water bottle, my keys, my wallet. I brought a maxipad just in case. “I’m going to be late,” I told Andrew.

“That’s okay,” he said. “That’s not important.”

The sky was overcast and I told myself to relax on the ride over, a traffic-less journey on route 90. I made up a mantra: Please stay, baby. But I didn’t want it to stay if it wasn’t ready to be here. I said the mantra, then I didn’t say it. I said it again. I couldn’t listen to music.

At work, I began to feel worse. I opened the door to the office building and ducked into the bathroom. More blood, dripping damningly into the toilet. It was good I had brought the pad. (But if I hadn’t brought it, would the blood have gone away? Would it have been nothing? The only snippet of magical thinking I allowed myself.) I went into the little room where I tutor students, unsmiling, trying to stay calm, trying not to get upset.

As I talked my students through calculus problems and private school entrance exams, I could hear my voice flatten. Could they tell? Why didn’t one of them ask me what was wrong? I flipped the flimsy pages of a textbook and pointed to a problem. The minutes passed by in a steady stream, neither slowly nor quickly. I signed another student in and signed her out. The clock on the wall was my talisman; if I’m still bleeding after this student, I told myself, I’ll text Andrew. If I’m still bleeding after this hour, I’ll call my mom.

The hours passed. It all got worse. In between students, on a ten-minute break, I went out to my car and called my mom. My dad picked up, his voice sounding ultra-cheery. “Hey, baby!” he said. I didn’t want to make him sad but I kept my voice flat. I did want to make him sad. I felt like I was melting into the damp asphalt. I had been waiting to cry all evening.

“Can I talk to Mom?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said. He must have realized something was wrong. “Do you need her right now?”

“Yes.”

My dad didn’t try to make small talk while we waited for her to get off the other line. I remained silent, still not crying.

My mom finally picked up. I had six minutes until my next student. “I think I’m having a miscarriage,” I told her, without saying hello.

“Oh, honey,” she said.

“I only took a pregnancy test last week,” I said, and then, finally, I started to cry.

Please finish reading this story by following this link

“I feel like a robot…I never expected this, to feel nothing…”

Today’s story is a guest blog from Little Miss PMA. Check out her blog and show her some support. Thank you so much Toni! XXX ~MM

As I sit here today, its hard to comprehend everything that has happened in the last six years, in particular, the last year, which has been the toughest I have ever faced. In March 2014 we said goodbye to our first, in March 2015 we lost our second. Two weeks apart. Both at 21 weeks gestation.

Six years ago we started trying to make a baby, a year later prompted a trip to the GP and referral to a fertility specialist. A lap and dye and six rounds of Clomid later and we are referred to IVF. Im polycystic and he has trouble across the board. Thankfully we live in an age where babies can be created in a lab, without this technology, our dreams of a family would be going down a very different path.

First round of IVF failed in March 2012, two attempts at a frozen embryo cycle were cancelled due to poor uterine lining thickness. Third attempt at a frozen transfer was going in the same vein but I begged to be able to transfer, I was desperate, it was now November 2013 and my patience had worn thin. They warned me I was wasting a precious embryo but I didn’t care, I needed to try. Lo and behold, our first ever positive pregnancy test!

To see two lines was pure joy, I shook all morning, kept poking my boobs to make sure it was real. We did it!! It had taken years but we got there. Eight week scan showed a blob with a flickering heartbeat. It was the most beautiful little ‘Squidge’ I had ever seen, I cried happy tears! Twelve week scan and Squidge only wants to show their bum but no problems detected. A smooth and beautiful pregnancy so far. No need to worry about our 20 week scan, right? We don’t want to know the sex and that is really our primary concern upon attending the anomaly scan.

The world stops. Our beautiful, precious, long awaited baby has a serious heart problem. A follow up scan confirms HLHS (hypoplastic left heart syndrome) basically the left side of the heart hadn’t developed. Three choices: carry on and operate two days after birth, carry on and provide comfort care until the baby passes approximately two weeks later, or end the pregnancy.

Ive always been pro-choice when it comes to a termination, I just never ever thought I’d need to make that choice, but given the odds and other factors, we felt the best thing to do for our baby, was to spare them from any suffering.

Six days later I was induced and 33 hours later, Milo was born sleeping. I had A LOT of morphine in my system and feel this stopped me taking in the enormity of it all, what I had just been through didn’t register. I watched my husband cry over our baby boy, unable to feel what he felt.

I was determined this wouldn’t define us, we wouldn’t be Bereaved Parents for the rest of our marriage. All my focus went into the next steps IVF wise. We were told it was a one off, bad luck, unlikely to happen again. I had to correct this situation, I had to give my husband the child he deserved.

We had one more frozen embryo to use, I couldn’t wait but guidelines state you must have three periods before trying again, our turn came around, but as luck would have it, the incubators broke the day before my transfer was scheduled and therefore it was cancelled. Talk about bad luck, I mean you cant write this stuff can you?! The following month we made it to transfer, but the embryo didn’t implant, another spectacular failure.

The waiting around between cycles was killing me. All I wanted was a healthy baby, I’d always assumed once I was pregnant, there would be baby, I was learning fast this wasn’t the case so decided to take matters into my own hands. After lots of research, I decided our best option was to head abroad. In November 2014 we travelled to Cyprus for 10 days. I had four embryos replaced the day before we travelled home. We tested on our wedding anniversary, another positive test.

The thrill wasn’t the same. The naivety of pregnancy had gone, I was now very aware of what could go wrong, not just heart conditions, but neural tube defects, chromosomal issues etc. I could only focus on what we knew, there was an increased risk of a heart defect but additional scans had been scheduled and so I had to try my best to enjoy it as much as possible.

Unlike my 1st pregnancy, this one was plagued with scares, increased nuchal measurement at 12 weeks, combined with bloods gave us a 1 in 11 chance of Downs. Talk of termination began to surface and I remember shutting the conversation down fast. I did not want to contemplate another one.

At 14 weeks the nuchal measurement had gone down and the heart looked OK. I am adamantly against CVS and Amnio as they carry a risk of miscarriage and after everything we had been through I couldn’t accept that risk.

We were fortunate enough to be able to afford non invasive prenatal testing, a simple blood test. However, baby had other ideas, the 1st sample didn’t have enough of baby’s DNA in it, clearly this baby wasn’t into sharing, but 2 weeks later after another test, we received the results. The odds were more like 1 in 59 million….phew!!!

Sixteen week heart scan showed a healthy heart, the anomaly scan revealed a perfect baby and the follow up heart scan showed it was perfect too. We were home free!

Nine days later I went to work as normal. My back and legs ached but I was 21 weeks pregnant and I carry BIG, nothing to worry about right?

At 4:00 pm I start contractions. Hoping they were Braxton-Hicks, I booked a GP appointment. By the time she saw me I was in established labour.

At 7:48 pm, Millie was born sleeping. Another beautiful baby that we couldn’t take home. I had contracted an infection and it is assumed that my cervix was incompetent and let it in. I had no warning, no symptoms, one day she was kicking the hell out of me, the next day she was gone.

Fifteen weeks later….I’ve completely shut down. I do not feel anything for my children. I clearly cannot cope and my brain is protecting me. I hate this. I feel like a robot. I’m on antidepressants and in counselling but its going to be a long road. I’ve lost both my children and I cannot cry. I am not angry. I am not sad. I’m just lost. I’m on autopilot. I never expected this, to feel nothing, I know the feelings must be there as my anxiety, insomnia and eating habits have all been affected. I do not know how to access my feelings.

My children deserve so much more. I’ve failed them. This wasn’t the plan. But I cannot stop. I cannot stop the longing for a baby, despite everything, I know I will try again. Maybe I’m mad, maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, maybe I’m broken?

Despite all of it, part of me still has hope. In the darkness there is still light. Millie was healthy, until the infection got to her, so that’s a step forward from Milo. It amazes me that despite all the pain and suffering, we as the human race, can still see good and light and hope.

Infertility will not beat me, a termination for medical reasons and a late miscarriage will not silence me. I will be heard, I will be counted, I will beat this. Never ever give up.

Love, Little Miss PMA xxx

How to Bury Your Baby After a Miscarriage

By JoAnna Wahlund
June 10, 2015

Reposted with permission of the author from Catholic Stand. MM note: This article is specifically geared towards those who identify as Catholic, but there is good information in here for people of all religions or lack thereof if you want to bury your baby after miscarriage. Make sure you look into your state’s particular laws and procedures!

The loss of a child is a nightmare for every parent. In the first few hours and days of grief and shock, it’s hard to know what to do.

If you are reading this article because you recently lost a baby via miscarriage, there are three things I want you to know:

1. I am so sorry for the loss of your baby.

2. You have the right to bury your baby.

3. If you did not bury your baby, do not not feel ashamed or guilty. We can only do our best in the circumstances we’re in according to the knowledge that we have.

I have been in this unfortunate position three times. My second loss was very early (5w6d) and happened late at night while I was in the emergency room. In our shock and grief, my husband and I didn’t think to try and save any discernible remains, and the baby, whom we named Chris, was so tiny at that point that we likely would not have been able to identify his/her body amid the blood and tissue.

The Process

With my first and third losses, my husband and I chose to bury the baby at our local Catholic cemetery. I had a D&C in both cases, and we were able to obtain the baby’s remains from the hospital.

If you are waiting for a miscarriage to occur at home, or if you suspect one will occur, it’s important to be prepared to save the baby’s remains for burial, if you so choose. The site Catholic Miscarriage Support has excellent and detailed advice regarding supplies to have on hand and what to expect before, during, and after the miscarriage, and they also provide advice regarding how to store the baby’s remains until burial. I don’t have any experience with this aspect of miscarriage management, so I recommend reading the advice linked above instead.

If you will undergo a D&C, you need to insist that the baby’s remains be returned to you and released to either you, your husband, or a local funeral home. Unfortunately, this is not an easy process simply because the request is rare. It may be different with an authentically Catholic hospital (I have never been a patient at one during a miscarriage situation so I have no idea); both hospitals where I obtained my D&Cs were secular. “This is not a common request,” my OB said to me as he was trying to figure out the paperwork involved. The following is my most recent experience with burying my miscarried child, specific to the state of Arizona, and advice for anyone going through the same thing.

Obtaining the Baby’s Remains from the Hospital

Once you arrive at the hospital for the D&C, tell every single medical professional you encounter at the hospital that you want the baby’s remains returned to you for burial. Tell your doctor. Tell your anesthesiologist. Tell every nurse who comes to your bedside for any purpose. Read every paragraph on every page of paperwork given to you to sign to make sure that you’re not giving them permission to dispose of the baby’s body as medical waste (and if you find paperwork with that clause, cross it out and write in the margin that you want the baby’s remains returned to you for burial – and initial it). We wrote or had the nurses write on every single piece of paper relating to the procedure that we did not want the pathology department to dispose of the baby’s remains; they were to be released to us after appropriate testing had been concluded. Perhaps it was overkill but we wanted to make absolutely sure that everyone was on the same page.

Above all, stand your ground. You may encounter confusion or resistance from your doctor, the hospital, and/or other medical staff. You have the right to your baby’s remains (it is not against the law to release them), and you have the right to bury your baby. If the hospital does not have a process for releasing the baby’s remains, then they need to develop one. (Incidentally, we met with the funeral home on the morning of my D&C, and they were very helpful regarding arrangements. The representative we spoke with gave us her cell phone number and told us to have the hospital call her if we had any issues, so if possible, I recommend letting the funeral home run interference if you run into any resistance.)

With my most recent loss and D&C (June 2, 2015 – we named the baby Francis), our first step was, prior to the procedure, filling out special paperwork authorizing the hospital to release Francis’ remains. One of the forms asked my purpose for the remains, and I wrote, “Burial of my child.” I was determined that everyone who read that paperwork would know that we recognized our baby for who s/he was — a valuable, beloved child.

Per the state of Arizona, part of the paperwork we filled out at the hospital included a Fetal Death Certificate. We had someone from the Records department of the hospital go over it to make sure that everything was filled out correctly to avoid any delays due to incomplete paperwork. After the procedure, the doctor signed off on it (this was required), and then the hospital transmitted it electronically to the state Office of Vital Records. We also received a copy.

Two days later, my husband went to the local county Vital Records office with our copy of the Fetal Death Certificate. He obtained an official copy of the certificate from Vital Records, and with that official copy he applied for and received a permit to transport human remains, known as a disposition-transit permit, effective for 24 hours.

Francis’ remains had been sent to another hospital’s pathology department for identification (i.e., a medical technician had to make sure all parts were accounted for). We had the option to have the remains released with or without preservative. ( I don’t think our funeral home had a preference but that may be something to check on with your funeral home.) We had said that preservative was fine but for some reason the pathology department chose not to use it.

Once that was done, the remains were returned to our local hospital, and my husband was notified that he could pick them up. He did so that day, permit in hand, and delivered them to the funeral home, who had agreed to hold the remains for us until burial. We had to give them a copy of the permit for their records. (We had the option to keep Francis’ remains at home and bring them to the cemetery ourselves the next day, but we asked the funeral home if they could hold them for us instead, and they agreed.)

Note: Our experience in Fargo was fairly similar to the above, except that Noel’s remains were released directly to the funeral home from the hospital, thus avoiding the need to get a disposition-transit permit or similar. The process will likely vary depending what state you’re in and their specific processes, or maybe it varies depending on the funeral home in question.

Burial Details

The funeral home had previously given us a small casket (you can see a photo of it here) to give to the pathology department to hold Francis’ remains. If you are required to supply your own casket, Heaven’s Gain sells small caskets for miscarried children. Otherwise, a small wooden or ceramic box would work best (you can probably find these at a local craft store such as Hobby Lobby). We purchased a small ceramic box with a cross and bible verse on it for Noel’s casket; I found it at a Family Christian store.

Many Catholic cemeteries have special sections especially for miscarried babies under 20 weeks gestation, and that is the option we chose. Babies over 20 weeks are considered stillbirths, not miscarriages, and are usually buried in a section of the cemetery reserved for infants and children. If you encounter a Catholic cemetery that doesn’t have a special section for miscarried babies, remind them that burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy. In my humble opinion, every Catholic cemetery should have such a section, and should offer their services free of charge in a pregnancy loss or stillbirth situation.

We buried our second child, Noel, in a special section for miscarried children at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery (North) in Fargo, ND. We buried our eighth child, Francis, in a special section for miscarried children (called the Rachel Mourning Baby Section) at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Avondale, AZ.

You will likely need to call the cemetery directly and inquire about special sections of the cemeteries for miscarried children. Neither the website of the Diocese of Fargo nor the Diocese of Phoenix mentions the special sections on their respective websites, although the Catholic Sun (newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix) wrote an article about them in 2012.

Thankfully, our parish priest was able to direct us to Holy Cross Mortuary when my husband called to tell him about our loss. We also arranged to have a deacon from our church present at the burial; he conducted a beautiful graveside ceremony. I believe that he read from the Funeral Rites for Children, as found in the Order of Christian Funerals (OCF) – the book which contains all Catholic funeral rites. The Funeral Rite for Children includes special prayers for children who died without baptism. We had a graveside ceremony and a memorial Mass for Noel as well, and we plan to have a memorial Mass for Noel, Chris, and Francis in August 2015.

Another option for a funeral rite is the Blessing of Parents After a Miscarriage. There are also several archdioceses that have developed special rites especially for miscarried babies — the ones that I am aware of are Order for the Naming and Commendation of an Infant Who Died before Birth from the Diocese of Wichita (you can find a pdf of the rite here) and the Diocese of St. Louis, and a Naming Ceremony from the Diocese of Atlanta (note that it says it may only be used within the Diocese, so you may need your priest to get permission to use it elsewhere). If you know of any others, please let me know!

Cost

In both cases, our child’s burial was handled free of charge. This is not the case in all dioceses, unfortunately, so that is something you will need to investigate. The funeral home and cemetery in Fargo handled Noel’s arrangements free of charge because we were poor at the time and could not afford to pay (I have no idea if they make similar arrangements for all miscarried children, however). The representative we spoke with at Holy Cross Mortuary here in AZ told us that they bury all miscarried children under 20 weeks gestation free of charge, and have done so for the past 13 years. We did choose to pay $50 to have Francis’ name carved on a common gravestone, but that was optional and the only cost we incurred.

If you have any additional questions or could use some guidance in navigating a similar situation, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m happy to help in any way I can.