Culture of Life
BY Tom & Caroline McDonald
March 8-14, 2009 Issue | Posted 2/27/09 at 1:59 PM
My wife and I have been taken aback by the overwhelming sense of loss we feel over our miscarriage. We’re cut to the core, even though we never came to know this child’s personality, uniqueness or physical characteristics. Is our anguish normal?
Caroline: Yes, it is normal. In fact, we know from personal experience exactly what you are going through. We can’t take away your pain, but maybe hearing about our recent miscarriage will help you heal from yours.
January was a hard month for us and our children. Emma loves her three brothers dearly, but she is longing for a sister. She has been praying daily for a baby girl for two years. After much discussion and prayer, Tom and I asked the Lord to bless us with baby No. 5, if that was his will. Even our older boys had begun praying in earnest for a sibling. You can imagine the rejoicing, especially by Emma, when we announced to the kids after Christmas that we were expecting.
Our joy soon turned to sorrow when we suffered our first-ever miscarriage. Tom and I were grieved, but what we dreaded most was telling the children. Friends told us not to hide our grief from them. So, with tears, we shared the bad news. They were shocked, disappointed and very sad. Why would God let this happen? It was hardest on our oldest. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, one day later, it hit him: “People kill their babies, but we really wanted ours! Why did our baby have to die?”
Tom: I had a strong feeling at Mass that the baby was a girl, so we’ve named her Clare, after Clare of Assisi, one of our family’s favorite saints. We felt so blessed by the kind words, e-mails and prayers of dear friends, many of whom have suffered through the same thing — some more than once. Like my son, I’ve often wondered what God is up to.
We told the kids — and we believe it, too — that God has a plan for our lives, that he wants the very best for us, and somehow this too is a part of his mysterious design. We may never fully understand it in this life, but Jesus promised it: “I have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest” (John 10:10).
Caroline: My sister told me that the sorrow would come and go and hit me unexpectedly, now and then. I thought I was doing just fine after a week or so, but when I stepped back into my ob-gyn’s office for some follow-up blood work, I teared up all over again. I realized later that it was one week to the day, down to the hour, when we had received the definitive sonogram results. I wasn’t aware of that fact, consciously.
Although it’s been less than a month, I can see that good has come out of the situation. First, Tom and I are both so grateful for the children we have! It has magnified for us the blessing of each human life. They truly are gifts from the Lord, and they ultimately belong to him. I’ve been holding my little John Paul more than ever. He may be our last baby, and I want to enjoy each precious moment with him.
Second, the children know they have a powerful intercessor in heaven. St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, wrote that she was always conscious of her little brothers and sisters who went before her and was sure of their prayers. So we’ve all been asking for the prayers of Little Clare, and there have been times when we have really felt the good effects of her intercession. Emma knows that she does have a sister and that they will meet someday. I smile when I think of Clare up there with her two cousins, who were also miscarried.
Finally, my children learned invaluable pro-life lessons. There was no doubt in their minds that I was carrying a baby.
They laid hands on my middle and prayed for her every night. They were sure that life began at conception, and I pray that clarity remains with them their whole lives.
We also pray for all families suffering the uniquely private loss of miscarriage. Know that you are not alone. (You may want to check out the Life & Loss Institute at LifeAndLossInstitute.com for resources and support.)
The McDonalds are family-life coordinators for the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.
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