Miscarriage: The Secret That Shouldn’t be Kept

We buried our child yesterday. A child I got to know only though the sound of a heartbeat in a doctor’s office.

We listened to that heartbeat every week for a month while measurements were taken. Every week our baby didn’t seem to grow. My wife kept saying that she knew something was wrong, but I kept faith in that heartbeat.

It never seems like it’s too early to start asking yourself questions about your baby’s life. Is it a boy or a girl? Will they look more like their Mama or their Papa? How will our new baby interact with our daughter? Will our daughter be a good older sister?

I thought it was a boy, but that’s probably because we already have a little girl. My wife wanted a boy, although she said at times that she thought it was a girl. I liked the idea of the pitter patter of sister’s feet running all over the house.

We will never know the answer to most, and possibly all, of those questions.

At the start of the fourth ultra-sound, the first thing the nurse said was, “I can’t find a heartbeat.”

“I’ll go get the doctor.”

When the nurse walked out of the room my wife burst into tears and I think I have been somewhat numb ever since.

In a wonderful act of kindness, before we left the office the nurse revealed to us that she too had suffered a miscarriage and let us know that we were not isolated in our grief.

When we went to see our general practitioner, he shared that he lost a baby in the ninth month.

One of the nurses told us that she had had four miscarriages. Not only did she give us the comfort of knowing that we were not alone, she gave my wife her home phone number and an invitation to call her at any time if she needed to talk.

It became apparent to us that so many people had gone through this pain, yet it was something that we had heard so little about.

From a purely medical point of view, it was best that we found out about our child’s death as early as possible, but the miracle of modern technology started us on a long and painful path. We had to wait a week to see if my wife’s body would miscarry the baby naturally.

It’s heart wrenching to be waiting and hoping for your wife to miscarry your baby.

Once that didn’t happen, we induced it, and that was more painful than the waiting.

Even then, it still wasn’t over. There was still tissue remaining and they had to operate to remove it.

Throughout this horrible process the stories continued to pour in from friends that we had known for years; even my father told me that my great grandmother had two miscarriages before my grandmother was born.

I am at a loss as to why this is such a secret. While I understand that these stories could cause women that are going through pregnancy unnecessary stress, the secrecy does leave couples like us potentially isolated trying to cope with pain and self-doubt.

Without trying to discount any of the kind-hearted people that were so valuable to us, the most wonderful gift came to us from the Archdiocese of Denver. Our doctor told us that Mount Olivet holds a monthly service for miscarried children.

Laura and her staff at Mount Olivet handled everything with a deft, caring hand, even though getting the remains to them was difficult and confusing.

At the service a volunteer passed out flowers and tissues. Another had made caskets and clothes for the babies to be buried in. The Priest and the Deacon were warm and compassionate. To congregate with other families going through what we were helped enormously. And they picked a beautiful spot for our child.

There are two other people that were essential to getting us through this heartbreak. Our daughter was a constant light for us, especially her mother. For a time, she was the only thing that could put a smile on my wife’s face and her hugs consoled her mother’s tears. Caring for our little girl kept me focused on what I could control (as much as you can control a one year old).

The other was the child we lost, to whom we gave the name Cruz.

Though the pain of our loss, Cruz taught us that we have so much to be thankful for. Cruz taught us that a healthy baby is truly a miracle by experiencing one of a million things that can go wrong during a pregnancy. Cruz taught us to cherish our daughter even more.

Cruz taught me and my wife that we can rely on each other through dark days. That we can lean on each other for strength even if it’s by falling toward one other. Thanks to Cruz we know that, not just trust in it.

Cruz taught me how much I deeply and authentically love my wife.

That’s a heck of a lot of impact for such a short life.

For more information on special services at Mount Olivet for children and babies, call (303) 425-9511

COMING UP: Fathers, You Are Teachers

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Dr. Jared Staudt, PhD, serves as the catechetical formation specialist for the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries.

As dads we want our kids to be happy. We want them to be healthy, successful, and to have fulfilling relationships. But don’t we want more than that? More than anything else, we can help our kids to find a deeper and lasting happiness in coming to know Jesus and living a life with and through Him.

Fathers have more influence on the faith life of their children than anyone else—more than mothers, grandparents, teachers, and the parish priest. Studies have shown that if fathers do not practice the faith, children are very unlikely to do so in adulthood. If fathers do, children are more likely than not to attend church in the future. Fathers are called to lead their families in the faith and to provide a model of the Christian life for their children.

As fathers we are called to be the teachers of our children, primarily by providing an example for them. Parents are the primary educators of their children and this includes education in the faith. Fathers have to take a central role in this education, because, as we’ve seen, they’re so crucial in the religious formation of their kids.

There are a few things we can do as dads to be effective teachers. First of all, we need put God first, especially by prioritizing Sunday Mass. Everything else should be built around that central moment of the week. It speaks volumes when sports, recreation, and work fit in after worship and not before it. Making Sunday a special day also creates space for just for being together as a family and having the leisure to be active outside, play games, talk together, have a bigger dinner, and enjoy each other’s company.

Throughout the rest of the week, we continue to put God first by praying every day. Our kids need to be taught how to pray. It may be simple, but it’s not necessarily intuitive. It’s good to teach some of the simple devotions like the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the Stations of the Cross, but we also should help our kids to learn deeper prayer as well. Reading the Bible through lectio divina is an important way to learn how to pray. In lectio, we read a short passage of the Bible, where we listen to God’s voice. Then we think about it, trying to understand what God is saying to us in the passage. We speak back to God in prayer, responding to what we heard. Then we sit with God in silence, seeking union with Him and listening to His voice in our hearts. It’s a conversation with God and a two way street where we’re listening and responding.

Teaching our kids how to pray may be one of the most important things we do, but we have to do active things with them as well. James Stenson has noted that our kids don’t usually see us work, but only during our down time. It’s important to for our kids to see us at our best, by drawing them into our strengths and skills when possible, but also but working on family projects together. This is not just a matter of teaching them skills, but teaching them the art of life. We have to guide them through challenging tasks, model how to respond to mistakes, and establish common purposes and goals for the family.

The art of life includes prayer, work, character formation, and learning how to be strong in the face of difficulties. Right now one of the key challenges we face in the family is technology. Here we have to lead by example here as well. How can we be moderate in the use of technology, not allowing it to dominate us, but rather using it as a useful tool? Emphasizing prayer and family time over technology makes an important statement about priorities. Limiting technology is a major task for fathers today and a key aspect of our role as teachers.

Overall, our kids look to us to teach them what’s really important. Our actions teach them and guide them in the faith and prepare them for the adventure of life.