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Shared Experiences

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comforts, who comforts those in any trouble, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."- 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Early Loss Experience (4th Child)

I waited a week after suspicions arose to decrease the chances of a false negative. The pregnancy test revealed itself strongly and quickly. Our 3 children had recently expressed a desire for another sibling. The news was received with great joy by our children, family members, and friends. My OB intake appointment was scheduled for my 8th week of pregnancy. The kids began sifting through and proposing names in their excitement. My husband began taking the kids to school in the morning to allow me extra time to rest. I made the typical pregnancy dietary adjustments and kept up my workout routine. The day before my OB appointment, almost 4 weeks later, there was a little bit of blood. I called the OB office that morning and left a message. Later that afternoon the OB front desk called to remind me about my online paperwork, and I mentioned the message I left that morning regarding the situation. During an attempt to transfer the call, we got disconnected. I completed the paperwork and sent a message about the bleeding via the patient portal. I also attempted one last phone call leaving a message for the OB nurse. 

I went to bed having an honest conversation with God. 

I woke up in the middle of the night with heavier bleeding and went back to bed crying. My husband tried to encourage me to "stay positive", but I knew something was wrong. That morning, with a single push, I delivered everything into the toilet. By instinct and in horror, I scooped everything out and laid it on an open pad on the counter as I frantically tried to figure out what to do next. A google search “what to do with miscarried remains” brought up miscarriage kits from Heaven’s Gain Ministries. I rummaged through the kitchen to find a jar, squirt bottle, and gloves. I lightly rinsed the remains, placed everything into the jar, and placed the jar in the refrigerator until we could figure out what to do next. 

I called the OB office bawling stating I wasn’t sure if I needed my appointment anymore. The front desk responded “OK we can cancel that for you. I’m sorry” and that was that. 

My family tried to help us find direction. No one in my family had experiences with miscarriage before this. My sister had a friend who had a miscarriage and was able to bury her baby in the Archdiocese of Detroit area free of charge. She offered to contact her to see how she was able to get assistance. My father, being in the medical field, contacted an NFP OBGYN for suggestions. The consensus was to call around to local funeral homes and cemeteries to see if anyone would assist us. 

My husband picked the kids up from school that day; what had once brought our house great joy now turned to great sorrow. We spent the evening crying together.

The next day I began phone calls. Most of the calls ended with me being the “distressed crazy lady” sounding something like:

Them: So, you're still in the hospital?

        
Me: No, I was never in the hospital. I had a natural miscarriage at home.

       
Them: So… where is the baby now?

        
Me: In a jar in my refrigerator.

        
Them: Uh yeah, I don’t know if I’ll be able to help you. Let me get your number and call you back.

I heard I needed physician documentation the event had occurred. I also heard there were only options for stillbirth (20+ weeks gestation) or death after live birth. 

 

I felt like I was stuck in a world where even The Church didn’t believe what She claims- recognition and sanctity of life from conception. 

God blessed us with 3 options by the end of the ordeal:

1) Put the remains in a pre-paid crypt belonging to one of my parents. (Which would cost $1600 to open and close; no marker/name.)

2) In a vault with other infants free of charge at a Catholic cemetery 30mins away from our home.

3) A creative non-cemetery option with the potential for a marker offered by our (at the time) home church.


We will be forever grateful for having options and especially grateful to the Catholic Cemetery who was willing to show us such mercy. After prayerful consideration and discussion with the family, we felt the best option was to allow our community in our home church to take care of us. Through this option, the Lord blessed us with a marked place of rest to visit our baby and which also increased our love for our home church. We had a small “graveside” service with family led by our Sr. Pastor, and we can visit whenever we want. 

The Lord is good and faithful. He takes care of those who seek him.


Blessed be God Forever!


Kyrie Eleison. Christie Eleison. Kyrie Eleison.

*Update (just over 1 year from time of writing): Our family is currently attending a Catholic Church. The support from the women of the Diocese of Lansing as truly been amazing. Pray for us.

 

 

Recurrent Miscarriage

We all suffer.  That’s one fact of life we can all agree on.  For my family it’s been enduring the great pain of recurrent miscarriage.  Through this hardship, though, we have come to look at suffering in a new light.  Pope Saint John Paul II’s 1984 apostolic letter titled, Salvifici Doloris, translated “Salvific Suffering” can help us “make sense” of suffering and explain why, even in the midst of the hurt, we can look at trials as gifts.   

To begin, let’s set the record straight.  Suffering in and of itself is an experience of evil, the collateral damage due to sin and death entering the world. However, the great news for believers is that Jesus offers us the potential to redeem our pain as scripture confirms, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

In our family, for example, God is redeeming our pain through great healing and grace which would not have occurred if God had not permitted these afflictions.  Our marriage is stronger, our family life is sweeter, and our faith has grown. But there is even something greater than all of that.

 

Let’s read and reflect on Pope John Paul II’s words to hear the good news and see what God is offering us: In suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace. To this grace many saints, such as Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Ignatius of Loyola and others, owe their profound conversion. A result of such a conversion is not only that the individual discovers the salvific meaning of suffering but above all that he becomes a completely new person. He discovers a new dimension, as it were, of his entire life and vocation.

So, with suffering can come grace, and that grace can make us more like Jesus.  If we allow that grace to work in us, through the mystery of our suffering, we can be further converted.  Speaking of conversion, Pope John Paul goes on to say, “In the eyes of the just God, before his judgment, those who share in the suffering of Christ become worthy of this Kingdom.”

When we suffer “well”, as it were, we grow in virtue.  We are also purified from evil passions and urges.  We become more grateful and cognizant of the gifts God has given us.  We are humbled by our own weaknesses and rely more on fully on our loving Father to see us through.  The roughness of impatience begins to wear away,as we are forced to “Be still and know” (Psalm 46:11) that He is God.  In The Imitation of Christ, Thomas À Kempis said it best when he wrote, “In the cross is the height of virtue and the perfection of all sanctity.”

Additionally, our trials make us more compassionate and sensitive to the suffering of others which moves us to help ease their burdens.  But the best part is what else God can do with it. This is what Pope John Paul calls the Gospel of suffering: "The Gospel of suffering signifies not only the presence of suffering in the Gospel, as one of the themes of the Good News, but also the revelation of the salvific power and salvific significance of suffering in Christ's messianic mission and, subsequently, in the mission and vocation of the Church."

The answer to the meaning of suffering then, is something we live into.  Pope John Paul further explains: "For it is above all a call. It is a vocation. Christ does not explain in the abstract the reasons for  suffering, but before all else he says: "Follow me!” Come! Take part through your suffering in this work of saving the world, a salvation achieved through my suffering! Through my Cross."

We hear this echoed in Scripture as Jesus lays out the conditions for discipleship saying, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

 

Christ never promised our lives would be easy.  We will surely feel betrayed by friends and family, the scourges will cut and the thorns will pierce deeply, we will fall, and fall again, and finally we will share that deep ache Jesus felt hanging on the cross.  But the good news is that death won’t have the final say. Through that ache, we can breathe out a deep sigh and give it all up to God.  And He will surely redeem it all and use it in His plans for salvation.

Pope John Paul writes, “In bringing about the redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of redemption. Thus, each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.”

 

Now you may be saying, “Wait a minute…How can it be said that we as humans can take part in the work of salvation?  Wasn’t the Redemption achieved by Christ complete?”  Pope John Paul confirms, “…the Redemption which has already been completely accomplished is, in a certain sense, constantly being accomplished. Christ achieved the Redemption completely and to the very limits but at the same time he did not bring it to a close.”

To put this in perspective, have you ever been talking to a friend and after listening to you bemoan a laundry list of complaints, they tell you to offer it up?   It took me many years before I realized this wasn’t just a holy saying, but an invitation to partake in the redemptive suffering of Jesus crucified.   When we offer up our anguish, sorrow, distress to the Lord, He can use them to accomplish His purposes.  You can humbly ask God to use your sacrifice for the intentions of a specific person (living or deceased.)  Maybe someone is sick, maybe you want to help the souls in purgatory, or maybe you would like God to use your sacrifices wherever they’re most needed at the time. 

This could be why Saint Paul said, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.” (Colossians 1:24)

The Blessed Mother even asks us to pray and make sacrifices for sinners. On July 13, 1917, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to Sister Lucia and said, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners; and say often when you make some sacrifice, 'My Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'(Rosarycenter.org)

I don’t know about you but if my sufferings joined to Christ and offered up for love of God and neighbor can help save souls, how can I say no to that?  I surely can suffer for a little while during this temporary time on earth to help bring the grace of conversion to a soul so they can be happy for all eternity.  What a gift from God to let us cooperate and participate in His work of salvation!

Pope John Paul encourages us all the more saying, “It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls.”  The grace to transform our soul.  The grace to transform the soul of our brother.  And to drive it home again, Jesus told Saint Faustina (as read in her diary), “You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone."

This difficulty has the great potential to transform our lives and those of our neighbor if we offer it 
back to God and let Him work through it.

Doctor of the Church, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, said, “It’s true, I suffer a great deal—but do I suffer well? That is the question.”  Let us ask God to help us suffer well through the intercession of Our Mother of Sorrows.  Give your suffering to God and He will use it.  Tell Him, “Take this pain, Lord, and turn it into something good.” May we never let our suffering go to waste! 

 

To God be the Glory.

Works Cited:

John Paul II. “Salvifici Doloris.”
The Holy See, 11 Feb. 1984, 
https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1984/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_11021984_salvifici-doloris.html

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