Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"I will Carry You"

This song just describes everything that I feel about my unborn babies. The band is Selah, and I give credit to Angie Smith for introducing me to it. This was written either by her or for her, I can't remember which, and her husband's band is who sings it. It is on the playlist for this blog, so you may have heard it. If not, I recommend looking at the playlist and clicking on that particular song. Your eyes will not be dry afterwards, I promise.

Here are the lyrics:

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?People say that I am brave but I’m not
Truth is I’m barely hanging on
But there’s a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says…

I’ve shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen Me
To carry you


Depression: a state of mind producing serious, long-term lowering of enjoyment of life or inability to visualize a happy future.

I was sad. I later on came to realize how bad it really was. Weeks had gone by and I still couldn't speak of what had happened. Many what ifs entered my head. What if I didn't take enough folic acid? What if I lifted too heavy of a tray at work (I was a server). What if I was under too much stress? What if I caused this?

My brother and his wife were expecting. Their due date? January 3rd. I will always look at Afton, who was born on my due date, and think of the child that would have been her age.

I was in a dark place but didn't really realize it at that time. I knew I was sad and I knew that I couldn't talk to anyone about it. No one understood and everyone said such hurtful things. The few people who may have understood because of prior experiences probably would have been happy to talk to me about it. But I couldn't speak of it still. It was too raw.

I can't remember at which point I had the thought that I might actually be going through some sort of postpartum depression compounded by the loss of the baby. I still think that this is completely plausible. A long while later my husband admitted to me that he had been very worried about me during this time and that had it gone on for much longer he would have sought help for me. I asked if it was really that bad, to which he said it definitely was.

Fetal Development and the LDS perspective

Perhaps one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with is the LDS perspective on the unborn child. Unless a child is born and takes a breath, it is not considered a child of record and doesn't go on the church records. The reasoning behind this is that supposedly the spirit has not entered the body yet. The reason this is so bothersome to me, is that so many people of my faith see this as a reason to dismiss a miscarriage. You see, it wasn't a real spirit and therefore not a child. Therefore I have no right to mourn the loss of my non-child. Well I did mourn. And very deeply. So much so that I spent a lot of time soul searching this notion of my faith. I have to say that I completely disagree with it for a number of reasons.

There is much debate in the LDS world as to when the spirit enters the body. Is it at conception? Is it at birth when a breath is taken? Is it at quickening? One of the latter-day prophets had said it was at quickening because that is when the baby first moved.

Well, modern technology has proved that to be completely false. Not to mention the words of the Lord himself as spoken to the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament. Jeremiah 1:5 states, "Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee."

I had an ultrasound done at 8 weeks on my most recent pregnancy. Guess what, that little baby was dancing around and waving. It was incredible. Just because the mother can't feel it (quickening), doesn't mean it isn't happening. You see, the inside of the uterus has no feeling, so none of this can be felt until the baby weighs enough for other organs to feel it. When a person dies, the spirit leaves the body. Brain activity stops. The heart stops. Movement stops. It requires either a spirit or life support machinery to create those functions of the body. Why would a fetus be any different? Brain activity in a fetus begins at six weeks after conception. The heart begins to beat at 18 days, when the mother is only four days late for her menstrual cycle.

P.E. Rockwell, M.D., Director of Anesthesiology related an experience that he had. This article is used time and again for pro-life arguments, so you may have heard it before. Here it is, ""Eleven years ago, while giving an anesthetic for a ruptured tubal pregnancy (at two months), I was handed what I believed to be the smallest human being ever seen. The embryo sac was intact and transparent. Within the sac was a tiny (one-third inch) human male swimming extremely vigorously in the amniotic fluid, while attached to the wall by the umbilical cord. This tiny human was perfectly developed with long, tapering fingers, feet and toes. It was almost transparent as regards the skin, and the delicate arteries and veins were prominent to the ends of the fingers.

"The baby was extremely alive and swam about the sac approximately one time per second with a natural swimmers stroke. This tiny human did not look at all like the photos and drawings of ‘embryos’ which I have seen, nor did it look like the few embryos I have been able to observe since then, obviously because this one was alive. "When the sac was opened, the tiny human immediately lost its life and took on the appearance of what is accepted as the appearance of an embryo at this stage (blunt extremities, etc.)."

I find it so hypocritical of my religion who is extremely anti-abortion to turn around and not acknowledge a life that was in a womb. If there is no spirit there and it isn't a real baby, then why the argument against abortion? Obviously I have strong feelings on this subject!

I found great condolence in an experience that a LDS friend of mine in England related to me years before my experiences. She and her family had been converted to the LDS religion and had gone to the temple to be sealed together. During a sealing, the parents and children kneel around an altar and the children are placed in birth order. A sealer performs a ceremony that is much like a marriage where the family is blessed to be together for this life and the next. When my friend's family knelt around the altar, the sealer kept shifting the children around. He spaced out the children. Some had three spaces in between, and another had two. He finally felt that he had it right and asked my friend if she had lost some children. She said that she had in miscarriages and the number of spacing was the exact number of miscarriages and in the correct order. The sealer told her that those children were there that day and would also be sealed to their family.

I have clung to her experience to know that one day I will see my babies again. The facts of the development of the fetus, paired with the promises of the Lord are too much to ignore. The only change that occurs at birth is a change in the external life support system of the baby. The baby is no different before birth than after, except that he has changed his method of feeding and obtaining oxygen.

What not to say

In my previous post I mentioned many things that my family had said to me when they learned of the miscarriage. First of all, I want to say that I truly understand that these things were said innocently or with well-meaning intentions. But they still hurt. So with the post, I just want to educate. Not to criticize, but to cause you to think about the things that you may want to say or do differently if your friend or family/member experiences a miscarriage.

My perspective on my pregnancy is that this was a child. It was as real to me as yours are to you, be they two years old, seven years old, or eighteen years old. So many of these comments made me scratch my head simply because of the perspective that I had on it.
  • "It's nature's way of taking care of something that couldn't survive." Really? Heavenly Father just zaps a life out of you because it couldn't survive? Then explain to me why there are so many children born into this world who have terminal diseases from the moment they are born or even later on into life. In the end, none of us survive. Whether we live until we are 20 years or 100 years old, we don't survive. We are mortal, and that's just a fact. So please don't tell me that the mortality that lived inside of me wasn't valid. If your two-year old becomes ill with cancer and dies, is it just natures way? Maybe so, but I hardly doubt you would want me to say that to you.
  • "It just wasn't the right time." So, my body, or the Lord, whichever one, had better knowledge into when the right time would be to conceive? I had the timing wrong so let's kill the baby? This is so illogical and cruel that it is almost funny. How about all of those teenagers and drug addicts who get pregnant. I guess it must be the right time for them.
  • "You're just cleaning the pipes." Wow, I was so dumbfounded when I heard that one. I still have no response to that one.
  • "It's just a mass of cells, not a real baby at that point." While the baby may not have taken on much of a physical form at this time, it is far more than a lump of cells. I will do a further post on this particular subject so I won't go much further into detail here. But, even if physically there isn't much to an 8 week old fetus, emotionally to me I had already imagined this child growing up and getting married. This was a baby, no matter how far along.
  • "That's why we waited until we were at least three months along to tell anyone." So I should just go through this alone? If I had stayed quiet this wouldn't have happened? I am not really sure why this comment even gets brought up, but it is told to me repeatedly, even now, four miscarriages and six years later.
  • "At least you weren't further along." Let's just say that I am VERY opinionated about that particular comment. However many weeks gestation a fetus is doesn't give a mother more of a right to grieve than another. An 8 week old fetus is a baby just the same as a 39 week stillborn is. It would be like me saying to someone whose small child died that at least the child wasn't older because that would be a more difficult loss.
  • "At least you know you can get pregnant." How is this supposed to be a condolence? I just lost a child! If you lost one of your living children, would that be a condolence to you? It is not good news that I can get pregnant. It will be good news when I can sustain a pregnancy and hold a baby in my arms.
  • "You'll be pregnant again soon with another one." But I wanted this one. I already loved this one. If you lost a living child, how would you feel if I said you could soon get pregnant with another? It doesn't change the fact that this one did in fact die and there is a great feeling of loss over it.

So, what do you say? How about just a simple, "I'm so sorry for your loss." Acknowledge that a loss occurred and don't try to somehow explain away that it didn't in order to make the person feel better. It just makes it hurt worse that no one understands. So even if you don't understand and you feel like a miscarriage isn't a loss, just keep that to yourself and offer a shoulder to cry on.