by April Jaure
A few weeks after my third miscarriage, I attended the Feminine Genius Conference and heard Elizabeth Ministry founder, Jeannie Hannemann speak. My spirit was still quite raw from having just lost a child for the third time. Jeannie’s message was healing to my soul.
She acknowledged the pain of miscarriage. She spoke about my children as persons and talked about their specialness and sacredness. I still remember her words, and I always share them when I hear of other women who have experienced a miscarriage:
“It is the primary goal of parents to get their children to heaven. Those of you who have miscarried have already accomplished that.”
The Path to Healing: 4 Suggestions
There are four things Jeannie recommended that day that have continued to help soothe my soul and heal the wounds of my miscarriages.
1. Reminding Myself That My Body Is Not Defective
Many women feel betrayed by their bodies after experiencing a miscarriage, feeling like if they weren’t faulty, they could have carried to term. There had been a nagging voice in my head telling me that my body was defective.
That day, Jeannie spoke about the science that shows that fetal cells from each pregnancy stay in the mother’s body for the rest of her life. Though their exact function is unknown, early research suggests that these fetal cells may play a role in tissue repair or even in combating cancer.
“Since the miscarried babies are now saints in heaven, and since their cells are present in your body, that makes you a sacred relic.”
Her words brought me back to the saint relics I had seen enclosed in gold reliquaries and I remembered how they were treated with special reverence. Her words eased the pain I had experienced after hearing a nurse repeatedly refer to my baby’s precious body as the “products of conception.”
To hear Jeannie speak about the added sacredness of my body, speaking about it as a holy relic, housing pieces of saints in heaven, affirmed my worth. Knowing that my body still housed parts of my children was a comfort to me.
2. Naming My Children
For each of my miscarriages, I knew from ultrasound that my children’s hearts had stopped beating and that I was going to miscarry. It had been a comfort to me that my body still held my child, at least for a little while longer. After I miscarried, and my womb was actually empty, my spirit always felt an emptiness as I thought how my children were gone for good and I had nothing to show for their lives. I had no pictures and no memories. I didn’t even know their genders; I had nothing. Another suggestion Jeannie had was to name each child lost due to miscarriage. After prayer and reflection, I have named each of the children I’ve lost due to miscarriage. The naming makes their existence ‘real’ and gives me a comfort and hope that can’t really be described.
Whenever I talk about my babies who died, I use their names, and my children on earth know that there were three who died when they were in my tummy. They know their names and they know they can pray to them. Sometimes they overhear me praying to them.
3. Creating Tangible Remembrances
As I have three children on earth and three in heaven, I am in the process of buying six icons — one for each child. I have four of them hanging in my hallway so far, the ones for my first four children. I have also gotten plaques for them on the Elizabeth Ministry Wall of Remembrance. (PDF)
It gives me great comfort as I pass the icons on the wall at home or walk down the hall to my office at Elizabeth Ministry Headquarters, to see these tangible reminders of my children on the wall and to think of how they are praying for the work we do.
4. Celebrating Conception
Elizabeth Ministers pledge to truly celebrate the gift of each child conceived and born, and fully mourn each miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth and infant or child death. With this in mind, with each of my pregnancies, I choose not to keep it hidden. I tell most everyone I know as soon as I know that I am pregnant. I try to fully celebrate the privilege that my body is the place God has chosen to create a new life, a life that has never existed before and that will exist for all eternity, and I look forward to meeting this new and unique person. For some, I have had to wait nine months to meet them. For others I hope to meet them at the end of my earthly life.
Despite the moments of sadness that I still feel from time to time when I think of my children, I am also filled with gratitude that I have such a gift as three saints in heaven whose special interest it is to pray for our family before the face of our loving God. I am also grateful to those who have been willing to witness to the value of the lives of babies who have died in the womb. They have been a comfort to me and I am sure they are a comfort to the many others who have lost children through miscarriage. May we all be a voice for the value of life.
April Jaure is the Natural Family Planning Coordinator for Elizabeth Ministry International. She was the driving force behind the Ahaba Marriage Meter App. She likes to read biology textbooks, watch documentaries on astronomy and geology, unschool her children, pray, and live life with her mohawked hubby. Follow her passion for Women’s Issues (which are, in fact, EVERYONE’S issues) at http://www.myfemininemind.com/