I've always had great empathy for couples going through infertility and miscarriage, although I'd had no firsthand experience with either. I had three kids in three years, so it's safe to say, I had no problems with fertility. I'm a very family person and I always wished to have children of my own.
I knew I wanted to get married ever since I was a little girl. And I always knew I wanted to be a mother and have a big family. But my motherhood journey didn't turn out like I expected it to. All three of my children, now 7, 6, and 4 years old, have disabilities.
My husband and I took the discernment to not have anymore children pretty seriously. While we longed for more, our family life was just different and hard compared to typical families. We decided two years ago, along with God, that our family was complete. Although in my heart, I knew there was a tiny chance we could possibly have another baby one day. Maybe when everyone is potty trained? Possibly when everyone can eat by mouth? Maybe when nobody is in therapy anymore? None of those things have been accomplished.
This past June, I got pregnant with our fourth child. The pregnancy was not planned. We were scared at first, but that fear quickly turned to happiness and excitement. I felt like God was making a way for us to add another person to our family. My heart was right.
We didn't tell anyone, not even our kids. We were waiting for some events to pass before sharing the big news. But at my 16-week appointment, the ultrasound showed there was no heartbeat. I was absolutely devastated. There was no history of miscarriage in my family. I never thought this would happen to me.
Besides sadness, the biggest emotion I felt was confusion. Why did this happen? What is God trying to tell us? We thought He wanted this for us. This was something we discerned two years prior. We weren't planning on having another baby, but then we were excited, and then it was taken away from us. What does this all mean? Is this supposed to give us confidence to actively try?
When I called my husband to tell him the news, he immediately came home from work. He gave me the biggest embrace I've ever received from him. My husband is a foot taller than me, so I just sank into this giant bear hug. My first thought was, "This must be what it's like to be hugged by Jesus." I was wondering where He was in all of this. But He was right there, hugging me and giving me comfort, through my husband.
I delivered our baby boy two days later. We got to hold his perfect little body. He had two arms and hands with 10 fingers, and two legs and feet with 10 toes. Head, eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. He was a perfect little human. We named him Michael Robert after my husband and my dads.
When we decided to tell our kids, we had no idea how they would react. We didn't know if they would understand what we were telling them. We actually weren't sure we would tell them at all. But after meeting with our priest, he told us our children deserved to know they had a sibling. They could learn to pray for and to their brother and he could intercede for them. We also wanted them to know why we had been so upset lately. Our middle child, Daniel, kept asking me if I was going back to the hospital.
We sat them down at the table. We didn't say anything about death, but told them we were going to have a baby, but he is now in heaven. There was a baby in my tummy, but now he is with Jesus.
Daniel has autism, but is a very empathetic person. He said, "awww," with sadness in his eyes. Then he said, "I have three brothers" (he meant to say siblings), and pointed to his siblings across the table saying, 1, 2, and then pointed up to heaven and said 3.
It was the most perfect and appropriate reaction from him. The fact that he understood what we said and reacted with sadness, then pointed to each of siblings and even upward was amazing. We couldn't have asked for a better reaction from him. His older brother Nicholas and younger sister Grace didn't know what we were saying. Maybe when they're older.
Our loss just happened a month ago, so it's still pretty fresh. The burial of our baby did bring me comfort. It was a community burial with other families who had just experienced a loss as well. There wasn't a full Mass, just a short service.
The Deacon who did the service was the husband of one of our respite providers. I did not know he was doing the service. In his homily, he reminded us how we'll see our little ones in heaven one day, although they won't be babies in heaven. They will still be young and they will recognize us. He emphasized that we're trying to get each other to heaven, and we have to help our spouses get there.
He told us we know people are young in heaven because Mother Mary has showed us this. When she died she was old, but when she makes her appearances here, she's young. I found that comforting.
A priest from a church we used to attend did the blessing at the actual burial site. This is a priest we know and he's the one I met with when I started my special needs support group for parents at that church. He was there with another family, but they asked him to do the blessing. That was very special for us.
To have those two men there brought us comfort in a hard time. I don't always feel God's presence, but then He does things like bringing us those two people and receiving His embrace through my husband, and I know He's truly there for me. I received a little bit of peace that day.
We have no idea how we'll move forward from this. We are more confused than ever. It was hard enough two years ago discerning whether we should have more children or not. I know that we just need to trust God and His plan for us. Maybe two years ago He wasn't saying "no" forever, but possibly "not right now." I have hope that whatever happens is the best thing for our family. For now, I'm moving forward in faith, and with hope knowing that whatever happens, He will always be there.
Kate lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. You can read her writing at her blog This Special Journey.