I will always love and miss my little baby, Andrew Mary, whom we have had to give back to the loving care of Jesus. This post will share about our loss, how we are honoring our baby, a conversation on miscarriage, and some resources for people dealing with miscarriage or stillbirth.
When I started bleeding this pregnancy, myself and the nurse at our birth center thought it was a subchronic hematoma like I had with Zelie. An ultrasound a few days later revealed that our baby had passed away and been miscarried at 7 weeks.
Naming Our Baby
We had already decided on the name Andrew for our first boy, and while I don’t know with absolute certainty what our baby’s gender was, I felt very distinctly from the start it was a boy- no questions in my mind, so we decided on Andrew.
For the middle name we chose Mary, as my miscarriage began on the Immaculate Conception, and I knew with certainty our baby was gone on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. With only a couple minutes of discussion we easily named our little Andrew Mary.
Honoring Our Baby
We do not have a physical place to visit as far as burying any remains that may have been left of our baby – I did not understand I was miscarrying until the process was complete because of confusing it with the bleeding complication I had experienced my last pregnancy.
I do grieve not having a place to go like my mother and sister have, but I made a keepsake box to honor our baby so I could have a physical place he is remembered.
I lined this little chest with a scrap of material from my wedding dress, something very precious to me.
Inside are dried flowers from an arrangement sent to us from Andrew’s chosen godparents, the positive pregnancy test, the little onesie I had set aside years ago as the first outfit for our first boy, and a few other mementos. (I know a few other special things are coming from friends and family that will be added when they come).
I also got a little ornament for the tree with this year on it with his name written on the back, and a little baby stocking. My mother keeps a stocking on the wall for my lost sisters and I have always loved them being remembered with the rest of us.
Another way we have honored our baby is having his name enrolled in the Shrine of the Unborn at the Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City. You can find their website and online enrollment here.
Telling Our Girls
Several people on social media were wondering if the girls knew about Andrew, and if so, how we told them.
Philomena and Zelie were well aware I was pregnant and were so very excited. When we got home from the ultrasound I sat down with them and was very honest. I told them I was so sorry, but that the baby had gone to the care of Jesus.
I expected them to become very upset, but in their childlike innocence they so easily entrusted Andrew to God’s loving care. “Oh mommy, it’s okay! The baby is playing with cousin Monica now I bet. Jesus is just holding our baby!”
Zelie did ask a couple times “That baby isn’t in your tummy now?” and I confirmed both times that the baby had gone to Jesus’ care. She would say, “oh that’s so sweet, Jesus is so sweet to love our baby.”
The girls have seen me cry some this last week, and have been so empathetic and loving. I think it’s been good for their emotional growth to see that pain and loss is real, but so is our faith and trust in God, our support system, and our healing.
My mother was always very open with us kids about my sisters whom we never got to hold, and I’m glad that my girls know of their sibling.
A Conversation About Miscarriage
There are a lot of painful things that happen on this earth which are really uncomfortable to talk about. Cancer, abuse, human trafficking, starvation, addiction, tragic accidents… there is no shortage of painful events that we are usually willing to bypass the awkwardness of in order to support those whose lives have been forever altered as a result of them.
But miscarriage is often times seen as different. Even though it affects an estimated 1 in 3 women, with as many as 25% of pregnancies ending in a tragic loss, the topic is still quite taboo.
I completely respect the privacy of others who do not wish to grieve the loss of their babies publicly. I don’t mean to in any way allude to any moral or societal obligation to disclose information about your babies that you are not wishing to share with others.
That being said, I am also unapologetic in being open about my own loss.
I believe the societal norm of avoiding this topic stems primarily from our culture being uncomfortable dealing with it. For so long almost nothing has been said about it, so people don’t know what to say. Acknowledging someone who is suffering from this loss is hard. But you know what, a lot of things in this life are hard. We can do hard things.
We shouldn’t feel that we can’t or shouldn’t say something about losing a baby because others may have a hard time responding. The people that really love me and my family would rather be there to comfort and pray for us, than not know of our pain at all.
I have had probably 10 women message me since I shared our miscarriage, saying that they wish they’d just told people. They felt they weren’t supposed to because it just isn’t often done, and that it kept them from really processing and grieving.
Being open that our baby passed away has lead to so much love and support. Countless prayers and Rosaries have been offered for our family. We’ve been touched by cards, flowers, sympathetic ears, and prepared meals. I don’t know what I would have done without the love and support we have received, and it has been incredibly healing for me.
I received so many beautiful messages that comforted me. From one about just being open and saying yes to God in creating this life was all He was asking of us, to another on how losing a baby during Advent is so similar to walking with Our Lady – she was rejoicing in His birth, while knowing that He would also be taken from her. She experienced joy and sorrow together, just as we did this Advent.
Perhaps one that spoke the most to me was from my maid of honor. She told me that Andrew was loved and KNOWN. And I am just so grateful for that, that my baby is known.
If you do not feel that grieving privately is the best way for you to process this loss, you are not alone. Please reach out to me, to your loved ones, your priest, your friends. Don’t feel as though you need to walk this road in silence if that is not best for you.
The following are a few resources that may be helpful to you if you are experiencing or have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth:
- Mary Haseltine’s book “Made for This: The Catholic Mom’s Guide to Birth” found here on Amazon has a beautiful chapter on miscarriage that is both informative and healing. She gently lists all of the physical and medical considerations of miscarriage at different stages, ways to honor your baby, and other resources.
- I have not yet read these, but multiple people have suggested “Grieving Together” and “After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman’s Companion to Healing and Hope” as wonderful Catholic resources for those struggling after loss.
- My Catholic Doctor has assembled a whole page of resources for miscarriage and stillbirth.
- Elizabeth Ministry International has little burial kits if that is applicable to you that are very beautiful.
- “A Call To Deeper Love” found here are a collection of letters between Saints Louie and Zelie Martin. These saints lost several children and a friend of mine recommended this book as very comforting reading of their own losses.
Please know if you have had to give one or many babies back to the care of Jesus, I am so sorry for your loss, and you truly are in my daily prayers.