I didn’t grow up in a faith-based family. I was saved at thirteen years old in a friend’s kitchen, her mom holding my hands and saying the prayer with me. It was the first time I felt God move in a way I couldn’t deny. Since that moment, I have prayed and wished that my mom believed. I’ve prayed for my sisters and parents more than anyone, but only God knows if they’ll ever have a relationship...
When we lost our second child at thirteen weeks gestation in June 2016, my mom was quick to urge me to get over it. Everyone, it seemed, just wanted me to “be happy again,” which is both essentially the same thing and really offensive when you are doing the best you can to navigate the storm that is life immediately after loss.
And when my mom told me that my baby “didn’t count because we didn’t make it to fourteen weeks, and everyone knows you’re safe after fourteen weeks” it felt like a slap to my face. My sister’s twin pregnancy - conceived the same month as another early loss for me - was well into the second trimester at this point, making it valid, while my experience was just something to be forgotten. When I got home, we didn’t really talk for months. I could not accept that we were only one week away from validation from someone so important to me. It felt like my mom was rejecting her granddaughter because it was easier not to talk about it.
I was scared to make too much a fuss over her New Year’s Eve due date so my husband and I memorialized it by crying in each other’s arms. It got easier to heal once we had passed that marker; as if my body could finally accept that she would not be coming home with us. Time moved on, and sometimes it felt as if it moved on without me. We passed out a dozen roses in her memory - one for every month without her - on the first and second anniversary of her passing. Our aim, to bring joy to those we prayed for and gave them to, because we know she would have been such a bright and joyful child.
To my surprise, my mom had something kind to say on my Facebook post about the second anniversary of our loss. I expected, if anything, to hear that we shouldn’t harp on it, should let it go, or something of that nature. I was very thankful for her kind words.
Yesterday, on a mild day, thousands of miles away from where I live, my parents sent up a paper lantern in memory of our girl. And when she when she sent me the video tears of joy and acceptance streamed down my face. To think that dozens of people in the area, celebrating the 4th (a day early because they have real fireworks out there) would see the lantern, warmed my heart. It was like that last piece of hurt, of feeling like my child didn’t belong in my family and therefore I didn’t belong and didn’t want to belong was healed. She told me she would have done it on the day of the anniversary, a little less than two weeks ago, but it was too windy, meaning she had really thought of her that day too.
And so, to my mom as her daughter I say, thank you. Thank you so much for acknowledging our girl. Now, as a mother speaking to my mother, I want you to know that we don’t remember her to hurt ourselves. Memorializing the baby that we lost doesn’t hurt us. Saying her name or her nickname doesn’t hurt us. Pretending she was never here, pretending that losing her didn’t change me, my marriage, who I am as a daughter and mother hurts me. She was here. She will always matter to me, to us. I don’t have to try to remember or count the years, my heart will always know how old she could have been, had she been born when she should have. There is sin in this world, so there is death, but there is also so much hope and we hold firm to God’s promises.
And so it is again the 4th of July. Two years ago I sat on the ground and held my son and cried while watching the sparks fly up from our sparklers, wishing our girl was still with us. Last year I was pregnant with a brand new baby, scared and anxious and praying daily that we could bring this one home. Tonight, I will hold that little girl, my youngest daughter and the littlest sister and probably cry tears of joy, with a thankful heart for how far we've come.
If you are a loss parent, I am so sorry. I know all too well that holidays can be a very difficult time, and today I hope you give yourself grace to be exactly where you are in your journey towards healing. It may mean forgoing family BBQs, fireworks displays or maybe lighting off a series just for that loved on lost. For those who might be friends or family members with those who have experienced a loss, please recognize their children gone too soon. I am often without adequate words to speak when someone besides my husband and myself recognizes all of our children, those here and those waiting for us in Heaven.
May God bless you greatly,
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida could become the first state to issue what's essentially a birth certificate for women who've had miscarriages under a bill the Legislature sent to Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday.
The Grieving Families Act would give parents the option of receiving a state-issued certificate if a pregnancy is lost between nine weeks and 20 weeks of gestation.
"The parent can name the child if they have a gender or they can just name it Baby Smith," said Republican Rep. Bob Cortes, the bill's House sponsor. "It doesn't matter whether you're a Republican or Democrat, somebody in life has been touched through a miscarriage and they understand how important this is as part of the grieving process."
The Senate passed the bill unanimously Thursday, three weeks after the House passed it on a 115-1 vote. The bill was worded in a way to ensure it wouldn't spark a partisan argument over whether the state was trying to define life...Read More
I always loved attending Sunday Mass. As a child, just because my family would go together, as a young adult, because I was going on my own. As I married and had children, I actually began the study of my Catholic faith. For the first time, at 33 years old, I went to Mass to experience Eucharistic enrichment. I went to Mass to feel community. I went to hear the Scriptures. I went to be in communion with My Savior himself, and I grew in my faith exponentially. As a Mother, training my six living children to understand the Mass, I grow still. Remembering the postures of the Mass are all significant. Teaching them how the church puts all the Bible readings in the Missal, so we can enjoy without toggling back and forth from Old Testament to Psalms, to New Testament, then the Gospel. It's all beautiful and complete with its sacred reverence and feeling of supreme importance in our busy lives.
But now, since I've miscarried my precious Noah, Mass has greater gift for me.
The Church has always taught, and maybe this was just an oversight on my behalf, that the "Whole Church" comes to the consecration of the Lamb. Whole church meaning the three parts of our church. The "Church Militant", that's us who live and fight the good fight while we are here on earth. The "Church Suffering", that is those who have died, and are being purified in purgatory. They will see our creator soon, and they are suffering the agony of waiting. And finally, the "Church Triumphant". Those are the Saints who have already received their glorious reception in the Holy Place. Heaven is theirs, and they are victorious!
Because my son, died in my womb, he was not born. Therefore, he does not have the stain of original sin. He made it! He's a Saint in Heaven! Out of all my six living children, that I will pray for, so that they can get to Heaven someday- I have tremendous comfort knowing Noah is already there.
So, when I go to Mass, and the celebrant calls on the Whole Church, the Angels and Saints to join us in our triumphant hymn of praise.... I close my eyes, and I envision my baby Noah. I see him cooing, and happy, chubby and beautiful! Today, I saw my older son Joseph, who would be 25 years old now, and he was holding his little brother. I was brought to tears. And although it pains me to think, I will not see these two son's, until I get to Heaven- I can smile through my tears. How great is Our God! He created a worship place, He summons his Church to celebrate the Memorial of His Son's death, as we rejoice in the Resurrection, week after week. And all through our lives, we get to share with the Whole Church at this most special place of purpose, we call The Mass. I never saw it this way before. But there I am with those who have gone before me: Grandma's, Grandpa's, cousin's, friend's, and all my hero's, the Saints. To console my weary heart today, I received the gift of seeing my two son's- healthy, whole, handsome, and well with God. What more can a Mom ask for?
Since Noah's death, I have a yearning to attend Mass more. Of course, Christ is the focal point. But being in communion with Him, allows me to feel my lost ones close, and to heal from the grief. Thank you Jesus!
Ohio takes a stand for Women!
“The unexpected loss of a pregnancy can be a very difficult, highly-emotional time for expectant parents,” said State Senator Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls). “SB 175 works to provide a support system for parents so they can begin the healing process, while giving them the information and tools they need to be able to make informed decisions about what to do with the fetal remains.”The Revised Code establishes requirements for death certificates and burial permits for fetal deaths. Prior law in Ohio defined "fetal death" as a "death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of human conception of at least twenty weeks of gestation, which after such expulsion or extraction does not breathe or show any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles." A fetal death certificate must be issued by the local registrar...Read More
My husband Onan and I are high-school sweethearts. We met in seventh grade and started dating at 16. We married when we were 22. After a hard time conceiving and using fertility drugs we had our first baby in the summer of 2000. The most beautiful baby I had ever seen was our son Luke.
We were so excited when on 9/28/01 and we found out we were expecting again. I never even considered we would have trouble even when the doctor told me he didn’t see a heartbeat I went home and thought must just be too early. It wasn’t until I started to bleed that it sunk in the baby was already gone. I tried to do it on my own at home. And I so wish I could have succeeded in that. I ended up at the hospital having an emergency D&C because there was just too much bleeding. I remember laying there waiting to go into surgery and thinking I want to take my baby home but if I ask they will think I have lost my mind. The doctor had already told me there was nothing that resembled a baby that early. So I went in and then went home. That’s all there was to that. I was really surprised by a few people who went out of their way to do something nice for us but I was even more surprised by the many people who avoided bringing it up. I didn’t think I would ever stop crying. But I had a son to take care of and that what I did.
On 4/16/03 we found out we were expecting again. I tried so hard not to even think about the horrible miscarriage we had and just know this was a new pregnancy. I again found myself in the ER bleeding very badly I knew the baby was gone the doctor said we would need another D&C. But when the doctor did the sonogram he said I am not sure why but there is a heartbeat. He asked us some questions and told us he thought we had lost a twin but do to the amount of bleeding if we wanted to go ahead with the D&C anyway that would be fine because the baby probably wouldn’t make it anyway. My husband and I both said NO. We are going home. I was so shocked he even asked. I thought for sure we had been given a miracle and was so happy even though I was sad we had lost one twin.
We were blessed to have our little miracle four more weeks and then God called that baby home too. I have to say if my husband and his family had not been so grounded I would have left the church. My faith in everything was shaken to the core. It felt like even fewer people felt our pain and it was so real and so raw. I was done trying and couldn’t even think about going through that again. We went a new direction and looked into adoption after some research we met with Infants of Prague we were in the planning stages saving money learning what we would have to do, when I found out I was pregnant again.
It was confusing I thought I was moving on why again? I was happy just very cautious. Our doctor told us to try progesterone to keep the baby. It worked and we were truly blessed by the most beautiful and healthy baby girl. She has the two biggest dimples you have ever seen. So life was good. And just like it should be two years after her came another baby. I was in the ER again and they didn’t know why after surgery I woke up and they told me it was an ovarian cyst and I thought the for sure the baby was gone but the said everything was still ok. I thought I would go home and miscarry but we were blessed with another beautiful little girl.Then four years went by before we had our third beautiful little girl.
By now my Catholic faith was really starting to grow. I knew I was bless and thought I had overcome my pain from the losses we had experienced. My girlfriend Lisa and I were talking one day in September of 2012 we wanted to start a prolife ministry in our parish. We thought we knew what we wanted to do but we had the hardest time getting it off the ground. We met for lunch one day to talk about it and ended up sharing miscarriage stories. I told her my three experiences and she shared her sister’s story with me. I sat there listening and could not believe the differences. It was the same diocese and same time frame but we were both treated completely different. Our ministry was born that day as we both felt we needed to do something to send the message that the Catholic Church is prolife in every aspect every time.Lisa’s sister had the strength to ask for her babies remains. The funeral home released the ashes to her. Her priest drove about 45 miles to hold a service and the babies remains were placed under her grandmothers grave. I felt so much remorse that I hadn’t protected my tiny babies I cried the whole drive home that day and decided I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through that. If only I had known I had that right. So we started to research and through my search I found the Embrace Ministry. It was started by Nichole Hartman. We contacted her and could not believe all that we had in common. Nichole encouraged me to name our babies. It was hard but we let our children help us. Angelina, Gabriel, and Jonah became a part of our daily life. My children often talk about their siblings in heaven and that they will see them one day. To have a personal connection to heaven will help them their whole lives. And I am very glad my children know a baby is a person not just a blob of tissue. That is the prolife message all our young people need to hear. We were very excited to be the second charter of their ministry.
We held our first event in December, ornament making. In my mind I thought I would help so many people that night but it ended up only one family came. God knows what we need. That family was the Baldwins. We would come to learn so much more from them.Scott and Kristina had lost their son Easton in February. They brought their two living sons to decorate ornaments for their tree that year. Easton was born premature and only lived three days. That little boy has accomplished more in that three days than most people do in their entire lives. He brought his father into the church and his family closer to God. He also influenced our ministry to grow much stronger.
Kristina joined Lisa and I in working towards our first Embrace Memorial and Healing Mass in May near Mother’s Day. I was so touched by the people who came to the mass. There were people who had been hurting for 50+ years who came for some healing. I think hearing your babies name read in the Church is one of the most beautiful sounds. As we went forward to light our three candles I knew I would see my babies again someday.
Our next event is the Embrace Remembrance and Healing Walk in October for Infant Loss Remembrance Day. We walk from our church St. Brigids to Immaculate Heart of Mary just 1.5 miles away. There Father Lastri has given use a piece of land for our Garden of Life. There we place tiles made by each family for thier baby and place them around the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. We were t-shirts that can be personalized to remember babies. We also release butterflies in the garden.
In 2016 we lost another baby Leal Jack and through losing him at home with help from Lisa, Ann Marie, and Dr. Golez we were able to bury him at St. Peter's cemetery in Fresno. The process of having a service and a resting place for Leah brought our family much peace. Embrace uses its funds to give any family who has a loss a small casket so they can bury their baby with dignity.
We hope to add one more event next year sometime that will be a retreat in Three Rivers. I know there are many people hurting who would love to just take a few days and think about what has happened and how to move on not by trying to forget but by remembering their babies throughout the rest of their lives.
-Sara & Onan Champi
Editor’s note: For so many mothers and women, the annual celebration of Mother’s Day is a time filled with grief and pain. For families who have lost a child to miscarriage, still birth or infant death, a new and very special ministry has been formed to support and encourage healing and renewal. I’m pleased to share the following article by Embrace Ministry co-founder Sara Champi...Read More