Dear Joyce and Lisa,
I am still here and so very appreciative that you chose to respond. The response to this and other posts I have left on numerous Catholic websites has been overwhelming and I am struggling to keep up. Please forgive me if it seems I am not around–I am!
I am hoping to interview respondents personally within the next month either by setting up telephone conversations, or if you wish for anonymity, a web-conference.
I wanted to respond first to your request for prayers. I will certainly pray for you and your healing.
I had a really tough time too with 9 miscarriages/stillbirths. I cursed myself for putting career before starting a family, cursed my husband, cursed God. It’s been 4 1/2 years since I last miscarried and I have two beautiful girls, but I admit I still rail against God for my heartache–He is big enough to handle it you know.
Seeing another woman’s body work the way it is supposed to–watching another woman hold a child in her arms was like a dagger through my heart.
I remember once sitting in a little cafe in a Massachusetts coastal town where I lived. I was looking out the window gazing at the ocean across the street and being so heart broken I felt that I could just walk out into the sea and into oblivion and all the pain would be gone. (I’ve never told anyone this.)
I had just lost my children–twin boys at 19 weeks– and it had been particularly difficult physically. I had lost a lot of blood and had just been released from the hospital that morning. As I looked out and contemplated oblivion, while on the outside I smiled sweetly at my husband (good, strong obedient Catholic girl that I am), a much younger woman and her husband walked up on the other side of the window and parked a carriage right in front of me. They lovingly adjusted the blankets that wrapped their little bundle and then they very casually left the baby and the carriage outside in the warm spring sun and came inside to order.
It wasn’t unusual in this small quaint place to do that. The town was very safe and they were close enough to the window to easily keep an eye on the carriage, and they would just be a minute.
The panic I felt though was overwhelming. Horrible things raced through my mind, nightmarish really–an image of a monstrous ocean swell rising and crossing the street to swallow the child up, a car suddenly veering up onto the sidewalk, an animal carrying the baby off.
I looked at the couple. They were holding hands, happy and talking, and then she turned and we caught eyes and I was sure she knew. She dropped her hand from her husband’s and without a word, went to check on her child.
I was on the inside looking out as she held her bundle in her arms and talked and cooed. And I was sure she knew. I was sure she believed I was the threat, the monster, cursed and unnatural–something to keep away from her child. I was sure she knew. Some primitive maternal instinct told her there was something wrong with me–I was a curse, a jynx, a carrier of bad spirits and bad luck for children.
Of course I was projecting. Now when I look back on the scene, I believe it never happened that way at all and the woman most likely never even noticed me.
I wish my husband could have read my mind that day in the cafe. He surely would have told me that it was an illusion, that I was still beautiful in his eyes and in God’s, if not in my own. That all that God does He does through nature and nature itself can seem in our experiences so cruel and arbitrary.
Nature is cruel and arbitrary–an ocean swell that rises out of nowhere to swallow everything in its path, a car that veers the wrong way, a child that leaves us before we hold it in our arms. And yet in God’s eyes, all that occurs within His nature is a blessing and nothing is a curse.
How can that not make me angry with Him? And that’s okay, He can take my anger.
I belong to a parish in W. PA named Our Mother of Sorrows–I love that name–because I can relate to the dolours of Mary. Behind the altar is a huge mosaic of Mary with the seven daggers through her heart. Almost every woman who has ever mentioned that image to me has said she hated it, but I love it. If you look closely enough, you can see that her expression is a kind of strange, sad smile and forgive me, but to me she seems to be saying “What’s a mother to do?’
I like that idea of Mary accepting her dolours, her sorrows. Nobody ever said she was happy about what she had to face, but she accepted it…what’s a mother to do?
I like to think of that when I think of my own children who were sacrificed. I was still their mother. I loved them and nurtured them both physically and spiritually as well as any other mother for as long as God let me and I still love them today.
How are we different from any other mothers? And how are those children different from any other children?
You are a mother who grieves a child and need not be strong or stoic about it. When I am jealous of a friend or a sister who is expecting a child, I simply tell them so. An expectant mother often is most open to you talking about the child you lost because they feel their own child moving inside them and have present knowledge of what being a mother to an unborn child is like.
You are only good in God’s eyes and all your dolours, all your sorrows are worthy. I know there are daggers in your heart and do not fault you one bit for not wanting to hide them. I don’t think any mother could–after all What’s a mother to do?