Echoes of a Stilled Heart

So I found out that an Orthodox blogger I occasionally read had her second miscarriage in a year last week. (Blessings on you, Matushka Anna.) After reading about the happenings of the past few days, I read through some posts on baby she lost earlier in the year, whom they named Innocent. I was surprised to find out that she had not had a D & C but opted to miscarry naturally (after going to the doctor and there being no heartbeat – just like what happened to me) and was able to keep the body and bury it. She even had a photo of her tiny baby.

And I am here again, where I was about a year ago actually. Thinking about the baby I lost at 10 weeks pregnant back in 2004. Is it the winter blues, or the weather? Is the fact that my due date for that baby was supposed to be December 1?

I am sad, angry. They didn’t even let me see the screen when they did the ultrasound. I heard the doctor say something to the technician about “nine weeks” but she never actually said it to me. Did my baby actually die at nine weeks and I’d carried it around dead for a week? Her words were cold to me. Common with first pregnancies. The body’s way of taking care of something wrong. God’s way of taking care of it.

I don’t remember being told that I had an option other than a D & C. I probably was told so, but encouraged to do the procedure. I was never told that the surgery would suck the baby out, most likely tearing it apart. I was never told that I had the option of keeping the body.

(I wasn’t Orthodox yet and did not understand about the sacredness of the body.)

I cried that day at the doctor’s office, and a little when I got home, and I cried the next morning right before going in for surgery. And then I didn’t. Cry, that is. I was done. It was normal. Nothing to worry about. It was just tissue. I hadn’t gained weight. My body hadn’t changed. I hadn’t had morning sickness. Nothing really seemed different. I know it was the beginning of May, but I don’t even remember the specific date anymore. By the end of June I was pregnant with Madeleine and that baby was almost forgotten.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with Ephraim in 2006 that I cried for my lost baby again. At 10 weeks I had an ultrasound because they couldn’t find the heartbeat with the Doppler. It was so amazing. I had had an ultrasound at 6 weeks, and at that point he was just a little blob on the screen, but I could see and hear his heartbeat. But but 10 weeks, I could tell it was a baby! I could see the head, the body, see the limbs moving. Not as clear as a 20 week ultrasound, but still, very obvious that it was a baby! And then it hit me: this is the age of the baby I lost.

I don’t have an ultrasound picture. I don’t know if it was a boy or a girl. I don’t know where the body went. I never picked a name. I secretly think of it as Seraphim. I’ve always thought Seraphim is a lovely name, though personally it sounds more girly to me even though in Orthodoxy it’s a male name. I’ve always loved Sarah, too, and Seraphim incorporates both that name, the name of a saint, and the name of a type of angel. It also makes me think of Father Seraphim, a priest at our church who passed away early this year. Is he there, and has he held my child?

There is a poem. It’s not enough, but there it is.

Miscarriage

When the doctor’s visit is over the husband

whispers and you know something

has been lost. There was a moment

heart startled and released

the hushed sound that marks a grief. A grave

is not needed for this. But a mother

wants a place for her child. That echo

coats branches like a light snow

tapping all the way down your window.

Stroke, stroke of the hawk’s

wings far above. When the beating

stops, a prayer billows up.

The mother, the only one

who came close to the baby,

lets go of silence.

– Karissa Knox Sorrell, published in San Pedro River Review, Vol 3 No 1 Spring 2011

** Sorry for being so dreary in this post. Thanks for understanding.


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3 comments

  1. Mat. Anna says:

    Karissa,

    I’m so sorry you lost your little baby. Medical staff can be so, so cruel. It’s truly a criminal act that women are forced into D&Cs without time to think, without information, without the offer of their children’s remains. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. You did the best you could with what you were given – forgive yourself. God forgives. If I had not had such a nasty stubborn streak I would have been right where you were.

    Feel free to name your child. There is no statute of limitations! Seraphim is a lovely name if you choose to use it. May his (or her) memory be eternal! You will see and hold your precious baby again one day. And I’m sure Fr. Seraphim is happy to look after him in the meantime. This life is less than the blink of an eye to those in the presence of God.

    (((hugs)))

    Mat. Anna

  2. Jean says:

    I am just now reading this post. I am so sorry. There are no words. There is sadness and anger. There is knowledge that Seraphim is in God’s arms in Heaven, and we will one day spend eternity with this precious child. But on this day we weep, we mourn, and we so wish Seraphim was here to take his/her place at our Christmas table. All we have is our love for this child who is both God’s child and our child. Love is indeed stronger than death. Not even death can diminish our love for Seraphim. I love you, Mom.

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