Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Miscarriage

--DISCLAIMER--I share the following words with love, after prayer; however, my words are not grounded in scripture, which--so far as I know--does not specifically address the topic of miscarriage.  If you find my offering contradictory to your belief system or offensive in any way, I ask that you extend grace, also the benefit of any doubt: I mean only to help with my words, never ever to hurt.

I don't care for the term "miscarriage" but find myself using it, here, because I don't know of--and can't find--a better or more recognizable term for the loss of an unborn child.  Until this evening, I knew nothing of the etymology of the word and found myself wondering: did the word develop its current connotation based upon "miscarriage of justice?"  Because I could imagine how that might happen: how a woman might refer to the loss of her unborn child as a miscarriage of justice and come, over time, to refer to her loss as, simply, a miscarriage. 

Then I thought: maybe a woman--having suffered the loss of her unborn child--developed the term based upon her miss of carriage: her missing of carrying her child.

As it turns out, "miscarriage of justice" grew out of that other, sad, meaning.  And my "missing carrying" theory?  Nothing but sympathetic musing.  Note my word choice: sympathetic, not empathetic.  I have never miscarried and will not pretend to fully comprehend the suffering involved; however, some of my closest friends have miscarried, and my heart has ached for them.  I have prayed for them.  I have said, on many occasions (and for reasons besides miscarriage): one day I'm going to ask God to explain the distribution of children.

I would imagine that you, reading this, have either suffered a miscarriage or know and love someone who has.  According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage" (American Pregnancy Association).  So I want to share with you some new (to me) thoughts that I find healing, in the realm of miscarriage.  I pray that you, too, will find them healing. 

In early July, I picked up a book at a Good Will called Expectations: 30 Women Talk about Becoming a Mother.  It caught my attention because of its beautiful cover photo, and--since it's a hardback in excellent condition--I was happy to pay a dollar or two to take it with me.  Turns out, the book's thirteen years old (much older than it appears), and I had to laugh at some of the fashion, references, etc; still, motherhood is timeless in so many respects, and I loved reading the interviews with all (and I do mean all) kinds of mothers.

But my favorite interview is with Maria Xochitl Martinez, who worked with agencies for six years before adopting a daughter at birth. She talks about the challenges (internal and external) of such a long wait, and it cracked my heart open to read: she kept a candle burning the entire six years.  She talks about sitting in the nursery (ready for the last four years of her wait), imagining holding her child, trying to picture her baby's face, and singing the lullaby her mother sang to her.  And just when I thought I couldn't be more undone, she says this:

"I talked to my child every day, because I believe that we choose our parents, and I wanted to find out why she wasn't coming to me" (emphasis mine).

Now, I'd heard people suggest that God pairs children with their mothers, and I'd often wondered: if that's truly the case, how does His logic work?  But I'd never before heard anyone suggest that children might choose their mothers.  Toward the end of the interview, Martinez adds: "I don't feel like the lesson of waiting, or the reason that I didn't get [my daughter] Paloma until now, is my lesson.  I think it may have something to do with Paloma.  Maybe she wasn't ready.  Maybe she had other journeys to make."

And look: I realize full well that I'm opening a can of worms...that a million more questions accompany this possible, and very problematic answer.

 But...what if?

Wouldn't it make sense of some of what--from our human perspective--appears so nonsensical, at times, regarding the distribution of children?  (That little humans make these calls, and not God?)

And let me just say: if you've ever suffered a miscarriage, I'm choosing to believe this.  I choose to believe this!  Your baby in heaven loves you so much that--even if (s)he couldn't live on the outside of your womb, even if (s)he only had a few days or weeks or months of beating heart--that beating heart chose YOU as mother, and that soul loves you entirely, still, from his or her home, in heaven.   

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