Thursday, July 14, 2011

Due Date

Last week would have been the due date of the baby I miscarried in December.

I'd heard from other women who'd had miscarriages that passing the lost baby's due date was hard, but I didn't realize quite how hard.

I thought that because I already had a new little life growing, thriving, and kicking inside of me that I wouldn't even care. But I did... deeply.

In the quiet moments of the past week I've found myself wondering what it would feel like to be holding my week old baby in my arms. Thinking about it makes my heart ache and I feel the painful gap, that I thought I had gotten over, throb open.

Don't get me wrong. I actually feel a lot of peace about the whole situation. I trust that God understands and sees things that I can not. He is in perfect control of the universe and it is He and He alone who is in charge of when children enter this world.

I trust that with my whole heart.

Yet, the hardest part of the last week has been not knowing for sure what happened to my baby. Since we don't have any clear revelation about when life enters the body or when the spirit and the body become inseparably connected I don't know if the baby I miscarried is still waiting up in heaven for his turn to come to earth or if the body I already created for him "counted" as his mortal experience. It seems so strange to me that God wouldn't have made such an important fact, as when human life really begins, more clear.

As I've read women's stories for our book, The Gift of Giving Life, I've seen that lots of women have different perspectives on miscarriages and what happens to the baby. Some women feel certain that the baby they miscarried, even if it was as early as 5 or 6 weeks, is still their baby and that those few weeks were all the mortal experience it needed. Other women wrote that they felt like the baby they had miscarried had chosen not to accept the body that was forming (perhaps because of birth defects) but would come back to them later as one of their other children or even a grandchild. And hands down, all the women who had had stillborn babies or babies born after 20 weeks wrote that they knew for certain that their baby was waiting for them in the next life.

As I've been reading these women stories my own heart started to ache a little bit. Where does my 12 week miscarried baby fit in? As I prayed after my miscarriage I felt a lot of peace and had the spirit whisper to me that for some reason this baby just wasn't ready to come to earth, but that I would see him again. I just assumed that meant that God would send him back to me, in the form of another child. Yet the last few weeks I've been wondering if perhaps I understood wrong; that perhaps the tiny little body I created for that baby was all he really needed and that someday when I die I will have a perfect, Celestial little son waiting to meet me.

The truth is I don't know, one way or the other, and it is hard.

My baby never took a breath, but then again neither do stillborn babies and yet we still consider them to have been "alive" and comfort mothers by telling them that they will have their baby in heaven.

I never felt my baby move, but he was moving and his heart was beating for several weeks. How is that possible if there wasn't a spirit attached to that body?

I didn't know the gender of my baby but in a priesthood blessing my husband gave me I was told it was a boy. Does that some how make him more "real" or does it just mean that maybe this little baby I am carrying now is the boy who should have come to me before?

I know these are hard, and even impossible, questions to answer but my heart can't help but ask them. I am struggling to understand these things and I would love to hear thoughts or ideas from other women who have had miscarriages or lost babies.

What do you think? When do the spirit and the body become united and when does a baby's body "count" as its mortal experience?

39 comments:

  1. What a tender post--brings back lots of memories of my 3 miscarriages. Ever since then, I suggest that close friends and family members mark the due date of a miscarriage on their calendar to send flowers or a note all those months later, on a day no one but the mother remembers so sadly.
    I felt like my first two miscarriages (at 8 and 11 weeks) were not ready to come to earth, and possibly came as my later children, but I felt like my 14 week one, whom I delivered and held, had a body and a spirit and his earthly moment. I would love to know more someday...
    Thanks for the tears and the memories today!

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  2. Thank you for this post. My miscarried would have turned two this month, and even though I have since had another baby (and am expecting another in August!) I still think about her a lot. I didn't realize until my miscarriage that there was no revelation concerning lost babes, and it was uncomfortable for me to not know what that meant for our family. I still feel confusion when I ponder this topic, but I have faith that all will be made whole, and we will feel no sense of loss. I love Anita's suggestion to remember with the mother - it is hard sometimes for others to remember baby when they were never seen, and there was no funeral. What a sweet idea!

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  3. One of the sweetest acts of service ever given to me was from my sister-in-law who dropped off a big bag of chocolates with a note saying, "Thinking of You Today" on the due date of my first miscarried baby. It was truly an unexpected but much needed lift.

    My two miscarriages were at 8 weeks and 11 weeks. I don't know the answers to your questions. And though I've asked them myself for me the answer I've been given has just been, "All will be made whole and right in the end. You need to have faith." I've been at peace with that.

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  4. I had a very, very, early miscarriage, betwen 4 anda 5 weeks. I just know because I was under fertility treatments. I always though, since the moment that happened, that it was a Celestial Messenger came down to tell me that my baby is soon to be with me. And five months later I was pregnant whit my now almost two precious baby boy...

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  5. I understand your pain. Lost three to miscarriage and one to an accident. The last miscarriage was my last chance after 14 years of trying to have more. Our little girl was nine. But we get to raise all the little spirits and lost children if we are faithful. He is not gone, just delayed.

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  6. I've miscarried several babies and I too have always felt sadness around the time I would have given birth to that special child.

    I think the hardest miscarriage though was the identical twin sister of my now 5 year old daughter. I lost her at 12 weeks. Everytime my 5 year old does something new (when she learned to walk, when she started school etc) I think about how there should have been two little girls doing that great event. My heart aches for her twin at birthdays. I think when my 5 year old is baptized I will feel like I feel the loss of her presence. I think it will happen when she graduates, gets married etc. My heart will always ache for her, notice the absence of her presence.

    I think the pain is compounded by the fact that I know exactly what the little girl that I miscarried would have looked like....because I stare into her face every day in the twin that did survive. Most people never know what the miscarried baby looked like or even the gender of the baby. But because I have one of the twins I do know and it makes it even more sad to see what I am missing.

    When I see people with twins I feel jealous because I didn't get the opportunity to raise my set of twins. My 5 year old often talks about her "samie" sister like she knows her. That breaks my heart.

    What is the answer? I don't know. But I do know that a Mother's heart holds every sorrow, every loss, every joy and every beautiful moment. It will all work out for good in the end.

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  7. I don't have any answers, but I love you.

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  8. Heather,

    What a beautiful post and I want you to know that I completely empathise. I lost my first baby through miscarriage over 15 years ago and I went through similar feelings, emotions and thoughts that you have. I too did not know the gender of my baby but through two very vivid dreams I knew he was a boy. I saw him both times at the age he was supposed to be at. Though time has eased the pain I felt then, I still think of how old he would be now, what he would be like and who he might have been.

    Though I have no solid answers, I have a personal testimony that though we don't know exactly when the spirit meets the body there is an answer we will know someday. What I received a personal confirmation of was that this little boy will come to me at some point. Not in this life, but in the next. I miscarried at 11.5 weeks. No, I don't know, but you can receive comfort from the spirit that your baby, who you are blessed to know the gender of though you couldn't physically know, is your child and all I can say is that I believe he will be with you again. Each child is precious and I believe these spirits choose to come to our families. All I can say are my own impressions and feelings, but I have received the strong personal inspiration that we aren't left comfortless and we don't lose these babies indefinitely. I really believe this.

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  9. First off, let me tell you how much I LOVE your blog and the personal mission you have, to teach us all! I have been the mother of 22 children total...all through the miracle of foster care and adoption. (We have adopted 5 children, and will soon be adopting a 6th baby who isn't born yet.) I have always felt very blessed that even through all of the fertility issue both myself and my hubby has been through, we've never experienced a miscarriage. I've never been pregnant. I've always known that I wouldn't become pregnant. I have always felt that the spirit enters the body, at conception. Of course we can never really know for sure, but I have thought so, because the spirit is the blueprint of the body. Plus, I have always felt that babies have such varying personalities in the womb, and if they were just "bodies" how could they be so different?! Anyway...I do believe that Heavenly Father knows all. He will make everything right, in His own time. May He continue to bless you, through the whisperings of the spirit, to know with surety, the whereabouts of that precious spirit. I KNOW He can do this for you! Keep the faith! :0)

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  10. First, *big hugs* - for your heart, and for your invaluable efforts with this blog, and for sharing so openly things that are difficult to share.

    Second, to "answer" the questions you pose, I think it can vary, which may be part of why we haven't received specific revelation about when life starts, and why it sometimes ends before birth. I didn't feel like my first miscarriage (6 wks) was actually a "baby," (although I did mourn the loss); but I had the distinct impression that the second one (10/11 wks, well past that first heartbeat) was... I still wonder why that experience happened quite that way. It was considerably more difficult, and yes, marking his (I felt like that baby was a boy) due date was really rough, especially when other people had babies right around that time. Hubby and I have different ideas as to whether that was all the mortal experience he needed, though, and it's an interesting thing for us to discuss on occasion.

    As odd as it might sound, I kind of like the idea that maybe the spirit chose not to accept that particular body (even if it's simply a matter of timing), and would later accept a different one. Can mortal DNA maybe make a body too different from a spirit body for that spirit to work with? It's an interesting idea... and I'd never considered that the child's spirit might have the option to accept or reject a particular mortal body.

    I think our varied experiences and emotions and impressions are a testimony to the Lord's amazing ability to meet us where we are, and comfort us there. Additionally, I really *do* think that when life begins and ends, and why, can vary immensely; that's what makes sense in my mind at this time for why we don't have an all-purpose "Rule of Life."

    That said, it doesn't really make having that lack of definition any easier, especially for us who feel these losses and don't have any concrete answer, either way. I would hold to what your heart heard at that time, keeping in mind (if things don't seem to work quite as you anticipate in the future), that promises can be fulfilled even in ways different than we initially think.

    Peaceful hugs and prayers your way...

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  11. I recently discovered your blog.

    I think it may be different for each individual spirit/baby. which would explain why we have no clear revelation on it.

    I think it's also possible that perhaps the spirit chose not to accept that body, or something went wrong with the body that wasn't apart of that spirit's mission. Or maybe, the timing is wrong.
    I also think it is possible that sometimes babies pick us, and other times, they accept a calling to be ours.

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    1. I like the thought about choosing or accepting a call - neat way to think about it.

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  12. I don't' think I have any right to respond. I have never been pregnant. I have friends who have lost babies and they say "they all count".

    I also have another friend who comes from a family of 10 kids. Her mother had spiritual experiences about each baby as she was pregnant and on one she felt that this spirit was an aborted baby and this was his second chance at coming to earth. The funny thing is, is that this person looks the least like any of them and his personality is least like any of them. I know there is a woman out there who is collecting these pre-birth experiences with babies. I just can't remember who.

    I'm sorry for your loss, for any woman's loss or inability to have a child in their own womb. But I rejoice with those who can and do. It is a blessing beyond measure.

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    1. That's an incredible experience with the possibly aborted baby. I never thought of the possibility of us getting someone else's rejected child. God works in mysterious ways.

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  14. In Psalms 139 it says: 13 For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother's womb. & 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. - Psalms 139:13,15-16

    And after David's child died after childbirth he wrote:
    23 But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” - 2 Samuel 12:23

    And perhaps the best scripture for those of us who have experienced miscarriages:
    5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; - Jeremiah 1:5

    I have lost two babies to miscarriage. What these verses say to me as well as what I have learned from my pastor is we are known and made before we are even formed. I believe if there is a life present for any amount of time, a body, a fetus then there is a spirit. I agree with a previous comment who said it is at conception we are knit. Why would God knit love into our hearts for an empty vessel? He knows all, why would He allow love to flow into our hearts for a body that lacked a spirit for any amount of time? God is always in control and often He allows things to happen to us that are very painful, but they are for our ultimate good and that is why He allows it. How can losing a baby be for our ultimate good? Only He knows that answer as His thoughts are above ours, but I can say that I truly believe every single soul has a purpose whether or not he or she ever makes it out of the womb. Our God is so good and He brings good out of all things.

    After my two babies passed away in my womb, I learned to let go of a little more need for control. I gave it to Him. I relaxed and decided to be content with whatever life I would have. With or without a child to raise. Six months after losing my second baby in utero, I was at peace with conception not being in my hands. Right after that I got pregnant again, this time I carried the baby to full term! I know that our babies effected us, changed us, have a purpose. I live with that purpose and so does my husband. It was to change us. Ourtwo babies I lost in miscarriage also have a purpose in my daughter, Sarah's, life. I am sure that we love her with great appreciation like we do because of our loses. Our babies have a purpose, God doesn't make mistakes.

    My first baby would have been five this year. I miss him/her... I miss the opportunity to raise him/her, but I trust God allowed it for my ultimate good...and theirs. I am filled with expectation when I think of seeing them someday. I hope I can hold them as babies...at least once. However, I know I will always hold them in my heart and I am sure their lives have purpose.

    God bless you and may God comfort your heart with peace over this.

    Laura,

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  15. I tend to think that it varies, depending on the circumstance and the particular spirit. I think that sometimes women can and do receive revelation about the circumstances surrounding their pregnancy loss, and sometimes they are left to wonder and rely on faith. In any case, pregnancy loss is difficult no matter when it occurs. Lots of love to you!

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  16. such a tender post! Thank you for sharing.

    My dear sweet mother (who passed away suddenly 2 years ago on July 12th), lost 2 babies before I was born. I remember days before my mom passed away she told me she would give anything to go back in time to hold them. I guess it was not customary to hold the miscarried babies after delivery like it can be today.

    Anyway, the biggest question she had, and that I have now is this:
    My parents were not sealed at the time of the miscarriage. In fact, my dad didn't join the church until I was about 6 months old (we were eventually sealed when I was 2). Those babies can not be sealed through proxy to my family because they are miscarriages, but yet because they would not have been born in the covenant, it always confused/concerned my mom. Now that she has passed away herself, it has confused/concerned me.

    I have faith that it will all work out in the end. It is interesting though that although the church's standpoint on abortion is clear, that there is not clear direction on when the spirit enters the body. Were those miscarriages really the bodies meant for my sister and I, or are they spirits my mom is with now? So many questions, all will have to be waited with faith for the answers...

    Either way, Hugs to you and your sweet family. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for your continued example! You are one amazing woman!

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    1. Wow. That's something we don't usually think about when talking about why it is so important to marry in the temple. I hope you find peace.

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  17. Lots of difficult questions and difficult days...I wish I had answers too and words to comfort...but I guess I'd say every child and mother and situation are special to the Lord and handled accordingly...and maybe that's why there is no rule written in stone about when life begins. Love you!

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  18. I'm sorry about your loss. I have no opinion on when or why or how, but I do know WHO is in charge. Most days, that's enough.

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  19. I love all the comments and thoughts. I've now had 2 miscarriages and two very different experiences with them. I feel there is no direct revelation on this because it does vary from situation to situation so there is not one right answer. The answer can come to each mother in its own unique way. I also feel that in the Millenium just as we will raise our children who died before the age of accountability, we will also continue to carry pregnancies that would have been etc. Just a thought. (((HUGS)))

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  20. I appreciate your post today. I miscarried two months ago and have had many of the same questions as you. What brought me peace (finally) was concluding that if I don't know the answers, Heavenly Father does and that he loves me and somehow it will all be alright. I read in the scriptures about all things being restored and everyone being resurrected and while I don't have any concrete answers, I believe that includes these little babies, why wouldn't it?

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  21. I remember once reading a blog post (by CJane) that she felt the veil is thin--so thin, that to her there is no "the spirit is in the body!" definition--that it's more fluid. Even a passing back and forth, if you will. I tend to agree with her thoughts. We know that sometimes as people lay dying, they seem to straddle both worlds-- seeing passed on family members while speaking to the "living". For me, it's similar with pregnancy. When does the spirit enter?? Probably many times. Back and forth. Here and there. We can feel our child, but maybe they are still straddling both places?

    When I miscarried (between child three and four) at ten weeks, I felt strongly that the body wasn't good enough for my son who came next. I don't think I'll have that child with me in the next life because I feel he's already here in my four year old.

    That doesn't mean my experience is the same for everyone, you know? Some may feel -had have already said-- that their miscarriages are their babies and they will see them again. What I love about this is the fact that the Spirit can give us differing answers based on our differing situations. It's obvious to Nevsky there is no cut and dry doctrine on miscarriage, because the answers are so individual. Thus is also why I loved CJane's ideas of the thin veil. It gives more validity to the ties we have with heaven and with our Heavenly Parents.

    Right now, I'm 8 weeks pregnant with our sixth child. One thing my miscarriage taught me was to be grateful for every second I continue to carry life (or even the potential of life) inside of me. I don't take these children and pregnancies for granted anymore. I never thought I could say this, but for that experience and knowledge, I'm actually grateful for the loss I had. If only for what I've learned.

    With that said, Heather, I can feel your sorrow, and I can understand it. Thank you for talking about it! Thank you for sharing your burdens with us--I think when we share, we help make all of our own burdens lighter. :)

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  22. Wow, a lot of comments in a short amount of time. Must be a topic that touches many ;-)

    I have had 10 miscarriages, and I watched my mother have 10 also. I believe the question of whether or not miscarried children will return is on a case by case basis. Personally, even the ones I lost at 7 or 8 weeks, I believe that this short experience was all that was necessary for their earthly experience. Although I feel them, and I know that at least part their missions are to be with and strengthen my living children during their lives, I will not be raising them in this life.

    Other babies may return. It is all taken care of, it is all under control. Spirits can be given choices. At some point we will see the wisdom behind the choices.

    I also believe that through prayer and revelation, some of these answers can come. If needed, you may even be able to receive insight into the personalities of the children you lost.

    After my last miscarriage, I was told through a blessing that providing bodies for these spirits was actually part of my earthly mission. (I probably agreed to that at some point, now I sometimes wonder what I may have been thinking) But I now believe it is a special calling and I am actually grateful to be given such a wonderful responsibility.

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  23. As for sealings, they do not seal miscarriages, because gender is so important in the ordinances. But don't worry, that is what the millennium is for. All those loose ends will be taken care of. Be at peace.

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  24. Wow, thank you all so much ladies. I can't tell you how much this helps. I really love the idea that perhaps the situation is different for each baby. I really felt like after my miscarriage that I felt that my baby would be coming back to me. I keep wondering (and hoping) that this baby is a little boy-- because then maybe it just means it is the same one I lost. We just had our 20 week ultrasound and I chose not to find out the gender-- now it is sort of driving me crazy because then I might know if it was the little boy. Yet then again, it has been really powerful for me not to know because I've had to rely on my mother's intution and the spirit a lot more-- and it has acutally been really powerful for me.

    So thank you, everyone. I appreciate it.

    Oh, and here is the link to the cjane article Cherly mentioned.

    http://segullah.org/cjane-speaks/the-hourglass-theory/

    I have to admit that I like the article but it is what sort of got me all confused in the first place. But now after pondering on things and hearing your comments I think I'm learning to trust what the spirit has already told me.

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  25. I just came across this lovely poem.

    ♥ THE TINY ROSEBUD ♥

    The Master Gardener from Heaven above

    Planted a seed in the garden of love

    And from it grew a rosebud small

    That never had time to open at all

    For God in His perfect and all wise way

    Chose this rose for his heavenly bouquet

    So think of your darling with the angels above

    Secure and contented and surrounded by love

    And remember that God blessed and enriched your lives too

    For in dying, your darling brought Heaven closer to you.

    ~Author Unknown

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  26. heather- thank you so much for commenting on my blog. Your message to me was so very sweet and I needed to hear that. Thank you again. may the Lord bless you! - Becky

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  27. Heather~
    I am sorry for your loss and for your time of sorrow...
    I think you have read my story-
    My daughter was stillborn at 38.5 weeks. I found out 30 minutes before she was born that she was gone. I have done a LOT of thinking and studying about this subject. I read a quote somewhere by Brigham Young (I'll have to go and find it) who said that as soon as babies can move, their spirit is in their body. For the spirit IS what makes the body move. The spirit is like the electricity that powers the vehicle.
    I can't speak for every baby and every person's experience, as I agree that the spirit will teach each individual the answers they seek, when it is the right time to learn it. But I do strong believe that God follows the Law of Compensation, as in the last conference address given by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin before he passed into the great eternities...that God will compensative those who love Him and are faithful to Him. That for every tear of sorrow which are shed will be compensated one-hundredfold with tears of joy.
    Now whether that compensation comes in this life or the next, we do not know. It may even be both.
    I wish you joy and peace!
    ~Kate

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  28. I have found comfort in this book by Fran Hafen about healing after the loss of a child.

    http://deseretbook.com/Joy-Cometh-Morning-Story-Healing-Loss-Child-Fran-C-Hafen/i/4973681

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  29. I read this post when you published it and another post about when you decided to let God guide your decision about when the timing is right for children to come to your home. As I have had my own experiences wanting and longing for more children, I believe your two posts are related.

    In my own experience, we have miscarried and given birth. I wonder if Heavenly Father for me reminds me that I have the potential to give life but His timing in not right for a live birth. I do not have the answer when life starts, but I do know that I feel different not just pregnant different but as if I am participating in a covenant making opportunity even if a live birth doesn't occur.

    I don't know if that answers your question but is a simplified response to something I have thought about for the past few days.

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  30. I've been where you are, and I know how painful it is. I wasn't able to get pregnant again for a few months after the due date of the miscarried baby, but once our son was born, Hubby and I both felt strongly that this baby was the baby that would have come sooner, but the body he needed wasn't the body my body was making, and so we had to wait. Maybe you will receive the confirmation you're looking for when you're holding the one on the way.

    Thinking of you.

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  31. I miscarried at 4-ish weeks. I wasn't sure at the time, and started bleeding a day or so after the positive test.

    That was over 2 years ago, and while the pain has lessened and I don't think about it often, I still have no clear answers. I got pregnant quickly after the miscarriage, and during the pregnancy I had a dream that I was holding a newborn boy while being 9 months pregnant. The child was mine, but I couldn't remember his name.

    My husband felt that the baby we had was the one we would have had if I hadn't miscarried. I'm not so sure.

    My comfort is in leaving it in the Lord's hands. He requires only faith from me, while I receive blessings of comfort and strength. For me, it is enough.

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  32. Read your link to this post, from your most recent. You have given me so much to think about. Thank you.

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  33. My first pregnancy was a miscarriage. Based on the date-of-last-period I was 5-7 weeks along. But from what I had figured, and based on my two babies since it could have even been 4 weeks. Either way it was early on and I was amazed by the profound sadness and loss I felt. Through caring friends and the scriptures I felt that deep pain taken away, made possible by the atonement. I don't remember having any specific revelation, but I felt like that baby was a girl. I wasn't able to get pregnant for a year, and then I had a girl. I never thought that maybe it was the same spirit. I may have never thought that, though, because I had never thought about it like that - you know what I mean? :) Anyway. I guess I am saying that with my experience I feel like I will be able to raise that spirit later -even though it was such an early miscarriage. But I do also feel unsure about HOW it all works, but that I do know that it DOES work. It makes sense to me that each situation could be different. It will be interesting to find out one day!

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  34. I found your blog a few months ago and felt a new sense of reverence reading your posts about pregnancy and birth. I am currently waiting to miscarry (wanting to avoid a d&c before I go out of town next weekend) and thought I would see if you have ever written on miscarriage. This will be my third miscarriage. I have a 7, 3, and 1 year old as well. I have wondered these same questions, at times feeling frustrated that I don't have a solid answer. For me, it comes down to this: these 10+ weeks I have been carrying this baby cannot mean nothing. It goes against all my sensibilities to say you saw this baby, heard the little heart beating, but it was all for naught. That's what I am holding on to.

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