The Ache of Empty Arms

pregnant-971984I lay in the ultrasound room looking at the image of my perfectly formed baby on the screen. I could see the profile of his face and his little hand. I had a hard time believing my doctor’s gentle words: “I’m so sorry. His heart isn’t beating.” The next day I held my son in my arms after delivery, and we named him John. Eight months later I lay in another ultrasound room and again heard the words I most dreaded: “The baby is measuring smaller than she should be, and there is no heartbeat. I’m sorry.” My daughter was beautiful, and we named her Agnes. Another six months, and a phone call with lab results confirmed what I already knew: we had lost our third baby to an early miscarriage. We named him Michael.

How does one cope with the loss of a child? I have shed more tears in the past year and a half than I have probably in the rest of my life combined. I grieve for each of my babies. I struggle to accept God’s will. But there is joy too, and my heart has grown with love for the children I can no longer hold.

I imagine my children in heaven—probably romping around causing mischief together. Surely kids can cause mischief in heaven, right? I’m no theologian, so I guess we’ll find out when we get there. My husband and I have joked that our kids probably have their elbows on the table at the heavenly banquet, and the Blessed Mother is up there gently scolding them. Heaven seems more like a real place now, not an abstract idea but the home where my children live. I look forward to having a big family reunion there someday.

As I have processed my own grief, I’ve also connected with other women who have lost babies and have seen their pain. People at our parish have shared about their own losses when they heard about our babies, and friends I’ve known for years have told me about babies I never knew existed. So many couples are suffering silently as they grieve their children.

I also have friends who struggle with infertility. I understand and share in their desire to raise a family, although I don’t know the monthly disappointment of being unable to conceive. They also suffer silently and feel the ache of empty arms.

Bishop Loverde of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will lead a novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe for those suffering
from infertility, miscarriage, and infant death beginning on December 4. Please join in praying for those of us who carry this cross. We appreciate each and every prayer.

Novena for those suffering from infertility, miscarriage, and infant loss

Mexican_oil_paint_on_tin_retablo_of_'Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe',_19th_century,_El_Paso_Museum_of_Art

9 thoughts on “The Ache of Empty Arms

  1. Thank you for this. May the peace of Christ remain with you always, and may the Holy Virgin bless you with her loving Child, this day and forever.

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  2. What a moving article. Thank you so much for sharing your pain and thoughts. I hope it sparks a conversation that leads to the deep healing everyone needs, the couples who suffered the loss and the families surrounding them. We all need Christ to heal us in so many ways. God bless. Ginnyfree.

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  3. How beautiful are the feet that carry the Lord!
    Yes, indeed you have three little ones eagerly awaiting your arrival! What joy there will be! They are only behind a sheer curtain!

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  4. Ah…this struck home. I cannot imagine the suffering you’ve been through. We have three children, and lost our fourth to miscarriage. We have struggled with infertility ever since. I pray that God will give you the consolation of showing you a little bit of what He has been doing with this season of your life without a little one. He has given me that great gift for some months now, and I am so grateful for it, especially going into the Christmas season.

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