As you may remember if you’ve been reading mine or my brother’s blog recently, you may remember that my affirmation that, despite everything that life has to throw at you, God is good. I have to say it once again, because yesterday morning, I buried my daughter.
Two weeks ago to the day, we went to our first pre-natal doctor’s visit. It was well overdue because of our current lack of medical insurance. In fact, I was already 19 weeks along, and was expecting, as I rode to the office with my husband, to find out the sex of the baby, and assuming hoping that he or she was as perfect as my other five children are. Why should I not expect this? All of my normal symptoms of pregnancy were here: exhaustion and carpal tunnel syndrome, extreme and in both wrists. That’s it. That is my norm during pregnancy. I don’t get nausea or vomiting as a general rule, and aside from a growing belly and wrist splints, you wouldn’t know I was pregnant. (Don’t be jealous. I have had five c-sections thus far, so it’s a trade off.) If I’m being completely honest though, I had felt ever so slightly off in the week or so leading up to the visit, and was still in the “was that a kick or not” phase of feeling the baby move. That’s why when, during the ultrasound, the tech was being quieter than usual and the doctor had a strange expression on his face, I wasn’t surprised. I was saddened but not shocked when my doctor, in his usual down-to-earth and straight-talking style, turned to me and said, “Bridget, I have to tell you, this baby isn’t alive anymore. It’s measuring about 15 weeks, so too small, and there’s no heartbeat. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
And that was it. With those few words, my world was changed. I was expecting to see my little baby squirming around, hear a beautiful, strong heartbeat, and possibly even be able to start figuring out a name for him or her. What happened instead was that my worst fears were confirmed, and I understood why I hadn’t felt enough movement, why I hadn’t been gaining quite as much weight as usual. I found out that my baby was dead.
My doctor went right into doctor mode, and told us exactly what he wanted us to do next, to get, what he honestly believes, is the best possible care for me, his patient. He told us that I should have a D & E. If you don’t know what that is, let’s just say it’s a highly destructive procedure that is generally used in abortions occurring after the first trimester. He told us the name of the location where he wanted us to have this procedure done and that is when I started to cry. The name alone made my stomach turn and the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I knew beyond a doubt that he was sending me to an abortion clinic. I told him as much and while he agreed that yes, that is where a lot of their business comes from, they are the best at it (go figure) and that they would give me the best care possible. I cried some more when I thought of how a place like that would treat my child: not as a person, but as medical waste. I trust this man (and have trusted him for five years at this point, and still trust him) to care for me and I know he means well, but in this instance, I would not be following his advice. I would choose something better, for me, and most importantly for my child.
We discussed other options, and while my doctor understood our issues with the place he was sending us, he had no other suggestions. We told him we’d find a place on our own and let him know what we were doing.
As we drove home, I continued to cry, to mourn the life that I had been cherishing since I found out about it 19 weeks earlier. With the help of my niece and Priests for Life, we found another wonderful, wholly pro-life doctor who was willing to pursue the option of an induced labor where we would deliver the baby, whole, and hope to bury him or her. We were scheduled to meet with him on Monday. That’s right, I opted to spend the entire Thanksgiving weekend in the same situation. I even prayed that nothing would change so that we could deliver the baby in the hospital, and not have complications that could have long-lasting effects for my husband and me and our possibility of future children. God is good because everything stayed basically the same until after Thanksgiving.
God is good because He took the entire situation out of our hands early on the morning of the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I delivered or passed the baby at about 2:30 AM and, thanks to the help of my sister and niece, was taken, with the baby, to the hospital via ambulance. Our doctor was there for us, at least in spirit, as he answered many phone calls at all hours of the day and night throughout the course of the entire situation. As I said, he is a good man, just misguided at times.
God is good because my husband and I were able to hold our baby, to cry over her tiny body in the palms of our hands, and to Baptize our baby, who we decided was a girl, and name her, Gianna Molla Marie, after St. Gianna, an icon of the pro-life community.
We asked about receiving the baby back for burial, and that is where the good news paused (I won’t say stopped, because it never fully does; it is just harder to see at times). No one at the hospital, despite their being very understanding, and caring, and full of sympathy, seemed to have any idea not only why we would want this, but also how to accomplish it. At first, we were told “absolutely not, it’s illegal”. We accepted this, being law abiding citizens, and knew that if it were impossible to bury her, we had in fact done everything within our power to care for her little body while we had her. We also decided that our new task from God was to make things better for the next couple who had to deal with a situation such as ours.
Our good friend, and one of the best priests I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, came to visit us, and pray with us, and offer us his condolences and support. This is just what he does. He comes when he is needed. And when I grabbed his hand, still sleepy and a little groggy from what had happened during the night and from being in the hospital all day, and I’m sure a little incoherent, and told him that I had a new job for us, and explained that he needed to help us change the laws so that people could do something as basic as bury their own child, he nodded, and said he would do what he could. He then left, quickly, and completely out of character for him. We found out later that he had gone straight to the “right people” (whoever they are) and found out that we could in fact bury our baby, and he had, in fact, started the process for us. God is good because He allows us to have a priest such as this one to help us in our need.
Over the next five days, the good news was slow going and at times, I almost despaired. Again, everyone had all the sympathy in the world for us, but no one knew what to do. Despairing herself, the woman at the hospital called down to Trenton to ask for help, and found out, on Thursday, that she should have called them all along, and that they have to authorize such paperwork, but that, definitely, we would be able to bury our daughter. God is good because somehow, with the help of many hands, the mess of paperwork and regulations was finally straightened out and our baby’s body was released.
And so, yesterday morning, my husband and I, along with our family, buried our little Gianna. Our daughter was treated as a human being, with the dignity and respect that should be given to all people, but sadly, isn’t. One thing we can hope for is that, through her death, at least one of the many people involved will come to an understanding of the sanctity of life. Regardless of the pain and loss we feel now, regardless of all the pain that is yet to come (and we are far from through with our mourning), God is good, because in the midst of this pain we have the sure joy of having cared for our child in the best possible way we could in the time that we had her.
God is good.