Five years ago today I sat in the cold, scuffed exam room with my purse clutched in front of me and heard the words, “I’m sorry, there was no movement [on the ultrasound].” When we got to the car I cried so hard I thought I would tear the lining of my throat out, as if by wailing, I could will my baby back to life. The unthinkable had happened: My baby died.
In the days following I was thrust into the world of loss, the harsh clinical world of “pregnancy loss”, “tissue”, “products of conception”, “spontaneous abortion”, etc. I fought for the only thing I had left that I could do for my baby: honor his or her body. I had joyfully carried him while he was alive, nourished his growing body, prayed for his health. Now his soul had departed, but the body remained. And the last thing I was going to do is let some unfeeling and efficient doctor tear him out of me.
I needed information. I needed support to labor and deliver my baby on my own since the medical field had abandoned me. Kind friends and even some strangers reached out and told me the details of their own losses. For some I know the memories were probably almost unbearably painful to dredge up, but they did it anyway. With their love, support, prayers, and the information I had gleaned from them and from painful internet searches, I prepared to honor my baby’s body. Late one night, after I had almost lost hope, my body finally relinquished its grip and I held my son in my hands. My beautiful baby.
This is a journey I have made four times now. Thankfully after the first time I did have support and care from medical staff. Their love and respect has gone a long way toward healing the festering wound left by the first doctor. And, I dare say, by traveling this road with me they too have learned something about human dignity.
Lost Innocents was born of this pain. It was born of the need to honor the women who had gone before me and then supported me in my agony. It was born out of a wish to provide others with the same information and support. It was born to honor the love for my son Innocent, and then in turn, Andrew, Gabriel, and Demetrius.
Innocent did not live long by human standards. He was less than 13 weeks in this life and never took a breath. He did not hear me sing to him, never felt me kiss his head. But this tiny baby, this miracle created in the image of God, has birthed an entire ministry to bereaved parents and their precious children.
Today is the feast of St. Innocent in the Orthodox Church. I gave my son the name Innocent in his honor and today I remember him. May his memory be eternal!