Miscarriage and My Holy Week Journey

I wrote this piece for the Blessed is She blog, where it was featured earlier this week. 
I wanted to share it with you here as well, on this Holy Thursday, as we begin to walk with Jesus 
on His road to Calvary. I know that we all carry burdens, and that Holy Week can often make 
them feel more intense than usual. I pray that whatever cross you are carrying, you will look 
to see that Jesus is carrying it with you. And come Sunday morning, I pray you will all 
experience the joy of the life - REAL LIFE - that He brings. 


It was Holy Week 2012. I was grieving a child I would never get to hold, and whose face I would never get to see.  Holy Week 2011 I had been pregnant. I carried a secret that only my husband and I knew about. That Holy Week we smiled at each other excitedly throughout the services of the Triduum. Easter Sunday we told family and friends that we were expecting.

And then, only few weeks later, we lost that baby.

The year that ensued was one filled with a lot of doctors appointments, a lot of negative pregnancy tests, and a lot of tears. By the time Holy Week 2012 rolled around we still had no baby in our arms, and the bitterness of infertility was starting to set in.

It seemed like everyone around us was announcing pregnancies and bringing home babies from the hospital. There was baby shower after baby shower. Everyone was happy and excited, and it was killing me.

Lent came to me as a relief that year. I didn’t feel like being happy, and Lent was something that I didn’t have to force a smile for. I could just be sad.

But it turns out the Lord wasn’t  going to just let me wallow, like I had hoped. He is in the business of bringing redemption out of suffering. My Holy week journey would include the road to Calvary, but it would also include the joy of the Empty Tomb.

Survey that wonderful cross.

Stations of the Cross is something most Catholics pray only during Lent, but I think it would do  us a lot of good to pray the Stations many times throughout the year. After all, crosses are not just for Lent. We all deal with them, all the time. They’re heavy, ugly, and painful. But they can also bring us closer to Jesus, if we let them.

No one enjoys suffering, but when I think about my life, it’s been during those times of carrying a heavy cross that I have felt closest to God. That’s because “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” (Psalm 34:18)

When life is awesome, we often forget our need for God. But when life rocks us with grief, when suffering has depleted us of our own strength, we are forced to rely on Him, and He gives us the grace we need. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Co 12:9)  

When I felt like I couldn’t face another smiling pregnant woman, or endure another person asking me “don’t you want kids?”, when the pain of wanting a baby was so overwhelming, when grief had zapped all of my strength, Jesus was there, pumping grace into my soul. I had to rely on Him because there really wasn’t anything else I could do.

That Holy Week, as Jesus carried His cross to Calvary, I walked with Him, carrying my own cross of infertility. The pain didn’t go away, but there was comfort, knowing Jesus was beside me.

Don’t forget about Mary.

Being a convert, I’ve been a little slow to pick up on Marian devotions. She was one of the things about Catholicism I was most wary of as I went through my catechesis. I believed she was Theotokos, God-bearer, and that she was full of grace, but I had never felt drawn to her for spiritual support, until that Holy Week.

“Jesus Meets His Afflicted Mother.” It’s the fourth station in the Stations of the Cross. After praying it every Friday during Lent it finally hit me, Mary was a grieving mother, just like me. Her child died, just like mine. How she must have suffered, how she must have longed to hold her Son again, just like I longed to hold my baby.

Mary gets me. And what’s more, she is in heaven, praying for me.  

The Litany of the Saints gets real.

Remember when I said that Holy Week is a journey from darkness to light, from grief to joy? Well, it had been a pretty dark year, I had done a lot of grieving, and I was ready for some joy.

And God delivered in a completely unexpected way.

We were about two hours into the Easter Vigil, an amazingly beautiful, and amazingly long liturgy, when it was time to sing the Litany of the Saints, and I was starting to get a little sleepy. I half heard each name as it was chanted, and I in turn chanted the response, “pray for us.” And then we got to St. Anastasia, and I began to weep.

I never named the baby that we lost. My miscarriage was quick, messy, and confusing. I never even saw that baby. There was no way for me to know if it was a boy or a girl. But as I heard the name Anastasia I knew that that was what we should name that baby. And I knew that that soul which I had carried for a such short time was in heaven with all the Saints, before the throne of God, praying for me.

My infertility wasn’t cured that day, and I wasn’t magically given a baby to hold in my arms, but I was reminded that God had used my husband and me to create a new soul. There was joy in the knowledge that I was a mother, and that my baby was in heaven. There is life after death, that’s the promise of Easter.

The journey of Holy Week.

That Holy Week I found so much grace in my cross of infertility. Grace forcing me to rely on Jesus in a way I never had before. Grace opening my eyes to elements of my faith I had not seen before. Grace bringing joy out of suffering.

Darkness to light.

Grief to joy.

Death to life.

This is the journey of Holy Week.  

giving up my anger

Oh, hello Lent!

I almost forgot you were here earlier today when I found a piece and candy in my coat pocket. I did a mental fist-pump, said "score" to myself and was just about to unwrap the little beauty before I remembered my resolve to mortify my flesh for 40 days by denying it the sweets it most constantly craves.

I've been indulging some pretty bad eating habits all in the name of Postpartum and Breastfeeding, and made a plan a few weeks ago to use Lent as an opportunity to reset. You see, my resolve to diet and lose weight is so weak that I can't manage it at all without the help of Catholic Guilt.

 But I know that Lenten Dieting is almost as bad as Missionary Dating (I tried that too once, and ended up being the one to convert. Oops!) so when I read Pope Francis's appeal to give up more than candy and booze I said, "don't worry Papa, I'm all over it."

You see, I've also been indulging in some pretty bad temper tantrums lately, all with the excuse that My Life Is Hard and I'm Entitled To Get Angry.


It takes me, no joke, 20 minutes to leave the house with my two children. Someone will invariably poop and require a new set of drawers. Then Johnny will have a freak out about getting his coat on because it means he has to put down his car for 2 seconds. Then Johnny will poke Trixie in the face while I'm getting my coat on and she will need some comforting.  Then I will realize there are no diapers in the diaper bag. Then I can't find my keys. All the while the decibel level of my voice is soaring to new heights as I give vent to my frustrations.

And I deserve to get mad.

When Trixie is on her fifth night feeding, I deserve to get mad.

When my husband has to study all day Saturday and Sunday, I deserve to get mad.

When Johnny refuses to nap, I really deserve to get mad.

And you know what? I like getting mad.  I like my righteous indignation because it makes me feel like I am the victim, I'm the one who deserves justice, I'm right when everyone else in the world is wrong. And I'm going to get angry about it. What else could I do? NOT get angry?

Actually, I've known for a long time that I need to not get angry. That instead of giving into anger I need to practice the fruits of the Spirit. I've even had a little note card with the fruits of the Spirit printed on it hanging on my bathroom mirror for, oh I don't know, about a year. Needless to say, I still need some work.

So for Lent I am giving up my anger. And like a gentle "yes, this is good" from the Holy Spirit, I read these words in yesterday's first reading.

"Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment."

How patient and slow to anger has the Lord been with me? I am called to do the same with those around me, starting with my own family.

Anyone else feeling the need to give up more than candy and booze?


keep in touch!