I don’t really know what to say here, except that my wife and I recently had an early miscarriage. It was terrible, and has been such a blow to us. We were so looking forward to having a child, but now realise how naive we were in thinking this would all be joyful.
At the end of the day, as Catholics, we have children to raise up saints, and we both take solace from being parents of a little saint - one who didn’t sin and who is now with God. At the same time, that means being like Mary and saying ‘yes’ to bearing into life one who is born to die.
Knowing how hard this has been for us, I can’t imagine it happening again, or worse a stillbirth or the death of an infant, yet (globally) about 5% of children die in infancy, that’s 1 in 20. In America it’s 1 in 200, but that’s still a lot. I can’t imagine putting my wife at risk of that, it seems such a heartless thing to do.
Is it true to say that a couple isn’t ready to have a child until they are ready to lose a child? If that is the case, I can’t think of many married couples who are ever ready to make that commitment. I certainly don’t feel personally strong enough, emotionally or psychologically, or strong enough in my ability to support my wife through such a loss, even though I love her more than I have ever loved anyone in my life.
Africans have a concept ‘Ubuntu’, that personal value derives from the community. While this is often presented as if it were a philosophical position, I tend to think it is more likely the psychological effect of living with high levels of infant mortality - if you know your child is as likely as not to die before the age of 5, you are going to be scared to attach until it is older, therefore the child grows up without a sense of personal attachment until it is old enough to talk and see its role in the community. You could say similar things about the harsh and cold way older Scots and Irish people were raised - they saw their responsibilities before their rights, because their parents didn’t want to place too much personal value on their lives until they were old enough to be past the major diseases that picked of children in infancy. I can now see why people were so cold - it’s not heartlessness, it’s psychological survival.
To those who are stronger than me - how do you get to the stage where you are ready to lose a child? How do you cope when it happens? When you get there, can you ever really attach to and love the child you have if you know you may lose them?