I have wanted to write about this for weeks, but I have been having a hard time getting started. I have been afraid of not getting all of the details straight. While I was lying in bed last night, I realized I needed to write sooner rather than later as all the specifics were starting to blur.
The Monday after finding out that Oliver had died, I called The Birth Center so that I could ask all the questions I had about miscarrying. Sarah Grace, the midwife on call, fielded all of my questions. One of the things she mentioned to me was that since I was so far along in first trimester that I might see the baby when I finally miscarried. She told me that there was the possibility that the baby would come out whole but that he may also come out in parts. I was also told that I might never see my baby at all during the miscarrying process.
This news precipitated a question that I hadn’t thought about prior to calling; what was I supposed to do with the baby? I was told that some people flush their baby, some put the baby in the trash, and still others bury their baby. I couldn’t stomach the idea of the first two options, but I also had no clue how to go about burying the baby either. Thankfully, Ish and I had several days to figure it all out.
Part of our concerns when it came to figuring out what to do about burying Oliver was that we weren’t sure if there was a prescribed way of doing things in the Catholic Church. We of course knew that burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy, but beyond knowing that we would need to bury our sweet baby, we were pretty clueless. I mentioned this concern to Little Ish’s godmother and she very graciously offered to have her husband research the matter for us. During the time that he was researching, I was reading Karen Edmisten's book . Between the information our friend found for us and the information in Karen’s book, we knew that we could bury our baby on hallowed ground and we were fairly sure there was some sort of funeral rite for unborn babies.
Since we knew we were going to bury Oliver before I delivered him, I took the time to figure out how I was going to catch his little body; I did not want to be fishing his body out of a toilet. I got the idea of miscarrying into a scarf/thin piece of fabric by looking at what the Elizabeth Ministry included in their Miscarriage Delivery Aid kits. I had considered purchasing one, but I had the feeling it wouldn’t arrive by the time I needed it.
After we figured out how to catch Oliver, we simply stopped worrying about what we were going to do. When I finally did miscarry, Ish called his mother because we didn’t really know how to go about getting the whole burial process started. It turns out I still don’t know how to do that, because Ish’s mom very kindly worked out all of the details for us so that Oliver could be laid to rest beside his great-grandmother and his uncle.
On the morning of January 10th, Fr. Ambrose presided over a gravesite burial service for Oliver Innocent. Under a small tent with our baby sealed inside a beautiful inlaid wood box, surrounded by a group of about 35 friends and family members, we prayed for the soul of our sweet boy. I can’t adequately describe that morning except to say that as hard as burying Oliver was, the overwhelming love and support from friends and family was a testament to the fact that he lived even though he was never born.