I’m going to lead off this post by quoting my dear friend Amy, “All theological discussions about infant baptism can take place elsewhere .” (Also? That beautiful pendant above was a gift from sweet Amy, in memory of our sweet September baby in heaven.)
As you probably know by now, I am Catholic. My husband is not, but, when he married me, he agreed to do so in the Catholic church and to baptize our babies in the Catholic faith. This is just how it goes in our family, and it works for us.
I have baptized all my babies. It is something I know we will do from the moment I find out I am pregnant.
It was no different with baby #4.
When I learned that our baby’s heart rate was declining and that there had been no growth… everything turned topsy turvy. We were told that we should be prepared for there to be no more heartbeat at the next appointment.
That week was one of the hardest I have ever endured. It is torture to feel like you can’t really get your hopes up, but, at the same time, to still be carrying a baby who is decidedly alive. How do you stop hoping against hope for that baby??? You don’t. You can’t. You try to stay realistic, but the prayers and hopes don’t go away…
During that week, another troubling thought started plaguing me…
I may never be able to baptize this baby.
Along with all the other fears making sleep an elusive fantasy, that worry became insidious. I couldn’t escape it. I told my husband, thinking he’d write me off as crazy. He did not. I told my parents, figuring they’d dismiss it as insignificant. They did not. In fact, all of these people who do indeed love me very, very much offered to talk to priests. They offered to find out if there was anything that could, in fact, be done for this baby I still carried inside me, but who, at this point, we knew would no longer be born into this world.
My mother went to an early weekday Mass at the church I attend and spoke to my priest and deacon. And, while a true baptism obviously could not be performed, they offered to do a Baptism of Desire.
That very same day, at my house, our precious fourth baby was blessed, with holy water and prayer.
I realize that, to some, this might seem needless and silly. I know that not all Christian denominations believe in infant baptism, and I certainly understand that there are many who would never even think about baptism when they learn they are miscarrying.
But, to be perfectly honest, this isn’t their story. It is my story. And my fourth baby’s story.
And I am so very, very comforted with the knowledge that my desire to have all my children baptized in my faith has been met.
I write this to share my joy about this experience, but also in the event that someone else should find herself in this situation and feel lost about options. I couldn’t find much info out there about baptism options for babies lost due to miscarriage. Perhaps my story might help a woman who finds herself in my shoes…
(Note: While I will not ever try to “convert” anyone over to Catholicism, I must say that I cannot imagine a more comforting faith for a grieving mother in the event of a pregnancy loss. Catholics have a deep, enduring, well-documented respect for ALL life and, thus, babies lost through miscarriage are viewed very much as children (not “products of conception”) and the pain that goes with that loss is not minimized by church leaders. For this, I am also grateful.)
linked to Finer Things Friday