by guest writer, Melody Lyons, found at The Essential Mother.
Thirteen years ago I delivered our little Matthew Athanasius at home on the Feast of St. Maria Goretti. He was born too soon at 14 weeks in his intact amniotic sac. 2-3 inches of perfection. All his little fingers and toes visible. I knew he had died after symptoms declined and we confirmed via non-medical ultrasound. I’d never lost a baby before so I called L&D at a local Catholic hospital to find out what their protocol was.
The nurse said… “Just come in and we will do a D&C.”
I asked her what they do with the baby.
She said: “Oh honey, we just throw it away. It’s just a bunch of tissue. You wouldn’t see anything anyway.”
“Can I have the remains even if it’s just tissue?”
“No sweetie. It’s medical waste. We can’t release it to you.” (Death certificates are not issued before 20 weeks by the hospital, which is why this is complicated. A funeral home will need proof of life to agree to take the remains. It is possible to get a release by some institutions but not common.)
I decided to stay home and deliver my child. If I needed help, I knew how to get to the hospital. I didn’t want anyone forcing my cervix open when it could open on its own. I didn’t want anyone throwing away any part of my little one, even if there was nothing to see. Even if he was all “pieces and tissue.”
It was fine with me. I’d bury him anyway in whatever form he arrived. Treat him with dignity and love of a mother. So I labored on July 6th for much of a day. It was harder than I thought it would be but fine. I was home and with family. Laying down when I needed to. Reading. Spending time with my children and husband. Contractions intensified and I used a bowl to catch the “tissue”… which turned out to be my tiny intact child perfectly held in his amniotic fluid.
I was amazed. He was beautiful. Stunning. I held him in my hand and was changed.
I know a good many pro-abortion advocates who would have called him grotesque… but only because their vision has been perverted by a passion for not seeing anything beautiful at that stage of life.
But yes, he was beautiful.
A woodworking friend made him a handsome burial box. We had a private funeral Mass and he was buried at a local cemetery. The funeral home provided services and the outer casket for free. The Catholic cemetery also provided a space in the special section for babies. (We did need proof of life to get the death certificate and our midwife provided that.)
If we had never seen him, it would have been fine. We would still have loved him. If I had the D&C and he was thrown away, it still would have been okay. Circumstances are not always ideal. But I am glad that we were home. I am glad I got to hold him and marvel at him. His life made me better and taught me more about hope and maternity and eternity.