1 | Do you feel as though a higher entity/supreme being/energy force has a presence in your life? What do you call it, and what makes you feel it exists?
Yes - I have felt this in various ways, but mostly as a warmth, a sense of peace and sense of being "held safe". It is an asking followed by a knowing with surety that **this I believe** There have been so many times in my life where I felt guided or that others were guided by some greater force to be just what was needed at just the right time. I call it "God" or Heavenly Father and that feeling the Holy Ghost telling me "This is God". I also feel a motivation to become more, to become better and consider more of this as a higher force encouraging me rather than simply a matter of biology.
2 | Describe, in a word or two, the nature of your spiritual self before and then after the loss of your baby/babies.
Just a word or two? Before - confident and untried; after - committed and reliant, tender
3 | Do you pray, even if you wouldn’t call it praying? To whom? What for?
Constant prayer - though not always in the traditional sense. There is a continuous dialog often going in my heart, my mind - looking for guidance, comfort, hope - asking God to help make up for my deficits when I fall short, to guide me when/where I can be of help to someone else, to watch over people where I cannot. When I had my miscarriages often it was a plea - a plea that I couldn't do this, but if I had to, please do not leave me to do this alone.
4 | Is there a particular line of scripture/teaching/sentiment that you find particularly helpful? Or is there one that’s commonly referred to but is unhelpful?
Matthew chapter 10 - the discussion of how a sparrow does not fall without the Father knowing and being there. How the very hairs of your head are counted. This gave me peace in knowing that even the tiniest of my babies were not considered nothing. This gives me a very empowering sense of self-worth, while also reminding me that I am not the only one whose hairs are counted to the last one; that none of us is "forgotten" or considered less by He who knows us all.
5 | Did your faith offer rites, rituals or teachings that acknowledged your baby and your healing? If not (or if you didn't seek it out in an organized fashion), what rites, rituals or mantras have you adopted as your own?
The LDS faith (more commonly known as Mormon) does not offer "saving ordinances" (ie: baptism) for children under the age of 8 as they are considered innocent. The families are provided the spiritual guidance and support they need - often in the form of blessings. They also believe in an eternal spirit - children who die before baptism are not "lost" nor are they sent to suffer eternal torment in hell. We also believe that we are held accountable for our own sins - not that of someone else. Here are my beliefs based on my religion: Losing my babies was not a punishment for some misdeed - nor did God cause it to happen; I will see my children again. Yes, I do believe in a God who performs miracles and could have prevented my losses. However, in order to continue to claim my agency to choose for myself independently - I am subject to nature and life in general. I consider it like this - I could be walking alongside my child and they trip on a rock and fall. I did not cause them to trip and fall, I did not put the rock there. However, because I am their parent and I love them - I will pick them up, brush off the wound, clean it, dress it, hold them and comfort them. I will help guide them to do what needs to be done to heal and recover from their injury. I do not believe my infertility and losses were a "message" God was giving me that I was not meant to have children. I think I simply am one of those women who is born with a body that either through environment, some childhood disease or a quirk of nature didn't work quite the way it was supposed to. I do believe that He has been there when I have called and in a sense said "Okay, this hard thing is happening to you - let's get through this together, and let's make something good happen. "
For the more practical, not as religious side - I have been well taken care of over the years and trials with meals, people from church willing to take care of the things at home that I was unable to, watch my living children, run errands for me, etc. When I spent weeks in the hospital prior to my daughter's premature birth - I was often visited, brought books, games, my 2 year old son cared for, the young women's group made cookies and brought them to me one evening (which also happened to be an evening I was feeling terribly alone), another friend came to wash and fix my hair for me. The night my daughter was born - the woman in charge of the woman's group at church was there. She stayed by my side when I began hemorrhaging and even helped the nurse wring out the cloths they were using to soak up my bleeding. She stayed as a proxy mom since mine was so very far away that night - not just to help the nurse, but to be a comfort to me. Compassion, charity and service are things that are continually taught in our church - and I have been blessed numerous times as a recipient, and also often as a giver.
6 | Some people say that in a foxhole (a desperate, life-threatening situation), there are no atheists. You’ve been in a foxhole. Discuss.
I think in most traumatic situations humans are hit with that "flight or fight" response. The human will to survive can be amazingly powerful. In my "foxhole" I first resisted, tried to avoid and deny the situation I was in. This in turn quickly became extreme upset - how can this be happening to me? I don't want this! The tears, the grief, the sadness, depression and discouragment. (flight) This soon turned to anger and then a fierce desire to survive - though not just in a physical sense, but a mental and emotional sense. There was an occasion (or two or three or more, to be honest) where I really wanted to just give up and at one point where that desire to just give up was its strongest, I realized I had a choice - to let this thing completely destroy me or fight and survive. That decision was the moment I chose to fight and survive while in the foxhole and eventually climb out of it. (fight) When I made that decision - I stopped asking why me? I came to the conclusion that I was no better or worse than anyone else. I didn't do something to deserve this - it just happened that way. I realized that no matter what happened to me, what I did after that point because of it also mattered greatly. Because these were things I wanted to do, but I was still "recovering" - I needed help and that became part of my prayers.