Empty Womb-Sad: Empty Tomb-Glad!

This is me holding Gus’ precious little hand.

Finding Meaning in Miscarriage. As many of you know by now our Project Peanut did not have the outcome we expected. After ~115 days of life in the womb our little Gus passed away the week before Easter. It was completely unexpected as 2nd trimester miscarriages are, being so rare (only 2-3% of pregnancies miscarry in the 2nd trimester compared to the 25% that miscarry in the first 13 weeks). Regardless of age or size he was loved, especially by his makers (God, Mommy and Daddy).

“Our hearts are restless until they rests in Thee, O Lord.” ~St. Augustine

I had picked out the name Augustine (a-GUS-tin) years before after the great saint, and hubby Scott liked Gus too being a Lonesome Dove fan. So as we discussed whether we felt called to have anymore children (because someone wanted to get rid of ALL the baby stuff) I implored Scott, “What about Gus?! Are sure you don’t want a little brother for Ian?” Well, I could tell he wasn’t hearing the call I was, so I decided I needed to recruit a special prayer warrior to help in our discernment. So I decided to look up the feast of St. Augustine and I just happened to Google his feast day on his feast day!! August 28th if you’re wondering. So knowing how it can sometimes take a long time to get an answer to my prayers I started praying for Gus. And when we were scratching our heads in December when we realized we were unexpectedly expecting, I had to laugh!  I had a pretty good feeling, being that I was due in August, this was an early answer to my prayers. Augustine James Naugle was on the way… affectionately called Peanut especially by his sisters until we could confirm that peanut “had nuts” ; ) (on ultrasound).

Two days after my miscarriage I found myself praying and pondering in the adoration chapel with Jesus Holy Thursday. Searching for meaning perhaps, the verse came to me, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” We belong to God, our children belong to God. And so in our relationship with Christ, he gives us everything his love, his life, his father’s house. And in response we try to give him everythi007ng, and that includes our fertility and our children. Our children are a gift from God, but really they are His; entrusted to our care to teach them the way to get back home. Gus was sent from heaven, and he returned home to heaven. He just skipped over the desert wanderings of an earthly life. It was shocking to lose him, but of course he never was lost, his angel ushered him straight into the arms of Jesus. We are an Easter people; people of joy because of the resurrection. Death is not the end of his story. We just don’t get to be the ones to help write the early chapters in his book. And as much as we could have loved him it is only a shadow of God’s radiating love he now enjoys. So we cannot begrudge God for that!

As we were talking to the funeral home people and the deacon at church it seemed like a bigger production than what we thought. But when Father Reggie offered to do a Mass for Gus, we figured, if he’s offering- we should take him up on it. And I am so glad that we did. It was so awesome to be able to honor his little life with a Mass. It is great to be Catholic! I think part of our human weakness is that it is hard to love people we do not know. So although we loved him in a way proportionate to his size, it is more the dreams we had been building that crumbled than the heart shattering pain we would feel if one of our other children had passed. My regret is that I did not/could not love him more. I feel like if we asked God how much his life was worth he would say “A lot!” Perhaps even, “As much as yours.” Which is why I am so glad we did everything we could to honor him: naming him, sharing the news with family and friends, showing his siblings his body at home, having a memorial service and reception, and honoring his remains with the above angel urn and eventual burial.

Gus’ sweet feet. He was a little bigger than the size of my hand. Beautiful in his own right.

If it seemed like too much for a miscarried baby even one 19 weeks old, it was because we undervalue the unborn not because God overvalues them. Having the Memorial Mass elevated him and the significance of his life. Did it make it a little harder in some ways to be vulnerable and grieve more publicly? Yes, but in more ways it made things right. When we honor the lives of these little precious ones we also honor God their creator. And we are at peace feeling like we honored Gus, we honored God, and all is well in the world when we follow the will of God. God wanted to show us something beautiful and we accepted, not knowing how it would end. In doing so, we accepted a little cross, and we lost his life but we gained a new appreciation for our Resurrected Lord and our hope of heaven. His service fell on Easter Monday.

Thank you to all our family and friends and our parish of St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Boise for your love and support. Especially those that attended and helped with Gus’ service, the first picture above.

PS. If you have lost a child in miscarriage and perhaps have regrets about not doing more . … it is not too late! There are lots of things you can still do. Here are a few ideas, and I would invite anyone reading this to add more in the comments. If you haven’t already, name your child. Get something special to remember your child. This could be a garden statue or perhaps a Christmas ornament (you may even engrave it with their name). If you have or get mother’s jewelry, include your child’s birthstone with your other children’s. Lastly, I’d like to mention there are support groups and ministries out there specifically to meet the needs of those who have experienced the loss of a child in the womb; please check into them. Whether it is honoring your child, dealing with grief, or just connecting with others that are feeling the same, they are there to help.

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8 thoughts on “Empty Womb-Sad: Empty Tomb-Glad!

  1. Ahhh, you’re not a regular joan … you’re a really extraordinarily special joan…God has indeed blessed you with the grace quite early in this process to understand that little Gus was truly His Gus and so he is “safely home” with his Maker … having “skipped over the desert wanderings of an earthly life”. Quite a heavenly beautiful poetess is the little Mommy of little Gus. Overjoyed to know you and call you friend. I will be forever grateful for your sharing this journey with me. Praise Him that we ARE an Easter people.

  2. Thank you so much Emily for allowing us to be a small part of this beautiful thing.I so enjoy your Blog.

  3. This is a really beautiful reflection. Thanks for sharing, and I will be praying for your family 🙂

  4. Oh Dear Naugle Family,
    What a beautiful pro-life testament!!! I am sorry that you lost your little Gus, but I am so blessed that you were called to write this on your blog so that I could really remember that death is not the end, only the beginning and especially a joy for babies like him that go straight to the arms of Jesus! Those of us who have had miscarriages often feel like our baby did not matter to the world.. But the baby mattered to God!! Many blessings to you all.

  5. So happy to have been able to take part in the mass to honor little Gus. After returning from the trip, I noticed that I still have a post-it note on my computer that says “Pray every day for little boy Naugle”. I wrote that note before Ian was born, but it certainly applies to Gus too. I have added Gus to the litany of the saints that I recall each time I say the “Resurrection” decade of the Glorious Mysteries–Pete, Eleanor, Mary, Robert, Patrick, Donna, Ronnie, Randy, Kendall, Robert, and now Gus…all loved ones who have touched my life. I may not have had the chance to hold Gus in my arms, but I can certainly hold him in my prayers, and I can just imagine Robert and Patrick, his unborn uncles, taking him by the hand to welcome him to heaven.

  6. Hi Emily,
    I am so thankful your cousin Amanda shared your blog. This post hits so close to home. We also experienced a second trimester miscarriage. Jude Francis Jarding was born on December 3, 2015 at 15 weeks. The miracle of life had never been more apparent to us. He was a miniature version of our three living children. He was so precious and I thank God that we were able to meet him, name him, and pray over him. Your testimony is so encouraging. Thank you for sharing! God Bless you and your family!

  7. Oh Emily! I’m so sorry for your loss. You are handling it much better than I did. We lost baby George Richard at 17 weeks. He was our third child. When people ask how many I have, I always want to say 5, but say 4. Sometimes, depending on the person, I will add, “And one in Heaven.” Your writing makes it seem as you have such a graced perspective.

    You are right. It is shocking–out of nowhere. Our oldest was 4 at the time and she had so many questions as to why God would let this happen and Jeff and I could barely answer her because we had our own tears and whys? Father Mariusz had a graveside Catholic burial rite for him and we laid him to rest in an urn that Jeff’s dad made. The grief of lost dreams you speak of hits straight to my heart. I still long to hug that little boy and watch him play. And I too wished I had loved him more while he was here with me. I even went to confession with Father Caleb weeks later because I just felt I didn’t appreciate him as I should of (instead I grumbled and complained through the whole first trimester). But eventually peace came and I had to learn to trust God again. And if baby George hadn’t gone to Heaven we wouldn’t have our John Paul, whom we conceived 2 1/2 months later. I often pray to baby George and ask him to pray for his mama and daddy.

    A LIFTID sister gave us a miniature rose bush at the time of his loss and a little cross. I also found an angel plaque. We planted the rose bush and hung the cross and plaque above it. Another way our family always keeps him in our thoughts is that we add him to our Litany of Saints at the end of our family rosary. We always end with, “Baby George, pray for us!” I so wish we would have taken beautiful pictures as you did, but we were so traumatized that we didn’t think to do so. The images and your words are beautiful. Thank you for sharing. ~Erika Cowman

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