I Don't Believe My Babies Are In Heaven

I had no belief that my babies were in heaven, nor that they would ever be born into this world.

What happens to a soul that small? How does such a thing even exist — before consciousness, before pain, before birth and light and life?

I had a lot of well-meaning friends and family searching for the right words to say after my back-to-back miscarriages, before my third (and final) baby was born.

My grandparents sent me Bible verses that said my babies were whisked away to their Heavenly Father. Others guessed that “the right time” for my unborn baby was forthcoming. So many offered solace by guessing where in the ether my lost babies were now.

“Those little souls are in Heaven,” they'd tell me. “Perhaps forever, but perhaps they're just waiting for the right moment to be sent back to earth.”

I accepted these comments silently. They did nothing to comfort me.

I had no belief that my babies were in heaven, nor that they would ever be born into this world.

I didn’t view my two miscarriages and the subsequent birth of my rainbow baby as one seamless story. They were stories — plural — each unique, each with its own arc.

There were clear beginnings and endings to all of them.

I found out I was pregnant, and that baby died.

I became pregnant again, and that baby also died.

I became pregnant a third time, and that baby lived.

I just couldn't wrap my mind around the thought that this was just part of some divine plan — a single soul traveling to me over and over, waiting patiently for its predestined moment to finally be born.

I understand how that notion might help some people cope with miscarriage, but for me, it was just too painful.

One friend told me that “our souls will find us when they’re ready.” A lovely, poetic statement.

But something inside me whispered, That's wrong.


 

Even if I could believe in heaven or some divine plan, I did not want to bury my grief beneath a blanket of mysterious faith. I wanted to see it through to the end.


 

Heaven was even more problematic for me.

I just could not picture my barely-formed babies — more products of my dreams and ferocious love than actual flesh and blood — floating around in some other divine dimension.

What happens to a soul that small? How does such a thing even exist — before consciousness, before pain, before birth and light and life?

The comfort intended for me here was so far beyond my reach that the comments rolled off my back like the endless sea of “sorry”s. I heard them, but not really.

Even if I could believe in heaven or some divine plan, I did not want to bury my grief beneath a blanket of mysterious faith. I wanted to see it through to the end.

For me, the finality of death was actually the source of some comfort.

It justified my grief, allowed it to be real and raw and vulnerable. It didn’t make sense to cry over a baby that was still possibly on its way to my arms, or one which I would see again in heaven someday. I needed to acknowledge their deaths to process my pain.

Still, it was hard to find solace in the face of these losses, and moving through my grief was a slow journey. Around the time of my second miscarriage's would-have-been due date, I came across an article on fetal cell migration, and crumbled into a sobbing, grateful mess from what I learned: Cells from my miscarried babies still reside in my body.

This was the comfort I had been searching for.

I finally found peace — not from notions of an afterlife or of second chances for my baby to be born, but from the poetic nature of science. I read article after article on the phenomena of DNA and fetal cells crossing the placental barrier, crying all the while.

The medical language read like poetry to my weary heart. I felt the emptiness left by my D&C slowly start to close, filled with the real and beautiful fact that my lost babies were still with me, the fact that physical traces of those babies and their DNA will be with me until the day I die.

I no longer had to find a place for these babies in heaven, because they were still with me — in me. 

They cannot be taken from me, even in death.

I still don’t have any concrete theories about an afterlife, or heaven, or what happens to those miscarried babes when they die, but it is enough that my babies are always with me in this small way.

In life, in death, and in everything between.

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