Monday, April 02, 2007


We will be having BB baptised over the Easter holiday. It will be an important milestone for me. Something that didn't happen with C.

As I was labouring with C., the nurses kept asking us if we wanted to call our families. We kept saying "no" - we needed time to assimilate the information that our baby was dead for a few hours before we called our parents to tell them their grandchild was dead. Also, it was a work day and my labour was not progressing really quickly, so it seemed silly to pull them out of work to sit outside L&D and cry. We called them just after suppertime. They were all there when C. was born.

The other question that was put to us was if we wanted to call our clergy. We gave the nurses the information and our priest was called. When C. was born, it was my request that he be baptised. It was then that I was informed that stillborn babies are not baptised. Essentially, the thought is that the soul has already left the body so it isn't possible to commit the soul of the baby to a life with Jesus Christ.

I understand the theology. But that was one of the hardest pieces of information that I had to digest (after "there is no heartbeat", of course). I don't believe in the concept of limbo (and I know that many theologists abandoned the notion long ago), but it niggles at the corner of my mind even now. I just wanted someone from the clergy to splash some water on my son's head and commit him to God. So that I could have some hope of being with him again in the future*.

What I do know is that there is a whole lot of theology that is poorly understood by lay people (me), and it gets watered down in a way that makes it scary and hurtful for a parent of a child who "died within the womb".

So, as we seriously and hopefully take the vows of baptism on behalf of BB this weekend, I know that my thoughts will likely stray to the vows we didn't take on behalf of his brother.

*following this line of theological thinking, as a baptised adult, I will either go to heaven or hell... or even (the also abandoned) purgatory


Mad Mommy said...

That you have any faith at all amazes me. I don't know how you hold on to a church that would deny you baptism at a moment like that, but good for you if your faith transcends the insult.

Aussie kate said...

I hope that BB's baptism is a moving experience for you all. I am sure that C will be watching over you all at this momentous occasion.

Kate xo

msfitzita said...

When my mom lost her first baby (a miscarriage) she worried a lot about this too. So much so that she talked to her priest about it. This was more than 40 years ago and the rules were a lot more strict (or at least there were a lot fewer liberal priests around) but her priest, bless him, was kind enough and sensible enough to reassure her that baptism or not, her child was in heaven. He pointed out that God wouldn't have it any other way, and I very firmly believe that too.

I'm so sorry that C was denied the blessing and ceremony you wanted for him. I'm so very, very sorry for that. But I still believe his little soul is safe and sound. I truly do.


pipsylou said...

There are specific verses in the Bible that talk about children going to be with the Lord. I believe in the age of accountability - children, up until a certain age (when that age is is just as individual as that child), are not equipped to make the decision as to whether or not they are going to accept Jesus Christ and recieve his gift of payment for their sins or not. They automatically go to heaven when they die, until they reach the age where they are consciously aware enough to make the choice for themselves. For example, were you to present the gospel message to a 2 year old, they're not going to know what the heck you're talking about - they'll think you're offering them cookies.

This was helpful to me:

I look forward to meeting the child I never got to know here on earth.

pipsylou said...

edited to add:
Did you know David the Psalmist had a stillborn son? one more website:

It makes no sense that a child unable to make a choice would be sent to hell, when the Bible clearly states that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross applies to all mankind. If you don't have the ability to accept that gift (what about the mentally handicapped?), wouldn't it follow that you are not accountable?

niobe said...

How sad that something you wanted so much was denied to you.

I'm assuming that you're Catholic. If not, ignore everything that follows.

I noticed in the fascinating article you linked to that the current Pope (prior to becoming Pope) has rejected the idea that unbaptised babies cannot achieve eternal salvation.

Also, the article noted that a formal report is supposed to be issued soon recommending the adoption of the doctrine that unbaptised children who die do so “in the hope of eternal salvation”

I know this doesn't make up for the failure to baptise C, but at least it shows that the Catholic church is seriously considering this problem and deciding that unbaptised babies can (and presumably do) go to heaven.

Note: I'm Jewish, so take that into account in considering my reading of the theology.

pipsylou said...

We do dedications at our church - our church believes automatically that children go to heaven before the age of accountability - therefore no need for Baptism of a child. Baptism is saved for when the child is old enough to make the decision for themselves, and then they profess their faith before the church through baptism. When we dedicate it just means that we go in front of the church family and promise to raise our child up in the teachings of Christ.

Did I take enough space on your blog? Just wondering.

What a special occasion. This Sunday. I do wonder if we'll get a glimpse of him in his outfit.

kate said...

In Catholic theology, puragotory has not been abandonned. It's still there. just that since they can't sell indulgences to get you out of it any more, they don't talk about it much ;)

Nicolas was not baptized either -- for the same reason -- but a priest splashed some water on his head anyway. He said it was a 'benediction of the body', if i understood rightly, and we burned a candle & said a prayer. It worked for me...i wonder why they didn't do that for C? If you are still talking to the priest, you might mention it. It helped me to have some kind of ceremony even if it wasn't an official sacrament like baptism.