You've got to have faith
I wasn't particularly religious until our baby girl died at 23 weeks in December 2003. That night in hospital, holding the tiny but perfectly formed baby in our arms, I gratefully accepted the offer of a visit from the hospital chaplain who said a prayer over her little body and recited the blessing which is traditionally sung at Church of Scotland baptisms. We would never have chosen to have an actual funeral but were told that there would be a cremation as a matter of course and it was our choice to be there or not. So it was that one cold winter day we arrived at the crematorium and were handed a small white coffin to carry down the aisle. The hospital chaplain conducted a short service and the only people present were my husband, my older daughter, then aged 16 months and me.
We were overwhelmed by cards from friends and relatives, the most moving of which was from a business colleague in Holland who said she had lit a candle for our daughter in a beautiful church in Amsterdam. Thereafter, whenever I went on a business trip I made a point of seeking out a church to light a candle for our little girl. It was in a cathedral in Frankfurt that I had the realisation that I could probably get the same solace were I to go to church at home and from then on I started going to church on a regular basis.
Both my girls were baptised in Islay, a beautiful island on the West Coast of Scotland where my own name is on the cradle roll. We will do the same with our baby boy but I wanted to do something at home to celebrate his birth in our own church, as to be honest, he could do with all the prayers he can get. It seemed appropriate to arrange the Blessing for the anniversary of when we lost the baby which by coincidence is the same date I found out I was pregnant last Christmas.
I thought we could cancel out the negative emotions with positive ones but going into church and seeing her name in the Book of Rememberance, I was choked and bitterly regretted putting mascara on my bottom lashes. It wasn't helped by the fact that in attempting to downplay the occasion, my husband's family were up en masse but none of my family were there at all, apart from a second cousin who I clung to, grateful that I had at least one blood relation in the congregation. Thankfully I was able to pull myself together and smiled proudly as our nine and six year old girls were invited to light the advent candles, and even managed to sing the Blessing when we stood at the front, as the minister carried our baby around the church. The only moment I faltered was when he held our deaf baby boy and said, ‘May you Hear the voice of God ringing clear for you every day'. Tears welled in my eyes and those of most of the congregation.
I know it is fashionable to condemn religion. I know it causes as many problems as it solves.
But I really need to have faith that my baby girl is in heaven and that my prayers that my baby boy will grow up to be able to hear and speak will be answered.