Tuesday, 11 May 2021
Micah and Maggie Micah and Maggie Micah Murphy

“Love doesn’t run cost-benefit analyses - It just gives”

I’ve waited long enough and I need to let the world see her, my Margaret Clare. Hiding her away isn’t helping.

I love you, Maggie.

Maggie died hours before her scheduled birth on May 26. No previous indications of problems except a brief miscarriage scare early on that turned out to be nothing. When she was born, it was clear she had Down Syndrome.

I’ve hidden her, afraid of negative comments about her appearance, both for DS and on account of her coloring, which seems likely to be due to the heart defect that took her life.

But hiding her away, especially since we’re all feeling so hidden away, hasn’t really helped.

I’m not ashamed of my little girl. I love her and I will see her again, when God in His mercy brings me to her.

We were already united in everything  - Except suffering

It hurt a lot to go from the incredible high of “we’re having a baby today!” to the devastating rock bottom of burying out daughter. In an instant. In a moment when they couldn’t find her heartbeat.

And it was the quietest c-section there’s ever been.

There was no chatter between the surgeon and techs about upcoming plans. No radio music. No laughter, no joy, and no cries from our baby.

Only silent sobs.

When I saw her, my mind was in shock. I knew it was trying to put the baby in a box.

It wasn’t my daughter, it was just “a baby.”

I refused to go along. I found her nose. That’s my wife’s nose. That’s our baby.

Our baby who had died.

I worried when this happened that it would be a strain on our marriage. I’ve heard how that can happen. I understand it.

Praise God, He’s made us closer than ever. We have a strong marriage. We were already united in everything. Except suffering.

Now we share that, too.

Instead of traditional door hanger - a halo with angel wings

I’m so tired of masks. I support masks. But I’m sick of them.

Because I was wearing a mask when they pulled her out of my wife.

I go to Mass or to work or to the store, always reminded of her.

Still have the car seat in the back of the car. Brand new. Meant to donate it, just haven’t yet.

I had to go hide it when we left the hospital so my wife wouldn’t burst into tears.

Hospital tried to hassle me about re-entry and COVID.

“I lost a baby.”

They stood down.

They moved us down the hall from the other parents who had living babies. In place of the traditional door hanger, we got a halo with angel wings. I wonder what those other parents thought, if they noticed.

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Our roof was destroyed by a hailstorm the same day. When it rains, it pours.

I had to drive home and tell the kids. Poor kids were already anxious because we hadn’t reported in for hours. There was nothing but pain for them.

Now my little girl is buried down the road, about a mile. I feel torn. I desperately want to start fresh, some new job, somewhere else.

But I feel like I have roots here. Literally in the ground.

At least she’s next to her grandpa.

I didn’t mean to be done with the story, I was writing it out piecemeal and then just dozed off. I’ve been so emotionally exhausted lately. Grief is exhausting.

Thank you all for your prayers.

I’m sorry that wasn’t very linear storytelling. I’m kind of a mess right now.

Didn’t mention I have 5 other kids. Maggie was a girl in a pattern of boy, girl, boy, girl, boy. And I’m a couple weeks older than my wife, so that’s another boy, girl at the too of the list. She broke us even again in our tug of war. But now she’s pulling from heaven. Girls won.

The 3yo keeps asking where she is. We told him she’s with Jesus. He asks all the time when we’re bringing her home. He told us she’s having lunch with Jesus and then she’ll come see us. Breaks my heart. 

I’ve got some great kids. She would have been SO loved.

I will miss her my whole life 

Our Lady of Lourdes saved our third child. We lost his heartbeat, he wasn’t there in the ultrasound. They told us he’d been an early miscarriage, scheduled a consult for the next morning. I blessed my wife’s belly with Lourdes water and he was there the next day.

Sometimes I wonder why she saved him but didn’t save our Maggie.

I know that God’s ways are inscrutable. I submit to His wisdom. I just wish I understood it.

Our firstborn, also, was a close call. Placental abruption. But he made it.

Why not Maggie?

I will miss her my whole life — a life I sometimes now pray will be short — but I know I want to love for my wife and my kids. I want to see my grandkids, God willing. Maybe one of them will even be named Margaret Clare.

They act like dads aren’t supposed to have feelings about this. The nurses kept giving my wife counseling referrals and never even mentioned anything to me.

I’m here to tell you it’s tearing me apart inside.

Tweet This: "They act like dads aren’t supposed to have feelings about this (Infant loss). I’m here to tell you it’s tearing me apart inside."

I miss you, Maggie, and I love you.

For a moment, I wanted to change her name to something else, I loved that name, “Margaret Clare.” I didn’t want it to go to waste.

Then it dawned on me that burying the name with her was no waste. My daughter deserved the best name I could give her. She was a person.

So I gave her that name. I gave it to her forever. I buried her with dignity and a Christian name. Because that’s all I for to give her in life: a burial and a name. And my heart. She has it forever.

My other girls are both daddy’s girls. I think she would’ve been one, too.

My wife kept breaking down and weeping, “why? What was it all for?”

I know the feeling. I ask the same question.

But in the end, I think we’re put here to learn how to love and be loved, to prepare for heaven.

Tweet This: "In the end, I think we’re put here to learn how to love and be loved, to prepare for heaven."

We loved Margaret. Her whole life. We did right by her. Still do.

I met a guy who volunteered with St. Mother Teresa’s nuns in Calcutta. He was assigned to rub down a dying patient with lotion. The man was a lost cause, it was just to give him comfort in his final hours.

Love gives. It doesn’t run cost-benefit analyses. It just gives.

We never got to see her smile or her eyes. We never got to hear her cry or her laugh. It all feels so futile. Such a waste.

But no. We loved her. We gave of ourselves to conceive her. We gave of ourselves to grow her. We gave of ourselves her whole life and into her death.

We loved Margaret and we still do.

Love just gives.

We should just love them

Maybe that’s the lesson. 

No matter a person’s worth, no matter how long they have left, no matter their chances of success, we should just love them.

We love you, Margaret.

When we picked the name “Margaret,” we didn’t have a particular St. Margaret in mind.

A couple weeks after the funeral, my 7yo mentions a Margaret who was patron of DS. My wife and I both have degrees in theology; never heard of her. We look her up. Bl. Margaret of Castello.

We decided posthumously that should be Margaret’s patron. Bl. Margaret of Castello.

I also ask for the prayers of Servant of God Jerome Lejeune. Did you know the man who discovered the gene for Down Syndrome was a devout Catholic and friend of St. JPII?

Deeply touched by all the attention this has received and all the prayers for my family. Thank you.

There is so much more I could say, but I think this thread is long enough as it is.

Pray we can find a fresh start in life, if God wills it, without ever forgetting our Maggie.

My continued thanks to all who’ve written of their prayers. Thank you and God bless you. 

Editor’s note: Micah Murphy is a cartoonist, humorist, and purveyor of hot takes on Catholic, pro-life, family, and political culture at Thy Geekdom Come. He and his wife, Jennie, live in Louisiana with their six children (including Margaret). His reflection was posted via his Twitter account and is reprinted with permission.

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, and also Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

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