Several years ago, I was in a small room at the hospital with my husband and ultrasound tech, watching a screen with a tiny, wriggling blob and listened to the very faint beating of my child’s heart. I was eight weeks along.

Two weeks later, I would be in the same room, watching the ultrasound tech’s face. She wouldn’t say anything. No sounds would come from the machine. She finished the exam and said results would be sent to my doctor. 

We left and my husband asked if I felt better since the tech didn’t say we were miscarrying. I replied “She didn’t let us hear the heartbeat.”

I had started bleeding the day before. My doctor immediately called and scheduled an ultrasound “as a precaution” for the next day. The day after the exam, I would be on the phone with my doctor, in intense pain, while I miscarried my child in my bathroom. 

The only tangible proof I have of my 10-week-old-in-utero child is a medical record with an ultrasound attached—and then a medical record of me going to the doctor during the miscarriage itself.

I’m an advocate of pro-life. I believe life begins at conception and ends at death. My 10-week-old-in-utero child was alive—both a part of me, and a separate person. But the law said I wasn’t allowed to prove this unless the child was at 20 weeks gestation.

But something amazing has happened in my state. It’s unprecedented. No other state in the United States has anything like this. On April 18, 2018, Nebraska passed a bill allowing parents of a miscarried child to apply for a commemorative birth certificate.

So what makes that so special? Parents were already allowed to do this, so long as the gestation period was 20 weeks.

This bill allows for the commemorative certificate with no minimum gestation period. As long as a health care practitioner had verified the pregnancy, and then diagnoses an “unintentional, spontaneous” miscarriage (termed a “nonviable birth” in the bill), the parents can request a commemorative birth certificate. It is also retroactive.

Tangible proof that the child existed, for whatever amount of time. The certificate will include the name and gender of the child, if known.

My baby, whose life I held for 10 weeks. My Jordan Lee. Gender unknown. October 31, 2013.

How many others will this bill provide dignity to their child, more acceptance of miscarriages and the losses families suffer, and more closure for the family? If nothing else, it validates and honors the loss of the child.

The cost of the commemorative certificate is $17 to cover the State’s cost of issuing the certificate. Read more about this bill.

You might also like:

You Have the Right to Mourn Your Miscarriage

Saying Goodbye To Our Baby Girl: Our Miscarriage Story

But Mommy, You Were Too Busy

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Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.