It was a Sunday, late morning. I stood in the store aisle, nervously looking at the selection before me, knowing I had to get back home before Sackett Man returned from Church. I had stayed home after waking up feeling horribly sick to my stomach, just as I had for the past two days. And just as it happened the last two days, by 11:30 am the nausea magically disappeared.
‘I couldn’t be.’ I thought.
And yet here I was, surrounded by dozens of small boxes that spouted promises of ‘Results 2 Days Sooner!’ ‘Test Before You’ve Even Missed!’ ‘Get 3 tests for the price of 2!’ I made my selection, paid for it, and hurried home, hoping to discover, before Sackett Man returned, whether or not my suspicions were correct.
The results were positive.
Our reactions were not so much. We wanted a family, someday, but we were young… very young… I was barely 22. Sackett Man was working two jobs. I had a part-time job and was in college full-time. We barely saw one another, just trying to get a good start on life and finish school so that we could give our future family our entire focus.
And did I mention I felt, suddenly and wholly, far too young? I didn’t know if I was ready. Having a baby was HUGE, and I was determined to be the best mother I could be, and an even better mother than that with God’s help. I just didn’t know if I was ready now.
The first few months passed. I grew out of my jeans and moved into maternity pants. My aunt ecstatically surprised me with the gift of some adorable maternity shirts she had found on her last shopping trip. I began to feel okay with it, even to look forward to it, despite the panicky flippity-flop of my heart that still happened once in a while. I was cute in the clothes. People told me I was glowing and pretty. We began to think about names, and to get hesitantly excited about the fast-coming day we would have our ultrasound and find out if we should be buying blue or pink.
The day came. I was five months pregnant; it was the week before Finals. My college friends were dying to know. Sackett Man, my mom, and I went to the appointment and watched with baited breath as the picture of our little one appeared on the screen. *He* was there, adorable and cute, little legs and arms curled in.
He didn’t move.
The doctor frowned, staring at the screen.
He moved a little, but it quickly became clear that he was so still because there was almost no amniotic fluid. At all. The doctor continued to frown, and after the ultrasound we waited in the exam room nervously for him to come back and tell us the results.
I don’t remember, anymore, the doctor’s exact words. They were washed away in the understanding, the awful, horrible dawning of understanding, that we were going to lose our baby. He had Potter’s Syndrome. His kidneys didn’t develop properly. That explained the lack of amniotic fluid, since amniotic fluid is made primarily of the baby’s urine. We were ready to put his name down for donor kidneys, in the hopes we could save him once he was born, and then we were given the final blow: without amniotic fluid, the lungs also don’t develop normally. In our baby’s case, his lungs hadn’t developed at all.
There was no saving him.
I could deliver at any time. I might have him that night, as sometimes a woman’s body, telling that something is wrong with the pregnancy, goes into labor. Or I could go full term.
I barely remember the following days and weeks. They became lost in a fog, filled with tears and numbness and grief and prayer after prayer after prayer, begging God for something. Anything. I didn’t know what to pray for, so it was wordless and pleading. My husband prayed and pleaded with God to heal our son. He knew the miracles of God, knew that if it was in God’s will He could and would heal our baby. I wanted to pray for this miracle, but my breaking mother’s heart couldn’t bear to hope only to break again. So I left that prayer to Sackett Man, and I just prayed that God would bring an answer sooner rather than later.
I talked to my son. I held my belly and sang to him, every day, trying to convey to my quiet child still within me how much, how very much I loved him. How much I would always love him. How much I would miss him during the intervening years, till I got to heaven and would see him again.
In the middle of the night, late in July, I awoke to horrible stomach cramps. I don’t remember what I had eaten the night before, but I remember thinking it was the worst case of indigestion I had ever had. I tried to just ride it out, as one usually does, and then tried to sleep, but every time my eyes slid shut the cramping woke me up again.
I finally got up and walked around, hoping the movement would help things sort out. It did help my stomach cramping, except then my back began to cramp. Vise-like and crippling, making my knees buckle and my eyes water. It only took a few of those for me to grab my phone and call my mom. She told me to get my husband, to call an ambulance, and that she was driving over as fast as she could. I hung up and somehow managed to make my way to the bedroom. Sackett Man woke up, bleary and in shock. By the time he understood what was happening I knew it was close, it was too late. I got into the tub as he was on the phone, and barely a moment later our little David was born. Mom arrived a few minutes later, as I was catching my breath and trying to recover from the waves of dizziness that had taken me.
David was moving. Unable to breathe, but reaching for me just the same. In the short minute I had I held him, washed him, and told him I loved him.
I grieved most of that day. It didn’t fully hit Sackett Man until we entered the funeral home that afternoon, and he had to carry his son in and give him up. All we could do after that was hold each other. Even the Memorial Service we held at our house, with family and friends and our pastor, was a blur that we just tried to get through.
I won’t give any pat remarks about how God pulled us through it, how we drew closer and rested in His unfailing love and comfort. While true, those words cover the reality with a sugar-coating. We were not okay, not at all, but we knew we would be. We had lost our son, but we knew that he was with God and that he was not suffering. Our hearts were broken, but God continued to steadily fill us with His comfort and surrounded us with an amazing number of people who cared about us and supported us. There were times we felt empty of grief and were able to smile, and times we cried and cried and felt like nothing would ever be right ever again.
Sackett Man healed faster than I did, but that was due in large to the fact that I developed post-partum depression about eight to ten months later, and then one of my sister-in-law’s announced she was expecting. With the loss and the depression, it was not a difficult slide into bitter jealousy. I knew I shouldn’t; it was wrong of me to focus all of my resentment on her. She was lovely and kind and caring, and was very careful to be thoughtful and considerate around me. It was my own heart that was still in grief that was causing the issues.
I clung to Sackett Man, and I clung to God. He promised that nothing would ever separate us, that everything good is from Him, that He could take even a bad situation and mold it into something better. I didn’t know WHAT He could take from this, but Sackett Man and I had never, ever been closer or more in love with each other. We were ready for a family; we WANTED a baby now more than anything. Our lives and priorities had shifted for the better, and settled into something solid and sure. I had discovered that no matter how crazy, unpredictable, and horrifyingly unsteady the world was around me, God had proven His promise to be there and to be the same. It was true. He never changed. He never wavered. He heard my whispers and my wails. My son was safe now, forever, with Him, and someday I would see him again.
The storm had been wild and horrible, but I was beginning to see a break in the clouds.
And the next year, the sun came blazing out, and God revealed the wonderful, bright eyed, eight pound miracle He had waiting for us…