My heart is hurting more intensely than I ever imagined it could. Believe it or not, I thought I was prepared to deal with the grief that would come with losing our baby. I learned very quickly that there is NO way to prepare for it until you are in the midst of it. I never imagined that it could be this painful, intense, consuming, or absolutely life shattering. Most of my moments are spent staring, thinking about the seemingly fleeting moments we had with our son. The moments leading up to his birth. The time after his precious heart stopped beating and how I felt like my entire soul went with him, leaving me utterly lost, empty, and broken.
I’ve been told, on multiple occasions, and by multiple individuals, that diagnosis day is the worst. And that the day of his birth would be filled with peace and hope. I don’t discount what they told me, or by any means think that they are wrong. Each of these people have also suffered most painful losses, and help women through their own losses. They are incredibly wise. But for me, although yesterday was one of the most beautiful days of my life, it was also the very worst. Welcoming our son into the world was one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to do. Knowing that, although completely out of my control, I was going to deliver him, only to watch him leave us was terrifying.
The day was nothing but divinely orchestrated. I scheduled a last minute visit on Tuesday in order to be able to see my midwife this week, rather than another doctor I wasn’t as familiar with. I told her about my discomfort through the morning and after an ultrasound she confirmed that Ethan was now head down and I was dilated 2 cm. She believed me to be in early labor and that I could very likely end up going to the hospital sometime that night or the next day. On my way home I received a message from my midwife letting me know that one of the doctors that we were particularly close with was on call until the next morning. In that moment I knew that our son would be born before the morning. I knew that this was God’s timing, all of the pieces were falling into place, with all of the people God divinely intended to have present at the birth of our son. The conflicting emotions in the following hours were hard to keep up with. In most cases, mothers are elated to meet their babies. They’ve been waiting so long to see their faces, determine what features come from which parent, kiss their noses, hold them to their chest, nurse them, the list is endless. I wanted to meet our son, so badly. But I was NOT prepared to have to say goodbye. I wasn’t ready to have him leave the safety of my womb only to have an unknown amount of time with him before his soul left his body to join our Lord.
But I didn’t have a choice. I got home and my contractions became regular not long after. I arrived at the hospital with them being about 7-10 minutes apart. Within 15 minutes they were 2-3 minutes apart and I was at 5 cm. Things were moving quickly. I wasn’t ready. I would never be ready. All I could seem to process was the thought, “I don’t want to do this.” My brother and other family were trying to get home from a vacation in Colorado with continual delays. I begged God to allow Ethan to wait long enough for my brother to meet him; and God answered my prayer. After more time than any of us expected, due to Ethan’s condition, a few hurdles, some tough decisions, and many many prayers, (along with a medical support system that was beyond anything I could have ever prayed for- another one of God’s divine mercies) Ethan was born at 3:36am. I was embarrassed to admit it to anyone before, but I think it’s important to be honest. I was anxious about what to expect when he was born. Although I knew that we would love him beyond words, and see beyond any earthly imperfections, I didn’t know what to expect. I was so mistaken. Our son was breathtaking. He was the most beautiful, precious, loving soul I’ve ever known. I think he touched every person’s soul, to their depths, who had the pleasure of meeting him. He was astounding. After having a moment to examine him, while in my arms, they were encouraged by the strength of his heart. They guessed that we could possibly have an entire day with him, unless something drastically changed. It was so much more than I had ever dreamed to hope for. I was able to take a deep breath and relax. A day! I had hoped for moments, just enough for him to meet our children and family.
Thankfully, our children were able to come and meet him, then our families. After spending time holding him, kissing him, and admiring how perfect he was, everyone made their way home to rest. By 5:30am our room had dwindled down to John and me. We took turns holding Ethan, each of us getting just a few minutes of sleep. And then Ethan’s breathing began to change. With this change, also came a decrease in his heart rate. We began to worry that we wouldn’t have as much time as we’d hoped for, but then his breathing began to regulate some, it sounded a little clearer and less labored. We remained hopeful.
I will never forget handing him to John so that I could complete his birth certificate information. I told the nurse that now would probably be the best time, rather than “later”. I began filling in names, birthdates, places of birth… and I looked over at John as I saw him patting little Ethan’s back. At first it didn’t alarm me, as we sometimes needed to remind him to breathe. But then John looked at me and said that we might want the nurse to check for his heart beat again. I took our child in to my arms, trying to do everything that I could to coax him to breath, or show us some sign that he was still with us. I still hadn’t given up hope. It had only been six and a half hours, we were supposed to have plenty more time. The nurse came quickly and like many other things that happened that day, I will never forget what followed. I waited as she placed the stethoscope on his chest. Waiting for her to spend time looking at the clock to determine how many times per minute his little heart was beating, I studied her face. She quickly glanced at the clock, but not long enough. Her attention drew back to his chest, as she focused intently. And then, she nodded at us, the nod that no parent ever, ever wants to see. At that moment, a part of my heart was lost that I don’t know if I will ever get back. I looked down at our son, weeping to the depths of my soul, and realized that his precious soul was in the presence of our Lord and Saviour, hosts of angels, and my daddy. This did not lessen the excruciating, earth shattering pain that was rocking me to my core. He had passed peacefully in his Daddy’s arms at 10:01am, 6 hours and 35 minutes after his birth.
Everything else has been a blur. Almost as if nothing else after losing him has mattered. Our son is gone. A piece of us both is gone with him. John and I both are hurting beyond anything we could ever describe. We are clinging to our faith by threads, knowing that the only One that will ultimately give us strength, hope, comfort, and peace is our Creator. While we still struggle with why, we know that in His master design, God has a plan for all of this heartbreak.
Writing this has been difficult, but I knew I needed to share this part of our story with those precious family and friends that have so faithfully prayed for us, mourned with us, and loved us throughout.
Tomorrow we will lay our son to rest. I ask for prayers for my precious husband, who has and continues to be my rock, but who I know is aching just as badly as I am. Please pray for peace for our family; for God to wrap us all in the comfort of His loving arms as we face the most difficult day of our lives. God Bless every one of you.