We had lost two times previously during pregnancy. Each time we thought it was enough. Certainly God was done! Hadn't we learned all there was about grief, parental loss and the power of prayer? At 10 weeks in this pregnancy the doctor couldn't seem to find the baby's heartbeat. I immediately feared the worst, bursting into tears! But wait! There! He found it! A healthy baby's heart beat away inside of me. Nothing to fear! Whew!
Fast forward the clock to my 39th week and when I realized that I hadn't felt the baby move recently. With growing fear I drank juice and lay quietly on my left side. Ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty. Nothing. Too quiet. Fear choked me. Arrangements were made and I was whisked downtown to the hospital. It was the holidays, and we had just celebrated Christmas. On the way I saw a vision over the freeway that was a banner over me. It read, "Sleep in heavenly peace." I knew. This child was gone too.
The next hours were ghastly. I will spare you their crude details. Suffice it to say it was the 3rd horror of an ultrasound room and a doctor telling me they were sorry. I was furious! "You're sorry?!?!?" I made it all the way to the end of my pregnancy and you are SORRY?!?!?! I made the poor doctor (she was a very unlucky intern!) turn the machine back on and look again. It didn't matter. That baby's heart was still. Sleep in heavenly peace.
I remember distinctly praying in my heart that I needed to have Jesus with skin on. Not much later Brian's friend Horace came to us. He was sweet and quiet, reverent and peaceful. He stood over my still swollen belly and read the 23rd Psalm to us. I think it was truly one of the most beautiful life moments. Here was Jesus, with skin on. He happened to look like Horace at that moment, but for the first time I really heard the words of that familiar psalm. In the depth of this horror, here was Jesus. My soul was given peace and I slept that night.
The next morning before labor was induced I can remember staring at my red puffy face in the mirror and praying to God on High, "You had better get some glory through this!!" I had a policy that I had put into place when our first child died (at 22 weeks gestation) that I would not waste any pain. If God gave it to me, I would mine it for the gems hiding within. Now facing a very scary delivery and seeing my dead child, I demanded that He get what glory He could from it.
I did not yet know what our baby was, boy or girl. I thought it was a boy, and that moment he was born believe it or not, I still had the thrill of learning that he was indeed a boy! It was a most conflicted moment of emotion. I could write and write about the next hours, but perhaps that belongs in a book guiding other families in their own stillborn loss.
It came time to leave the hospital. To this day, that moment was the lowest in which I had ever sunk. To get into a car and drive away from a hospital, no longer pregnant, with empty arms and a silent car was heartbreaking. Truly, I have no words to describe the sheer despair of that moment. The silence was deafening. And then, there were horrible sounds, the sound of the dead--shrieks of grief like you wouldn't believe. I was shocked to realize they were coming from me. Brian reached over and put his hand on me. My head was numb and tingling and I could not seem to quit screaming. Then a second banner appeared over the road. This time it said, quite clearly, "Joy comes in the morning." I don't know exactly how God's Spirit works but in one blink of an eye I went from the deepest pit I had ever been in to a place of solid ground with a promise that I could cling to. Joy comes in the morning. Yes. I could believe that. I knew God and I knew He could do that. And so that deepest pit I touched down in was merely just moments long. Just as it says in Psalm 23, "when you walk through the valley of death, you will fear no evil..." (emphasis added) I found out later as I searched God's Word that those beautiful words of hope come from Psalm 30:5.
So much I could write about all I have processed and learned, grieved and rejoiced. But maybe for here, this is enough. Yes, maybe it is.
Click here to see pictures of our son Oskar. These pictures are not easy to look at. You have to purposely click to see them.