I take out the silver cross and place it around my neck. It’s a symbol and reminder that I wear often, but always on June 13th. It’s been three years, and as grief does, the pain has faded from daily to weekly to only popping up every once in a while unexpectedly. Yet, June 13th still holds moments I remember so intensely.
Jason and I were in the emergency room that day. I had just begun my second trimester of an unexpected pregnancy. We already had two amazing boys, Adam and Eli, and had not planned to have any more when I found out we were expecting. I feel every child is a gift from God and thought, “Ready or not, this is God’s plan.”
While waiting for a sonogram, I felt nervous but not panicked. We had been through a difficult pregnancy with Eli: low fluid, early labor, and I had to take a pill to keep him from coming too early. But in the end, Eli was born healthy. This situation, however, was so different. With Eli, I had been hooked up to monitors and given medication to stop labor, but I was also further along. Needless to say, I was concerned at how slowly things seemed to be moving in the ER during this visit.
As the pain intensified, I was taken to imaging to get a sonogram. Worry began to embrace me, and I started to pray as they wheeled me into a waiting room. In what felt like forever, Jason and I finally were taken in. As soon as the lady pressed the instrument onto my belly, I knew. It was as if all the wind was knocked out of me and I could barely choke out an “I don’t see the baby”.
The screen flashed black and the lady running the test bowed her head and quietly murmured an “I’m sorry”. What followed could only be described as a whirlwind. Frantically, I tried to grasp on to hope. Surely, God would not abandon me. I went to the bathroom and discovered a very large amount of blood, taking away from me the shred of hope I had left.
Not too long after being wheeled back to the ER, I felt what I could only describe as the sensation of giving birth. The nurse came in and quickly removed the baby behind a sheet where Jason and I could not see.
All at once, it was gone: the pregnant feeling, the connection, and I was empty. It was the same experience as giving birth to my other children, but with no joy, no one to hold, no cries, no laughter – just an empty feeling; the emptiness in my body and the emptiness in my arms.
The nurses brought us our tiny baby boy. We named him Jude. He was so small they placed him in a cup. He was every bit a baby with eyes, nose, fingers, and toes. Perfect in every way, but not developed to survive in this world. There are no words to describe that moment. No words to describe the pain.
I could write to you about how sad and alone I felt. About how well-meaning people tried to comfort me but used all the wrong words. How I had to be admitted that evening due to blood loss, and the agonizing realization that the hospital had placed me in the labor and delivery ward. Every time a baby was born, I had to hear a soft lullaby over the speaker. It was agony.
I would love to tell you that I instantly looked to God and sought comfort in scripture and worship, but that would be a lie. I was angry at God. How could He give us an unexpected gift only to allow it to be ripped away? Why did God not intervene?
I do not have that answer and I do not expect to receive it. What I can tell you is how I got through the worst experience in my life.
It happened one day as I was driving alone in the car. Jason and I had been making decisions on how to proceed with a burial and what kind, if any, memorial service we would hold. I cannot speak on my husband’s behalf, but I never saw someone so patient, caring and understanding. I know he is the man God has sent for me.
I was in the midst of all this chaos in my mind as I was driving and I had it out with God. I let all the anger and frustration I had pent up fly right out of my mouth as a heavy flow of tears streamed down my face. It just so happened that I had the radio on, and as I silently sobbed, the song “Held” by Natalie Grant began to play:
“This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive, this is what it means to be loved and to know that the promise was when everything failed, we’d be held”.
As I listened, a peace that I cannot describe came over me. God was in the car, holding me. He did not leave me. In the following weeks, we held a memorial to honor the short presence of little Jude, and I sang that song. God held me every step of the way. God’s grace and mercy were so real to me in the midst of my pain and suffering.
So why did I choose to share this story with you? I don’t know what you are facing in your life or how much pain you may feel. Maybe you are without any hope. What I do know is there is a God who loves you. If you call out to Him, He will hear you. You may still have to go through the pain, but God will give you the strength to do it. During this time, I came upon a scripture which we had etched into Jude’s urn, Lamentations 3: 17-24
17 My soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”