November 29, 2010
Your heart was supposed to start beating today or tomorrow, according to my maternity nursing textbook, but instead, I spent the day grieving the end of your incredibly short life.
I don’t know how to express the feelings within me. When I began to suspect your existence just a few days ago, my heart swelled with new emotions. I felt this strange new mix of excitement, fear, joy, trepidation, and mostly love. Perhaps it was the love that surprised me the most. How could I love with such fierceness someone I had never met? How could I have such a depth of affection for someone whose face I had never seen—someone who didn’t yet even have a face?
When I looked at the line on the pregnancy test, I was amazed. Suddenly, merely in looking at that positive result, I had taken on a new identity. I was a mother. You gave me a new title, and with that title, a new, sacred responsibility. And although it was not a title or responsibility that I had sought to possess just yet, I was overwhelmed with joy at attaining it. It was not a duty which I took lightly.
During those five days that I was aware of your life inside of me, not a moment went by in which I was not conscious of your presence in my womb. Countless times during those days, I placed my hand over my abdomen and praised God for the precious gift inside of me: you.
Your daddy and I couldn’t stop talking about you, thinking about you, and dreaming about you. I felt certain that you were a boy. We talked about what we would name you, where you would sleep, and what you might look like. We imagined how sweet it would be to hear your heartbeat for the first time, see the outline of your silhouette on the ultrasound machine, and hold you in our arms. Your daddy loved to put his hand over my tummy and say, “I love you, baby.” We both loved you so much.
Together, we praised God for the opportunity to know you, love you, and raise you to know and love God.
Judah, you gave me five of the sweetest, fullest days of my life, and for that, I also praise God.
But now, I feel a deep and intense emptiness, left only with my vacant womb. I am angry. Angry at sin which results in death, even for the innocent. Angry at the pregnant teenager at the doctor’s office who will soon hold her child in her arms while your daddy and I grieve with empty ones. Most of all, angry at my empty womb for failing to fulfill its purpose by rejecting the life it was supposed to nurture. Last night, as I began to cramp and the blood began to come, I felt that my very body was betraying me by doing the opposite of what I wanted. I wanted nothing more, baby Judah, than to protect you from anything that would harm you. But in the end, it was not a disease or a bully or a wild animal that attacked you. Instead, it was my uterus, the one place where you should have been safe. And from my own body, I was powerless to shelter you. I’m sorry, Judah.
But I also have peace knowing that someday, God will even the score against this injustice. Until then, though, we ache.
Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “With Hope” is playing as I type this. The lyrics sum up well how my heart feels right now:
This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...
We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again
And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...
We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...
So we can cry with hope
And say goodbye with hope
We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope
Judah, our culture does not view your life as having any meaning or value. Many do not even view you as a person. But your daddy and I know differently. We know that God knit you together in my womb in His own image. We know that fingers and toes and a heart that beats are not what make you valuable. You are valuable not because of what you possess, but because of who you are.
Therefore, we grieve. We ache. Nothing can remove the pain of losing you. Nothing. But as the song says, we ache with hope. We do believe that God’s promises are true. And thus, we believe that you are in His presence now, and that we will see you face to face someday. I am confident that when we do, we will recognize you as our son. And I can’t wait to find out if you did get your daddy's eyes.
Your name means “praise,” and I think that’s fitting. I praised God when I found out you were growing within me, and I continue to praise Him for the privilege of being your mommy, even if only for a few weeks. It wasn’t long enough, but it was longer than I deserved.
I love you, sweet Judah. I will see you in Heaven.