Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My baby's death...

     This past thursday I began the morning like I begin all Thursday mornings. I went to the Gym at 8 and was tortured during my exercise class :). Then, on Thursdays, I go to my younger daughters' dance class. It is my day off and I usually spend it with family. This particular Thursday Beth [my wife] drove Olivia [my oldest] to school. I meet Beth and the two youngest at the dance gym. The kids jumped, kicked, plied, and then at the end of class blew bubbles. It was a normal Thursday. At 10 am we packed the kids into the van and then drove to Beth’s doctor.
      We were happy. It was her 12 week appointment at the OBgyn and we were excited to talk about the baby and the baby’s development. My wife had just turned three month's pregnant. At the doctor we were called into a room and the physician assistant entered. She was a woman we had never met – she was happy, upbeat, and kind.
      Beth laid down and pulled her shirt up to expose her stomach and they put that jelly stuff on her and rubbed that on – and then moved a wand type instrument over her stomach that had a speaker attached and moved it up down and around trying to find the heartbeat of the baby. The PA was smiling as she put the monitor on Beth’s tummy. The kids were on my lap – one on one leg the other on the other. We had been laughing at the rather graphic diagrams on the wall about women’s anatomy while Faith and Hope [my two younger daughters'] were looking at them…a little more info than we were ready to give them.
      The Pa’s face turned from smiling to seriousness. She couldn’t get a heartbeat through the monitor. She said that we would do an ultrasound and that sometimes you can’t hear a heartbeat if the baby is in a weird position. We still weren’t that worried; but we did hold hands and pray that the baby would be ok as she readied the other room.
      We went into a larger room with an ultrasound machine. The process repeated, Beth lifted up her shirt, the wand went on, but this time an image of her womb appeared on the screen. The PA looked - and on the screen I could see that the baby was still small….too small….she said the baby measured 8.5 weeks…and she said that she couldn’t see a heartbeat.
     That was the moment. I do not know that I will ever forget that image in my mind. I can still see the screen as I am writing this – and I can still see the position of my wife when the news hit her and she understood. My wife was vulnerable at that moment. I will never get that image out of my mind. Her stomach out, the ultrasound on her belly, and she took her two hands, put them over her eyes, and began to weep…we both knew – the baby had died. And we had no idea. The baby had been dead for a couple of weeks…and we had no idea.

In a moment, life changes. Things change. Thoughts change. Plans change.

      A morning where you think you are going to rejoice at the development of your child – turns into extreme sadness. In a moment – in just a moment – life changes. You wake up thinking one thing and you go to sleep living another.
      If someone had told me that my wife would miscarriage, I would tell them I would be sad – but that it wouldn’t really hurt me that badly…I mean, I do not really know the child, 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, the body reacts naturally and chances are things were wrong and that’s why she miscarried.
      I was totally wrong about my reaction. I was actually quite surprised at how I took the news. I was devastated. To look at that screen – to see the image of my child with no heartbeat – it was devastating. And then to go home knowing that inside my wife is still the body of my dead child. Heartbreaking.
      On and off we cried and held each other throughout the day. Family and friends gave us many notes of prayers and love. We are so grateful for the love of the church I serve as pastor as well; we truly live within a family there and I cannot express the level of love we have received. I cannot express enough how comforting it is to know that we have a family of people that love us.
      What made this all the more difficult for me was that I had been dead-set against having more children prior to Beth getting pregnant. I looked at this child as a child that was given by God and was going to change our life. Then, this child died. For a short moment, it really shook me. It was sad. It was sad to see my wife that vulnerable. All in all…just sad.
      Add to that the next day that Beth had to go through a procedure to evacuate the remains - sad; and that was just as sad. Just…sad.
      Next week is life Sunday; but let me simply make this clear – it was not a cancer that was dead; it was not a comglomeration of cells that died - a baby died - in particular Beth and my baby died - and I was heartbroken. Many women have talked to my wife about how they too had miscarriages. Many women talked to my wife and texted about when it happened to them. It was very surprising to know how many other couples have gone through this.  Hearing their stories helped us; but also made us realize just how this sadness hits so many.
      Our doctor said that 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriages. That means that naturally, 1 in 5 babies naturally die in the wombs of their mothers. 20% .
      I do not want this blog to be about me or my wife alone. I am writing this because this is simply our recent story of how death has attacked us. That is our recent story of sadness; and in our experience, it was rather tragic.
      This blog is written because of this simple fact - death is real. Pain is real. Grief is real. Suffering is real. We live in a world of suffering, death, and grief. Many families in Paris this week know this much more than me – acts of terrorism and death. The loss of family members. Waking up thinking one thing – going to bead having to live another thing.
      Disease is very real. Though we’ve stopped talking about it in America – Ebola is still ripping through West African nations. People – real people – are dying. You have your stories. I have mine. I have had a daughter that has gone through seizures and brain surgery, Beth just lost a baby, her father died of a brain tumor, and my father died of Alzheimers. That’s our stories of sickness and death. But me…I am healthy. Beth is healthy. We have three healthy children.
      Some of you – right now – are sick. Some of you have close relatives and family members that are sick. You have your own stories. I believe every single one of you could write here and tell a heartbreaking story – I am not unique or different – you could tell a story of hurt that involves disease, grief, or death.
     This past Sunday I told the congregation I serve this story; and this past Sunday we focused on one verse of Scripture - it comes from Romans 16:20 and it reads this:

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

     God created this world perfectly - without disease, pain, suffering, or grief. Yet, we as people disobeyed and were tempted into sin. The devil tempted Eve and through Adam and Eve's disobedience sin entered the world. It is sin that brings death. It is sin that brings disease And in the midst of this death God made a promise. He cursed the devil and said that from the woman would come one who would crush his head. That someone is Jesus.
     It is Jesus that died for sin and then rose again; and when Jesus rose again He kicked open a door of everlasting life that for all who trust in Him will receive eternal life. Jesus defeated death. Jesus tasted death - and then came back. Jesus, today, is still resurrected flesh; so much so that He has secured resurrection power for all who trust in Him.

     It is Jesus' resurrection that stays my grief from overpowering me. Because He lives, we too shall live. I place my baby in the loving arms of Jesus Christ and say, "take care of my child. You defeated this death - bring resurrection." Jesus crushed the head of Satan at the cross and empty tomb.  The only thing Satan has is sin and death; and Jesus has defeated them.  I am Jesus' brother - if you trust in Him so are you.  When He comes back....the God of peace will crush death for us all.
     And then the devil can go to hell....literally. 
     Jesus gives comfort because He lives.  And because He lives, at His return, I am sure I, and my baby, will too. Amen.