|This photo was taken the day before I learned that our baby had no heartbeat.|
|Holding Elijah wrapped up in a blanket at the funeral home|
Five years ago today, I headed to my OB appointment in high hopes of seeing our baby for the first time via sonogram. I was 20 weeks pregnant in my 4th pregnancy.
I remember seeing him on the screen as a sweet lady measured his little legs and asked me questions about how far along I thought I was in the pregnancy. I talked nervously, almost giddy to have a peek at him for the first time. I had not noticed that the sonogram tech was fairly quiet until she spoke in almost a whisper, "Let me go get your midwife."
Something in her voice made me grab her arm before she left the room, and I asked, "What's wrong?"
In the same quiet whisper, she reluctantly spoke the words that would split my world into a million fragments: "Sweetie, there is no heartbeat."
I turned to see the screen, and there lay a beautifully formed tiny baby...very still. I stared, with all my heart, wishing he would move.
The next 30 minutes were filled with a blur of double checking the sonogram, making plans for a hospital visit the following morning and discussing options for keeping baby's body for a funeral or having the hospital dispose of him. There are some things a Mama just cannot imagine thinking about.
Baby had to be delivered very soon because from what they could tell, he seemed to have stopped growing at 16 weeks, meaning that he had not been alive for 4 weeks. They were concerned for my health. The conversations blurred together, and shock took over every part of my body. As I stood at the little window waiting to pay, I remember the secretary telling me they would handle the charges later and that I needed to drive safely. "Okay" was all I could manage to say. She asked if I knew how to get to the hospital in another town, and I honestly couldn't make sense out of the directions...couldn't understand words she said. It felt as if I was spinning in a tunnel with no point of reference. I remember her taking out a piece of paper to write the directions for me. Looking back, I realize just how badly I must have looked because they were fairly coddling me and ushering me out the door, asking if I was going to be alright.
Back in my van, I called my husband. As if we were hit by a train and flipped the opposite direction, we found ourselves swimming in words we had not considered: hospital, funeral home, no heartbeat. I hung up the phone and grasped my swollen belly as if trying somehow to protect my unborn child, and way down deep inside me came a moaning cry. Tears unleashed right there in the doctor's office parking lot. NO HEARTBEAT. The words, "NO! NO! NO!" echoed.
The next day, May 11, 2007, found me hooked up to a monitor in a hospital room several miles away from my home and children. The monitor had 2 screens...one for Mama's contractions and one for baby's heartbeat. They only had the Mama's part of the screen going, and baby's screen was blank. There was no heartbeat to monitor. The hours dragged by, with me oddly having to comfort my nurse who hardly knew what to do to help me. She kept saying, "We don't do this often. I'm not sure what to do for you. I'm so very sorry." I shared my faith with her, hoping for God to bring some purpose to the intense pain I was feeling in my soul.
There are parts of this birth story that I have never quite been able to bring myself to say because it is so hard to relive in my memory. I pray I never ever have to hear the words, "baby parts" again. A knife through the chest couldn't have hurt more than those words. I pray I never have to feel again the sensation of the dropping of that precious bundle from my womb.
He was a BABY. My baby boy.
Elijah Christopher entered this world that evening, with the most quiet birth ever recorded. Nurses busily moved all over the room, and I just cried. No balloons or oohs and ahhhhs. Just quiet movement of nurses' feet and an even more quiet baby bassinet. And an empty hole in the depth of my being...gaping, open, intensely vulnerable...a ripping pain like no other I had ever experienced.
Typing this today has dug up pain that I long ago made peace with, so I will wrap this up. Sometimes it's best to simply grasp the peace and to let the hurt float away into God's Hands again. Elijah Christopher was born into the arms of Jesus, and one day I will hold him and love on him. In the meantime, my Heavenly Father has been my ever-present Hope and Joy and LIFE. He gives and takes away...blessed be His Name!
During the healing process after his birth, God spoke very clearly to my heart, telling me that the hole I felt in my being matched the hole that orphans feel in their beings. Ahhh...so the pain did indeed have a purpose! It gave me a window into the pain that orphans feel when their parents are ripped from their lives. My pain, placed in God's Hands, would propel me to unleashing His love into orphans lives...in releasing His healing into their lives. Right then and there, I gave my life to be poured out for orphans. It is my life ministry. It is Elijah's legacy.
And today, I am praying with all my heart that in honor of his life and his birthday tomorrow, there will be more orphans that will be hosted through New Horizons. The deadline for Latvian orphans is May 11, 2012, my Elijah's 5th birthday. May his life be remembered by bringing more orphans into their forever families! It would be my JOY to celebrate his birthday in that way.