31 days ago, I gave birth to my sweet son. It was Christmas Eve. Though my husband and I knew there would be complications upon birth, we had absolutely no idea what would lie ahead of us.
Let me start from the beginning…
It was August 13th 2013. I was 19 weeks pregnant and anxiously awaiting my anatomy scan. We always prayed for a healthy baby, but deep down my husband and I wanted another little girl. The news we were about to receive after the ultrasound would forever change us.
Right away, the ultrasound technician asked us if we wanted to know the gender of the baby. Of course we did! We’ve been so eager to find out if we were having a boy or a girl since the moment we found out we were pregnant. “It’s a girl!” we heard. Tears of joy! My husband squeezed my hand a little tighter and we laughed at the thought of having two little girls under 2. Thank You, God! Another little girl. Our prayers had been answered. While looking at the screen of our daughter and already thinking of baby names, I caught a strange look on the ultrasound technician’s face. My feelings of happiness and joy quickly turned into worry and fear.
Silence. Not a sound.
I asked the technician if everything was ok with our little girl. She stopped the ultrasound and said she’d be right back. She was gone for only minutes, but it seemed like hours. I remember feeling like I was sinking on the ultrasound table.
The doctor walked in the room and asked us several questions about our personal health and if the baby’s due date was correct. Our little girls arms and legs were measuring 4 weeks behind, she appeared to have clubbed feet and a recessed chin. She said our daughter most likely had a form of skeletal dysplasia (dwarfism) and that there is a very high change she would pass in utero or shortly after birth…She then offered an abortion.
Oh, how my heart broke. Never in a million years would I have ever thought that I would be sitting across from a doctor telling me my daughter might pass inside of me, or that she might not live after birth; Hearing that crushed me. But being offered to abort my daughter, my little girl, brought me to tears. As I cried, I felt the hand of God upon me. Somehow I had the strength to tell the doctor, “This is not my baby. This is God’s baby.” I refused the abortion. I also refused the amniocentesis. It didn’t matter what condition our baby girl (who we named Bethany) had. What mattered is that she is fearfully and wonderfully made and that we were in love with her. From that moment, my husband and I prayed for the opportunity to meet her, hold her, kiss her and tell her how much we love her.
Throughout the rest of the pregnancy her arms continued to measure significantly shorter than the rest of her body. Ultrasound did show she had a heart defect and an extra digit on both hands, but her chin looked normal, as did her feet. To us, she was perfect.
December 23rd rolled around, and I had an appointment with my specialist. During that appointment, Bethany wasn’t responding the way the doctor liked and sent me to the hospital for further testing. Throughout that time, my husband and I prayed for her. Never did we give up on knowing that we would meet her, hold her, kiss her and tell her how much we love her.
I gave birth to a beautiful baby on December 24th, 2013 at 8:04am. She was rushed away rather quickly to NICU. My husband and I did not have the opportunity to hold her immediately after her delivery, but we did get a few pictures of her being carried away. Our hearts were happy. She was born. She was alive. She even cried.
As the doctors were finishing up my surgery, my husband and I continued to pray for her. We looked at her picture on our phone, and just smiled at each other. While I was in recovery, the NICU doctor asked to speak with my husband. The doctor told him that the baby had several severe abnormalities: not only did our baby have extra digits on both hands and a heart defect, but also a cleft palate, fused second and third toes, a recessed chin and they weren’t even certain if our baby was a boy or girl, but the arms and legs were of normal length.
That news was devastating. We loved our baby, even with the abnormalities. None of that mattered to us. That baby is fearfully and wonderfully made, and God had
blessed us. What hurt the most was not being able to call our baby by a name. But, our baby was stable and after I was able to walk, I was allowed to see my child.
We toured the NICU and PICU rooms. We tried to prepare ourselves for every imaginable scenario of the birth of our baby, but there is no preparing for something like this. Seeing my child hooked up to machines and with wires all over the place scared me. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to hold or touch our baby, but I did anyway. I reached across the small bed where our baby slept and took a hold of that perfect, tiny hand. I counted all 12 fingers and loved every single one of them. I looked at the toes, and loved how they looked. There wasn’t an inch of that baby that I didn’t think was perfect. I felt like I had been given the best gift. And, I had been.
Christmas day was the first time I held my baby. Even with the wires and the beeping of the machines, holding my sweet child was wonderful. And as I was holding our baby, I kissed and whispered “I love you” over and over again.
December 26th we found out through a blood test and an ultrasound that our baby was a boy. A thousand pounds were lifted off our shoulders when we were able to call our sweet baby by a name-Luke Michael. Oh how that little boy touched my heart. He looked just like his daddy; fair skin, pale blue eyes, and soft, blond hair. He was everything I could have imagined a son being.
Even though I thought I wanted another little girl, God knew what I needed. I needed that precious little boy to come into my life. His life touched me in such powerful and amazing ways-ways in which only a son can.
The days passed and our sweet Luke’s condition worsened. But with each passing day, we got to hold our son, kiss him and tell him how much we loved him.
On January 3rd 2014, Luke went into respiratory distress. He was no longer able to breathe on his own. Doctors told us that without medical intervention, he would not be able to survive. We were told that due to his condition (which was confirmed through genetics that morning) Luke would not live very long-with or without the help from medical technology. His system was failing, and we needed to make a very hard decision. Would we put our son through the pain of intubation,
an open heart surgery that he may not live through, and a possible heart and lung machine, or do we let him live off of machines until he is called home?
After much prayer, we decided not to put our son through the pain of multiple surgeries and procedures, and to let God’s will be done. As the doctors readied the room for our son to be comfortable without machines, my husband and I continued to pray. For strength. For comfort. For help.
That room had never been so quiet. For 10 days, I heard the beeping of machines, voices of nurses, doctors and friends passing by. But now, it was quiet. The voices we heard were those of our pastor praying and reading scripture, and singing hymns. Luke’s doctors told us that once they took off his breathing machine, he would have minutes, maybe an hour.
Minutes passed. Hours passed. The day turned into night. And there we were, still holding on to our little boy, kissing him and telling him how much we love him.
January 4th 2014 at 4:00am, I heard Luke taking his last few breaths. We called the nurse in to check on his heart; she looked at us with sorrow and shook her head. Luke was called home. Our Heavenly Father called him home while being held in the arms of his mommy and daddy.
From the beginning, we were told by doctors that our baby will not live to see birth. We were told that our baby would pass very shortly after birth. We were told that Luke would have minutes, maybe an hour, to live off machines. But did you see what God did? He gave us 9 months of pregnancy. He gave us the birth of our child. He gave us the sound of a cry. He gave us the opportunity to meet our child. He gave us everything we prayed for. God gave us a son, born on Christmas Eve. God gave us strength in times of complete weakness. He gave us peace in times of complete fear. He gave us joy and thankfulness in times of sorrow and sadness. Mostly, God gave us the time we needed to hold our son, kiss our son and tell our son just how much we loved him.
Today marks 31 days from the birth of our son. There is not a minute that goes by where we don’t think of him. I think back to August 13th and all the things the doctor said about that ultrasound, and how everything she said was wrong. The only thing that was true, and will always remain true, is God’s great faithfulness.
For Luke, and for all other children who are taken away far too soon, we thank God for you. You are all fearfully and wonderfully made.
Until we can meet, hold, kiss and love on you again, sweet boy…
Written on 1/24/2014