Friday, May 23, 2014

what loss looks like, six years later

This week there's been this underlying current of something going on within me. I'm just feeling "off." While I can't put into words what that exactly means, I can assume the source. I think it's part of the grief walk... even six years of being on this path. This week, six years ago, my family experienced a huge shock, a heartbreaking loss. However, with this heartbreak, I simultaneously experienced a peace that passes all understanding and the sustaining grace needed to keep going, both gifts from God alone, acknowledging that while He takes away, He also gives. And gives.

Here's (part of) my Nathan's story...
Six years ago, on a Thursday - May 22nd, like it is this year too - I had my 36 week pregnancy check up to measure progress on the little one inside of me. S/he was measuring fine and all appeared right on track. I had a month to finalize his/her coming and things were humming right along. My husband and I were still trying to figure out a boy name and a girl name, as we hadn't found out what this little one was (neither had we done that with our first - truly the most fun surprise ever).

Memorial Day weekend was upon us and we had a few things to do around the yard to get ready for a picnic that weekend. My husband was off on that Friday, so we worked outside all day. Nothing too strenuous, just normal weeding/ gardening type things on my end. By the end of the day I realized that I hadn't felt the baby move much that day. No problem, s/he's just sleeping, I thought. I figured I'd feel baby when I went to bed, as it had a habit, as most little ones do, of wiggling when momma stops moving. Clearly zonked, I was out within minutes of my head hitting the pillow. 

I awoke the next morning (Saturday, the 24th), ate breakfast and called the doctor's office... I still hadn't felt the baby move and wanted some reassurance. The nurse on call had me drink a soda and count kicks for an hour. Hyper-focused on every little possible movement, I thought I felt baby move once. Sigh... hindsight's 20/20, as I still shake my head at how naive I was at that moment in time. No urgency on my end, although the nurse told me to go to the hospital to get monitored. My husband was finishing up an oil change on the car that he was doing himself and I called around to find someone to watch my then-four year old daughter. Finally all ready to go (not even having thrown an overnight bag in the car, as I figured this would be quick), we headed to the hospital.

After spending a ridiculous amount of time with Admissions (even though I had already pre-registered and my obgyn supposedly told them we were on the way. I digress...), we were ushered into the triage area of the delivery floor. As I was getting settled, admissions called up and requested my husband to come back down for a few more questions (?!). At that point the nurse put the doppler on my belly to monitor baby's heartbeat. She couldn't find it. "Don't worry," she tried to reassure me, "I'll page the doctor on call to do an ultrasound." Choking back a hundred unanswerable questions, I said "ok" and asked for my husband to be sent back up to me asap. He arrived, as did the doctor with an ultrasound machine. About two minutes later we heard the words, "I'm sorry. There is no heartbeat."    

What followed was this beautiful, sorrowful intertwining of earthly despair and heavenly hope. During the next eleven hours (of labor), my hospital room was flooded with church family, desperate to extend their love and support to my family, although as shocked as we were over this loss. A little after 10pm, a perfectly formed 5 pound, 2 ounce baby boy entered this world lifeless. We named him Nathaniel, or Nathan for short. Gift of God.

My son himself wasn't the only gift we received that night. What was also "gifted" to me that weekend was a glimpse of the limitless power of God. Sound backwards? I mean, His power could have been put to use by saving my baby boy's life. But instead, His power was perfect in my weakness. Simply put, He carried me. He gave me words of comfort to extend to those that came into my room during the labor of my lifeless child, when they themselves were so torn they had none for me. He filled the room with His presence so tangibly, He was almost touchable. He sustained me physically through a delivery with no other complications. He revealed Himself through the love of family and friends caring for our needs the following days and weeks. He carried me through returning dozens of unused diapers to Walmart, when I had to tearfully tell Nathan's story because the associate's manager told her not to take them back (and she issued the refund anyway). God's power is even present today, as I hug my daughter and my subsequent son in my arms and talk about their brother in heaven.

This weekend we will remember Nathan with a breakfast quiche for dinner (I craved eggs during his pregnancy) and a birthday cake to celebrate the delicate, beautiful miracle of life. I don't think that anyone who has ever experienced a loss gets off the path of grief, but I do think that the path gets wider and it's when we let others in and acknowledge the continued power and sovereignty of God that we find it's not so narrow and overwhelming.

So did I (ever) receive any answers as to "why?" No. Do I need them? No. Not really. There have been twists and turns in this journey of grief, but God has been so faithful to be with me through them all. The "why"s have all been overshadowed by the "what He has done"s.

1 comment:

  1. My sweet friend, what uplifting words. Even as I cry reading your story, the hope you describe is such a testimony to the Lord. Your little Nathan's life, as short as it was, is such a blessing to those who hear his story. Thank you for sharing what must be very hard to express. The Lord will bless you for your faith, I have no doubt.

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