I'm sharing this day and writing Bobby's story to remember. Grief clouds your mind and makes you forget moments that mattered. I don't want to forget this story. Even though I wish it were over at moments, there's a purpose and a plan for our suffering.
Pregnancy is a series of moments where you hold your breath and thank God for the hurdles you jump over. At least for me. When you have your first ultrasound and hear the heartbeat, when you pass the first trimester, when you find out if it's a boy or girl in the second trimester. It's all feelings of validation and safety. Your baby is ok and all is well.
At 17 weeks my best friend Becca and I planned an gender reveal with close friends since we were expecting just 5 days apart. I saw my boy on the screen moving, his heart beating so strong, every tiny feature about him was perfect. I'll never forget seeing him and having the specific feeling of my heart being filled with love for this baby even though I had no idea what they were. It was heavenly in a way because it was the last time I saw him very much alive.
The two weeks leading up to our appointment I noticed a significant decrease in movement and a few days before we were supposed to go in for our appointment I didn't feel him anymore. I mentioned it in passing to friends, assuming I was just being hormonal and worrisome and even commented that seeing him the next day will just be a nice relief. As I laid in bed, I closed my eyes and my mind wandered. I couldn't turn it off and I think I knew. Not for sure but I see now how God prepared me.
On April 7, 2014 Seth and I drove to the ultrasound office, sat in the waiting room like all parents do in eager expectation of seeing their baby and watching their every movement on the screen in awe and expectation. The tech called us back and then she started, measuring his head, his belly, and on down the line. About two minutes in, she looked over at me and says, "I'm sorry Janet, your baby isn't alive." She then went on to show us where his heart wasn't beating and how there was no life in his body. It was a sickening punch to the gut. The tears wouldn't stop coming and the horrible thoughts I couldn't stuff away from the night before were now my reality. I think my response to her when she told us was, "I know." She asked me some questions, all of which were torture to answer because I knew none of them would bring my baby back. What she said haunts me to this day.
"When was the last time you felt the baby move?"
"Did you notice anything different?"
"Were you having any contractions?"
"Did you have a 12 week ultrasound screening?"
I wanted to scream at her through my tears and tell her to stop. To leave us alone. To give us peace. To cry for the baby we loved with every ounce of ourselves even though his life was short. To comfort the man I've never seen cry in our whole 8 years.
Our Bobby was so wanted. Our hearts were filled with joy at the thought of him being a part of our family. The girls knew him as "baby brother", he already had a closet full of clothes, we talked names, and Seth had dreams that every dad does of doing things with their son. The thought of holding and meeting that precious boy helped me persevere through almost 4 months of constant sickness.
Death stings and it changes your life. It's the unwanted guest. A thief. The unmerited victor. The taker of joy and the giver of pain. I'm grateful Jesus had victory over death and it's been swallowed up, but this side of heaven is fallen. It's broken. And we feel pain and loss in a very deep way. He is here to comfort us in our sufferings, but until were with him it exists and it's real. It hurts. It sucks so bad. (The picture I posted is an accurate representation of the agony we feel.) If our Savior didn't weep with us, we would be alone and hopeless.
The doctor came in and talked us through what felt like the other side of our hell. All I could think of was home and how I just wanted to get out of this place and never see it again.
"You might want to consider genetic testing after this."
"You didn't do anything wrong, it was just the way he is."
"You're gonna have to go to the hospital to deliver the baby. They'll make you as comfortable as possible."
"Your midwife will call you when you get home to make arrangements."
The worst part of the whole experience for me and the most devastating, I had to ask for pictures and they didn't even bother to tell us he was a boy. Even though I already knew, I wanted the validation and I wanted to feel like his short life meant something. Maybe people don't want pictures of their babies who've passed but I couldn't leave without something in my hands. Even though he was with Jesus, seeing his sweet little body curled in my womb brought me comfort.
We left undone. It was raining outside, as heavy as the rain was so were my tears. Throughout that day I knew God was counting every one. I knew he was with us even though it hurt so bad and I didn't "feel" his nearness. I could see his hand, but I felt numb. I wanted my baby back and there wasn't a thing I could do about it.
I am so glad I never got the "12 week screening" done because to us our boy was perfect. He was knit together by our Creator and we loved him. The reality is, if I had, abortion would have been thrown on the table as our best option because they think he had a chromosomal abnormality (we are waiting on testing to confirm but the reality is likely). Instead of us enjoying and celebrating his life, he would have been presented as sick, and although I speculate, I doubt we would have been encouraged to continue the pregnancy. To me, none of that matters. I would have carried him to term if God allowed, felt every kick, and delivered a baby that could have been seen in the eyes of some as weak, lowly, or inferior. But to us, he is our son and we loved him with a love so deep we would have turned our world upside down and cared for his every need if that meant he could be with us.
I miss my baby every day, with every fiber of my being. He's changed my life and moved my mama's heart in ways I never could have known or experienced otherwise. He's shown me what I stand on in Jesus, He is the rock that doesn't move even if my whole life is a mess and I'm still unsure how to live in our "new normal." The Gospel of Jesus Christ is deeper and truer to me now, because it's not just "Jesus died for my sins." It's my Savior KNOWS and understands what it's like to experience the death of a child and that to me is a gift.
Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
"And our God is not a God to merely believe, but to experience,
not to only believe in, but be held by.
A God who not only breaks for you but breaks with you,
a God to not only have creeds about, but to have communion with,
a God who not only who dies for you, but who cries with you,
the God who touches you and binds you and blesses you and heals you
and re-members you because He let Himself be dismembered
and He is the God we not only believe in— but we know.
We know – know beyond a shadow of doubt, death or despair."- Ann Voskamp
I also wanted to share this song, because I have listened to it 100 times over and its uplifted me and helped me so much in my darkest moments.