Our Stillborn Baby’s Greatest Gain

Related image

 

The next time you visit your stillborn, and you’re crying at the site of their grave,
Remember: your baby is more alive than ever; they have no crying, no tears, no pain.
He or she is now in perfect joy with all the saints, those whom Jesus came to save,
You must remember that the day of our greatest loss was our baby’s greatest gain.

Jesus has a special love for babies, and He knows each one by name,
Right now they are with Him in spirit, and one day with glorified bodies.
They can’t stop being near our Savior, for in heaven He is worth all the fame,
Our littles are well taken care of; no need to worry daddies and mommies.

So for those of you in Christ, you will one day join your baby at the throne,
And see for yourself the majesty, beauty, and wonder of His glorious Name.
At that moment all your heartache will be lifted, and you’ll finally be at home,
And you’ll realize that the day of your greatest loss was your baby’s greatest gain.

They are now with their Lord and Savior, far better than being here on earth,
God has many plans for them, and an infinite number of days to work with.
Our babies love to praise our God and King, for they have been doing so since birth,
You may or may not believe this, but I tell you the truth; heaven is no myth.

The joy of heaven is Jesus Christ; our babies know this and experience it every day,
They have just begun to enjoy His glory, and I hope one day you will do the same.
For when we finally see His face, shining like the sun with beams headed our way,
There will be no question, that the day of our greatest loss was our baby’s greatest gain!

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Your likes or comments are always appreciated! I will do my best to respond to each one. And if you enjoy my posts, I wouldn’t mind an extra subscriber either. (-:  God bless you, and thanks for stopping by!  – Jamie

 

10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (Part 5): Don’t Change the Subject

Related image


“Hey, did you guys hear about Johnny??!!”
the proud father excitedly asks his fellow co-workers. “He hit 2 home runs, and he pitched a no hitter in Friday’s game!” “In fact, it was the first no hitter in the schools entire history! I can’t believe it!” The crew gives him a nod of acknowledgement, as if to say “We heard you just mouth a few words in our direction, so we are simply agreeing with what you said.” Then, it’s simply business as usual. No congratulatory words. No excitement. No further questions. Just a simple nod is all little Johnny gets from the crowd. Waiting for any kind of response turns into an agonizing silence. The father waits with annoyance. Nothing. Not a peep. Dead silence. And I mean a dead, awkward, rude, painful, you-gotta-be-kidding-me kind of silence. Apparently, this father’s excitement for his son’s athletic performance is not catchy. He is hurt, but there is nothing he can do about it. He can’t force them to be interested. By not hearing a word of congratulations in response to his son’s great story, the father feels like he was dissed……..treated with contempt. The hurt cuts deep. And the hurt isn’t primarily that he was dissed, but that his son was dissed.

As we continue on with my series on how to minister well to those who have suffered the loss of a stillborn baby, the next two points will be condensed into one overall point.

Parents of stillborn babies want you to know…………….

 

#6 We want you to become more comfortable in conversation, and not change the subject so quickly whenever we talk about our precious babies.

#7 When we bring up in conversation that we had a stillborn, we want you to know that simply saying “I’m sorry” is a much better option than total, dismissive silence.

 

Children Deserve Better

The poor, stressed out daddy now figures he can at least brag to the people who attend the same book club meeting he does. He’ll tell them about his son’s amazing performance. “Surely they won’t ignore my own flesh and blood son,” he thinks to himself. “After all the time we’ve spent together. After all the times I listened to their pathetic stories.” This one is a shoe-in, right? After he arrives at the meeting, he goes through the above scenario again. The father repeats, “My son Johnny hit 2 home runs today, and he pitched a no-hitter!!” But this time, things are different. There is a response. As the leader of the discussion group looks toward the others, he says “Oh ok, good for him. Hey, did any of you guys see how many passing yards Brady had last night? He is on my fantasy league ballot, and I missed the box score.” Ouch. The son is dissed yet again. This father may never get over this hurt. And he may hesitate to share anything valuable again. He feels like no one cares about his son. He is feeling the pain of rejection. Not for himself per say, but mostly for his child.

More Than a Baseball Game

As bad as the above example is, imagine that you were talking about more than a performance in a baseball game. Imagine you were talking about the day your child was born. Even more, imagine if you are talking to someone about the day your baby was born……..and died. No parent wants their child to be ignored, either in person or in conversation talking about your child. Especially when you are talking about the painful ordeal of seeing your baby come forth from the womb……….dead. No life. No breath. No smile. No crying. No anything. Then, imagine you try to talk about your baby with others, and instead of being given the gracious liberty to do this, you are shut down because someone had a “more important” topic to discuss. They don’t even give it a second thought. This is so disheartening to parents of stillborn babies. When you ignore our conversation so flippantly, you are communicating to us that our baby is second class. That our baby doesn’t matter. That our baby is too much of an inconvenience to even talk about, or listen to someone else talk about. You communicate to us that you believe that our baby is still born, but not still loved.

Babies Come From God

We all love to talk about things we love. I know……..I’m a genius to figure that out. And since parents love their kids, they also love to talk about their kids. Logical, isn’t it? And parents love for people to listen to them when they talk about their kids. And for good reason. Scripture says, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). They are the fruit of a mommy’s womb. They have DNA of both mommy and daddy. They are the miraculous, beautiful result of the one flesh union the Bible talks about (Ephesians 5). And most importantly, babies are human beings created in the image of Almighty God. He has planned for the existence of each and every baby who is ever conceived. Notice I didn’t say born, but conceived. Scripture clearly teaches that life begins at conception, which means that every life of every baby began at conception……..not when the first breath was taken outside the womb.

Could this be why stillborn babies are ignored so much? Is it because he or she never breathed outside the womb? Is it because some people don’t consider them to have ever been fully human? I don’t want to get too far into the abortion issue on this post, but my point is worth considering. Here’s what the Scripture says about personhood in the womb……

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

King David’s personhood is spoken about long before he ever emerges from the womb. Notice the personal pronoun “my” repeated twice in the above verse. If you are the parent of a stillborn baby, remember that God says they were a person from the very moment of conception. It is a good thing to remind the people in your life of this fact as well.

Love Comes From God

God is the one who implants the love within us that we have for our babies.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).

And even those who don’t know God savingly still have that parental instinct to love and care for their children, and to be zealous for their well-being and their reputation. No matter what the circumstances are of a baby being conceived, or what kind of physical and mental defects the baby may have, or what kind of problems they are born into, they are precious, beautiful, and always a gift from God. He gives the gift of children with the responsibility for parents to love them. And He is the One who empowers us to love them. The fact that parents of stillborns continue to love their babies many years after their death is a God-given emotion. And despite how painful it is sometimes to love a baby you never had the chance to play with, I still wouldn’t trade this pain in for anything. And I’m sure other parents would agree. The pain is evidence of the love we have for them. The memories are even more evidence. Dealing with the pain keeps our eyes focused on Jesus. He dealt with much worse pain. He can handle ours. And one day, He will completely heal our pain.

Sacred Ground

God knows His precious little ones. And the Bible clearly teaches that personhood begins the moment sperm and egg unite together. Remember, God is sovereign over this baby being conceived. He knows and loves the stillborn baby more than even the parents ever will. God is certainly not responsible for sins anyone commits in the conception of a baby, but He does decree the baby’s conception. In fact, He decrees all things that come to pass. No baby is ever a “mistake.” I was not a Christian when my precious Ariana was conceived. Having sex outside of marriage is clearly forbidden by God. But her birth was still known and decreed by Almighty God. This is a great mystery, of course. But it is the truth of Scripture. So, when a parent of a stillborn baby starts talking about how they had a baby who died during the birth process (or shortly before), remember that God knit this stillborn baby together in mommy’s womb (Psalm 139). Please regard this conversation highly. Not only to minister and show compassion to parents who are deeply hurting, but because the baby is the handiwork of the Almighty. When you listen to someone speak of how much they love and miss their own child, and how much pain they are suffering, you are standing on sacred ground.

We Sympathize With You

It may be uncomfortable for you (we know this). You may not know exactly what to say (and it’s ok, we understand). But other times, you may be thinking about that job promotion, or the fact that you really just want to go home and get something to eat. These things may be true to one degree or another. After all, we are all human and have needs. Conversational skill takes time, education, and effort. Ministering to others effectively takes lifetimes to learn. We don’t expect you to be perfect. But we want you to know that it is hurtful when you remain silent when we just want you to ask a question. Just one question about our baby. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just some type of acknowledgement would be worlds better than total silence, or changing the subject altogether. Little things like that mean so much to hurting people.

Saying “I’m Sorry”

If we bring it up in conversation, you can be absolutely certain that we want to talk about our babies. And we do not desire to have a one-way conversation. We are talking to you. We want you to be a part of the conversation. We are inviting you into our world to bear a little of the burden we have experienced, a tiny piece of our suffering in having a stillborn baby. At that moment, we are giving our hearts to you. We are sharing some of the most intimate, painful details of our life with you. It is a golden opportunity for us to vent our hurts, to take joy in bragging about our baby, to remember and cherish those moments we had with them. Please let us have that experience by listening and speaking words of compassion.

And if you don’t have a clue what to say, just look at us in the eyes softly with compassion and say “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” That’s all. Nothing more is needed. But anything less might be taken as dismissive silence. And that is not good either. As grieving parents, we do want some type of response. And if you simply make eye contact and say “I’m sorry”, you will minister more to us in those few seconds than you will ever know. We certainly don’t expect you to have the same raw emotions as we do. And we don’t even want you to pretend to have the same emotions either. We just want your ears, your eyes, your mouth, and most of all………..your heart. Even if only for a few moments.

We Can’t Help It

Parents of stillborn babies can’t help being hurt and upset when their baby is treated like a second rate conversational topic. No matter who you are, whether your children are living or dead, God has given parents such an immense love for them that we simply cannot help how we feel. We make no apologies for our hurts. Parents of stillborn babies cannot help the fact that blogs like this one have to be written. Everyone else in the world may change the topic, or remain silent. But you can bet your bottom dollar that’ll never be us. We will never stop talking about our babies. Despite all the awkwardness, we will keep trying………always. Our babies are worth it. They may have been stillborn, but they are still loved. And they always will be. So everyone might as well get used to it. Stillborn babies never had the chance to enter a human conversation. Hopefully, the parents are doing their best to make up for lost time.

Conclusion

David Platt once said……..

There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes.

Platt is right. And since the stillborn child never comes, the parents will work tirelessly to bring that child to others. And they do it through conversation. It is the only way for them to give others a glimpse into a life that ended way too soon. Don’t make parents regret that moment of opening themselves up to you. It is much too precious to them.

________________________________________________________________

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (Part 4): Be a Good Listener

 

Image result for listener images

 

People will say some of the most vile things over the phone. I know this all too well. I do customer service. I get paid to talk to people on the phone all day long. Most of my working life has been taking phone calls from people I have never spoken to before, and then attempting to help them with whatever their problem is……..as best I can. I’m thankful that people call. And I’m thankful to have a job. Nonetheless, it is challenging to hear some of the words that spew out of people’s mouths when they are not looking at you face to face. Since this is a family-friendly blog, I will not even mention some of the things I hear. Some of it would shock you to the point that you would think I’m lying. Really, no joke. There have been physical threats made against me (yes, I’m serious), insults of every kind imaginable, uncontrolled rage, you name it. Every day I go into work thinking, “I’ve heard it all.” But then, the carpet is pulled from underneath me again, and someone manages to outdo all the others with their tongue. Is it any wonder that we see these words in Scripture: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6).

The Phrase I Hate to Hear

With all of the garbage that I hear, there is one phrase I hear from time to time that bothers me more than any other. And it is this: Jamie, that’s NOT what I said!! You’re not listening to me, are you?!” That one hurts. In some ways, it hurts more than anything else they say to me. When customers shout vile insults, they are really just venting because they are not getting what they want. They are, in essence, having a hissy fit over the phone. Although it is sinful behavior, I don’t believe it is anything personal. They are just angry and frustrated. They may also be dealing with other difficulties in their life. I get it. I’ve been there and done that myself.

But when they tell me I’m not listening, it is personal. They are making a judgment about my ability to do my job. They think I am either being careless, rude, or neglectful. Or all three for that matter. No matter the reason for the accusation, I hate to hear it. Sometimes it is simply miscommunication. In other words, I was listening but I misinterpreted what they were asking me for. Or maybe they just didn’t phrase things in a way that makes sense. But other times, as much as I hate to admit it, they are correct in their assessment. I was stressed and distracted. I tuned out for a moment. I was preoccupied. Even worse, I put my own interests before theirs. A shameful thing indeed. In other words, I heard them speaking…….but I wasn’t really listening. And they knew it.

—–

As we continue exploring how to minister to parents who have lost stillborn babies, we come to #5 on the list. Parents of stillborn babies want you to know…….

#5 We want you to know that we love talking about our babies as much as any other parent loves to talk about their own kids, and we want people to at least try to listen more when we do.

 

The Rudeness of Darting Eyes

You know the feeling you get when you are talking to someone about a really important matter, and you know they are not focusing on you. Aggravating, isn’t it? You know how you try to speak with even more emphasis, thinking they will suddenly start giving you their ever-precious attention. You talk louder. You look at them more intensely. It’s like you try to will them into looking at you. But it never happens, does it? Their eyes are still all over the place. They are looking above, below, right, left, diagonal, behind, in front of………..anywhere but at you. Women especially are all too aware of this. You have to experience more than just conversational ADD. You have to deal with perverted men who look at your body when you are talking, but not at your eyes. I’m sure this is a very frustrating, and sometimes even scary, experience. The fact of the matter is this: All of us want eye contact. And for very good reasons.

To ignore someone’s eyes when they are speaking is rude and insensitive, and it can be very distressing to the one who is speaking. Especially when you are relaying something near and dear to your heart. Like say, talking about your dead baby boy or girl, whom you love dearly.  The baby whom you would give your right arm just to hear cry even one time. The one you miss so bad it hurts. The one you never got to take home with you. The baby you think about every time you are in public, when you see another parent with their child. The one you had to bury a few days after the delivery date. Imagine all of that pain and devastation. And now……now…… you can’t even have 15 seconds of someone’s attention when you talk about your baby?! Devastating indeed.

Please Don’t Slight Our Baby

And you know what the real problem is when your eyes are not engaging us? It means that our words are meaningless to you. And to us, it even says that our baby is meaningless to you. To neglect someone when they are talking is more than just neglecting the speaker. It is also to neglect the topic of the conversation. Parents of stillborn babies are protective of their babies. Yes, even though they are dead, we are protective of them. We still love them very deeply. We don’t care if you slight us when we are talking about the Patriots game. We don’t care if you disrespect us when we tell you about the new job we got. It may be rude of you to do so, and it may hurt us to a degree. But we won’t lose any sleep over it. However, we have lost sleep over the loss of our babies. And when you ignore them right in front of our eyes by not listening, you add to the insomnia.

When we talk about our baby, we don’t want them to be slighted. When you ignore us as we speak about our stillborn, and you are interested in everything else around you, you are slighting our baby. You may not think of it that way, but it is the truth. That’s how horrible it feels to us. It makes us both sad and angry at the same time. You might as well walk to their grave site and kick dirt over the top of it. It gives us the same murky feeling inside our guts. To not listen is to count the topic of conversation as meaningless and trivial. Not worthy of your time or your attention. Remember this the next time you are talking to a parent who has lost a stillborn baby. Don’t think for a moment that- because we didn’t get to spend much time with our baby- it somehow means we don’t love them as much as other parents. This would be a grievous mistake. When I talk about my precious Ariana, it means everything to me when your eyes don’t float around the room.

One Simple Request

We are not asking you to take the pain away. We know you cannot do that. No one can do that. That pain will be with us to some degree for our entire lives. For those of us who know Jesus Christ, the pain will all be taken away when He returns. (I can’t wait for that moment!!) So for the here and now, we aren’t asking you for a miracle. All we are asking is that you give us a listening ear. That’s all. You may not realize it, but it would mean the world to us. We notice when people are listening, and when they are not. Trust me………if a customer can tell over the phone that I’m not giving them 100% of my attention, how much easier is it to notice face to face? Those precious seconds we offer up to you, and your response to them, will be remembered for a lifetime………..either with pain, or with a smile of appreciation.

All we are looking for is genuine, soft, warm, and engaging eye contact. The kind that makes the other person know that you care about them, and what they are saying. The kind of eye contact that lets them know that you not only hear them, but you are listening to them. Some of us parents who have lost babies know exactly what I’m talking about here. We know those rare people that can put a smile on our face as we brag on our babies to them. They enter our world. They enter our pain. They give themselves to us as we speak to them. They look at us with compassion. They are not easily distracted. They aren’t checking out the hottie twenty feet away from them. They don’t have an agenda, and they aren’t in a rush to get away from us. This is the sweet spot. Do you have someone in your life like this? I pray that you do.

Be Intentional With Us

We don’t expect you to have all the answers. We know that you were not in the delivery room with us. We know that you do not understand the experience of losing a baby to stillbirth. Think simple, not complex. There is one way really good way to enter into the experience of others. There is one best way to empathize with the suffering of parents who have lost a baby. It is to pay attention to them. It is to focus on them. Be an intentional listener. Give them the stage, and let them pour their heart out to you. Be willing to give them those precious moments they so badly need. We aren’t asking for months, days, or even hours. Most of the time we are asking for seconds. Yes, precious and few seconds. You cannot bring back our babies to us. But you can let our minds run with vivid imagination of just how beautiful our baby is. You can let us have our memories, and enjoy them to the fullest. Remember, those memories belong to us. Please don’t steal them away.

Conclusion

Active listening involves more than just the ears. It involves your eyes as well. It involves your body language. Your entire self is needed to truly love someone else as they speak. And when you are aware of this, your will give better attention to our words. Your mind and heart will be in it as much as your ears and eyes.

To be a good listener means loving the person who is speaking. But it also means loving the one the speaker is talking about. Especially when they are talking about their own baby. A baby who died before anyone could listen to them.

________________________________________________________________

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

 

 

When Mommies Awaken Startled

 

Image result for hands over pregnant tummies

 

Sometimes mommies awaken startled, without warning, in the middle of the night,
Having just realized that something awful is happening, something that just isn’t right.

She wakes up daddy…….

Honey, the baby isn’t kicking. And it seems like she hasn’t been for almost an entire day.
Something is definitely not right. We need to do something…….let’s get on our knees and pray.

Daddy looks on, shocked and with a look of disbelief, in the quiet darkness of the room.

Mommy says trembling………..

It is really strange, knowing a baby is inside of me, to feel only stillness in the womb.

Daddy now just trying to hold things together.

Mommy makes her point clear…….

She was kicking so much every day, and now I am so worried. So scared. I hardly even know how to pray.

She looks more intensely……

I don’t know what to do. Would you please pray? Do you have any words? I don’t even know what to say.

He hesitates trying to say the right words.

And then she, with anger and more urgency…….

Please hurry! Cry out to God now! I cannot feel her kick and it is scaring me to death!

My precious baby might be gone forever, even before she takes her first breath.

Daddy wants to make sure, so he walks toward mommy, eyes welling with tears,
He remains silent, not knowing what to say, as he ponders the worst of all his fears.

But mommy is the one carrying the tiny life within; her heart is breaking. So he says……

Sweetie, are you weeping?

Softly muttering to her…….

Please relax and lie down for a moment. Let me feel your belly while I pray. Perhaps the baby is only sleeping.

He reaches down, placing his hand gently on mommy’s tummy, hoping somehow she is mistaken,
He wants so badly to feel the baby kick, but it never happens. And now he is totally shaken.

He tries to be brave, pretending he has it all together. But he doesn’t. His life is being shattered.
Their little girl is not moving, and he has this sinking feeling……..

We cannot lose her. She is all that ever mattered.

Then, you race to the hospital, barely able to focus, hoping it is all just a false alarm,
That there really is no problem, that your baby has experienced no real physical harm.

Nothing else matters to you; all you want is for your baby to kick, as you hope and pray….

Oh Lord Jesus, please give us a miracle!

But with every passing moment, as your worst fears are confirmed, mommy says….

Help me! I’m going to go hysterical!

The time has come. You have finally arrived at the doctor. It felt like an eternity waiting.
You tell them there is no kicking, no energy, no signs of life; you feel like hope is fading.

Mommy and daddy, restless, tired and stressed; mommy is even very sick and exhausted, and just feeling very crummy.
But that doesn’t matter to her. All she thinks is…….

‘Why is this happening? Why this horror? Is there any life in my tummy?’

But she already knows the answer, as the doctors must only confirm the horrible thing she already knows.
Mommies know before daddies, but daddies hurt too; there is no pain like losing a baby, as the saying goes.
Mommies have to carry a dead baby, and then deliver a dead baby. Unfathomable pain.
So when babies stop kicking, mommies know. But they are certainly never to blame.

When mommies awaken startled, they always know.

They always know.

________________________________________________________________

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (Part 3): Please Use Our Baby’s Name

 

As she exits her car on a gorgeous summer day, you notice her immediately. “Hey, it’s that girl from work!!” says that little voice in your head. And as you inch ever closer to your car after a quick shopping spree, you now see her approaching you. She makes direct eye contact. “WOW!!” you think to yourself. Standing about 20 yards away from you is your biggest office crush! She looks so amazing that you feel like you could almost pass out. In the moment, you are thinking about how often you have interacted with her in the company break room……….laughing, joking around, telling stories, even a bit of harmless teasing. She is the girl that you dread to ever say something stupid around, or offend in any way. She loves Jesus. She talks to you about church all the time. You’ve even discussed Bible passages with her. She never talks about a boyfriend. And you haven’t seen a ring on her finger either. You are certain that she is “the one.” And, to top it all off………..the proverbial icing on the cake……… she just so happens to be ultra cute! You’ve thought about asking her out, but just haven’t found the right words yet (i.e. you are too scared to act). And now, this startling reality hits without warning: you are going to cross paths with her on the way back to your car, and there is no way to avoid it.

As she moves closer, you smile at her (probably a goofy one), so as to be friendly and lower her defenses a bit. Your heart starts thumping like you’re in Spain running with the bulls. The sheer magnitude of the moment is getting to you. After all, you have been praying for a godly wife, and now you think this might be a sign from God that she is the one. “How can I impress her?!” “What can I say when she approaches me??”

She smiles back as she recognizes you, totally clueless as to how nervous you are. But soon, you are going to have to………GULP………say something to her. She waves at you. You politely wave back, with your hand trembling profusely. This is not your average “I ran into someone today” kind of moment. This one is a big deal! You don’t want to screw up. So, you decide to just keep it simple. Your brain is screaming to you, “Just say ‘Hello’, followed by her name!!” That’s it. I’m a genius! Simple, but effective. It’s a cakewalk. She will just love it. You become overconfident. You start thinking about how important it is to remember people’s names, and how it’ll show her your amazing ability to remember the important details. Phhheeeewwww!! No problem, right? I mean, what could possibly go wrong now?? Like you said………cakewalk.

……………..

As we continue with part 3 of my series on ministering to parents of stillborn babies, I tackle the all-important topic of names. Just how much does it matter to a parent to hear the name of their baby spoken? Even if, and especially if, their baby is dead. And why does it matter so much in the first place? Let’s find out together……

Parents of stillborn babies want you to know………..

 

#3 We want you to use our baby’s name as much as possible. It is like beautiful music being played in our ears.

 

Tina, Tish, or Tricia??

Our parking lot friend (we’ll call him ‘Clueless Guy’ for now) is now just seconds away from his big moment with the office cutie.

She finally approaches him…….

Cute Girl From Work: Hey John! How are you?

Clueless Guy: Ummm….good…..good”

(your brain now frantically working in overdrive……….Tina????? NO. Wait……Tish????? NO. OH NO. God help me!!)

Then you try to stall her for a moment as you stutter through the next sentence……

Clueless Guy: Yeah, umm, I’m just- uhhh- getting some, ya know, shopping done.

(Brain still pacing crazy fast as you think to yourself…….is it Tricia???? YES, YES, That’s it!! Or wait, is it?? AARRGGHHH!!! I have to take a chance!! Right?? After all, she used my name. And I just know it’s Tricia anyway. I got this one. Thank you Lord!)

In the meantime, she is still awkwardly and patiently awaiting your next piece of conversational genius. As you look into the beautiful eyes of your hopefully future wife, you say…….

“Sooo……..how are you? And it’s…… Tricia, right?”

And just that quick, it is over. You feel so relieved! Time for a fist pump!

Until that is……..she answers you.

“Oh, I’m doing ok as well, but actually, my name is Tasha, not Tricia.”

Oops.

<painfully awkward silence>

<pin is heard dropping>

Way to make an impression dude. Since she is a Christian, hopefully she forgives you. Just don’t say “Tricia” again when you see her in the break room Monday morning. That could be her breaking point. And you may want to wait before asking her out on that first date. Oh what pain we needlessly put ourselves through sometimes!

————-

So What’s the Big Deal?

While the above “boy meets girl” scenario is fictitious and maybe even a bit exaggerated, some guys can probably relate to the terror. But the story is meant to demonstrate something very obvious. And it is this: What a pleasant sound it is to hear our name spoken………correctly! We expect it. We delight in it. Our name has great meaning to us, and the people we love. We often take it for granted when someone simply speaks our name. And when they don’t, we notice. And for good reason. We carry our names with us our entire lives. They automatically go with us wherever we go. They stay with us at every stage of life. They don’t change even when we change. We have heard it spoken so many times that, well, we just get used to it.

We are told to use people’s names often, especially for really important things. For job interviews, we are told to remember the interviewers name, and then repeat it back when shaking hands. On a first date, we are told to use his or her name a lot, sprinkling it through the conversation whenever possible. It shows that you are thinking about them, and not so much about yourself. When I gave my wedding vows, they had me repeat this phrase, “I, Jamie, take you, Leah, to be my lawfully wedded wife, etc.” And that is no accident either. Names have great meaning. And we can’t even escape them when we die. They show up on our tombstone. And in the memories of our loved ones, either for good or bad.

Happens to All of Us

All of us have trouble remembering others’ names from time to time. For example, we run into an old friend eating at the local Starbucks, and we cannot remember their name. So we just say “hello”, hoping they don’t notice our ignorance. And then, we go home racking our brains, trying to remember who they are. We go on a scavenger hunt with Facebook, looking to see if one of our friends is also friends with them. We ask other people who may also know this person. “Hey, do you remember ‘what’s his name’ from our flag football team? Ya know, the tall guy who could never hold onto a pass?! I saw him today at Starbucks! Do you remember his name? It’s driving me crazy!!” Or we see the same new person at church 5 weeks in a row, and it seems like every week we keep asking them the same question, “I’m sorry, I know we’ve already spoken a few times, but what is your name again?” We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Sometimes we just plain forget. It happens. Other times, we have simply failed to do our homework, and neglected to commit their name to our memory.

 

It is Like Music to Our Ears

The famous author Dale Carnegie once wrote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Strong statement indeed. And there is some truth to what Carnegie is saying here. Yes, there is a sense in which hearing our own name is like music to our ears. We feel appreciative that someone took the time to learn it. We feel like people really care about us when they say our name, don’t we? We feel a deeper connection with them. The relationship moves from arms length to an all-out embrace. Lasting bonds of love are sparked with the simple use of someone’s name. Hearing our name spoken can turn a somewhat detached relationship into something more personal. Or a sour relationship into something sweet. Or it can even be the seed of a beautiful, romantic relationship eventually leading to marriage.

Going back to our story above (clueless guy in parking lot), think about how he must’ve felt when she remembered his name. And conversely, think about how she must’ve felt when he forgot her name! As our romantic feelings grow for someone, we cannot stop thinking about their name. We can’t wait to see them and say it back to them. And we can’t wait for them to speak our own name to us. This is the way it normally works. Our ladies man above, John, just happened to really mess things up. But that brings up a great point: If it’s important for a man to know (and speak) the name of a girl he is interested in, isn’t it safe to assume that parents delight even more in hearing the name of their baby boy or girl, whether dead or alive?

More Than a Statistic

Without the “name” dynamic in our relationships, we feel more like a statistic instead of a person. We feel more like an inanimate object instead of a person to be loved and respected. And who in their right mind wants that?! We are not to be treated like prisoners standing in a line holding a number. We are created to exist relationally with others, and part of that relationship involves the ongoing speaking of our names. Have you ever been somewhere and felt like you were just taking up space……….merely existing, and nobody noticed you? Horrible, isn’t it? And often times, just simply hearing someone call your name will cut through all of that perceived rejection.

So think about this for a moment. If it hurts us to feel like a statistic, imagine how a parent who has lost a baby feels when no one will use their baby’s name. We feel like our baby is being dishonored. We feel like no one understands our pain. And worse, we feel like people don’t care about our baby’s precious memory. Parents of stillborn babies especially have problems with this. Because very few people ever got to see their baby, those who did not rarely take the time to ask questions about the baby……i.e. their name, what they looked like, etc. Sometimes others will- albeit unintentionally- make our babies feel so impersonal. This kind of behavior just adds pain on top of pain.

Keeping Their Memory Alive

In my view, Dale Carnegie isn’t quite right when he says that a person’s own name is the sweetest sound for them to hear. He doesn’t completely capture the essence. For those who have lost babies or a child of any age for that matter, hearing the name of our little one is far more precious than hearing our own name. And I suspect that any parent would say this about their own children, whether or not their child is dead or alive. Compared to our own name, we would rather hear our baby’s name 100 times over. Why? Because our baby’s name is lovely to us, and brings back precious memories. Hearing their name paints an immediate picture of them in our minds. The way they looked when they came out of the womb……the color of their hair and eyes……..the collapsed skull……..the redness of their lips. The hugs. The cries. All of the pain. Yes, these are tragic memories for those of us grieving, but they are precious nonetheless. They are memories we never, ever want to forget. They are all we have on this side of heaven.

 

Related image

Reflex Reaction

When I hear the name of my baby girl Ariana, it’s like a reflex. I don’t have to force myself to conjure up the past. Everything just comes flooding back with the mere mention of her name. It’s like when a doctor tests your reflexes. He can poke all these different areas of your knee, and you have no reaction whatsoever. But then, he hits that one spot, and your leg springs out at warp speed. You can’t control it. I might hear a hundred names every single day. Some of them will produce no emotion, and some will produce minimal. It all depends on the type of relationship I had with a person of the same name. But a child-parent relationship? Priceless. Absolutely priceless. For me, there’s always that one name that will capture my heart every time. And when people say “Ariana”, it sounds like this to me….. ARRR-EEEE-AAAHHHNNN-UUUHHH. It probably sounds slower to me when I hear it. Slower than it is typically pronounced. It’s because I am attempting to savor the moment. For those of you who are parents of stillborn babies, you know what I am talking about. What name brings you such priceless joy?

And when you hear that name, it’s like being transported back in time, isn’t it? You can almost feel like you are in the delivery room again, staring at and holding your baby. I am not talking about some weird, mystical experience here. It’s just that the emotion of thinking about it can be so powerful sometimes. It was over 15 years ago for me, and I can still vividly remember so many things about that day. And all of it can be triggered by hearing the name “Ariana.” I don’t even have to work hard at it. The floodgates are wide open,  producing memories that I cannot imagine living without. I don’t ever want to forget that precious little girl. And neither does any other parent of a stillborn baby. If I ever lose my mind to old age or disease, I pray that I never forget even one single memory of her.

Poet Jessica Blade captured this feeling quite well when she penned these beautiful words……..

I wrote your name in the sky,
but the wind blew it away.
I wrote your name in the sand,
but the waves washed it away.
I wrote your name in my heart,
and forever it will stay.

Conclusion

Most of us love to hear our name spoken. It isn’t being prideful. It is how we are created. God created us to respond to names. So when parents hear the name of their baby spoken out loud, we understand that great significance is being attached to our precious little one. To be sure, the name itself isn’t what gives our babies value. Their value comes from God Almighty, being created in His image and likeness. But using their name is one way of acknowledging the value they already have.

Hearing our baby’s name reminds us the love that is already in our hearts. It doesn’t create the love. Hearing it spoken can never hurt us, but only help us. Sure, it may bring tears. It may bring sadness. But that is part of the grieving process, a process which never ends on this side of heaven. We know that joy awaits those of us who are trusting in Jesus!

And believe me, if we could hear the greatest concerto the world has ever known, it would never come close to the feeling we get when we hear the name of our precious little one. Our babies have a name. And we love their name, because it reminds us of them. Our babies are more than just a statistic. They are more than just a Birth Certificate with some numbers attached to it. They are more than just a distant memory.

They are a body and soul created to live forever and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, the Name above all names.

_________________________________________________________________

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (Part 2): We Love Our Babies

 

Most of us get goosebumps when we think about “love at first sight.” We get excited at the very thought of it. For those of us who are married, we might think of our own story as reflecting some level of love at first sight. For those who are single, you have probably  imagined what it would be like if it really happened to you. Scenes like this one from West Side Story give us that classic “Awwwww………I need tissues” kind of moment. Many women (and even some men) could watch the scene over and over again without ever getting bored. And while I don’t doubt that first meetings like Tony and Maria ever happen, I would say that such moments are pretty rare! But it definitely makes for swooning female crushes, and great box office sales. We love to be entertained. We love to see man and woman “fall in love.”

Everything changes when we’re at the movies. We are so easily fascinated. So easily mesmerized. Certain moments seem timeless to us. They lift us up, and make us feel good. We allow the movie industry to create some of the craziest plot lines, as long as the story makes us feel good. We’ll give any story the benefit of the doubt when we’re with our family, enjoying our overly buttered and overly priced popcorn. Even when the story is nothing more than………yes, you guessed it………fiction. And especially when it’s a love story.

But do we give the same allowance to people who are living real stories that don’t come with makeup, perfect lighting, and a lucrative script? 

As I continue through this series on how to minister to parents of stillborn babies, we enter into the ever popular, but often misunderstood, topic of love. To help you keep up with my train of thought, I recommend that you read through the introduction and part 1. For this post, I’ve decided to combine points #2 and #4. They go hand in hand with one another, and it makes sense to condense them into one overall point.

Parents of stillborn babies want you to know…………

 

#2 We want you to know that we love our babies as much as any other parent loves their own children.

and…………

#4 Just because we had only a very short time to bond with our baby (our lifeless baby), this does not make the grieving process easier. In some ways, it makes things harder.

 

The Wisdom of Moving Slowly

Because of our infatuation with “love at first sight”, Hollywood has always heavily marketed the far-fetched romance movie. But in the real world, most people believe the opposite of what these movies typically reveal to us. Most believe that you cannot simply love someone that quickly. And for good reason. It takes time to get to know someone, and consequently, to properly love and receive love from them. It is usually unwise, and in some cases unsafe, to give your heart to someone you just saw for the first time. When it comes to dating and marriage, we obviously need to be wise. We should try not to become emotionally attached so quickly. In fact, it may be more loving to the other person to slow things down. You don’t want to give them any wrong impression. And you certainly don’t want to hurt them, or yourself for that matter.

Context Is Everything

The problem is when we take a general principle (i.e. like dating) and make it binding on every type of life experience. Romantic love works much differently than parental affection. If we confuse the two, it can be disheartening and very frustrating to parents of stillborn babies. Why? Because then we would be insensitive to the fact that parents love their babies inherently. We don’t need to ‘get to know’ them for a specific period of time in order to have deep affection for them. If you make this assumption about parents who either miscarry, or have a stillborn baby, you squelch the love they have for their babies. Ironically, such thinking would be anything but loving to these hurting moms and dads.

Generally speaking, love does require a lot of time spent with another person. Talking to, and listening to, that person repeatedly, and seeking to do them good whenever possible.  Without sufficient time and conversation, learning about someone’s deepest pain, it is hard to have compassion for and meet their needs. Without sacrificing for another, you haven’t really loved them. Without seeking their interest over your own, you haven’t really loved them. This can apply to marriage, friendships, parenting, and church life. But is this principle always true? Can you still have a heartfelt affection for someone, with a desire to help them if you could, even if you never have the chance to put your affection into action?

Let me go further here…….

Does this mean that we cannot love someone unless we have spent months and years of quality time with them? Should we only sacrifice ourselves for someone we know very well, and have spoken to many times? Does heartfelt affection, which would sacrifice anything for the well-being of another, require you to have a specific kind of relationship with that person? What if we never met that person before? Could we still love them? What if our only relationship with them was while they were still alive inside the womb, but not after they were born? Does this change the level of love we have for that person, simply because our time together was cut short? Do we need to see them alive in order to love them?

How Much Time Does Love Require?

Beckie Lindsey has written a tremendous post on how God wants us to love others. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

I asked God how He wants me to represent love. His answer: The way my Son loves is the way you are to love.

That says it all, doesn’t it? Always seeking the well-being of others, even to His own detriment. That is Jesus. And of course, this kind of love took time……and exhaustion……..and effort……….and agony………and the shedding of His own precious blood. And we are called to model, as best we can by the grace of God, this kind of love.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” ~ Jesus Christ (John 13:34)

When Jesus walked this earth, notice how he always loved and had compassion on others. And in many cases, these were others that He just met. He didn’t require a ‘getting to know you’ period as a requirement to love them. Christ displayed both heartfelt compassion and sacrificial deeds for others. Time was obviously required to perform the good deeds, but the compassion was there from the start. Christ felt genuine affection for these people immediately. Compassion emanates from Jesus naturally.

Parents naturally have compassion for their babies. This is a God-given affection. It is automatic, and nothing can stand in its way. And there is no limit to how much you would do for them if given the chance. The only thing that separates parents who have lost stillborn babies to other parents is that they lacked the opportunity to care for their babies  outside the womb. That opportunity died with the baby. That is the difference. The affection is there, and it is not lacking.  My baby Ariana didn’t have to do anything to make me have affection for her. She didn’t have to do anything for me to want her to live again. She didn’t have to earn my love. And no one had to teach me how to grieve for her. It came naturally, because the affection for her was there from the start. Parents of stillborn babies do not lack the affection that other parents have for their babies. And if they could, if they had the opportunity, they would do a million good deeds for them………..just to hear one single cry, or see one beautiful smile.

The Good Samaritan

In the article “Love Trumps Everything” (referenced above), Beckie then goes on to talk about a story we are very familiar with. The Parable of the Good Samaritan. She emphasizes how Christ teaches us that everyone we come in contact with is a neighbor to us. There are no escape clauses in Scripture. We are to love everyone sacrificially, even our enemies.

I believe the Good Samaritan parable can also teach us something about our topic of stillborn babies. It is not an application that the author of Scripture intended, but there is an argument from the lesser to greater that helps us here. Before I make the point, here is the story as spoken by Jesus Christ:

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

As most of you know, it is a historical fact that Jews and Samaritans hated one another. The fact that this man- this Samaritan man- would risk life and limb for a Jew was unheard of. This is precisely why Jesus uses him as our example, teaching us to love our enemies. Those whom we least feel like helping, we are commanded to help. That is real, self-sacrificing love. That kind of love is unnatural to us. It is the kind of love that only the Holy Spirit can produce.

What the Parable Can Teach Us

So how does this parable relate to parents of stillborn babies? Think of it this way. The Samaritan had never met the man who was attacked by robbers. Not only had he never met him, but the man was a Jew. A man whom the Samaritan was taught from his earliest days to hate, and avoid at all cost. And yet, even knowing both of these things, the Samaritan had compassion on and loved the man. So here’s the point.………..If a Samaritan has compassion on a man he was taught to hate…… If a Samaritan places his own life in danger to help such a man………. If he provides for and cares for him when a Levite and Priest would not………And if he goes out of his way to help a man he doesn’t feel like helping………..How much more then does a parent of a stillborn feel affection for their own baby? How much more do we wish to see our baby come back alive? How much more do we grieve over their bruised bodies? For the Samaritan, having affection for a Jew was totally unnatural to him- even repugnant. But for the parent of a stillborn baby, all of these loving affections come naturally.

The Samaritan did not have to spend a lot of time with the beaten and bloodied man in order to feel compassion for him. Time spent was not a requirement for him to have love for the Jew. And if that’s the case, then neither would time be required for a mother and father to love their own precious, biological, lifeless, fearfully and wonderfully made baby boy or girl.

Why Give More Slack to Hollywood?

Some of us are not as lenient with people we know as we are with Hollywood. In the scene from West Side Story, we give them kudos when a man goes gaga over a cute girl on a dance floor. I realize that this example relates to a romantic ‘high’ between a man and a woman, and not a compassionate type of love. That type of reaction is mostly based on physical attraction. But that makes my point even more. Many believe that losing a stillborn baby does not bring the same kind of emotion as other life situations can bring. Think about this for a moment. If you accept that people can shed tears over a romantic movie scene, how much more should you empathize with parents who are painfully grieving?

There is nothing wrong or sinful about starry-eyed men seeing a cute girl, and feeling like his whole world is just beginning. At the same time, parents of stillborn babies want you to know something: We want you to accept that we once looked into the beautiful eyes of a dead baby boy or girl, and our whole world felt like it ended. All we ask is that the same allowance you give to Hollywood to experience deep emotions, you also give to us. We need your tears as well. And we need your compassionate words and prayers to deal with our pain. When you make assumptions about how a family should feel in their grief, you do them a great disservice.

We love our babies. Always have, always will. Our longing for them did not die with them, regardless of how little time we had with them. If the amount of time spent with someone were the only factor in having affection, then we will cut short the love others need from us. And in the process, we will grieve the Spirit of God. Don’t allow yourself to believe the lie that a lack of time equals a lack of affection. How many hours, days, or months did this girl spend with her mother before their meeting? None. Now go back and watch the last couple minutes of the clip. Really, I mean watch it. Now…….. that’s what a reunion might look like for a parent and their stillborn baby!

The Hypocritical Husband

We must look at each situation carefully, in its own context. For example, if a husband willfully chooses not to spend time with his wife, he is being neglectful and unloving. If he is constantly choosing his friends, hobbies, and even other family members over his wife, he has not loved her. If he neglects her needs and never sacrifices his own comfort for her sake, he has not loved her. And any “affection” he shows for her is going to be seen as a sham. She will sniff out his motives like a highly trained K-9. For him to behave in such a way brings shame upon himself and anyone who condones such behavior.

On the other hand, to make time the deciding factor when it comes to loving someone does a great deal of damage. If we believe that time is an absolutely necessary component of love, then we have judged wrongly. Why? Because then we assume that love is determined by a specific set of circumstances. In other words, something outside of us as opposed to something inside of us. Look again at the husband in the above paragraph. Time did not produce genuine affection for his wife. And it certainly didn’t bring forth a pattern of good deeds. Even the good things he did were ultimately self-serving. Time didn’t make him get better. Only God can do that. Do not attribute to time something that only the Creator of time can do. Apart from the grace of God, such a man may continue to get worse over time. Time was no helper to him.

Looking to God for Help

The kind of thinking that places time limits on love distorts the true meaning of love. It places barriers in front of it. Love is much more diverse. We can’t pigeonhole it. To do so would be an insult to Jesus Christ our Savior, who is the full embodiment of love. The Bible shows Him loving people He knew well. And it also shows Him loving people He had only known for seconds. Parents of stillborn babies know all too well that love cannot be based solely on any one person’s experience. Let’s learn about love from God, not Hollywood.

The fact that your baby dies before leaving the mother’s womb, or while on the way out, is no consolation. The fact that you did not hear your baby cry, or coo, does not cushion the blow. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you love your baby any less. It means you are a grieving parent, who is hurting deeper than most people probably know. But I do know that God is the One you can always turn to. He knows how much you are hurting. And He knows how much you love your baby, even when others have no clue. If you are hurting, go to Him and pray that He would bring you comfort in all of your messy pain. And in all of your frustration at the lack of understanding you receive. The One who forgives sins is able and willing to do it.

A Many Splendored Thing

Hollywood once got close to a good definition of love. They said that Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing. The problem is that the many splendors of “Hollywood love” usually involve one night stands, getting drunk, and girls wearing flirty clothing. Perhaps if Hollywood showed an exhausted  mother lying on a delivery room bed wearing a hospital gown as much as they showed a villainess wearing spandex, real love would be seen. Perhaps if they showed more bruised and lifeless baby faces with blood red lips in the arms of a caring nurse, real love would be seen. Perhaps if they let you hear the sounds of a mother and father wailing over the loss of their baby, whom they can only hold just one time, real love would be seen. Now this would be one messy, but beautiful, movie.

But of course, not many people would pay to go see it, would they? Grieving parents, churches helping suffering people, baby funerals, and really messy lives. Nope. Not much there to make a buck off of. No swooning females. No West Side Story moments. No box office records. And no Academy Awards. Real love pleases God, but it isn’t always popular.

Conclusion

Time doesn’t cause love to come into the picture. It is no guarantee that love already exists in a given situation, or that it will exist in the future. Time is simply the frame in which the picture of love can be clearly displayed. And in some instances, that frame gives the picture of love a very beautiful holder. Jesus Christ painted the most beautiful picture of love the world has ever seen. We can see the painting written in the words of Holy Scripture. The frame of His love was seen in every one of His words and actions throughout His 33 year life. And ultimately, His time came to an end. The frame wrapped completely around the picture, as it draped over and around a wooden cross for about 6 hours on that Day of days. Those 6 hours are not what made Jesus love us while hanging on the cross. He loved us because of who He is.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

If time is put to good use, then the frame can only make the picture more beautiful. But for parents of stillborn babies, there wasn’t much time to be had with our baby. Our frame was taken away. And we can never get it back. Unfortunately, time isn’t for sale. You can’t buy that kind of frame at your local store. But God holds the frame of eternity in His hands. And one day, He will make all things new in a Kingdom that cannot be framed with a finite concept of time. It is a Kingdom that lasts forever! To all you parents who have lost babies, there is hope in our Redeemer. Remember, our time here on this earth is temporal. That frame will eventually break apart and will not hold the picture. Time will give way to eternity. However, the picture of love will last forever. How do I know? It is the reason the Apostle Paul calls it the greatest thing. It lasts even beyond faith and hope. It goes on and on and on, forever with our Lord.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. No one ever said anything about the frame.

________________________________________________________________

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

 

 

10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (Part 1): Your Words Are Needed

 

It has often been said that “silence is golden.” And you know what? It may often be true. That is, until you are the parent of a stillborn baby in a maternity ward. Then, it is not only false, but a most dreadful expression.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote an introductory post about how people can better minister to those who have suffered the loss of a stillborn baby. I would strongly recommend that you take the time to read through the above linked article, so that you are more prepared to understand what I am about to get into here. I listed the 10 things parents of stillborn babies want you to know.

Please understand, this list is not about laying a guilt trip on anyone. It is simply to better inform you on what it is like for parents who go through this tragedy. I am so grateful that I had family, and at least one close friend, show compassion to me when I lost my daughter. And I thank the Lord for that. But I also remember certain things that were very difficult to deal with emotionally, and how the behavior of others intensified those feelings in a negative way. Many people are not prepared to minister in this kind of situation. It is my hope and prayer that this series will help you just a little bit, should you ever encounter someone who has lost their baby to stillbirth. For this post, I want to focus on point #1.

Parents of stillborn babies want you to know…………

 

#1 We want you to know that we are greatly suffering, and we need you to acknowledge this fact with words of compassion.

 

Silence Isn’t Always Golden

Most people don’t like the sound of a crying baby. In most cases, it isn’t even because they’re worried about the baby, but because they are bothered by the noise. They find it annoying. They even make some parents feel guilty in public when their babies weep loudly. But parents of stillborn babies recognize the joyful significance of that sound. In fact, the sound of a baby crying is more meaningful to us than most people realize. It is a sound we yearned for in the maternity ward. It is a most precious, but yet at the same time, devastating sound. Why? Because we never had the chance to hear our baby cry. We longed for it. We prayed for it. But it didn’t happen. And the silence was anything but golden.


The Miracle That Happened

We never believed so hard for a miracle as we did on that painstakingly silent day. In one sense, we did witness a miracle. We saw the birth of our beautiful baby boy or girl. We saw their sweet little faces. We saw the shape of their head, and the color of their hair. Their tiny fingers and toes. We experienced the miracle of seeing our baby being born. I described this surreal experience in depth, when I wrote about my baby girl. It was truly a moment of glorious joy and searing pain, all at the same time. Joy because, well, he or she is still yours. But pain because you know you only have a few hours to bond with your weak, bruised, fragile baby. Can you just try to imagine the pain that comes from entering a hospital, going through the admission process, and then entering the dreaded maternity ward? Dreaded? It’s supposed to be a place of life and joy! Yes it is, but not for parents of stillborn babies. We know ahead of time that we are walking into a place of death, not life.


The Miracle That Did Not Happen

Yes, we got to see our babies.  But…………..we did not hear them. Or should I say it this way: we did not hear them. We have no memories to cherish of what our babies sound like. You know how you listen to a certain radio station for a long time, and you never see what the DJ looks like. But you try to put a face to them. And then finally, you see them. Either in person or a picture. And they usually don’t look anything like the way you pictured them. Well, it’s kind of the opposite for parents of stillborn babies. We see our baby up close and personal. We hold them and squeeze them tight. But we cannot hear them. They are silent babies. But we try to imagine what they might have sounded like. But unlike finally seeing what the radio DJ looks like, you never finally hear what your baby sounds like. It is a perpetual mystery that we must learn to live with.

Ariana would be 15 on February 20th, 2017. I never got to hear her adorable voice. I just know it would have sounded adorable. Don’t ask me how. I just know. And that makes it all the more painful. And believe me, every parent of a stillborn baby feels the same way I do. They know their baby would have sounded just as precious and cute as mine. If you know the parents of a stillborn baby, remember that we never heard the precious sounds of our little baby. And that is a dreadful silence to be reminded of.


The Hard Questions We Still Ask

We go to the hospital. And if they can’t find a secluded room for us, we will hear other families giving birth to healthy, living, crying babies. We are happy for them. We want them to experience the joy that God has brought into their lives. But then we wonder, “Why us??!!” “Why do we have to hear other babies cry, but not our own?” “Why is my baby’s face bruised?” “Why is the nurse giving my baby her first bath, but also her last bath at the same time?” “Oh Lord Jesus, why is there so much silence??” “Can You let me hear her cry, JUST ONCE?”

We get to see our baby. We get to hold our baby. But we don’t get to hear our baby. And even worse, we don’t get to keep our baby. We don’t change any dirty diapers. We don’t feed them. We don’t cuddle them anymore. The cuddling was short lived, and we knew it. We had to look at their crimson lips and shrunken skull one last time, and then the nurse would say, “I’m sorry, it’s time.” Then they took our baby away. We stagger to our car. We somehow manage to turn the ignition. By God’s grace, we arrive home. Our crib is empty. And now we have to look for a casket.


Helping to Minimize Our Pain

Now that you have a little glimpse into our world, you may be wondering: “What do I say?” What kind of words should you choose? There are no magic phrases here. Be guided by Holy Scripture. Seek God’s Word and pray about the occasion.

Colossians 4:6 states, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

And always go to the book of Proverbs for wisdom in how to bless others with your words.

“A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23)

Timely words? They are so rare, aren’t they? But most of us can relate to an occasion when someone used words in a way that made us feel better. Maybe even when you lost a loved one. I bet you still remember that conversation like it was yesterday. If you want to know what true compassion looks like, please read this incredible testimony.


We Need Your Words

We need to hear words that recognize the reality of our pain. Words that make us feel like you understand that we are suffering, and why we are suffering. Words that make us feel that our babies matter……….not just to us, but to you. Words that recognize the magnificence of our little boy or girl. That he or she is fearfully and wonderfully made by God, created in His image. Words that ease our burden, and help lift just a little of the heaviness off our aching hearts. And words that simply acknowledge that something really horrific just happened to us.  They don’t have to be perfect words. There are none.

Remember, we never had the chance to hear our baby cry. We could never have imagined things would happen the way they did. And now, we ask for nothing more than a listening ear and a few compassionate words. They mean more to us than you will ever know.

If you are the parent of a stillborn baby, in what ways has someone richly ministered to you with words of compassion?

Next time I will discuss point #2. “We want you to know that we love our babies as much as any other parent loves their own children.”

Stay tuned for more!

_______________________________________________________________

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

 

10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (An Introduction)

 

“Will this one be OK for her?” was the funeral director’s necessary, but ill-timed question to me. “She’s very tiny. I don’t think we can customize one much smaller than this.” I guess it is obvious to say the question was ill-timed. That’s because there is never a convenient time for you to discuss what type of casket you need for your stillborn daughter. Just having the conversation is a dreadful experience. Surreal. Nightmarish. Numbing. That’s the best I can do for words right now. But they are inadequate. You’re supposed to pick out a new pair of jeans, a baseball glove, or the latest CD of your favorite band. You are not supposed to be making a trip to a funeral home to pick out the look and size of your baby’s casket. That is not something you ever want to place into your schedule. But in a fallen world it has to be done sometimes. Original sin is devastating. It’s the reason parents have to pick out caskets for their little babies.

Sometimes a stillborn baby is carried full term and is fully developed. Sometimes they come early. Either way, you anticipate seeing your precious little one with all the joy and excitement that come with expecting. The same as any other couple who is expecting. And then ………suddenly, and often without any warning, you have just lost your precious little boy or girl created in the image of Almighty God. Gone. In the blink of an eye. Just…..gone. You are undone. Your pain is so real that you feel like you could cut right through it with a knife. You feel numb to all pleasure. And even the simple task of smiling feels like a dream world. Your emotions feel as still as your baby’s body being held in your arms shortly after birth. All you can do is imagine what your baby would have sounded like when they cried. Or at what month they would have said “mama” or “dada.” Or when they would begin walking on their own. Imagination is all you have at this point. And it doesn’t work very well. You want your baby. But of course, your baby is gone. And now, what you need more than anything is for people to understand your pain. You need them to try as best they can to have empathy with your situation.

During the summer of 2016, I wrote about the horrific experience of losing my baby girl Ariana, who was a stillborn. I’ve also written about some of the difficulties I faced when dealing with people’s reaction to her death. If you want to have a better context with which to understand the following advice, then I would recommend you read at least one of the linked articles above. Knowing the  experience better, and having the right context helps out tremendously when it comes to successful application. The more you know about someone else’s pain, the better equipped you will be to minister to them. Or at least to understand them better. And when you take the time to understand, the less chance there is of you doing more harm than good. With that said, losing a baby during (or just before) birth is really hard to describe to someone who hasn’t gone through it. And on top of that, there is a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding on the subject of stillbirth. But I believe that ministering to parents of stillborns will be greatly improved with knowing just a few things. Things that most people do not think through, and are not educated on when it comes to stillborn babies. Because even if you mean well, you can cause unnecessary pain to people who are going through unspeakable grief.

All of us need to be more aware of and empathetic of those who have had much different experiences. And having myself gone through this particular trial, I’ve been the recipient of both the good and the bad. Of both the empathetic, and the indifferent. I have dealt with those who think before they speak, and those who do not. And I am certain that others in my situation can relate well to what I’m saying. So, some guidance is obviously needed. I’ve compiled a list here of some things I believe will help you, if you are faced with the rare difficulty of ministering to a couple under these tragic circumstances. And since it is so close to my heart, I’ve decided to make an entire blog series out of this topic. I want to be thorough, and devote enough time to each point. So instead of writing one massive blog (which would end up like a mini book!), I will explain each point on a separate blog post. So, I have included the list below, just to give you some time to mull it over for a few days. Then………I’ll move on to deeper emphasis.

With that said, keep in mind that my words are flawed. They have no power to change anyone. Only God’s Holy Spirit can do that. All of us are imperfect, but Jesus Christ uses imperfect people to accomplish His will. My hope and prayer is that God would use something……anything……….I write to help you become more aware of this pressing need.
So, let’s get to it!

Parents of stillborn babies want you to know…………..

 

1. We want you to know that we are greatly suffering, and we need you to acknowledge this fact with words of compassion.

 
2. We want you to know that we love our babies as much as any other parent loves their own children.


3. We want you to use our baby’s name as much as possible. It is like beautiful music being played in our ears.


4. Just because we had only a very short time to bond with our baby (our lifeless baby), this does not make the grieving process easier. In some ways, it makes things harder.


5. 
We want you to know that we love talking about our babies as much as any other parent loves to talk about their own kids, and we want people to at least try to listen more when we do.


6. We want you to become more comfortable in conversation, and not change the subject so quickly whenever we talk about our precious babies. 


7. 
When we bring up in conversation that we had a stillborn, we want you to know that simply saying “I’m sorry” is a much better option than total, dismissive silence.


8. We want you to acknowledge the powerful bond that we have with our babies, and want you to refer to us as their parents.


9. We want you to ask questions about our baby (eye color, hair color, height, weight, did you get to hold the baby, did they look like mommy or daddy, do you have pics, etc.)

 

10. We want you to know that, even many years later, we still feel the loss and miss our babies very much.

                              – – – – – – –

So there you have it. A little something to whet your appetite. Until next time, please be reflecting on these things. And as you do, remember that parents of stillborn babies do not expect you to be perfect in your dealings with them. We don’t expect you to “have it all together.” Death is hard, no matter who it involves. We know that you mean well, and you don’t want to hurt us. We know that sometimes all of us say the wrong thing. None of us are perfect. Only Christ is. And only by His strength can we put any of these principles into practice. I need His strength to minister to others as much as anyone. So above all things, do not neglect the Word of God. I’ll get more into that in the coming weeks.

So follow along with me, as I begin to go deeper on each point. Next time we meet I’ll be discussing Point #1 in depth: “We want you to know that we are greatly suffering, and we need you to acknowledge this fact with words of compassion.”

Stay tuned for much more in the coming days and weeks!

________________________________________________________________

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

Baby Girl, You Were Taken Too Soon!

Image result for i love you ARiana images

 

My baby girl, Ariana, was taken too soon.  She came into the world on February 20th, 2002.  And she exited the world on the same day.  She did not take a single breath outside the womb.  Before you read this poem, you will need to read her story.  Her story is my story.  And it is gut-wrenching.  So………..to really understand the depth of these words you are about to read, you will need to know what happened on that fateful day back in 2002.

In the years following Ariana’s death, I submitted several poems about her to the local newspaper in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  Every year on her birthday, for about 5 years in a row, I wrote a poem for Ariana to be printed in the obituaries.  At the time, these were some of the rawest, most transparent emotions I’ve ever expressed about my precious little one.  Unfortunately, I lost all the copies I had of these poems!!  And I assumed they were lost forever.  I was having a very difficult time even finding archived copies of them online.

But……..thank God for my parents!!  They save just about everything, and they were able to locate 4 of the poems!!  And who knows, the 5th one may turn up one day.  For practical reasons, I decided to condense the 4 poems into 2.  Most of the original content is preserved.  However, to help with the flow, I did have to make some structural changes with a few extra words added at times.  So here you go………this poem is quite simple: the love of a daddy for his baby girl.  A baby girl taken too soon.  A baby girl daddy misses very much.  I chose the violet colored font as a reminder of her beautiful eyes!

 

           TAKEN TOO SOON

  You are like a bright star, baby girl, to whom I wish to fly,
  The love I have for you is the source of all those tears I cry.
  Your home is with Jesus now, in the glorious Heaven above,
  That thought to me is joyful and calming, as peaceful as a dove.

   You were taken too soon, Ariana, without a minute to spare,
   I’ve often thought how all of this just seems so unfair.
   But my memories of you are real, they are just like brand new,
   My thoughts of you are heartfelt and many, this poem is a clue.

Image result for baby girl teddy images

It’s been 14 years since I lost you, my beautiful little flower,
Since that day when I first saw you, it was my finest but darkest hour,
Since the day I saw those eyes, those beautiful violet eyes,
It was a sight so dazzling, like the sun setting over the ocean skies.

Some days are harder than others, sometimes I barely get by,
Remembering how badly I wanted to hear my baby cry.
You were pretty like a rose, and as tiny as a bunny,
I wouldn’t trade the time I had with you, for no amount of money.

 

 

They told us there would be some problems, that you might not be alright,
But they were wrong, Ariana, Daddy thinks you’re outta sight!
You’re with the Lord now, and I’m not sure if He lets you look down,
But if He did, I know that your smile would be able to light an entire town.

Remembering the day I lost you, although very tragic,
When I held you in my arms, it was pure magic.
I have not forgotten you, nor will I ever,
And the time will someday come, when we will be together.

Someday I will see your adorable face, and there will finally be cause to celebrate,
For now, you’ll live in my heart’s affections, and that will forever be your fate.

__________________________________________________________

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

 

 

 

I Wanted To Lay My Baby Girl In A Crib, Not A Casket

Image result for baby girl casket

 

“Is she dead?” was the question my baby’s mother asked.  The doctor had entered the room not long after we had the ultrasound.  She was a middle-aged doctor of Indian descent I believe.  “Yes, your baby is gone” was her reply in an empathetic, yet stable tone.  I can still picture the doctor’s face clearly.  I remember her glassy eyes.  I remember the conversation…..the very brief conversation.  And just like that, after about 38 weeks in the womb, Ariana was gone.  My daughter died.  And it felt like a part of me died as well.  You could not have painted a smile on my face.  You could have told me the funniest joke in the world, and my face would not have shown a single crinkle.  Like me, you probably laugh when someone tickles you.  It’s instinct.  You can’t even control it.  But I would not have laughed on this day.  Even smiling was unthinkable to me.

I remember being in the room physically, but I wasn’t really there.  You know how that feels, don’t you?  When answering the simplest question takes all of your mental faculties.  When your mind cannot process anything else except that one huge thing you are dealing with.  I wanted to wake up and realize it was all just a really horrific nightmare.  Have you ever felt this way?  Like you’re still holding out hope, even for the most far-fetched possibility.  When the odds of anything good happening  are impossible, but the end result seems so disturbing that you still hold on for a miracle.  That was me.  That was unsaved, professing believer me.  I wanted a miracle from a God I was enemies with.

The shock had just enough time to settle in and shake me to the core.  And after the truth hit home that all my worst fears were now realized, the doctor said something like, “Your baby will need to be delivered as soon as possible.”  I thought, “What?!  What do you mean ‘be delivered’?  She’s dead!  Today?!  NO!  I can’t see her like that.  I’m not ready for that!”  In the midst of all the stress and shock, I completely forgot that Ariana would need to be delivered as soon as possible.  Otherwise, it can cause great harm to the mother.  The nightmare, or should I say the harsh reality, had just begun.

During the previous months, I bonded with my baby girl.  I had already felt her kick several times.  I was also with her during many ultrasound appointments.  And there were numerous appointments with specialists.  You see, Ariana was a Down Syndrome baby.  And when you are pregnant with a Down Syndrome baby, there are a whole slew of things that need to be monitored.  So I already knew this was going to be a difficult nine months.  What I did not know was how difficult it would become.  Life would never be the same after our ultrasound appointment on February 19th, 2002.  My dead baby girl had to be delivered.  I wanted to be there so bad…….more than anything, but yet I also wanted to avoid it like the plague.  Has there ever been an event in your life like this?  Where you were hating the very thought of it, and looking forward to it at the same time?  It’s impossible to explain, isn’t it?

I’m a little fuzzy about what happened once the meeting with the doctor was over.  If memory serves me, I believe they said it was best for us to leave and come back the next morning.  I can’t quite remember where I drove to afterwards, or how I was even able to drive.  But wherever it was, I had to stop and pull over to let out a pool of tears.  I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone seeing me in the state I was in.  My system was still shocked, and only a tiny hint of reality was beginning to sink in.  But the next day reality would rush in full force…….with no mercy.

The hospital staff scheduled us for delivery the day after the ultrasound.  It was February 20th, 2002.  I don’t think I got a wink of sleep the night before.  How do you sleep when they tell you your baby girl is dead at roughly 38 weeks?  How do you sleep when they tell you that you must return the next day so they can induce labor, in order to deliver your baby girl……..who I already know is dead?  You don’t sleep.  You don’t laugh.  You don’t feel.  And you can barely even think.  You wander around is some sort of stupor.  And you still keep wondering when you’re going to wake up from the nightmare.  When people talk to you, all you hear are jumbled words.  You are not in a state of mind where you can concentrate very well on complete sentences.  Heck, I was still trying to process the sentence “Your baby is gone.”  I still can’t quite process it even to this day.  And it’s been 14 years.

 

V__3A43

 

When they know that your baby will be stillborn, they normally have to induce labor.  So we knew that Ariana’s delivery would be soon, but time would tell exactly when it would happen.  As hours went by, I kept wondering what my dead baby girl will look like.  Will I recoil at the sight?  Will I be able to contain myself enough to hold her?   Will the hospital staff let me hold her?  Will I faint?  Will there be a miracle?  Will God do this for me, just this once?!”  **  Will He make my baby live again?  Does God still bring dead people back to life?  My brain frantically tried to process all these questions at once.  Nothing mattered except her.  All other things didn’t just take a backseat, they were left on the highway 100 miles back.

As someone who’s always struggled with anxiety disorders, I was way beyond my tolerance threshold.  I wanted so much to hold my baby girl, and to see her very first smile.  To hear her first coo.  To change her first diaper.  I’m guessing that most new fathers try not to think about their first diaper.  But for some reason, when you know your baby is dead, you would give anything for the opportunity to change that first stinky mess.  Even the burden of knowing she had Down Syndrome seemed like such a minor issue compared to death!  And then the envy started.  Why are other daddies leaving with their baby girls to go home?  Why not me?   Why am I waiting for a dead baby?  Lord, Please Help!  Why Is My Baby’s Birthday Also Her Death-day?  This is not fair!!  This floor is called the birth wing, but for Ariana it’s a death wing?  Of course, I didn’t get any answers then, and I still don’t have any.

I couldn’t eat.  Food was detestable to me.  For the first time I can remember, I had no appetite…….period.  But somehow I managed to scarf down a quick meal.  I don’t know how.  Maybe because it had been nearly a day that I hadn’t eaten, and I was starting to feel weak.  I’m really not sure.  In fact, all the good things that I normally enjoy seemed so distant to me.  Just a blank stare on my face is all I could muster.  I looked like an empty stoic.  This was deceptive though, because I was anything but unfeeling.  My emotions were being ripped apart.  My heart was breaking.  There is no right or wrong way to feel devastated.  Grief takes many forms.  It goes through many changes.  Never judge someone’s grief by what you see on the outside.  Our bodies and minds are just too complex for that.

I wasn’t detached emotionally.  Perish the thought.  It’s just that sometimes your body doesn’t know what to do with your grief.  Your emotions are somehow so shocked, and yet so guarded all at once.  It is like being paralyzed on the inside.  You just sort of go numb.  Losing a baby can be sort of like a fight or flight syndrome for your emotions.  Instead of adrenaline pumping, muscle tensing, steadfast alertness to danger, your body seems to push everything to your emotional core.  I didn’t know what to do with it all.  I didn’t even want to be around anyone.  I just wanted to go home with my baby girl…….like all the other fathers on the birth wing were doing.  Instead, I went home with a lock of Ariana’s hair, a couple of her tiny footprints, and some pictures and memories of her severely bruised face and blood red lips.

But I don’t regret those moments.  I would show up at her birth again if I could go back in time.  She was hard to look at, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from her either.  And in the midst of all the redness and bruises, there was beauty.  And I mean true beauty!  It was her eyes!  I wish you all could’ve seen them.  I wish I could accurately describe them, but I’ll never do them complete justice if I try.  But I will brag though.  Aren’t daddies allowed to brag a little about their baby girl?  Even when they die?  Her eyes were violet.  Yes, violet!  And I mean Elizabeth Taylor violet.  And just like Elizabeth Taylor, no contacts were needed.  Ariana was beautiful!  Bragging?  Yes, absolutely.  Exaggerating?  No, absolutely not.

Now back to the painful stuff.  I didn’t get a birth certificate.  Pennsylvania did not even recognize stillborn births at that time.  Thankfully, that law has changed.  But the moment can never be redone.  And even if I had taken home a Birth Certificate, that slip of paper doesn’t quite fill your crib.  It doesn’t cry at 3am wanting a feeding.  It doesn’t poop.  And it doesn’t have Down Syndrome either.  But you know what…….. stinky diapers, insomnia and chromosomal disorders are precious gifts when seen from the right perspective.

After waiting for several agonizing hours, and trying not to get too excited about my baby’s birth, they finally said, “IT’S TIME!!”  It is strangely surreal, because you still get excited!  You think, “I am going to be a daddy!”  YES!!  But then, all of a sudden you feel like you shouldn’t be excited.  Why?  Because you know, soon after delivery, you will be burying your baby girl.  How can you be excited when such an appalling prospect looms?  I don’t know the answer.  But you still have this sort of joy because your child is about to be born.  She was still my child.  No matter what.  I cannot explain this.  And I hope none of you reading this ever experience the exact feeling I’m referring to.  No one should ever have to.  It’s a fallen world……a cursed earth……..babies should not be stillborn.  I digress.

During the birthing process, there are brief moments when you forget the impending sorrow.  I probably felt the same adrenaline flow of any other father-to-be.  Remember how I told you earlier that I dreaded this very moment from happening.  And, at the same time, I wanted to be there more than anything in the world.  Well, you could not have pried me out of that room with a crowbar.  Perhaps I was still hoping that somehow God would bring her back to life.  Perhaps I just wanted to see my baby girl…….even though she would be dead.

I remember watching those all-too-real videos during the birth classes.  I remember hearing other parents of newborns describe how messy things can get.  Sometimes they say that new daddies even faint at the sight of all the grossness.  I have heard stories like this.  I don’t doubt they are true.  But I think sometimes they must be fainting because of joy they can’t contain.  That is my theory anyway.  Maybe it’s a combination of both.  But I do know this: when your dead baby is headed through the birth canal and you see her tiny little head, gross doesn’t bother you.  When you know that you will only be with her for a very short time, gross doesn’t bother you.  When you know you’ll be picking out a casket for her the next day, gross doesn’t bother you. 

Sure enough, Ariana was on her way.  I cried when I first saw the top of her head.  And I cried even more when she was all the way out.  Were my tears joy or were they pain?  Have you ever been unable to tell whether you were happy or sad, or both?!  I got to do some of the things other daddies do when their babies are born.  So much so that I almost forgot.  So much going on that I almost forgot……….forgot how sad I was supposed to feel.  Can you believe that?  Yes, for brief moments you forget that you are not taking her home with you.  Everything seems so natural, until you see the collapsed skull and black and blue face.  She didn’t cry.  I never wanted to hear someone cry so bad in all my life.  Seems like a strange thing to say, doesn’t it?  But……. she didn’t cry.  Everyone else did.  God performed no miracles.  No happy ending here.

I remember when I first held her.  She was so tiny.  18 inches, 5.8 pounds.  The nurse showed me how to hold her and protect her head.  And you know what, I followed her advice exactly as she told me.  I dotted every “I” and crossed every “T”.  I was so afraid of hurting her head.  I know, I know.  She was dead.  But in those moments after birth, you don’t act like your baby’s dead.  By instinct, you protect them as best you can.  Her body was so flimsy too.  I held her so tightly.  I didn’t want to let her go.  Ever.

There are many other things too painful to describe.  I’ll spare you most of them.  But one thing really stands out in my memory.  Her lips were crimson red.  They say this is due to depletion of oxygen, and also blood pooling after death.  It was really odd though.  It didn’t look messy.  It didn’t look weird.  It looked kind of cute.  You may think that’s weird.  Maybe it is weird.  But it’s my story.  And again, I can’t explain it.  I remember cradling her tightly in my arms and saying: “Now Ariana, I told you that you are not allowed to wear lipstick until you’re 14.”  The nurse smiled.

Then, they gave her a short bath.  I got to hold her, as did the mother.  I got to cut the cord too.  Yes….the cord.  That precious life-giving line of blood to my baby.  How ironic is that? How cruel it felt!  That same life-giving cord was the very instrument of her death.  It was wrapped twice around her tiny little ankle…… very tightly wrapped.  Baby Ariana was too strong.  She was too energetic.  I wanted to ask her why?  Little girl, why did you have to kick so much?!  Why would you put all of us through this?  I know, I know, ridiculous.  Not her fault.  She didn’t know.

It’s all a product of the fall of Adam.  And yes, God ordained my baby’s death.  He allowed it.  He decreed it.  It all had, and still has, a purpose.  God knows.  I do not.  But I do know this: human rebellion is devastating.  Babies die because of it.  Sometimes they die before you ever hear them cry.  And all of this stuff happens because Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God told them not to.  And He meant it.  At that moment, I wonder if they realized just how much pain they plunged the world into.  From that point on, there would be sickness, pain, grief, death, and of course, more sin.  Because of that one wicked act, parents have to sometimes bury little babies.  Yes, sin is that destructive.  God is that holy.

Just how destructive is sin?  Well, I’ll just say it like this.  The day after Ariana’s birth I had to walk into a funeral home and say, “Hello, I’m  here to pick out a casket for my baby girl.”  That is not the way things should be.  That is not the way things were originally created to be.  That’s what sin has done to us.  That’s how devastating it is.

I wanted to lay my little girl in a crib, not a casket.  I should have been playing with her. Instead I had to bury her.  No more could I look into her beautiful violet eyes.  But one day………yes……a day is coming!

Until we meet again, Ariana, I love you.  There will be no bruises the next time I see you.  And that is something daddy can smile about!

 

 

** (See above for this reference note. It is in the paragraph right below the picture of Ariana’s grave site.  Below is the explanation.)

I was not a Christian at the time. I named the Name of Christ, but I was not truly redeemed.  I didn’t go to the Scriptures for comfort.  I am pretty certain that I prayed……albeit briefly.  And even though I prayed, it was as a false convert indulging in a life of sin.  Even so, God is sovereign, and He could have shown mercy and let my baby live, if He had chosen to.  But it would not have been so much an answer to my prayer, as it would have been God simply being gracious and kind to me and the mother of my child.  In the end, it is all about what glorifies Him.  Even if He had chosen to preserve Ariana’s life, and given me such an amazing gift, I would have shamefully celebrated the gift over the Giver.  It would have been her over and above Him.  I am not even sure how much I would have thanked Him for saving her life……..had He chosen to do so.

_________________________________________________________________

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-: