The first time my husband and I saw our baby was during my 8-week sonogram. Time moved quickly and I was healthy, so by the second time we saw him, we were already in our second trimester together.
However, before the sonographer could say anything, and as I lay back on the table with the cold jelly on my abdomen, I knew Nathan’s heart wasn’t beating.
The doctor and sonographer offered their condolences, but their words didn’t sound like words. It was as if we were all underwater, with garbled sounds and slow-motion movement. The only movement that seemed to be in real-time was my husband slumping over in the chair next to me and starting to shake. I felt numb—emotionless, outside my body where emotions don’t seem to exist.
My baby was gone. I was gone.
Just a few days prior (since we’d been in the “safe” zone), we joyfully announced our son’s existence to the entire world—or what felt like it on social media.
I was instructed to get dressed. I’m fairly certain two people, although neither of them was among the parties visibly present in the room, escorted me to the changing room.
It was as if I was carried.
I dressed, very aware that my soul was outside my body somewhere, undoubtedly searching for the child that had been growing inside it up until so recently.
When I returned from the changing room, my bleary-eyed husband looked at me. I realized I felt guilty for not crying yet. It’s hard to cry when you’re not in your own body, when your entire being has left the shell that normally carries it.
My tears came as I started to absorb my husband’s grief.
His sorrow brought me back to myself; his pain required my presence. My tears continued throughout the following days until the surgery to remove my baby’s body from my own.
In the months that followed, I was haunted by nightmares about every major difficulty I’ve ever had to endure. Every pain I’d caused to others, I reenacted. Everything I would not have wanted to see in the lives of those closest to me, I saw and felt first-hand. Even in the nightmares that did not involve my loved ones, there was always an ominous presence that terrified me and caused me to awaken abruptly, shaking, unable to find peace. This had clearly become a spiritual battle.
Perhaps this explains my avoidance of friends and loved ones who wanted to be there for me. It was just too much to feel their suffering, too. Despite their best intentions, they all wanted me to tell them I was going to be OK. How would I know? I did not have that to offer them.
Throughout all this, I’d been praying. I had not, however, been listening.
My husband had been encouraging me to do a daily Bible study. I wasn’t interested. Although I had enjoyed activities like that in normal life, I was afraid God was going to give me a pep talk.
I feared that a trust me—it’s all sunshine and bluebirds up here message would make me resent Him. As a result, I kept my prayers brief and one-sided.
One morning, however, my husband woke me up as he was leaving for work. I could tell he was upset. He instructed, “Do NOT do today’s Bible study; it would hit too close to home.” As I melted into a pool of tears, he did too—but he firmly told me, “You have to let go.”
I didn’t ever want to let go, much less so soon. Later that afternoon, however, like a defiant child, I read the verses he’d strictly advised against.
The gist of it was that if we hold onto something too tightly, it can become a form of spiritual idolatry. It would be much safer to entrust Jesus with my baby’s care . . . and my own. I needed to release my child to Him. He’d be safer there.
I crumbled into prayer, sobbing, entrusting our son’s care to the Lord. I visualized myself handing our baby to Jesus. And then letting go of him.
At that moment, I came back to my body in a way I hadn’t since my soul left to search for him.
The pain shifted.
The nightmares began to subside.
The healing commenced—subtly, yet profoundly.
As his mommy, I wish him this profound safety. I want nothing more for him than this love that now surrounds and protects him.
We will hold Nathan someday. On that day, we will tell him how very much we love him, and how very much we missed him. He will be welcoming us home—and that will be a happy, beautiful day.