I was 35 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I had felt my baby “drop” the week before and was trying to make it to 36 weeks. My MD appointment 2 days before had gone well and I was starting to dilate. It was a Sunday evening when I laid down on the couch, before going to bed, to count my kicks. This time was much different than all the rest. There were none to be found. My husband, who is a physician, immediately jumped up and tried to illicit some movement from our baby. There was still nothing so we headed for the hospital. As soon as we got there, they checked me in and began trying to find the heartbeat. Although they still couldn’t find one, I wasn’t too concerned. I knew babies often move less and heartbeats are harder to find just before they are born. I don’t think there was any way I could bring myself to the point of thinking or believing there was something wrong. It wasn’t until they wheeled the Cadillac ultrasound in at 3 a.m. that the reality of what was happening hit me. There was my precious little baby, his body still with a flat line where the heartbeat should have been. I’ll never forget that picture. I let out a scream. I felt the full force of Christ’s anguished words on the cross, “Lord, Lord, why have You forsaken me?”
I know the Lord and my walk with Him had become much stronger during my pregnancy. To the point that some of my first thoughts were, “He is in control. He is sovereign. He is all knowing. He loves me and His plan is perfect (regardless of how it appears to me)”. He was my true Comforter every minute through our horrific nightmare. I never felt alone. I felt Him pick me up and carry me through some of the most difficult days of my life. I remember my husband saying to me, “I love you more at this moment than ever before”. I said, “It’s because you don’t see me. I am empty. I am dead. Who you see is Jesus carrying me”. It brought a whole new meaning to the “Footprints” poem for me. God met me where I was and made HImself known in a way I had never experienced before – it was so unbelievably personal.
As the sun came up the next day, I prayed and hoped that it was just a bad dream. My belly was still big. How could my baby have died? How can those types of things happen with today’s medical technology? I had so many unanswered questions. They started the pitocin at 9 a.m. to induce me. By 9 p.m. I hadn’t progressed any further. My husband and I are very open people and we love to include others in our lives, during both good and bad times. I am so thankful for that because it allowed the Lord to show us His tremendous love and grace during those 12 long hours of waiting. We had so many people coming in and out of our room, praying for us, comforting us and loving us. Each person was an extension of God’s hand in the flesh. A friend of mine, who doesn’t know Jesus as his Lord and Savior, asked me how I could believe in a loving God who would take away our baby. I told him we had never felt more loved than we did at that very moment. At 9 p.m. they took me off the pitocin and let me rest. I took a bubble bath at midnight, to help me relax, then they restarted the pitocin again at 12:15 a.m. We had asked everyone who came by that day to specifically pray for my labor to go quickly. God honored those prayers. By 12:35 a.m. I was fully dilated and Braden Alec was born at 12:59 a.m. on August 3, 1999.
Immediately following his birth, we gathered together with family and friends to hold him, pray for him, sing and tell him goodbye. It was such a beautiful time. Because it was the middle of the night, it seemed that we had God’s full attention. Braden was here for what seemed just a few moments, but he has already touched so many lives during that time.
We know God has a plan for his life. He does for each child He creates, from conception. In some how and some way the plan for Braden’s life was fulfilled in God’s eyes. We may never understand it but God tells us in His Word to not lean on our own understanding, but to TRUST in Him with all our hearts (Prov 3:5-6). He also says that His grace is sufficient for all things and that He perfects us in our weakness (II Cor 12:9-10). I understand that so much more than ever before. Jesus Christ is our only source of healing (Is 61:1-3). He understands our grief, and hurts with us. (Is 53:4,5). If you don’t know him, you will never be at peace and find the joy that comes in the morning (Ps 30:5). If you open the Bible you will find Him. It is His love letter, written just for you at this time in your life. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. His desire is not to harm you, but to give you a future and a hope (Jer 29:11).
God’s Word became alive to me. There are so many promises that apply to our lives that I clung to with all my might. It was all I had during those very dark and lonely days. It was my Living Water and Bread of Life. I camped in the Psalms, crying out David’s words back to God. It sustained me when nothing else could. It comforted me to know someone else had felt the depth of pain I was experiencing. It’s what got me through the heavy dark painful days of grieving for the life of my baby.
To read the rest of Jennifer’s story…order a copy of Letters to My Glory Baby which includes seven years worth of letters to Braden (her grief journey day-by-day) and wisdom from facilitating Glory Babies for the past five years. Makes a great gift for someone who is grieving or someone who wants to understand someone else who is grieving.