Monday, October 15, 2012
In the shower that morning, the thought first struck me: “What if this baby was made for Heaven?” As my mind expanded on the thought, I wondered: what if this baby was not made to live on this earth? What if this baby was not made to take in his first breath of air? What if this baby, our 7th baby, was a Sabbath Baby, a baby set apart just for the Lord? What if this baby..... Lying on the ultrasound table, the doppler scanned over my baby and stopped. I knew. No heartbeat. Just the form of a tiny baby. The tech referred to him as ‘the evidence of a pregnancy’. I knew him as my baby. The tears rolled. The heart pounded. The ache began. And yet, even then, “this baby was made for Heaven” penetrated the pain. The ache, the deep, raw, gut wrenching ache. From my journal, the day after we saw no heartbeat: “Sorrow and grief, the death of one you love, it is like a fence post that lies in the path of a growing tree. We must grow around it until it becomes a part of who we are. We cannot simply stop growing nor can we move it for God has allowed it to be there and it becomes a part of us and we grow through it. It may cause some scarring and it may prevent us from growing the way we would have without it. But nonetheless, we grow. The death of my precious, tiny baby, it will never go away. It is part of who I am and I will grow around it.” 10 days were spent crying, talking to brothers and sisters, crying some more, knitting a soft, tiny blanket, building a little, tiny box with a cross on it, crying still some more, praying, hurting, rejoicing, deciding on a name, answering questions from little people trying to wrap their brains around it, asking questions to a big God as I tried to wrap MY brain around it. 10 days of waiting. 10 days of cradling his physical body in my womb, knowing full well that he was not there. He had begun his eternity. Solid promises to stand on. His name: Seth. Appointed. Our Baby Seth was appointed for Heaven, set apart, #7. His life was lived in full because it is God, alone, who numbers our days. Not cut short, not gone too soon. Lived in full, to completion, just as God intended right from the beginning. Another note from my journal, written while waiting for my body to deliver his: “Yesterday I was considering where I was and what I was doing when little Seth’s heart beat for the last time. Again, God has given me such assurance that from the moment he was conceived, God had that last heart beat planned, just as He has planned for all my children. My other children, Lord willing, will grow up and live long lives and I may not be there when their heart beats for the last time. But when Baby Seth’s heart beat for the last time, he was sweetly cradled in my warm, comforting, peaceful womb. He went straight from that beautiful sanctuary to the ultimate Sanctuary”. Our family began to prepare for the birth of Baby Seth’s body. I shopped for the softest of yarn and fabric to cradle his little body in (I am here to testify that no yarn or fabric is soft enough to hold your precious baby’s body. None. It simply doesn’t exist. Perhaps only the wings of angels could possibly be soft enough). Craig built a little wooden box with a cross on top. The children drew pictures. Kaleb wrote a song. I cherished the moments I had with his body in my womb, knowing it was all I would ever have of him. In many ways, many, many ways, I did not want my body to let him go. I would never get to stroke his soft, downy head or be mesmerized by his curled up little toes. I would never get to smile at his fuzzy shoulders or stroke his clenched fist. All I would ever have were these moments when my body cradled his until God said it was time. And so, as strange as it sounds, I cherished them. And yet, the waiting was hard. It was right. But it was hard. After a particularly hard day, Craig apologized for ruining my day. With a pain-soaked heart, I responded, “You didn’t ruin my day. Waiting to give birth to a dead baby ruined my day”. I later wrote in my journal: “Baby and death do not belong in the same sentence. Baby Seth wasn’t old and he wasn’t sick (as far as I know). Birth, not death, was the logical next step. But somewhere deep in my heart, I KNOW that something bigger than logic is in charge.” The day before my body went into labor, I cried out to the Lord: “Lord Jesus, rescue me not from sorrow and pain, for You, Yourself, walked with and through those, and more than I ever will. Rescue me, not from death, for death, YOUR death, is what brought eternal life. Rescue me, instead, from despair. I have hope....because of You.” Ten days after I laid on that table at Longview Radiology, the wait was over. The labor pains began. His tiny blanket was still on my knitting needles, waiting to be cast off. His wooden box was ready. All the children were tucked in their beds. I had the night hours all to myself. And my body did what it was created to do: it gave birth to a baby, my baby. Our made-for-Heaven Baby Seth. We held his tiny body, so very tiny. We studied his features: his little hands and feet, his tiny head, his eyes. So fresh from the easel of God, a masterpiece! Tears blurred our sight and we wiped them away. Sobs escaped and we let them. Praise came and we proclaimed the goodness of our God. After his birth was complete, I sat on the edge of my bed and casted off Seth’s blanket. My tears flowed, my heart rejoiced and ached all at once. As the last stitch came off my needle, I had an overwhelming sense: “It is finished”. A tiny blanket, much tinier then any I had ever seen. Not enough stitches...”not enough days, weeks, months, years!”, my heart cried! That overwhelming sense: “It is finished. He lived his life in full. Complete”. I covered his tiny body, tucked the softest, though not soft enough, yarn around him, baby blue just for him. It is finished. The children began to stir as the early morning hours arrived. The oldest came first. They asked to see Baby Seth and we tenderly and reverently showed them. God’s masterpiece! We were privileged, you know. Their tears fell, mixed with a silent, deafening awe. We huddled around him, this precious family unit of ours. We wept, we rejoiced. And we placed the lid with the wooden cross on the box. In church on Sunday, just two days later, we sang: “When the stars burn down and the earth wears out; And we stand before the throne; With the witnesses who have gone before; We will rise and all applaud; Sing blessing and honor and glory and power forever to our God”. The tears fell like a flood. He had gone before. He was home. Heaven was sweeter now. Craig shared with me that we had one down, six more to go. As parents, we labor and pray and yearn for our children to walk with the Lord and join us in eternity. Seth’s already there. One down, six more to go. Several days later I was driving by the lake in our town. My heart was overcome by a desperate yearning for this baby of mine that I never got to know. A yearning unlike any I had ever felt; a desperate, “I would do just about anything to hold him, to know him, to touch him, to sing to him” yearning. It hurt. It hurt like the dickens. And then God’s still, small voice in my heart: “That yearning. Its powerful, isn’t it? Almost takes your breath away. I know. Because that’s how I feel about those that don’t know Me yet. I am desperate to hold them, to know them, to touch their hearts. So desperate that I stopped at nothing to save them: I gave the only Son I had to do it. I KNOW that desperate longing. Its how I felt about you before you came to know Me and trust Me. And its how I feel about them. You, walking in this valley right now, just got to share in my pain. But your longing is for Baby Seth’s life here on earth. My longing for you, for them, is for eternity. Can you catch just a glimpse of My heart?” I was floored. Truly. And I praised the Lord for Baby Seth’s life and what He was teaching me through it. During this walk through the valley of grief, I learned the value of simply crying with another. My mom and dad held me on the front porch one evening, not saying a word, just crying, joining me in my sorrow, in my pain, missing their grandson as I was missing my son. Our pastor and his wife, who have at least two babies made for Heaven waiting for them, showed up on our doorstep one morning with a box of doughnuts for the kids and arms for me. Tears rolled down their cheeks as they hurt right along with me. The most precious ladies in the world, ladies who were a part of my growth group at church, sat around a table with me, listened to me recount the events and made no attempt to even wipe the tears that soaked every cheek in the room. They didn’t try to cheer me up, they didn’t try to ‘there, there, it will be okay’, they just simply felt my pain WITH me and praised the Lord WITH me as He propped me up with His promises. A couple of dear friends, having babies waiting for them in Heaven, walked the road with me, answering questions, giving practical suggestions, and simply crying with me. I have a new understanding for those who have gone or will go through a miscarriage. We hate to see people hurting. We really do. But oh, the healing power of coming alongside and joining in the pain! Its profound. Six months have passed. Today would have been Baby Seth’s due date. The lead up to the day, and the day itself, was much harder than I had anticipated. Because I am so sure, so absolutely certain, that he lived his life in full, just as God had intended, I assumed this day would be just like any other. Assumptions are foolish and as a friend wrote just today, “grief has no rules”. Just as Baby Seth was made for Heaven, my heart was made to love my children and want my children. That’s the mother-heart God has given me. And so the tears have rolled down my cheeks and my heart feels sore, perhaps a bit bruised. All day the hymn that our youth worship team has been practicing lately is on repeat in my head: “Standing on the promises I cannot fall; Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call; Resting in my Savior as my all in all, Standing on the promises of God.” It may come as a shock, but I would not undo Baby Seth’s death. I would never, in a million years, choose it. Ever. But I wouldn’t undo it. I know the powerful comfort of the Lord like I have NEVER known before. I know that His truth is a rock-solid foundation like I have never known before. I know the sanctity of life like I have never known before. I know the yearning heart of God for His children like I have never known before. I know a peace that passes understanding like I have NEVER known before. I have always been deathly afraid of losing someone I love; like keep me awake at night, break out in a cold sweat, kind of afraid. It took the death of my baby to make me not afraid of death. As a sweet friend, having also gone through a miscarriage, said, “Its worth it, isn’t it?” Yes, it is. I will forever be grateful that God chose ME to be the vessel of an eternal soul, a baby made for Heaven. I got to cradle his little life until Jesus ushered him into Heaven. It was while nestled in MY womb that his heart beat for the first time....and the last time. Our whole family has been and continues to be profoundly impacted and blessed by the gift of Baby Seth. If you ask our children how many kids are in our family, they will always say seven. He is included in nearly every family portrait our girls draw. Even Jacob, who is far too young to understand anything that went on, will occasionally say, “Baby Seth...awwwwwww”. While my heart will ache for the baby whose soft, downy head I never got to caress, my heart will also praise God for the gift of Baby Seth, our made for Heaven baby.