It was this week last year that our hopes, dreams, and plans for our baby boy got shattered. It was this week, the first week of October, that all of the joy and innocent expectations of a trouble free pregnancy and healthy baby were crushed in the time it took for the doctor to say one sentence: "Your baby has something called PUV, and we are very concerned."
When we went into the ultrasound, I was just shy of 20 weeks. It was the routine anatomy scan for a normal and healthy pregnancy. I was just starting to feel "recovered" from the 14 or so weeks of constant nausea and vomiting. I had finally started eating foods other than French fries. I was excited to know if the child growing inside my womb was a little boy or a little girl. Honestly, I never considered there would or could be a problem. Every doctor appointment up to that point had gone so smoothly. This unidentified baby was growing and thriving. He or she was prayed over and loved. We had a name picked out for each gender, and as soon as the person with the wand revealed to us baby's gender, that baby would have their name; their unique identity and place in our family. As we walked into that cold, gray room, I never could have imagined what would follow in the coming hour.
I don't know if it's just me or if every parent feels this way, but that tv screen projection of the tiny human developing in utero doesn't look like anything. In fact, it looks more like that static from old school cable outages than it does any kind of human. I say that to say that as I watched the tech take all the pictures and point out the sweet baby feet, the heart, the head etc, I began to have a sinking feeling in my stomach. There was no real reason for it. The woman with the wand was very professional. She never let on that something was terribly wrong, but when the screen started to have large black sections, something struck me as off. When she was finished, she gave her normal two minute description of what comes next: review with the doc, take more pictures if necessary, print pictures of the tiny human that looks like tv static. Sounds simple enough. But 45 min later, when there was no sign of the doctor or the tech, Adam and I couldn't help but think that something was wrong. And then the doctor walked through the door and uttered those words. All I heard was "blah blah blah PUV, blah blah blah concerned, blah blah blah see you in 3 weeks for a follow up"
I think she probably asked us if we had any questions and then gave us the information we needed to schedule the various appointments with specialists who could better walk us through this diagnosis. We left in silence. No tears. No laughter. Just numb, shocked, silence. We drove back home and Adam had to go to work. I don't remember much about the rest of that day. I just remember the funk that filled the rest of that day and week. I remember how overwhelmed and sad I was. I remember the desire to celebrate and announce our SON. I remember walking into baby gap with Audrey and thinking if I just buy an outfit, maybe this will all seem less daunting. Maybe having something blue in the house will help me want to celebrate this precious life, this little BOY. I think I bought a shirt and hat but I don't really remember. Suddenly this pregnancy was more about learning medical lingo and preparing for the NICU than it was celebratory. I couldn't wrap my head around Audrey having a baby brother because all I could focus on was that this baby, George Mason, was going to meet his doctors before he met his parents.
Three weeks later we went for another ultrasound and the news got worse. There were more specialists, longer NICU expectations, and even less interest in celebration. I didn't know at that appointment that we would also be preparing to lose our son, but the heavy weight of his condition and diagnosis was all consuming and very depressing. How could this be? Pregnancy is supposed to be the easy part. Growing the human in your womb is supposed to be natural and your body is just supposed to know what to do. You made a baby, now it's supposed to just grow and develop for 9 months and then you hold it and feed it and listen to it cry. Right? I had no idea in that moment that 1 in 4 mothers loses that baby. I had no idea that 1 in 4 mothers questions her body. I had no idea that 1 in 4 mothers experiences loss either of their pregnancy or of their infant. There's a whole month dedicated to awareness and I still had no idea.
October is that month. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness month. I didn't know that before I lost my child, but I certainly will never take for granted that pregnancy is going to lead to a healthy birth. I will always and forever pray for mothers everywhere who have experienced loss. I will hold deep in my heart those mothers that never held their baby. I will thank God that I did. I will hold the utmost respect for mothers (and fathers) who have said goodbye before they said hello. I will cover those parents in prayer, those whose names I know and those I don't, as they live out a life without their child; as they go through anniversaries and birthdays without their child.
I hate the brokenness of this world. I hate that sin came into the world and screwed everything up. I hate that there are parents who need love and prayer because they are grieving their child. I hate that I'm one of those parents. I hate that what should be isn't always what is. I grieve because my son's life was much too short. I cry because I miss him and because I never got to know him. I curse this broken world and my broken heart. And I cling to Jesus because this is hard. It's really, really hard. But I know that the Lord makes all things new. I know that my son is singing Holy, Holy, Holy with the angels. I know that even when I'm mad, sad, frustrated, broken, or totally lost in this world, that my Lord is right there with me, getting me through the worst and the best. He is there in the celebrations and the disturbances. He is there in my weakness and is the reason I have strength. So as I continue to live through this grief, as the 1 in 4, it is my prayer that I would always run to Jesus. That I would see, recognize, and admit to my complete dependence on Him. And that I would live out my commitment to pray for those parents who have lost their children. That I would be able to love on them, share Jesus with them, and trade stories and memories of our precious babies, no matter how long we knew them.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. - Romans 12:9-12