Crystal writes: "I am not a religious person, but I am a follower of Christ. He has given me freedom - not license to sin. I belong to no denomination, but embrace the whole Bible, the Old and New Testaments. I submit myself to His authority and serve Him to the very best of my ability. When I fail, I know there is grace and I am thankful for it every day."
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (NLT)
I was 20 weeks pregnant with my third child when I began hemorrhaging. The doctor ordered bed rest, but in spite of everyone’s best efforts, I only carried for six weeks more before the baby was born still encased within the placenta. The attending nurse wrapped the bundle in a blue absorbent pad, believing the infant to be dead, and placed it on a metal shelf close by while they worked to stabilize me. Another nurse came in to carry the bundle away but felt movement in his hands. Wide-eyed, he shouted, “This baby is alive,” and rushed out. I heard over the hospital’s announcement system, “Code Blue in the Nursery! Code Blue in the Nursery!” and knew that my child’s heart had stopped beating.
Never had I known such intense pain - far surpassing that of my body. Within the hour, I was told that I had a son, weighing 1 lb., 6 and 3/4 oz., being stabilized for transport to the nearest neo-natal unit. Before transfer, they brought him to me attached to all sorts of tubes and monitors and told me that I could touch him. I placed my hand inside the incubator, and he grasped my pinky finger. As they rolled him away, his grip was broken along with my heart. My only thought was, “I didn’t get to hold him,” and I sobbed, fearing I would never see my son alive again. He passed away 12 hours later.
I saw his tiny body again as we made the funeral arrangements. He was so perfect - curly red hair and freckles, long dark eyelashes, and even teeny fingernails that were perfectly formed. I was given several opportunities to hold him but declined each time. There just never seemed to be adequate privacy for such an intimate thing. We flew to Colorado where, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, we buried our son in his father’s family graveyard. As they lowered the small casket into the snow-covered ground, my last thought was, “I never held my son.” I was undone.
After the funeral, I returned to work - angry - and it showed. A friend found me crying in the ladies room one day and said, “You need to give this thing over to the Lord.” I turned on her and through gritted teeth said, “God took my son and, quite frankly, I’m ticked off about it!” She looked me straight in the eye and said, “You think He doesn’t know that? He knows! But it is far better to talk to Him than it is to be ticked off forever!” I turned and walked out, still angry but knowing that she was right. When I got home from work that night, I asked my husband to watch our girls and to give me just five minutes alone. I went to our bedroom, got down on my knees and prayed, “God, I am SO mad at you! I don’t understand why you took my son. Amen.” Immediately I got up and went about caring for my family thinking, “Well, that’s done.”
During the night, I became aware of sitting in my rocking chair holding my newborn son while he slept safely in my arms. He was wrapped in the softest blanket with dimpled fists tucked beneath his chin. I bent forward and kissed his forehead, and that wonderful new-baby smell drifted up - peace. I wanted to share it with my husband so I reached out to nudge him awake, but as I did so, felt the baby being lifted from my arms. I turned to see who but could only watch as my son slowly faded from my sight. I thought, “I’m dreaming!” and stood up, heart racing, and walked into our kitchen. There, I felt the cold tiles on my bare feet and the warmth of his little body still lingering on my arms and breast. Turning on the light, I pinched myself. Ouch! I was NOT dreaming. “Thank you, Father!” I whispered.
I believe that I held my son that night, because I went to the Lord in pain - exposed, raw, honest. Isn’t He acquainted with our grief already? Aren’t our feelings impossible to hide from Him anyway? God answered my heart’s cry and met my very deepest need in my very darkest hour. Now I understand that Jesus is standing - close by - even when we suffer.
(© 2015 Crystal E. Carte – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)