Well, the neon sign is on overdrive today. I hope it shorts out! My brother’s girlfriend delivered a daughter this morning, and it’s all the news.
And, it should be – that’s exciting for them. Despite their circumstances, a life is a life. This is God’s hand shining here – only He can create.
But, what’s my obligation here? What am I supposed to do?
I already discussed with her last week that we wouldn’t be able to go to the hospital – walking into the building and the same L&D where my sons died is simply not an option.
But watching my family rejoice is cutting to our hearts. Where were they when our sons lived and died? My brother came for a moment, though that little boy seems long given over to a hardened heart and that intimacy has been extinguished. And my mom was there for a time, but that seemed more clinical.
After the boys were gone, we were alone. Except for church friends, nobody came. Nobody discusses them. They don’t call them by name. They don’t acknowledge them at gatherings or holidays. There are no ornaments for them on the family Christmas tree like there are for all the other family members. Except for my mom, they didn’t let my boys in their hearts. They don’t let my sons in this family.
So watching them celebrate now, my heart is offended at their lack of acknowledging my sons for the past year. Isaac and Samuel were born. They are real. They are eternally alive.
But this isn’t about me. This isn’t about my sons. It’s about this new little life. And in the same way I want my sons acknowledged and celebrated, so shouldn’t this precious girl be.
How can I get my heart there, though?
But, I know the Lord can.
My favorite song right now is Casting Crowns’ “I Will Praise You in the Storm.” Here are some of the lyrics:
I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
Again today, that’s all I’ve got. It hurts to watch the same people who don’t acknowledge my sons celebrate and accommodate this baby’s life. Once again, I’m called to be the compassionate and understanding one. Once again, I have to put aside my hurt and paste on a smile or at least not dare utter anything about my sorrow.
And Jesus did all this for me. So I know He can do it through me.
C.S. Lewis writes, “They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” I know this will happen.
So, what will my response be? Mostly, it will be silence because that’s all I can bear. It’s the most gracious response I can muster today. God’s mercies are new every morning, so we will see what tomorrow brings.
In the meantime, how about a nod towards my boys and an utterance of their name? Can they be part of the family too?
Do you have people in your family with infant loss? Do you want to let them know their babies are a part of your family and matter to you? Here are some suggestions:
- Plant something in your garden to remember them – something beautiful that you have to care for.
- Frame a picture of the baby or the baby’s name and meaning or maybe a poem about a baby – many are available on the internet. Display this in your home in a prominent place.
- Put ornaments on your tree every single year for the baby.
- Remember – or ASK – important dates like the day the pregnancy was discovered, the baby’s birth day, the day the baby passed. Send cards and notes to Mom and Dad on this day telling them you are remembering with them. If there are other children, offer to baby sit so that Mom and Dad can have a “fall apart” day to themselves.
- Write a letter to the parents explaining how you feel about the baby, about their sorrow, and how you think about the baby throughout the year.
- Offer compassion and understanding when a celebration or child-centered event comes up. I assure you, they are all thinking how old their child would be and what they would be doing at the event. Even things like Arbor Day where elementary kids walk home with construction paper trees in hand are difficult.
- Do not get in a fit when they have a harder time celebrating with you – they want to, they are working on it. Express to them that you understand and you’re praying for them…be sure to pray for them!
- Donate to March of Dimes or another baby organization in the name of their child.
- If you have a child that would be related to their baby, make a onesie that says something meaningful like “little cousin” or something on there. All of us with lost babies will put future babies in things like “little brother” – it’s a way of saying there is somebody else that’s important, too.
- Talk about the babies. Talk to Mom and Dad. Talk to your kids, other relatives, and friends. Talking about them keeps their importance up and says “we love these babes”. Silence calls out shame, insignificance, and apathy.
- ASK Mom and Dad how they would like their babies remembered.
If you’re really committed to pursuing intimacy with this couple, then read some books about infant loss. My number one recommendation is I Will Carry You by Angie Smith. Try to wrap your mind around what they’re going through and will go through the rest of their lives. In the end, it’s intimacy in our suffering that eases our hearts.
I texted a dear friend this morning. “Will you pray for us today? _____ had her baby and watching my family rejoice feels like a knife through our hearts. Know God is faithful, just hurting a lot. XX”
“We are praying now. We love you both so much and hurt with you. Thank you, Father, that you know. “
And that’s it: they are hurting with us and they invite the Father to be a part of it. There can be nothing more soothing than that.