Our Child Lived
There’s a box sitting in the bottom drawer of our nightstand that only my husband and I know about.
On the outside, it’s nothing special. On one side, in bold lettering, it reads, “1-800-CONTACTS. We deliver. You save.” Above the words is the picture of a young, blonde woman wearing a white polo shirt and a cheesy grin. There’s a microphone headset secured to her ear, and she appears to be giving me a thumbs-up. There’s an address label with my name and previous mailing address secured next to the logo.
Though the box itself is just a regular old shipping container, its contents are more precious than anything we’ll ever possess.
Inside the box rests our first child.
I hunted for something a little less ordinary, but it was all I could find at the time. I didn’t know what else to do with our baby’s remains. I just knew I couldn’t just toss the tissue out like a used Kleenex. To the world, the blood-covered pink-and-gray matter that exited my body is just tangible evidence of another miscarriage. To me and my husband, it is the remains of our first child—a baby that was supposed to be born to us this Christmas. But, it wasn’t meant to be. God chose to take our first child home after only four weeks of existence.
I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why. I’m sure I’m not supposed to. Everything I’ve ever read about miscarriage in recent weeks has said there is almost nothing that can be done to prevent it from happening. That’s somewhat comforting to me, since I spent the first few hours blaming myself. Why didn’t I take it easy after I’d started bleeding? I shouldn’t have gone cross-country skiing that weekend. I should’ve eaten better. Why didn’t I take better care of myself? I was certain it was something I did that made my baby die. I should have been more careful, I scolded myself.
Then, I pondered, maybe it was because of my less-than-enthusiastic reaction when I first suspected I was pregnant. Though excited, I was also scared. My husband and I had just gotten married and moved. He’d just started a new job, money was tight, and we didn’t have health insurance yet. How are we going to support this child, I wondered constantly. I was angry at myself and at my husband—we should’ve been more careful, more responsible, I thought. I told God I didn’t think the timing was right. We want children, but not now. Following the miscarriage, I wondered if God punishing me for those thoughts.
Of course, there were other possibilities that popped into my head, too: Maybe our baby wouldn’t have been healthy. Maybe it really wasn’t the right time for us to start a family. Maybe this is God’s way of teaching us something. Maybe… Maybe… Maybe…
Since then, I’ve resolved that it wasn’t about me or anything I did or thought: God just chose to take our baby earlier than expected. His plan is perfect, and His plan for our baby, though sudden and painful, was still perfect.
A couple days following the miscarriage, I read Psalm 139. I read it every year on my birthday as a special reminder of God’s love and purpose for me. This year, though, it took on new meaning as I mourned our baby’s death.
“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Verses 15-16, NLT)
As I read, my mind took those words in, but I was still numb. My heart didn’t absorb them—not until yesterday.
It was then that I was ready to admit to myself that my husband and I lost a baby—not “just tissue” or something that was going to transform into a child someday, but a real, live baby with a soul. We’d initially chosen to tell very few people about our loss. It just seemed easier that way. Slowly, we’ve opened up to more and more people about our loss. Last week, I shared our story with a woman from church who lost a child the same week we did—only she was further along in her pregnancy by several weeks. She and her husband held a funeral for their daughter and, in her memory, chose to donate Bibles and copies of “Safe in the Arms of God” by John MacArthur to the hospital where she was delivered.
Yesterday, that woman brought me a copy of MacArthur’s book and, on the way home from church, I began reading. Tears stung my eyes as I read this passage: “The Bible is very clear on this point: Life begins at conception. Any death that occurs after the moment of conception is the death of a person. And persons have eternal souls. Anything else we say must be based on this foundational truth.”
I needed so badly to hear that. From the time I slipped the tissue holding the remains of our baby into a plastic baggie, I felt like I was crazy. But it was my gut instinct—maybe my maternal instinct—that drove me to do it. I knew it was a baby—our baby—and I couldn’t imagine just going on, pretending like he or she never existed. But whether or not my child went to heaven or had a soul, I didn’t entertain those thoughts until yesterday. Now, my mind races with questions. Will my husband and I hold our baby in heaven someday? Will our child ever know us as his or her parents? Knowing what I now know and believe, I trust that one day we will, indeed, meet our child.
In the midst of our grief, my husband and I sense the Lord’s peace over us. We know that there was a reason He took our child so soon, and we rest in knowing that our first baby will never know the things of this fallen world—no heartache, no disappointment, no pain, no anger. Our baby will only know paradise and the eternal joy, peace and fulfillment of eternity with God. Oh, to imagine Jesus Christ himself holding and caring for our baby right now is more than a comfort—it is reality! And who better to be watching over our child than the Creator Himself!
The healing process continues for me and my husband as we digest these truths about our loss and commit our future little ones to the Lord. We know that God gives and takes away and when He is ready to begin our family, He will bless us with children. When that time comes, I will not question it. I will embrace it, and God-willing, embrace our new bundle of joy.
For now, that box still sits in the bottom drawer of our nightstand. Someday, I hope we’ll bury our child, keeping in mind what we know now: Our first child lived, died and now rests in the arms of our Heavenly Father.
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Jennifer, It must have been painful going through this, but thank you so much for writing it adn sharing it with teh rest of us. Yes, your beautiful child is waiting for you in heaven, someday you shall see your dear one again. And may the healing process meanwhile go fast and peacefully. May teh Lord be near you and bless you, dear Jennifer. ~Crystal Keub~