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ENCOURAGEMENT


TITLE: One Heartbeat 04/25/14
By Stephanie Eckenroad
04/25/14
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I have used the critiques I have received, and I have made several changes. Thank you for the critiques. They have all helped me write a much better article!
ONE HEARTBEAT
At my ten week appointment of my first pregnancy, my husband and I heard the heartbeat of our first child. At that moment, it became real – we were really going to be parents! Hearing that heartbeat was our first encounter with the world of parenthood. We would spend our evenings talking about this child’s future and the best names for this unknown life. We settled on Abigail for a girl and Jonathan for a boy.
At twelve weeks of pregnancy, I was scheduled for my first ultrasound. My husband and I entered the doctor’s office hand-in-hand. Love and joy flowed from our hearts. We were so completely ready to become parents, even at our young age. The heat and humidity of the early August afternoon were stifling, but nothing could take the anticipation of this moment from my heart. The nurse called my name and ushered us to the ultrasound room.
The technician started the process and my husband grabbed my hand and looked at me and smiled. I knew what the smile meant; “I’m ready to be the best dad I can possibly be. I will spend my life taking care of my family.” The technician worked without saying a word. Her face was void of emotion. This was all new to me, but I was expecting some shared look of excitement. I began to panic. “What’s wrong? Please tell me that everything is okay.”
“Ma’am, I need to go get the doctor to talk with you. I’ll be right back.” Quickly she exited the small ultrasound room. At that moment, fear had a face, and it was my husband’s.
The doctor entered, laid her hand on my arm, and softly said the words that I never thought I would hear. “I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat.” On the screen was the image of our unborn child, but there was no beating heart. “Your body has not miscarried on its own, so we will need to discuss the procedure that will be done at the hospital. I’m sorry. Please take all the time you need before you leave.” As the door closed behind the doctor, I could feel the door closing on all our hopes and dreams. My husband and I clung to each other, not knowing what we were facing next. As we held each other, our tears mingled together and fell to the floor.
I had no idea how my body would respond to this lifeless child in my womb. My child was dead. My hopes and dreams were dead. My husband had no words. He was dealing with his own pain in his own way. Strangely, life stopped, yet continued forward. I cried out to God. I begged for a miracle. “God, why me? Where are you? I know you are powerful and almighty. Why did you allow this to happen?” I didn't run out of questions for God. I felt that my faith was being tested, and honestly I didn't know if I would hold on.
Several days later, we arrived at the hospital hand-in-hand, once again, but on this hot, summer day, joy had been replaced with sorrow and possibility was replaced with death. After the procedure, I woke up screaming, “They took my baby! They took my baby!” I lay in my husband’s arms and sobbed. I didn't know if it would be possible to heal after a loss this consuming.
The devastation of this day made me wonder if I would ever be okay again, even when many who walked through the same thing said that time would heal my heart. This loss made me fear the unknown, and I had to learn that I could trust God, even in the darkest times. This loss changed me into a doubt-filled young woman, but after much time and growth, I have realized that not all changes are bad. And not all negative emotions are without purpose. Would I ever choose to walk through something like this again? Never. Yet, in the middle of it all, God was so near that, like Job, I went from knowing about God to knowing God’s heart.
My husband and I had to learn to make it through a crisis in our marriage. We had to learn that a relationship with God was more than throwing prayers at the Almighty in order to get what we wanted. We had to decide if we were going to trust in God even when nothing made sense. We had to learn to let go of anger, doubt, and fear so that we could laugh again.
The loss was great, but so was God. My husband and I grew closer than I ever thought possible. We enjoy every blessing and every gift and every moment we are given because, years later, we know in one heartbeat, life can change.
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