Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL (don't write about the song) (04/02/15)
- TITLE: Joseph
By Julie Berry
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Had it only been two years ago? Watching Alex sleep stirred so much in my heart. Overwhelming joy mixed with sadness. The sadness was only a twinge now. Amazing because there was a time when I thought I’d literally drown in it. But healing had come slow and steady.
He was my firstborn. From the moment the doctor confirmed the pregnancy, I was beyond excited. I couldn’t wait to wear maternity clothes and see him to start to grow. My husband and I talked to him every night and told him stories of the places we’d visit and the games we’d play. The nursery was set up early and I loved going in and sitting in the rocking chair anxiously waiting for the day I’d hold him and tell him I loved him.
I only had four weeks to go and I was unpacking all the gifts from my baby shower. I noticed he hadn’t been as active as he normally was. I somehow managed to make supper and clean up the kitchen. I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Morning came and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. There were no baby tickles and I couldn’t feel him using my bladder as a trampoline. I reached over and shook my husband awake.
The doctor met us at the hospital and examined me immediately. She left the room and returned only a few minutes later.
The room started to spin. Not another word needed to be said. I knew. I grabbed my husband’s arm in a vice grip.
“I’m so sorry. The baby is dead. There is no heartbeat. He’s no longer viable.”
She had me at “I’m so sorry.” I sat there reeling from shock and disbelief.
The doctor continued, “And as difficult as this situation is, you still have to give birth. The baby has to come out.”
I nodded. I couldn’t speak.
After being induced, I gave birth three hours later to a perfectly formed, beautiful baby boy. I asked to hold him. I stared at his face for what seemed like hours. He looked like he was simply asleep.
The doctor entered the room.
I looked up at her. “What happened? He looks fine. Did I do something wrong?”
“Stephanie, you didn’t do anything. The umbilical cord got wrapped around his neck in the womb and he stopped breathing. Nothing could have prevented it. Sometimes, these things happen.”
We named him Joseph.
Plans for 2am feedings, walks in the stroller and visits with Grandma were replaced with appointments at the funeral home to pick out a tiny white coffin and decide what his headstone should have engraved on it.
I couldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t eat. I feverishly searched the Bible to understand where my son was now. I begged God for answers. I demanded to know why this happened and I pleaded with Him to watch over my baby.
But sadness gave way to strength. I formed a support group for parents who have stillborns or lose their children during pregnancy. And I was asked by a local hospital to train neo-natal nurses on how to assist parents through these tragedies.
Now, two years after suffering the most devastating loss a mother can face, I stand gazing at my second son. He won’t take the place of Joseph but I’ll tell him about his older brother who waits for him in heaven.
When I was carrying Joseph, I started his baby book. I have pictures of my different stages of pregnancy, congratulatory cards from friends and families and photos of baby showers and gifts.
On the last page of his baby book, I wrote Joseph a letter. I shared with him how excited I was to meet him and that one day we would be reunited. I told him of my dreams for his life and that I knew he was safe and loved. I concluded the letter with the lyrics to an old hymn that speak to the hole in my heart that will never quite heal but finds peace in God’s promises:
"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul."
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