an answered prayer
jonathan was born at 7:16 pm. "is he alive?" is all i wanted to know. "he's alive!" our doctor told us. i remember being so relieved and so happy, saying, "thank you, Lord!" and then, we saw him for the first time. his little forehead was wrinkled up and his mouth was open, trying to cry. he stretched out his arms and legs and even opened up one eye. greg cut the umbilical cord. and then suddenly, he was in my arms.
i hadn't thought about what i would say to jonathan beforehand. while i held him, greg and i were mostly speechless. we absorbed every detail about him. he had wavy blond hair, just like his sister, and tiny blond eyelashes. his skin was the softest thing i have ever felt. he had long feet and perfect little toes. he even had a bit of a double chin! he was so beautiful, so little and so...normal looking. i don't know how to put that eloquently. we just didn't know what to expect, knowing that he would have some abnormalities. i don't think we would have cared what he looked like, since we love him so much. but the only truly obvious sign of the trisomy 13 was a bilateral cleft lip. i remember thinking later, how easy that would be to fix. it was his inward parts that could not be fixed. after a few moments of just admiring him with teary eyes, we finally found words to speak to him. we told him over and over how much we loved him. we told him "happy birthday" and told him about all the people all over the world that were praying for him.
jonathan became very peaceful, and didn't move very much after several minutes. it was like he was sleeping. there was no struggling, no suffering. we had prayed so much for that, and had been assured many times by doctors that he wouldn't suffer. we were thankful to witness such peace. every once in a few minutes, the nurse would come check his heartbeat with the stethoscope. it was 50, then 40, then 30.... we showered him with kisses and "i love yous" through our tears. and then, 40 minutes after being born, at 7:56 pm, jonathan passed peacefully away.
40 minutes had passed like it was only 5 minutes. the entire time spent with jonathan was done with such intense focus on him that it was over before we knew it. but it was the best 40 minutes of my life. for 40 minutes, we were truly a family of four.
our little piece of heaven
once i knew that jonathan was gone, i did my best to try to imagine jonathan being gently taken from my arms by Jesus himself. i knew that the Lord was near to us, and gave us incredible strength to make it through that moment. i was sad, yes, but i was not devastated. the only way i can describe it is that we had such peace, and even a celebratory spirit within us, as we "let him go." i tried to imagine what jonathan must have been experiencing in that moment. perhaps it was the first moment of his life that he was able to comprehend something. i wonder if he knew he was face-to-face with his Creator. i wonder if he knew that we were his parents and that we love him so very much. i wonder if there were other loved ones in heaven to greet him. i wonder if he will always be a baby in heaven. thankfully, one thing we don't have to wonder about is if we'll see him again. thanks to jonathan, the Lord has reminded me that this life on earth is not what it's all about. heaven is what we should long for. and now I have my precious jonathan to look forward to seeing again, for we know that we will spend far longer in heaven with him that we ever would here on this earth. i am so thankful for this hope we have in Jesus.
"We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less." 2 Corinthians 5:4-5, The Message
"I will thank you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High." ~Psalm 9:1-2
we were able to spend over 5 hours with jonathan. most of this time was captured in photos, as our families and friends were able to meet him and adore him with us.
greg gave jonathan a bath to clean him up, and it was so precious to watch my husband carefully and lovingly bathe his son. greg was amazing with him; so proud to have a baby boy.
once i got jonathan back in my arms, he smelled so sweet, and i breathed him in deeply as often as i could, hoping to always remember how he smelled in that moment.
our wonderful nurses, deja and khris, along with our social worker, dawn, graciously spent several hours with us, helping us get footprints, handprints, foot molds, and other keepsakes. we dressed him in a light blue premie outfit, which dwarfed him, and tiny premie socks. close to midnight, deja swaddled him for us and we spent some more time alone with him, rocking him, talking to him, taking more pictures...before we knew it was time to let him go.
a little after 1:30 am, the funeral home came to get him. it was the moment i dreaded. the hospital provided a little basket for us put him in for the transfer to the funeral home. we tucked him into the basket just as we would have tucked him into bed. we placed his little blanket with him and kissed him and touched him for the last time.
and then he was gone.
"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." ~John 14:27
"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." ~Job 1:21
all through that night, i would wake up and look at the clock on the wall. he's been gone 2 hours now. 3 hours now. 5 hours now. it was the hardest night of my life. i just wanted to wake up to a new day with lots of sunshine and a healthy baby in my arms. thankfully, i was not able to dwell much on these thoughts, with God's help i'm sure. when my mind wanted to wander to those places, it actually took too much effort to stay there for long. i actually could not escape the peace that surrounded me. writing this even now, i stand amazed at how God provided so much strength and grace for me in what should have been my darkest hour."Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." ~Psalm 23:4-6
i truly believe that once we come to realize that our children do not actually belong to us, they belong to the Lord...it becomes so much easier to let them go. the Lord would not have required us to do it without His help, without His provision for our every need.
(i will post pictures today as well, in another post.)