A Guest Post by Brittnie Blackburn at A Joy Renewed.
It was April Fools Day. Pregnant with our third child, we were scheduled to receive our 20-week anatomy scan, and to learn the sex of our littlest babe. We arrived eager and couldn’t help but giggle that here we were there again. That God had blessed us with yet another surprise miracle, after struggling to conceive our first child.
Three babies in three years when we were once told “You might never be able to do this on your own.” We couldn’t wait to learn if this last blessing in my womb was a boy or a girl. The moment the technician started the scan I knew something was wrong. I sensed it in my bones the moment the wand was placed on my belly. The technician changed her tone from upbeat to properly reserved. Having received many ultrasounds in the past, I knew what to look for those first few seconds. I saw no fluid pumping on the screen and I could find no flicker of a heartbeat. The questions began slowly, and they confirmed my worst fear.
“When was your last ultrasound?”
Ten weeks gestation.
“And when was your last appointment with your doctor?”
Two weeks ago, 18 weeks 3 days. Everything looked great at that appointment. Heartbeat was in the 150’s.
“Are you still feeling pregnancy symptoms?”
“Ok, I am just going to take a few measurements and then have the doctor come in to take a look.” And in that moment the tears unleashed because I knew all too well that the technician’s duties during an anatomy scan should last well beyond just a few measurements.
“You can’t find a heartbeat can you?” I asked through my tears.
“The doctor will have to confirm but no, I am not seeing one. I am so sorry.”
What an April Fools joke, except this was no joke at all. It was our reality. A horrible nightmare of which I couldn’t wake up. The next few days were a complete whirlwind, alerting family and friends and physically preparing for what was to come, delivering our dead baby.
How in the world am I going to do this, God?
How could I possibly deliver a child, push a child out of my body, that I won’t bring home from the hospital? God, I have been through a lot but this? This is too much. I need you, Father, to show up and show up in big ways because I’m just not sure how I am supposed to walk this desert land.
And He did, just as He always does.
Our first and only son, Chance Michael, was born on April 4, 2015. He came into this world silent, no cries or screams that typically accompany new life. He was tiny but so amazingly beautiful. He was the perfect picture of God’s love. The moment he was placed in my arms I felt a rush of peace flow over my body. He had the cutest button nose you have ever seen. His features flawless. We were blessed to hold Chance in our arms for five hours. Oh if I could only freeze time. Because if I could just freeze time I wouldn’t have to face the inevitable. The giving him up and the grief work that lie ahead. After five hours with Chance, we knew it was time. His body was changing and we wanted to preserve our memory of him. Saying goodbye this side of heaven was excruciatingly painful. The most gut wrenching moment of my life. Watching the nurse scoop him from my arms, wrap him in a blanket and walk out of the room is a visual that will never escape me.
The months that followed were filled with utter sorrow and deep grief, but by God’s amazing grace there was no despair. I knew I had a choice to make in the days following Chance’s funeral. I could choose to trust the Creator of Life or I could succumb to the enemy who wanted me to believe that death has the final say.
I had to trust. I had to choose hope. I had to choose joy despite the pain because I knew it was through this choice that God in His great mercy could provide a song or praise, even as I walked the desert.
These desert places are unique to all of us – whether pregnancy loss or financial burdens or marital struggles or a scary health diagnosis or job insecurity or a heart full of pride, God is real and alive and is asking us to trust Him with our next steps. Only God can quench our thirst as we navigate whatever valley He has called us to navigate. He is the only way to fresh, lasting water. Only He can exchange our ashes for beauty and redeem our suffering. Only He can remove the scales from our eyes to see our valleys in new light. Only He can rain the manna from heaven to fill our longing hearts and aching souls. Only He can awaken our mouth to sing when our natural reaction is to hide our voice once and for all.
My prayer for us all is that we can give Him our pain and our hurts, that we can choose trust over despair and hope over silencing our song. That we can lay our desert walks at the foot of the cross and choose joy-filled praise.
Thank you, Chance, for teaching me to sing. Your short life is a daily reminder of heaven’s promise and of Jesus himself. I love you baby boy, and I’ll see you soon.
“Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: ‘I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my Father’s God, and I will exalt him.’” Exodus 15:1-2
Brittnie writes beautifully on her blog titled A Joy Renewed. You can find more of her work and her story there.