Mother's Loss Draws Her Close to the Christ of Calvary
- 2009 15 Aug
My new neighbor touched my hand and said, “What a lovely ring, it looks like an antique. It’s so unusual, where did you get it?”
I replied slowly, carefully choosing my words “I had it custom made.”
She said, “I have a friend who’s a jeweler. Would you mind if I copied it?”
I smiled, “First, let me tell you the story behind the design.”
It was just after New Years Day in 1990 when I found out I was pregnant with our second child. My Husband, Ron, was thrilled, but I was apprehensive. Our five-year-old, Nick, had several learning disabilities and he was quite a “hand-full.” I told Ron, “I’m afraid I won’t have enough energy to take care of Nick and a newborn baby.”
I went for all the required check ups and the doctor assured me that everything was fine. However, since I would be 35 when the baby was born, and that meant I had a higher chance of a baby with birth defects, the doctor wanted to do an ultrasound.
I tried to find a comfortable spot on the hard examination table as the nurse’s aid squirted the cold sonogram gel on my expanding belly. One technician slid the scope over my stomach as the other one watched the monitor. I looked at the woman who was watching my baby on the screen. Her face didn’t have much expression. Then it did.
Her eyes widened and her hands flew involuntarily to her mouth as she made a sad squeaking sound. “What’s wrong?” I asked. I sat up and repeated my question. She tried to compose herself as she scurried toward the door and whispered, “I’m sorry.” The other technician left too, so I tumbled off the table and went to look at the picture that was still on the screen. I didn’t see anything unusual. It just looked like a blurry negative of a skinny baby. I looked down at my stomach and rubbed it as I whispered a prayer, “Oh Lord, I think we’re in trouble. Please help us.”
After the amniocentesis, my husband and I went back to the hospital for the test results. The doctor said, as if he was reading from a textbook, “Trisomy 18 is a genetic disorder that always involves profound mental retardation and severe disfigurements.” Then, he said the words that still live inside a tiny zipped pocket of my heart, “Your baby’s condition is usually incompatible with life. Most women in your position-- in order to spare themselves unnecessary anguish--just get an abortion. We can schedule yours for tomorrow morning.”
I wasn’t able to speak. I stopped breathing. I felt like I was drowning. I wanted to drift down into the cool dark water and disappear. A silent tear slid down my face and we left the office without a word.
That afternoon, I prayed, “Lord, I believe abortion is wrong, but I don’t want to go through ‘unnecessary anguish.’ On my own, I don’t have the strength to fall in love with a baby who is going to die. Please show me how.”
As I prayed, I remembered that the Lord could have chosen to avoid the horrific anguish of the cross. What if He had taken the easy way out? I saw that the value of His gift was measured by the greatness of his suffering. I told the Lord, with renewed strength, “I offer my pain to you as a gift. I will not abort this child.”
I kept saying it, even before I meant it. “I choose to love this baby with all my heart.” I willed my words into actions. In faith, I moved my hands as I timidly caressed my stomach. In faith, I moved my lips as I mouthed the words, “I love you.” No sound came out. I kept repeating the phrase until my brain found the secret passageway to my heart and I was free to taste the bittersweet tears of loving a child who would never love me.
My wise mother said, “Try not to think about the future. Your baby is alive today-be alive with him. Treasure every moment.”
I talked to him, sang lullabies to him, and gave him gentle massages through my skin. I knew that I might have to do my best mothering before he was born. Each day I prayed, “Lord, please let him live long enough to know that he is loved. Let us have time to kiss him hello and kiss him goodbye. Let his life be free of pain and full of love. Please Lord; give us the strength to bear this unbearable burden.”
Four months later, we met little Timmy, face-to-face. The nurse covered his fragile, 20-ounce body, in a soft blue blanket and matching cap. His heart monitor beeped an unsteady greeting as she handed him to me.
His beautiful little rosebud-mouth surprised me. It was an oasis of perfection. We held our emotions in check, knowing we had to pour a lifetime of love into a minuscule cup. Ron and I took turns rocking him as we kissed his soft cheek. Repeatedly, we told him, “We love you, Timmy.” He never opened his eyes. He felt no pain. His heartbeat got slower and slower and then, reluctantly, stopped.
We kissed him goodbye and introduced him, through prayer, to his Heavenly Father, “Lord, here is our son. Thank you for the gift of his precious life and for the privilege of being his parents. We release him into your healing arms. Thank you for answering our prayers. Amen”
Then we cried.
I looked at my neighbor’s tear stained face and said, “I had this ring made within a few days of his birth. I drew a picture of what I wanted, told the jeweler why I wanted it and he worked late into the night to have it for me the next day.” She looked closer as I explained the design. “The ring has two curved bands of gold. The longer one symbolizes my husband’s arm and the smaller band represents mine. Our ‘arms’ are holding a small, lavender alexandrite (Timmy’s birthstone.)
She was silent for a long time, and finally said, “You should be the only person in the world to wear that ring. I won’t copy it. Tell me about the diamonds”
“There are 13 tiny diamonds; one precious jewel for each minute that he was alive. I wear it on my “baby” finger. He’s always with me.”
For you formed my inward parts, you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalms 139:13
Originally posted March 2007.
Nancy C. Anderson is a author and speaker who encourages women to replace their fears with faith and discover the freedom of an abundant life. She is the author of “The ‘Greener Grass” Syndrome, Growing Affair-Proof Hedges Around your Marriage” (Kregel Publications 2004)