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Christopher: When Miracles Don’t Happen

March 3, 2022

Three months after getting married I found out I was pregnant, and I could not have been more excited. I had always adored children, and I was beaming with excitement. We quickly bought a crib, baby books and toys. Everything we would need for our new baby.

At my 20 week ultrasound, I was told that I needed an appointment in Winnipeg as soon as possible because I had no amniotic fluid. That’s all that we were told. At our appointment one week later, the doctor informed us that our baby had cysts on his kidneys. He jumped into a blur of medical terms, all while I was drowning in sorrow and anguish over the child still growing inside me. How could he not be healthy… My baby was perfect! I snapped out of my thoughts when I heard the word abortion. I’m sorry – what? The doctor asked again, do you want an abortion? I was outraged. No!!!!! How dare you even introduce the thought. This was our precious child, the one I had dearly loved for the last four months. How dare you suggest that I end his life. What would be the purpose? so I don’t go through the heartache of his life ending? None of that even made sense, and I was not going to be the reason my baby was gone. I was also not about to give up any hope of a miracle. Angry and filled with grief, we left the hospital. 

We had another appointment the following week, this time with an incredibly caring doctor, whom I’d be seeing every two weeks for the next few months. In her beautiful handwriting, she wrote down the name of our baby’s condition, multi-cystic displastic kidneys. One thing lead to another, and it became apparent that he would need a miracle to survive. She warned us that at his birth, he may not be alive. My body would keep him alive, but as soon as he was no longer inside me, he had a very slim chance at life. She cried as she told me these things. I cherish that memory because my doctor cared. She was compassionate. Our baby wasn’t just another day at the office, but a child fighting for life with parents facing the very real possibility of loss. 

We started praying for a miracle. We prayed so fervently. Our family prayed. Our church prayed. Everyone we knew was praying for the baby I was carrying.

I started singing to him, reading him stories, talking to him, and my husband played guitar for him. We spent as much time with our sweet child as we could. The line my mentor had spoken haunted me. Mama 9-11. Now it made sense. What if he didn’t make it? I couldn’t bear the thought, but I had to face the possibility. I wrote a letter to our baby, pouring out my heart to the child who had already brought me so much joy. 

At 35 weeks, I went into labor, 1 week before I was scheduled for an induction. He was born breach but alive! I was overcome with love for our baby that I finally got to hold for the first time. And he was alive!!! Warm, cute, and so tiny at four and a half pounds. We decided to name him Christopher. I soaked in the moment, the feeling of finally holding my baby. I loved the way he smelled. But my precious angel was barely breathing. His body bore signs of what we had so desperately tried to deny. He didn’t get the miracle we had hoped for. 

But I had no time to think about that. Every second mattered. I cuddled him for 15 min, then let Rainer hold him. The nurse took pictures for us, that I hadn’t even thought about. We poured over his features, talking about who he looked like, trying to memorize everything about him. He died in his daddy’s arms, only 30 minutes into this world. My whole world tore apart. It was a pain that no parent should ever have to go through. Gut wrenching, bitter sorrow, grief beyond my capability, horror and anguish, but yet still so much more. I hardly have words to describe it. The longing for everything I couldn’t have. Baby cuddles, nursing, walking, kindergarten. It was all ripped away in a heartbeat. 

I couldn’t believe what was happening. Rainer laid Christopher in the bassinet and we wept bitterly together. I tried to hold him again. Though he was now swaddled, he didn’t feel like a baby. What an awful feeling. I gave him one last hug, then put our infant in his bassinet. We walked out of the hospital with empty hands and heavy hearts, leaving our Christopher behind. It felt horrible. 

Two days after he was born, we held a little memorial for him – just family and close friends at a simple graveside funeral. 

During the first few weeks after Christopher passed away, our pastor shared a sermon on responding to someone’s grief. He encouraged the church not to say a bunch of “encouraging” things about God like, “this is his plan, he’s in a better place,” etc. Although we believed this was true, we wanted to hear none of it. If someone talked of God, I wanted to know He was weeping with me and feeling my pain. The pastor had encouraged people instead to be a listening ear, to empathize with our pain. To support without trying to correct our theology. To actually let us go through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression before we accept that our baby is no longer with us. If we short-circuit grief, it is not processed. 

The next few months were awful. I had to deal with a post partum body, a ton of grief, and a husband who was physically supportive but emotionally absent. We were grieving in very different ways. Where I dove into great sadness, my husband dove into anger. Angry at God for not granting the miracle we begged for. I grieved alone. Journaling, recording every detail of Christopher’s birth, sitting in his room weeping, reading his stories, or listening to the chime in his mobile. Rainer became a shell of a man, buried so deep in grief he hardly came out of our room. He was told to help me in my grief, so in his mind he was putting his own grief on pause to help me. So much of our life was falling apart as a result of grief. I eventually found a healthy way to process, and talked about my baby often to whomever came to visit. Rainer only truly started grieving a year later. 

About two years after we had Chris, our friend introduced us to a whole new perspective on loss. Rainer and I fought it aggressively, but I’ve now come to believe it with all my heart. Until then, I believed God designed Christopher with failing kidneys on purpose. He designed him to die. God took Chris away, knowing the anguish he would cause us. Something better will come, or God’s trying to teach us something. And the lies go on. 

What I have come to believe now is this, take it or leave it. God doesn’t- and would never – initiate evil in my life. God can’t be the bad guy AND good guy of my story. If Jesus weeps with me and feels my pain, that’s only comforting if I don’t blame him for causing it in the first place. Yes, I know my little guy is in the best arms ever, and heaven is so much sweeter. It would’ve been so different had I grieved without blaming God but rather run to my Papa God for comfort. He too was weeping. He too had a broken heart. He too was in that hospital room with us. He is no stranger to the pain. He too lost his firstborn son. Why Papa doesn’t stop every bad thing from happening, I do not know. All I know is He helped me through the black muck. He sent us a wonderful support group, He taught me about his unfailing love when I felt it the least. Years later, He’s allowed me to beat his chest in anger and cry out the bitter, WHY????? Really it’s more like I’ve finally allowed myself to. I’m finally real with Him. Papa has become the hero of my story,  the only reason for my hope. The only reason our marriage hung on by a thread. Papa will never create the bad in my life. He will never orchestrate evil. Sometimes bad things happen because we live in a fallen world. There’s a lot of things that are not as God designed. But this remains, that He has rocked my world back upright. He loves me, He’s always got my back. He may not save me from pain, but He will never abandon me in the thick of it. 

-Maria

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More Blog Stories

Cari – Pregnancy After Multiple Losses

March 27, 2022

My Missed Miscarriage

April 23, 2022

Bella Joy

December 18, 2021