It was the day before Thanksgiving, three years ago when I sat on a padded bench in the exam room and prayed the doctor would send me to labor and delivery.
I remember the doctor’s compassionate eyes. She wore fake lashes but her kindness was real. In the end she admitted me more for sympathy than my shaky medical grounds.
Only days prior, my husband and I had sat in the same office, giddy over a routine ultrasound. We grew suspicious when the ultrasound tech left abruptly. I should have seen the grief written across the tech’s face.
We were dumbstruck when the doctor delivered the news. I carried in me a lifeless baby.
Something had gone wrong with umbilical cord, she said. My baby hadn’t received the nutrients to support its growing frame.
Just as my son had stopped living and lay still in my womb, the shock knocked my world off its axis and I, too, laid still in disbelief.
The doctor scheduled an induction, but because of Thanksgiving, it wouldn’t happen for two weeks.
Fourteen days of limbo proved too long to wait. My pregnancy had ended, but it wasn’t quite over. My protruding belly served as a constant reminder of grief.
The tiny baby seemed heavier every day, like someone had piled rocks in my womb.
Perhaps the baby’s stillness was the worst part. I hated that he didn’t move. I waited for him to move. I prayed he would move, but the flutters I once felt had disappeared.
His birth certificate says stillborn, but I prefer the older euphemism, born sleeping.
Luke was born sleeping on a foggy Thanksgiving Day in 2011. And I was thankful.
Thankful I didn’t have to endure contractions for two weeks.
Thankful I could begin to mourn him. Thankful I could begin to heal.
Today, I’m so glad I held Luke in my arms. I didn’t want to a first; it was too painful. But I knew I might regret it if I didn’t at least tell him hello and goodbye.
His skin was grayish pink. At only 24 weeks, the blanket swallowed him.
His footprints and photos are buried in a box in my closet. I don’t know if I will ever open it, but I’m thankful it’s there.
The week my son was born I prayed God would show me one hundred ways He would work this tragedy for my good.
Later I upped the ante and prayed for one thousand ways. One hundred felt too easy a request for an infinite God, and the list I made in my head sped closer to the 100 mark every hour.
Today I wish I would have written the list down on paper. Ways God worked to redeem my ache and emptiness flooded me.
I counted and counted until I lost track.
When Sammy was born 10 months later, I knew the list would reach 1,000 even if I didn’t count every smile, coo and kiss. God answered my prayer.
Luke’s dying gave way to Sammy’s living, and I will forever be grateful.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV).