It started out like any other pregnancy. A positive test. Excitement. Fatigue. Nausea. With a history of miscarriage, pregnancy for me always came with a considerable amount of anxiety as well. An early ultrasound at 7 weeks showed a heartbeat, so that helped to put my mind at ease.
My next ultrasound was at 12 weeks. This time, however, the results were far from reassuring. At a follow-up doctor’s appt., I was told that my baby had some “complications”. . . After several more scans, a meeting with a genetics counselor and eventually an amniocentesis at 18 weeks, a diagnosis was confirmed. We had a son and he had Trisomy-18 (Edwards Syndrome), a rare chromosomal abnormality. He was deemed “incompatible with life”. The news was devastating.
Though termination was recommended, I believe strongly that God alone is the giver and taker of life. He had given me this child and I was determined to carry him as long as the Lord allowed me to. God knew the number of his days and I was at peace placing my son’s life in His Sovereign hands.
Since there is a high chance of miscarriage with Trisomy babies, I woke up every morning wondering if “today” would be the day. It was a highly emotional and tumultuous time for our family and the daily strains of carrying a child that I knew would probably not survive was exhausting. But God allowed me to carry this precious child for 40 weeks. An induction was scheduled and at 7:41pm on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, Isaac Matthew Green was stillborn. Labor had proved to be too much for him.
It was one of the darkest and most difficult times of my life. I had held out hope for a miracle for so long. I was overcome by the profound disappointment of not getting to look into his eyes, even once, to tell him I loved him. The heart-breaking reality of a life cut short hit hard. I would never get to see him grow up. My older boys would never get to shower him with their affection (& wrestling!). It was unfair. The grief, all-consuming.
But amidst the overwhelming grief, God was there. He was faithful. And He was good. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction . . .” (2 Cor. 1:3-4a) Praise God the Holy Spirit helps us when we are at our weakest, interceding on our behalf (Rom. 8:26-27).
And when God felt far away and we were too consumed by our grief to make our own way, He used the body of Christ to carry us. They were His hands & feet, reaching into our lives and drawing us closer to Him. There wasn’t much they could say to “make it better”, but they brought us meals, paid for a house cleaner, watched our kids and checked in on us frequently. They prayed for us and cried with us. Before Isaac was born, a group of women from our church threw a “Celebration of Life” party for me and I was given a quilt that they had each created their own unique square for. After Isaac was born, those same women came to the hospital to “meet” him and to sit with us in our grief. I will cherish these simple acts of kindness and compassion for the rest of my life.
Isaac will always be a part of our family. He is a part of me, and his brief life has changed me forever; I will never be the same. Five and a half years on, the intensity of my grief has faded, but it still hits me when I least expect it. In spite of everything, I am thankful. I am thankful to God for giving Isaac to our family. I am thankful for the many ultrasounds where we got to “see” him alive and kicking inside the womb. I am thankful for the answered prayers for strength and the Lord’s protection from having to make additional difficult decisions in regard to Isaac’s care. I am thankful for the exceptionally understanding and compassionate medical professionals who helped and guided us. I am thankful for the amazing community of believers He provided to walk beside us on our journey. But most of all, I am thankful for how God will one day turn my mourning into gladness and take the ashes of my life and turn them into something truly BEAUTIFUL.
by Rachel Green