Our devastating blessing started just like every other day. I stumbled out of bed before the kids woke up, hooked myself up to my IV filled with coffee and sat down to do some reading. In the heat of August, my wife was already 8 days overdue with our third child. We were in a routine of midwife appointments and weekly ultrasounds. Just the day before, my wife had went for another ultrasound, and being the over-achiever that she is, scored a perfect 8 out of 8 on her test. This wasn’t uncommon though, our first two were well past their due date as well and we had to induce them to gently encourage their exit into this world. Apparently, my wife has a comfortable womb. Here we were again, overdue, and all signs pointing to a womb so comfortable that any exit would again have to be gently encouraged. But that morning, the contractions started after I left for work.
So…uh…I think I’m having contractions read the text. My mind started to race. We’ve never experienced a “normal” birth like this! How was life about to change? No longer would we be running a man-to-man defence, we’d be shifting into zone defence. How were we going to handle three kids running in different directions with just the two of us? How were we supposed to get three kids ready to go out? How were we going to raise and nurture another one! So I calmly texted back, Okay…let me know when you need me to come home. Another couple of hours passed and the text finally came - Come home, I need you. I swooped in like some sort of superhero, finished feeding the kids, packed them up and swept them off to my in-laws. To be honest, I didn’t know if we were actually going to have a child that day or if it was just a false alarm. After all, we’ve never done it this way before.
The first midwife showed up to our house, laid my wife on the couch and hooked up the ultrasound machine. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whirred the machine frantically looking for a heartbeat. The wand searching my wife’s stomach from side to side, top to bottom. Our eyes caught each other’s gazes, and I gave my best it’s going to be fine babe look. The wand scoured my wife’s stomach, searching every square inch for that little noise - bbub-bbub, bbub-bbub, bbub-bbub. But none was found. The next midwife showed up minutes later with a doppler, which apparently is just a stronger ultrasound machine. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whirred the machine, again frantically searching for a heartbeat. My wife and I’s eyes locked again, be strong I thought, tears starting to form.
Yes, we need an ambulance…yes…yes…13 minutes? OK thanks
13 minutes to wait for an ambulance? Forget that. I’ll make it to the hospital in 15. You okay to drive Jason? asked the midwives. Let’s go, I said, and my wife and I, barely speaking the entire way, held hands as we drove. The car slammed into park and I hit the ground running before the vehicle had really stopped to grab a wheelchair. We wheeled up to the forth floor, got in the hospital bed and barely 10 minutes later our baby was delivered.
Straight into the hands of God.
There was no sound, the machines blurred out, the people faded into the background, and there was the sickening sound of silence where there should have been a baby’s first cry while he gasped for air.
We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl and for the first time, we didn’t really have a good guess either. For our other two, I was certain that the first was a boy, and that the second was a girl. With this one though I had flip-flopped throughout the entire pregnancy. Truth be told though, I was slightly leaning towards this one being a girl. And now, to my surprise, there lay my little boy. Peacefully sleeping in God’s arms. He looked so perfect. He was perfect. No, I thought, he is perfect.
What’s his name? someone asks. Ezra William, we reply.
Ever call someone when they are expecting good news from you? Hello?? Jason!! Do you have something to tell me??? So much excitement, so much hope, so much exhilaration steeped deep into their voice. Like an air mattress that’s been pumped up to the point of explosion. I….uh….well….uh….our baby died….he was born without a breath….he was…he was…a stillborn. You could hear someone pull the plug from the air mattress and feel the rushing winds pour out as the mattress crumpled on the ground.
Family and friends parachute into the hospital. Two by two they are lead into our room so they can meet our little Ezra. They hold him, touch him, kiss him, take in his beauty…his perfection. Soon they leave, tears imprinted into their faces. And it’s just us. My wife, our little baby Ezra, and me. We sit there for hours, holding him, touching him, kissing him, until it’s time to tuck him in for the first and last time. I try to stay strong through everything, but I can’t be the hero, I can’t fix the situation, I can’t repair anything. I just sit there being comforted and comforting. We pray.
We don’t know what happened, and we’ll likely never know. So we tuck him in, and just like we’d do with our other kids when we put them to bed we sing:
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
Guide me through the starry night
and wake me when the sun shines bright.
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.