Sarah

Every time I feel our baby kick inside me, I say a short “thank you” to God. I want to stroke my belly, smile and say to the baby, “Hi! You’re still there!” This attitude has a lot to do with Sarah.
As I approach the end of this pregnancy, little Sarah has been much on my mind. Sarah was our 7th daughter, born June 14, 2003. She would be turning 3 soon.
When I was 4 months pregnant with Sarah, we began preparations for an abrupt move from Ohio to Texas. This move was something we had longed for and when God finally brought it about it happened very quickly.
I hadn’t seen a midwife yet due to poor road conditions (standard for Ohio winters), and scurried to do so before leaving the area. I measured quite large and she suspected twins. She encouraged me to schedule a sonogram – my first ever!
At the sonogram, I saw a beautiful baby girl – just one. We decided to call her Sarah. For the first time ever, one of our children had a name and a face before birth.
We moved, and I found a new midwife here in Texas.
I had a rather difficult pregnancy: lots of morning sickness, severe hypoglycemia, and the stress of living with our 6 children in a small travel trailer in Mom and Dad’s driveway while we bought land nearby and started building our house. During much of the day, our household was integrated – not always smoothly – with Mom and Dad’s already crowded household of 13. It should have been 14, but Grandma was in the hospital and died less than 3 weeks after we arrived.
On Sunday, June 1 at 34 weeks gestation, I realized Sarah hadn’t moved in quite a while. At a prenatal checkup 3 days earlier, she was fine. I didn’t immediately panic: She had never been a highly active baby and I had a lot of amniotic fluid, so I generally didn’t notice movement unless I was really looking for it.
But I was concerned; I talked to my hubby. We talked to my mom. She had a stethoscope, and we tried to find a heartbeat. Finally, we thought we succeeded. It was slow for a baby but too fast to be mine – or was it? In retrospect, it must have been my own. But we were a little encouraged. I called my midwife who strongly suggested that we go to the emergency room, and we didn’t doubt her. It was late Sunday night, the kids were in bed, and Hubby and I were in the car in minutes.
That night I had my second sonogram, but this one was not like the first. There was our little girl, but no heartbeat. They called in a second doctor to confirm the news before spelling it out to us, but it wasn’t hard to read their sad and sober faces.
They suggested that in the absence of other known causes, gestational diabetes was a good guess. There did seem to be something wrong with one of her kidneys – no one was quite sure if that provided an explanation.
We were relieved to hear that there was no pressing reason to induce labor right away – labor should start naturally soon enough, and could still be done at home as all our other births had.
Half numb with the shock, we went home to share the sad news with our 6 daughters, my parents, and their 11 children who still lived there at the house, not to mention extended family and friends.
After a couple of days of bleary-eyed sobbing on my part, we settled down to wait. The midwife explained what to expect:
Labor would probably start naturally in 1-2 weeks, and would be very much like a normal labor and delivery.
The body would be very soft, her skin very delicate. She would not really deteriorate in the womb – we would have a funeral to plan and a child to bury.
I needed weekly blood tests which she would administer, to monitor the levels of certain toxins in my own blood.
In the end, it took nearly 2 weeks for labor to start. I’m guessing that she died 3 days before the hospital visit, so really it was even more than 2 weeks.
Those were long slow days, but not a nightmare. I found myself waiting on the Lord’s timing, resting heavily on Scripture. I actually looked forward to labor, finding great comfort in David’s actions first while he fasted and mourned and prayed for his son’s life, then rose and ate and dressed upon learning that the child had died. I was puzzled at my own feelings, but I was sure that the worst had already passed and the funeral would be a true relief for me.
God made our path straight throughout this trial: funeral planning was simple. Mom and Dad have a private cemetery on their land, and Grandma had just died a few months earlier so we knew just what needed to be done. A woodworking friend built a lovely little coffin for us, and Hubby chose a nice spot in a secluded corner of the cemetery. The men in the family helped him make a deep hole in the hard, rocky earth. It was hot, sweaty work. Mom and I padded the coffin and lined it with soft, pretty fabric. There is something very therapeutic about doing funeral preparations. I think we miss out on this aspect of “closure” when the funeral home does everything for us.
The county coroner was notified of the situation and would expect a call after the baby was delivered. He would do his duty at the house, and we could proceed with the funeral at our own convenience. No need to send the body away to strangers in strange places.
Labor started late Friday night. As with our other children, she born on a holiday: Flag Day, June 14. Labor was uneventful, and the birth was a quiet relief. Mom and I held her for a while. She looked like some of our other daughters: lots of dark hair, round pretty face. There was nothing hideous in the experience. She was beautiful and very still. I understand now why it is called a still birth.
The coroner came and went, and we called family and friends.
When the sun came up, the children wanted to see her. They said she looked like a doll – a little baby girl too still to be real.
The funeral was held the following morning, and it was indeed an event of quiet and solemn joy – for me, at least. There were a few tears, but smiles came quickly afterward. Our daughter wasn’t with us, but we knew where she was. How could we begrudge her the bliss in which she lived now? Why should we question our Father’s wisdom in taking her there so soon? She has beaten us to the end of the race – she won. We labor on for the time.

Farewel dear babe, my hearts too much content,
Farewel sweet babe, the pleasure of mine eye,
Farewel fair flower that for a space was lent,
Then ta’en away unto Eternity
Blest babe why should I once bewail thy fate,
Or sigh the dayes so soon were terminate;
Sith thou art settled in an Everlasting state.

By Nature Trees do rot when they are grown.
And Plumbs and Apples thoroughly ripe do fall,
And Corn and grass are in their season mown,
And time brings down what is both strong and tall.
But plants new set to be eradicate,
And buds new blown, to have so short a date,
Is by his hand alone that guides nature and fate.

By Anne Bradstreet, in memory of her grandchild who deceased August, 1665 being a year and half old.

Sarah’s short time with us has not left us fearful. Rather, it was encouraging. We have experienced what every parent fears, and found that God was in that dark valley with us. We were never alone. It was not an experience beyond what we could bear.

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

We always knew, but have been reminded of how precious life is, and will never take for granted that children seem to arrive on a regular schedule in our household. I have more aches in pregnancy now than I did earlier years, but I have learned to love being pregnant in ways that I never understood before. I look differently on the discomforts and inconveniences of pregnancy. Queasiness and creaking hips and aching feet are not a trial to be endured, but daily reminders of a blessing: these things remind me every moment to thank God for the child I hold in my belly, whom we will soon (Lord willing) hold in our arms.
I don’t believe that it couldn’t happen again, but I’m not fearful. This child – all of our children – belong to the Lord. He knows His plans for them and for us, and we trust Him.

Comments

  1. Tami,
    Thank you for sharing a little of your own story. How hard to lose a child you’ve known and loved for so long! But isn’t it a bittersweet feeling to know that our children have gone on before us?

  2. Dear Donna,

    What a truly beautiful birth story! I read with tears about your precious daughter Sarah and thought of my son Steven. He did not die at birth, but at the age of 12. It is a long story and this is not the place, but I just wanted to say that I felt many of those same feelings. My son – like your daughter – got to go to Heaven before me and I know we will be together again. I was pregnant with our 6th child when Steven went home to be with the Lord and every kick I felt was a reminder to me of just how precious children are. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Love in Christ,

    Tami

  3. Kim C. says:

    Donna,
    My heart goes out to you during this sad time. Of course I will pray for you. I hope others will too. Thank you for your prayers for our own baby.

  4. Donna in New York says:

    You don’t know me, but a friend sent me a link to your “Sarah” blog entry. I am going through a natural miscarriage right now. I was 8 weeks along Monday when we saw there is no heartbeat and I was already bleeding. Her name was Nessa Joy. It means joyous miracle of God.

    I needed to hear that there is hope, that my world can be okay again. I will be praying for you as you near your due date, for a strong healthy little one. I would appreciate if you would pray for me also, even though I am a stranger.

    Thanks for reminding me of hope.

    Donna, homeschool mom to Noah (6), Nicolas (5), and Hannah (14 months). Three heaven babies…Evan Matthew (1996), Jonah Michael (2001) and Nessa Joy (2006).

  5. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I have a baby brother who is in heaven too. Baby Robert. My Mom miscarried at about 6 months, I was only 5 0r 6 years old, but a remember that day so very well. I remember his small but perfectly formed body. How wonderful to know that we have those wonderful blessings in heaven waiting for us to join them : )
    Amity

  6. Kim C. says:

    Thanks to all who read and got my point – God was and is such an encouragement in trials! This was a new lesson to us, as it was our first *real* trial.
    I can’t imagine ever going through something like this and believing that life is a random, meaningless series of events. How sad!
    But He gave us an inexplicable peace and even joy through an experience that would be a nightmare to anyone who leaned on their strength.
    Aren’t we blessed to be part of His flock?

  7. Aw Kim, that was beautiful. It has encouraged me and, as with a lot of your posts, helped put my whole life back into perspective. It feels almost a relief to cry about death and still feel so at peace and hopeful. Thank you.

  8. Old Paths says:

    Just a quick correction to my comment above (only really matters to me-but just wanted to set the record straight) we lost our baby in 2002, not 2003. Our third born was born in 2003, just a few weeks before you lost your little Sarah.

  9. kate5kiwis says:

    wow, sarah’s birthday is my birthday! we’ve lost four dear ones, well, we’ll meet them someday..
    lots of love to you, what a beautiful account of sarah’s life.

  10. Oh Kim…what a beautiful expression of such a tenderness and trust in the Lord. Our son Elliott went home to Jesus at 5 days in Oct. 1998. God was so strong in our weakness…so painful yet eternity is so real.
    Thank you for writing this and sharing your heart. I will be praying for you and your little baby inside.
    Love,
    Roberta

  11. Stephanie says:

    Through my tears at this beautifully told, bittersweet account, I can doubly rejoice at my baby crying for me at this late hour. It’s too easy to take them for granted, isn’t it? It’s strange how in our darkest times, we’re so able to know that it is the Lord, and the Lord only, who sustains us through it all. He gives us the grace sufficient for the task: the amount we need, when we need it.

  12. momto3blessings says:

    What a beautiful testimony to the grace of God.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Praise HIM! That was an amazing testimony.
    Thank you, Thank you.
    amy

  14. Thanks for posting Sarah’s story and your testimony. Our first grandchild was stillborn in 1992 and I vividly remember how she felt in my arms for those brief moments, and I picture her sweet, innocent, but STILL, little face.

  15. Better Full... says:

    Kim, glad you know Him who sees you through.
    I lost one too and it was the hardest to get over, would have been impossible without Him.

  16. CappuccinoLife says:

    What a beautiful, beautiful account of your Sarah’s little life.

  17. Michelle says:

    While my muffled sobs contain a fair amount of sadness they also contain a heaping amount of joy. What a beautiful post.

    I’ve lost two precious blessings to miscarriage. My first was 15 years ago and my last was this past August. While I mourned the fact that I never saw these beautiful children, you’ve caused me to rejoice in remembering that they never had to run this race. That God, in his infinite mercy and grace chose them to come home sooner rather than later.
    Thank-you Kim for the beautiful reminder that God is in control and that one day I will see these beautiful souls and they will see me.
    May God continue to bless your beautiful family.

  18. Old Paths says:

    I forgot to say that I will be praying for you and the baby!

  19. Old Paths says:

    Kim,
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful testmony. I was moved to tears. We lost our third baby in the Summer of 2003 too.
    I add a hearty amen to all you have said about the goodness of the Lord and lessons learned…and not taking our precious blessings for granted.
    Jennifer

  20. A. Borealis says:

    Long-time reader, first time commenter.

    Thank you for such a beautiful post. It made me feel mournful, yet hopeful. I appreciated your candid words and open spirit.

  21. Kim this is an incredible testimony and I have been so blessed in reading it. Thank you.

  22. Kim Brenneman says:

    Thank you Kim for sharing your story. Your faith shines through it in a powerful way. Thank you also for the Anne Bradstreet poem. I’ll be praying for you and this baby.

  23. Wow, that was a very powerful post and testimony.

  24. beautiful

  25. Anonymous says:

    Thankyou for posting your story. You are right about it being what every parent fears most… I am pregnant with my fourth and have had to deal with more fear in this pregnancy then any of the others. Daily I remind myself that God is in control and that He is a loving God. It is so encouraging to hear how you experienced His love in such a hard place. Thank you and God bless your growing baby. ~Diana Miller
    http://www.xanga.com/islandlife

  26. Baleboosteh says:

    Thank you for posting this. We found out on Easter Saturday that we are expecting baby number 3 and like many first trimester mums I spend a good part of my time mulling over all the worries and ‘what ifs’ that go with pregnancy. Little Sarah’s story has reminded me again of the sufficiency of God’s grace, mercy and love.
    Bless you.

  27. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for this post, especially the perspective that in that dark place God was there. We too are expecting our eighth child and I am happy and reassured at every bump and move. I pray that if God ever requires that of us He will give us the grace and strength to glorify Him in the midst of it. It is just nice to hear the testimony of one who has experienced that comfort.

    Blessings and prayers,

    Kimberly

  28. a suburban housewife says:

    How wonderful to know one of our children is with our Lord. Our son, Owen, is in heaven too. Sarah’s birthday is still a tender time, right? We will pray for your family.

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