We found out we were expecting a baby the day before we started out on a two-week road trip to visit family and friends in three different states this past Spring. We had been ready and hoping for the gift of life again and we were so excited.
Our plans for the day changed when we saw the two lines on the stick indicating new life. Instead of the day at home we had planned, we wanted to have the chance to tell the good news to my husband’s parents and his sister in person if possible before our trip.
Undoubtedly, they knew something was up. A hastily offered invitation to lunch when we ought to have been packing was rather a giveaway. With no fanfare other than the big smiles on our faces, we informed them that the Lord had blessed us with another child.
The next couple of weeks found us telling more family and more friends, and making our news public on social media. New life is worth celebrating and worth praying over.
When we returned from our trip, the morning sickness and fatigue had begun to set it. I took it easy and we all made adjustments to get through this season. Lots more snuggles in bed, lots more convenience foods, and lots of planning and wondering about my children’s new sibling.
first “bump” picture and big sister with a diaper looking on
Our first ultrasound came at about the time I was entering my second trimester. At fourteen weeks gestation, we saw our baby for the first time. A perfect little blessing.
After hearing the ultrasound technician’s confident guesses that our baby was a girl, we rejoiced at another sister and tentatively began to think of our baby in terms of lavender and yellow.
But it was still early to be really sure, which our next ultrasound would prove in a month’s time.
Surprise! Not a little sister, but a little baby boy. James Henry Burns. Named after his grandfather.
The news spread and friends and family celebrated with us, once again.
As our fourth baby and our third son, there were not many things to be done to prepare for his arrival. But what we lacked on a to-do list, we made up for in hopeful anticipation. Our children used Thanksgiving as a time marker to expect his birth and we often talked about the baby growing in mommy’s belly and how his birthday would be after daddy’s but before Christmas.
Just wait little ones, it will go by fast.
Our anatomy ultrasound not only revealed our baby’s true gender. It also revealed some concerns as well. The same day we met with a midwife at my practice, we met with a specialist at the hospital.
We had two more ultrasounds to look for potential issues. What we learned was that while there were some growth concerns, all of James’ organs looked fine. All we could do was wait and pray.
During this time, Psalm 139 was constantly on my mind. I knew that the Lord was the one forming James’ body in my womb. He made no mistakes. I rested in knowing that the Creator of all things, my heavenly Father, held James in His hands and ordered his life.
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
The next part of James’ story is altogether too brief. I wish his story went on and on, but somewhere in James’ twenty-second week of life, his precious little heart stopped beating.
We found out just days ago when my husband and I arrived for a follow-up ultrasound at the hospital. We knew immediately what had happened. The images on the screen left no doubt.
That same day, we checked into the hospital and prepared for our son’s early arrival through an induced labor. The words of the hymn “God Moves In A Mysterious Way” were a comfort and gave me direction to pray and truth to focus my thoughts upon when all I could do was lay in bed and wait.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break,
In blessings on your head.
James was born early Saturday morning and was greeted by two loving parents. We held his precious little body, counted his tiny fingers, and kissed his sweet head. We sang his brothers’ and sister’s favorite lullabies and gave him teary assurances of all our love and sorrow at not getting to know him longer.
We weep at the loss of our son and grieve that we have had to say goodbye so early.
In the midst of our deep sorrow, we are standing on the promises of God. He is our rock in this storm and our ever-present help in time of trouble.
We are still confident that God makes no mistakes. He knew the days ordained for our precious son before he was yet formed in my womb. He will hold him until we can meet him again.
I am not sure what the upcoming weeks and months will look like. They may hold a few answers. They will certainly hold many more tears and many, many more hugs and kisses to and from our small children.
You can be praying for our family as we navigate these new waters:
Pray for tenderness with our children as they mourn the loss of their brother.
Pray for our marriage as we seek to care for and love each other well in the midst of great sorrow.
Pray for our hearts as we seek to trust and to submit to our good and gracious Father.
Pray for what is not understood, what is hard, and what is so painful, to become an occasion to know our Lord more deeply and to be a testimony of His love and mercy.