Late at night, on the 24th of July, I went into labor. We called my mom and asked her to come and get the younger children ~ the older boys were already at her house. We were overjoyed that this child would share his birthday with his Grammie.
The midwives were called and arrived and we settled in to wait for his arrival. I slept until about 4 am or so and woke up ready to have a baby. He was very active all through labor, and his heart tones were good. Everything was progressing very normally for one of my labors. I was laying on my side, laboring, looking out the window, thinking what a gorgeous day it was and knowing it would only be a short time before I would be holding my newest son in my arms.
Once I began to push, I felt being on my side was not productive, so Mike and the midwives helped me get upright on the birthing stool. As soon as I was upright, my midwife saw a lot of 'suspicious' blood and told me I needed to push and deliver him quickly. When his body was delivered, the cord hit my leg. Not realizing the gravity of the situation, I said, "The cord broke". At which point, the midwives began doing CPR. Mike called 911 and requested the life flight. And then we began to call friends and family, asking them to pray for a miracle ~ and we pled with God for our son's life.
It was not to be. Our midwives performed CPR for 45 minutes before the life flight crew arrived and took over. But his cord had broke at some point after he had entered the birth canal and he had bled to death before he was delivered. In the blinking of an eye, we had gone from laboring with a live baby to delivering a dead one. From the joy of a new life to the heart-shattering grief of the loss of a child. In a moment, with no real preparation (is there such a thing?), we were thrown onto the hardest path a parent can walk.
From the very first moments, Mike and I determined that our grief would drive us to God and that it would not drive us apart. As that first day progressed and we were finally alone, we began a practice that I believe enabled us to keep our heads above water. We actively looked for things within our circumstances to praise God. We were very blessed to be surrounded by folks who loved us and continually pointed us back to our Heavenly Father, reminding us constantly of His great love for us.
People would ask, "Why?" And I would answer, "Why not?" Who was I to be spared suffering? I don't have the words to adequately share my thoughts without perhaps giving the impression that my grief was not deep and overwhelming. Let me assure you, it was. I spent many days barely able to rise from my chair and many, many nights my pillow was soaked from crying myself to sleep. I carried within me a physical ache, that I truly believed would have killed me had it not been for my faith in Christ. Although my heart was broken and my arms ached to hold my son, I never really felt that Tucker's death was unfair. For me ~ perhaps. But not for him. I never looked at it as if he had died 'too soon', or 'too young'.
Psalm 139 says, "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them." v.16
Tucker lived out every day God had ordained for him. His life was not cut short, it was lived just as fully as someone who we would consider had lived a long, full life. And God showed great mercy to Tucker. He leapt from the warmth and safety of my womb into the waiting arms of Jesus. He never knew or will know pain and sorrow, sickness, or sin. As we grieved the death of our precious son, he was in the presence of the Savior, living life more fully than I can even imagine!
I took great comfort in knowing that God knows what it is to grieve the loss of a child. We live in a world marred by sin. The immediate consequence of sin was death. We still live with that consequence today ~ each of us is born dieing. Each of us is born spiritually dead. God has grieved much over the loss of life and He is able to draw us close as we grieve and bring peace and joy to our hearts and lives once again.
God did not allow me to wallow in my grief. We had a houseful of children who needed me (what a blessing that was!), and within a few months of Tucker's death, God began to bring other grieving Mamas into my path. It was not an easy thing to do. Each time I heard of a baby or child dieing, emotionally I would be back at the morning we lost Tucker. But I found that as I reached out to other Mamas just beginning their grief journey, I was less focused on me and I was 'giving' purpose to Tucker's life and my own grief. While I certainly hoped and prayed that I was a blessing to them, the truth was that they were a huge blessing to me. To be able to reach out, to make 'use' of my own suffering ~ to be able to offer comfort to others out of that suffering, brought healing to my own heart.
"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, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
There is blessing in suffering, in mourning ~ God will comfort us. And then, as we take the comfort we have received from Him and in turn comfort others, we are again blessed.
I do want to point out that I did not just commisserate with these grieving Mamas. There is no comfort ~ for anyone ~ in that. I came alongside with compassion. I grieved with them, because I knew what it was to have my life shattered by the death of a child. And I did my best to glorify God and gently point them back toward their Heavenly Father. To remind them of His great love for them. This is where true comfort and blessing comes from. We will never find comfort and peace apart from God.