Still Standing

A Miracle Baby

“Lord we come to you now.” He paused as if searching for the words.  “We pray for this precious little baby girl, Bella. Lord we know you are in control.”  I opened my eyes, as my Pastor continued his prayer. “Lord even now, I pray, if it is your will, that you perform a miracle here. I trust that you can. Amen.”

I slouched to the chair that was beneath me. I looked at my wife who still held her eyes closed as her hands held her stomach where our still daughter rest. “Perform a miracle?” The thought rammed into my mind. A miracle? Why hadn’t I been praying like that?

Where was my faith? I began to chastise myself. I have read  the Bible.  If God could create the Earth, surely He could handle reestablishing a heart beat for one little baby girl.

I fantasized. I imagined the headlines in the newspaper the next day. Baby’s heart stops for 24 hours and lives. I saw the microphones and cameras pushing into our room with questions from the media. The miracle baby. She could be a miracle baby!

I was told God could get the glory through this loss through our lives — suddenly I realized that God could still get the glory if He brought her back. I argued that God could receive even more glory with this alternate ending. I closed my eyes and sprinted off a new prayer.

“God please let her be a miracle baby. God, you have the power. God you can do this if you choose. Please let her heart begin beating again.”

“Okay here we go again. Ready? Push!” the doctor urged.

My instant prayer didn’t fool me. I knew the end of this procedure would only place the lifeless body of our little baby girl in our midst.

Suddenly the fetal heart monitor beeped. I lifted my head up.  A flicker of red numbers caught my eye.  I remembered my prayer to God.  Another beep from the machine sounded.

“What is that?” the nurse said with a  baffled tone. She leaned towards the small rectangle monitor.

Time stopped. I felt myself gasp. I scanned the monitor as eagerly as the trained professional.

“The paper.” She answered out loud.

The heart monitor had ran out of paper, as the now fading signal continued to beep in the background. Noise filled my ears. My head began to spin. It was time to push again. There would be no miracle baby — or would there?

The day before, my two-year-old son Caleb, was with us at the doctor’s office when we received the news that Bella’s heart had stopped beating. He looked on as his mommy wailed with tears and as his daddy shook with anger. Emotions he had never seen his parents display came to life in front of his innocent round eyes. Surprisingly Caleb was a rock. His usually playful investigative spirit was strangely calm, as he seemed to know something wasn’t right. He sat in the chair for nearly 15-minutes on his knees beside the bed that held my wife, intently watching, waiting, quiet.

The miracle baby was there.

6 hours after we delivered our stillborn daughter, our children arrived at the hospital. I watched them as each one walked in with an obvious uncertainty. They sat down, and remained uncharacteristically quiet. They exchanged forced smiles and made small talk.

Suddenly, unprompted, Caleb stood up and slowly turned towards me.  Instinctively, I reached out my arms to pick him up. He didn’t let me. Instead, he placed his small arms as far around my shoulders as he could, buried his head into my chest and squeezed.

A hug? A tear fell from my eye without me even realizing it.

He had never given hugs before.

As quick as he had clasped onto me, he released his grip and walked towards my mom.

Another hug.

He repeated this process to every single person that was in the room. Seven hugs later, he turned towards my wife.

He ended his rounds at the foot of the bed that held his grieving mother. Nicole bent down and grabbed onto his small shoulders. He squeezed.

Thank you God“, I whispered to myself.

The miracle baby was there.

Last month, on October 15th, my wife and I gathered the children together in our room to light Bella’s candle. The memory of the loss brought with it some sniffles — except to Caleb. He sat by, staring at the flickering flame of the candle. One hand scratched at his head, as if he was thinking, the other held onto a partially empty bag of Doritos.

I decided we should  say a prayer. I began praying — the sobs became louder. As I thanked God for watching over us, helping us to this point and for His grace — a loud crunch erupted throughout the bedroom. I paused, opened one eye, closed it, then continued. Another loud crunch sounded. This time it was followed by several purposely added chomping sounds.

My daughter giggled through a sniff. I tried to continue. Again, the loud crunch sounded. Caleb giggled in the middle of chewing his chip. I laughed and changed the direction of my prayer. “Thank you for Caleb God.” More laughter filled that small bedroom. I smiled as more tears whelmed up. I cried because I knew God was there, through the stillness, the hugs and the sense of humor of one little toddler that had helped us in a million ways since the worst day of our lives.

Bella is on the other side, already there, but until then God gave us four other children to help us heal, help us grow and remember to live.

I can’t wait until Caleb is old enough so that we can explain the many ways he was able to help us smile, laugh and learn during this unrelenting trial. A tragedy so much bigger than him has been forced to crumble under his amazing gift of comfort on countless occasions.

I would give my own life to have Bella back. Not a day passes that I don’t miss her, but in the meantime, I’m thankful that God has allowed a visible image of His grace.

Find your miracle. It could be your spouse, other children, the neighborhood kids — it could be anywhere. Find it, claim it and take another step.