I found out I was pregnant on Mothers Day, Sunday, May 10th, 2009. My husband and I were very happy and surprised that it happened so easily. A week later I went in to see the midwife – at that time I was only 5 or 6 weeks pregnant. Everything was fine.
I made a follow up appointment for a month later.
At that appointment (11 weeks) the midwife had trouble locating a heartbeat so she ordered a sonogram to see it. The sonogram technician looked and immediately left the room and got the midwife to come in. They both were troubled because the baby was alive, but had a larger than normal fluid filled sac on the back of its neck. The midwife told us, it might be nothing – but they wanted to order a level 2 sonogram at the hospital right away to get a better look. She explained that sonograms are usually given this early and that it could happen in lots of kids and we just don’t usually see it, because they don’t usually do sonos so early. We were not too concerned.
The next day we went to the hospital and our lives changed. The sonogram technician confirmed it was a cystic hygroma which is often seen in little girls. The perinatologist, came in and very coldly gave us about a 33-50% chance that the hygroma will dissolve and absorb in and that the baby would be completely normal. Even if the sack disappears as it's suppose to - the doctor indicated there is an underlying reason it happened. He said the chance that the child will die in uteruo are pretty high. He indicated if I made it to 20 weeks that would be really good. He also said I may not know the child died until my next sonogram. The chances are elevated that if she does make it, she's going have significant challenges. He said many people choose to terminate their pregnancy at this point as the outlook is not favorable. They offered to do an amnio to see if bad genetics showed up. We told him we would not be terminating the pregnancy no matter what, so we would not need the amnio. We decided we would wait and see what was to unfold. The baby was so tiny we felt with a 50% chance everything could be okay, that God could heal the child and give us a miracle. I remember one of the first things that went thru my mind as the doctor was telling us this – was a testimony I had heard at MOPS the year before. A girl told us about her very difficult pregnancy and how the doctors said she too should abort because her daughter’s liver was on the outside of her body and it shouldn’t have been by that point. I remember this girl saying that she and her family prayed and prayed for that liver to move in exactly where it needed to be. Then whenever it was she went back for a follow up appt – it had moved and was just as they had prayed for. She said the doctors were baffled and said it was a miracle as there could be no scientific explanation for it. I felt strongly we could have a miracle too.
My husband and I were in shock. But we knew that our child’s future was out of our hands and God was in control. So we made a choice and went to the church and prayed with Greg Townsend the campus pastor. That was something that was out of character for us. It felt uncomfortable at first. I think now, in retrospect that was the first step or choice of faith we took in this journey. I just recently red the book, the Purpose Driven Life and love how it says – Obedience unlocks God’s power. God waits for you to act first. Don’t wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears or feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and how it develops your character.
After that we went home and I decided we needed more prayer so I sent out an email plea to my friends, family and co-workers – entitled Urgent Prayer Request. Although I’ve been a Christian most of my life, up until that point I had never so boldly asked for faith and prayers from others. I’ve always believed prayer works so I asked a very specific prayer – that the cystic hygroma disappear.
Our next appointment wasn’t for 5 weeks. Within a day or two after that appointment, I felt the baby start moving around inside me. This was a gift from God as most people don’t start feeling anything until around 20 weeks. But Tom and I both could feel the life inside me rolling and kicking. It was wonderful and a gift of reassurance. For as long as I felt movement I knew the baby was doing okay.
During the weeks we waiting for time to pass – God made himself known to us. Just like the baby was growing in me – my faith grew. Our church and our friends showed us so much love. I received dozens of emails of encouragement and promises of prayer. I received an amazing gift in the form of a new friendship. A God-given friendship. I got a little note in the mail from a girl named Rachel who said she was praying for me. She said she knew what it was like to be told your baby would die and she encouraged me to be strong and reach out to her. I did. I strongly believe our friendship was a divine appointment set up by God. She turned out to be the girl who had given that testimony at MOPS that I thought off after our initial bad news. We set up a play date took to each other and each other’s kids immediately. There was a nearly instant bond between us – and what’s really cool about it is that Rachel helped me sooooo much during my pregnancy, but I too helped her. It’s been a very mutually beneficial relationship. We’ve seen each other nearly weekly since our first play date and talk/email nearly daily now.
Each Sunday at church the messages just seemed as if they were being preached right to me. One week we learned about Abraham and how God had called him to sacrifice his son -Genesis 22: 1-24. It was a test of faith and I knew without a doubt God was challenging me too with a test of my faith. Abraham sets out to obey God's command without questioning – I was struck by that. Obedience without questioning. After Isaac is bound to an altar, the angel of God stops Abraham at the last minute, at which point Abraham discovers a ram caught in some nearby bushes. Abraham then sacrifices the ram in Isaac's stead. Abraham’s son was spared, but I didn’t know if mine would be. Somehow, though just knowing that it was a test and practice God designed to grow my trust in him, made it all more manageable. I found great comfort in the invitation to that intimacy with God.
The next sonogram appointment we had (5 weeks later – Friday, August 15th) was filled with surprises. We found out that the baby was a little boy, Nigel Thomas Weber. The sonogram technician kept going on and on about him and how good all his parts looked. I finally asked her is the cystic hygroma gone. And she said “Oh yeah, his neck looks perfect.” Everything was perfect until she got to his heart and then she stopped talking. The silence was obvious that something was gravely wrong. I said “It’s not right is it?” She said “No. I can only see 2 chambers.” I said “He really needs four doesn’t he?” She said “I have to go get the doctor. I’ll be right back.” Tom and I were very quiet. The doctor came in and confirmed that our son had a broken heart. She was very kind and for that I was thankful. She told us that it was terminal unless he received a heart transplant. I told her I imaged little tiny baby hearts are pretty hard to come by… (and who would hope for that! It would mean another baby died.) She said yes, they were. She told me that Nigel should survive the pregnancy fine, because I’m doing all the work for him. But once he’s born he would die very shortly. Sorrow and pain that I could never fully describe washed over me. I slumped over and sobbed and cried “Oh that’s so hard…” She and Tom tried to comfort me, but mostly just let me cry. The doctor again offered to terminate Nigel’s life. She said most people who find out this kind of news; don’t opt to continue the pregnancy. I told her I wasn’t most people.
Another email update was sent out and my email box was flooded with loving responses and support. Food started appearing as friends delivered meals, a very tangible expression of their support. That was a big deal. It may seem like a small thing to bring a dinner. But our world was so rocked. Everything normal was gone. Getting through the day was hard. We had an obligation to try and have some “normalcy” for our daughter’s sake, but it was hard. Having a good dinner restored a tiny bit of normalcy for us. It really helped.
We were told to come back in 3 business days to see a specialist. We went home were remarkably calm, initially. By the end of this pregnancy we figured out this immediate calm we’d receive after bad news was really shock. It typically took a solid day or two until the full impact of what was happening would hit us and then it would roar thru and shake us hard. This time, this shock was definitely the hardest. I sobbed all day Saturday. I had to hide in our spare bedroom because it was just too frightening for my 2 year old to see and experience. The thing about the shock was that it too was a gift from God. It’s truly a survival thing. It kept us from loosing our minds, but it also allowed us time to really truly experience the full depth of emotions that we were entitled to. So often things happen quickly – by drawing it out – I felt more. More love for my children. More love for my husband. More faith in God. More depth and range of intense emotions, like nothing I’d ever experienced before.
Sunday we had a family thing to go to. I was just a mess still. The shock had worn off and I was feeling it, big time. I had emailed an organization called Alexandra’s House on referrals from 3 different people. They were a baby hospice organization. They helped families cope when they new their babies were going to die. As soon as we got to my mother-in-law’s house that Sunday I told Tom I needed to go. I couldn’t handle it. Too many people, too many sad eyes – and my heart was broken. I just started driving around and was sobbing (not the smartest thing to do). My cell phone rang and I answered it to find out that my earth angel was on the line. Kathleen with Alexandra’s House was calling me. She explained she was a retired RN from Children’s Mercy hospital. She was so kind and gently encouraged me to tell her the situation as I was bawling. After I finished explaining about his heart – I had to describe it because I didn’t even know what it was called. She knew and asked if it was a hypoplastic left heart. When I confirmed she said “Dawn honey, that’s not necessarily fatal anymore. There are surgeries that have been done successfully at Children’s Mercy to help babies like that.” I couldn’t believe my ears! Why on earth didn’t the doctors tell us this? I remember crying and saying “really? Nobody told us that.” She then proceeded to tell me about a family friend who has a little girl who had the same condition, but was saved and now is a little girl who loves to play soccer. God sent her to me at exactly the right moment when I needed her and when I needed hope. Kathy asked if she could come to the appt with the specialist. I was enthusiastic to have her join us. She’d know all the right questions to ask and she knew the doctors at Children’s Mercy and likely would know whoever it was we were meeting with that week.
The following Wednesday we went back to the hospital to see a pediatric cardiologist from Children’s Mercy hospital. Kathy was waiting for us in the hospital waiting room. She told us we were meeting with a Dr Rajan, who was very good. She knew him from her days at CM. She described him - a little Indian guy, very smart, who had been helping babies for like 20 years. We were in good hands.
Dr Rajan was awesome. He looked me in the eyes and patted me on the leg. Its funny how small gestures like that can move a soul when the soul needs it… As he looked at Nigel’s heart he quietly chattered on to the perinatologist and sonogram technician. I couldn’t hear him, but could tell it was good. After what seemed like forever he said, “Oh yes. We can operate on this. No problem.” Our hope was back. We were taken to the conference room and Dr Rajan explained in great detail what was wrong and what we could do.
Here is an abbreviated summary of what we learned... Nigel does in fact have the 2 left chambers of the heart and they are kind of working (which is good). He also has a hole in his heart between the left and right side that normally would be bad, but in this case is good. However the left side of his heart and his aorta are very small – too small to sustain him after birth for any length of time. The aorta is very important as it’s the vessel that distributes oxygenated blood throughout your whole body.
The doctor said that Nigel would be a good candidate for a 3 part heart surgery. It’s still a fairly new procedure, but they do it 12-14 times a year and have pretty good success rates up to 70 or 75%, with it the first round and around 90% with the next two operations. They would have to keep his heart working via medication once he’s born until he’s strong enough for surgery (within 7-10 days). After that he’d have to stay at Children’s Mercy for at least 3-4 weeks. The next surgery would be at 6-8 months and then again around age 3.
The specialist also gave me the good news that there is no reason he should die while I’m carrying him. Babies in uteruo mostly use the right side of their heart and that’s his good side.
They offered to make another follow up appt with us in 6 weeks. I was so happy that they’d want to see us again in 6 weeks that we were being given a chance. But I was also keenly aware that this journey was going to be a very, very hard one. I was going to have to turn over my newborn son to a bunch of doctors and they were going to cut his chest open. It was hard to swallow.
One friend of mine who’s son had to have heart surgery as a baby told me this - As you know we have been through the process of surgery on an infant and it will not be easy, but for us the experience of completely placing your child in the Lord's hands because you are unable to do anything of your own power was one of the most maturing and faith growing processes of my entire life. It has given me a much more God-focused attitude toward my role as mom. Nigel belongs to the Lord and the Lord loves him even more than you do!
Again as time passed the messages at church kept hitting that message home to me – the Lord loves Nigel more than I do.
Blessings and joys helped us get thru as we again waited. My sister, whom I love dearly, surprised me and came home from Los Angeles to wait with me (and distract me) for about a week. Chloe turned 2 years old and had an outrageous princess/barney birthday party coordinated and produced by her awesome Nana. My step dad, looked up the meaning of the name Nigel – and we found out it means “Champion”.
About a week before our next follow up appt with the pediatric cardiologist I received a call from the hospital care coordinator. She was the gal that would coordinate Nigel’s birth, transfer to CM, etc… She gave me a sneak peak of what our birth would be like. It was not as I had hoped. I learned that I would need to be induced at 39 weeks. I was bummed about that as I had a natural childbirth with my Chloe and had hoped to do the same for Nigel. I knew all too well that the drugs they use for inductions make natural births much harder. The coordinator told me that as soon as Nigel is born he will have to be ventilated as the drug they will have to give him to keep his heart working until they operate makes babies forget to breathe. She made it sound very much like I wouldn’t even get to hold him – as he’d be immediately taken away and worked on. She said as soon as he stabilized they’d take him to CM. The part I really wasn’t expecting however was that I would not be allowed to leave and go be with him for at least 6-8 hours. That was painfully discouraging. The other thing she said was that I needed to be sure and plan to have support with me – because Tom would go be with the baby and I’d be all alone unless I planned to have someone there. She said that often gets overlooked and it’s a very dark time for the moms. Once I would be released she said I’d only have a 2 hour pass and I’d have to go back to the hospital.
This was all news that hurt to my core. Throughout this process I’d get horrible news, then I’d get my head around it, start to feel a little better and then get more bad news.
It took some time to soak in… Initially all I heard was I would give birth, he’d be taken from me immediately. He might live, but I wouldn’t get to be with him for the first day of his life, at least not much. Then as soon as this teeny tiny person showed he was stable, people I didn’t know were going to ice his little head, cut his chest open, stop his heart and rearrange him.
After some encouragement, I found peace in the latest batch of horrible news. I learned that I couldn’t take care of him, even though I wanted to and felt that my milk, my arms, my love were essential. For him it wasn’t.
Our next appointment set up for October 1st. That appointment did not go well.
Nigel’s one big problem had turned into 2 very big problems. In addition to this heart, he now had a blocked urethra. This meant that he couldn’t pee and therefore didn’t have the amniotic fluid he needed to practice breathing with. His little bladder was enormously full and it looked as if it was backed up all the way to his kidneys. He was potentially in kidney failure. Kidney failure was 100% terminal. The doctor said that this development was practically unheard of at this phase of pregnancy.
The perinatologist said that there was a chance that if he wasn’t in kidney failure that there was a surgery that could possibly be performed in Cincinnati or San Francisco while he was still in uterus to open the blockage. The only way they would know for sure was to drain the urine in his bladder and send it off for testing. To do this they had to stick a big needle in my belly, into him and drain his bladder. It was pretty much like an amniocentesis.
At the thought of this I began to really freak out. My whole body started violently trembling. I came in thinking we were going to have a good appointment with the cardiologist and now was told my child would certainly die unless they operated on him while he was still growing inside me. Kathleen and Tom physically had to hold onto me as I was shaking so hard. And then God comforted me. In a way I still can’t fully explain and indescribable calm washed over me. I lay back on that table and I sang a worship song in my head. For some reason, I can’t remember what song it was. It’s like it was given to me and then taken away – but while I laid there singing this upbeat happy praise song I was 100% calm. I didn’t move at all while they did the procedure. I had pure peace. Both Tom and Kathleen saw it too.
Once that was over we had to wait 2 days and go back to do it again to finalize the testing. They said if we did qualify for the surgery it would only be a temporary fix and he’d have to have additional surgeries once born. This cutting edge surgery was typically only done on babies that were otherwise healthy so I felt fairly confident even if his kidneys tested out okay, we would likely be denied.
All I could do was surrender to the chaos of the moment and the experience. We try so hard in life to do what’s right and to make decisions, when really so often all we can do is surrender and let God’s will be done. I knew that the hard decisions were about to be made for me and all I had to do was live with them.
Once again, proof that God has designed mothers in a miraculous way… The perinatologist indicated that even if Nigel was in (or would go into) full kidney failure, that he will likely survive the pregnancy. My body was doing all the work for him. Tom summed it up with he said that I, his mommy, was his dialysis machine, his ventilator, his nourishment, and his heart pump. While he’s inside me, he should be okay as I’m doing everything for him.
5 days later I found out that no surgeries would be necessary. Nigel was in full kidney failure and nothing could be done medically to save him.
It’s weird when you learn your baby is going to die. Everything shifts. Being pregnant in public is extremely hard as people are overjoyed by your belly. The endless “when are you due?!” questions were excruciatingly hard to answer. Most often I’d just say the date and change the subject. But on many occasions people would press on with more questions and inevitably I’d have to tell them “my baby is going to die”. The panic, the pain, the embarrassment on their faces… It was awful. People are uncomfortable swimming in others grief. The way they try and respond to it is, naturally, to try and fix the situation. Of course, they can’t, but letting the silence hang there is hard, so they try and fill it with words they think will help. I sense people’s intentions, and know that is their desire, but honestly it falls flat. It means so much more for someone to make eye contact and just say “I’m so sorry.” and leave it at that.
Nigel was a very active boy the whole pregnancy. He was almost constantly moving around and kicking me. It was great. At night when I’d “rockabye” Chloe was especially sweet. I swear he’d move over more to one side of my tummy and Chloe would sit on the other and he’d move and kick to my songs and stories.
Chloe was amazing through the experience. She is a very empathetic little girl. One night she asked me if I was sad. I told her “yes, because baby Nigel is sick.” Then she asked if she could talk to him. So I lifted up my shirt and she got down really close to my belly button and gently patted my stomach, as if comforting him and said “it’s okay Nigel. Grandma will make you better. It’s okay…” Then she gave him a kiss (because those always fix her boo-boos) and asked me “is that better momma?” She continued to move and comfort me daily.
We were given the gift of a free 3D sonogram thru Alexandra’s House (the baby hospice). Tom and I brought both of our mom’s thinking it would be a very special experience. We’d heard so many good things about them. Unfortunately, like every other appointment it didn’t go all that well. Because there was so little fluid it was tough to see much. The sonogram tech also (trying to be helpful) asked us if anyone had prepared us for what he’d look like at birth. No… She basically said he might be kind of scary looking and squished because of the lack of fluid. She also said these babies are often stillborn. She said in her experience if he lived it would just be for minutes, at best. It was disappointing. I was hoping for maybe an hour. It’s crazy when you loose a child how desperate you can feel. You truly grasp for anything. This was just another day that showed me when you think you have a grasp on everything, you really don’t. Something can come right along and shake you. Just hold on and don’t let go.
Tom and I found great comfort and strength in God thru this ‘heavy’ time of waiting on Nigel. Each day felt like impending doom was looming and we chose to focus on 2 scripture verses.
Romans 8:28 – Know that all things work together for good to those who love God.
Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord your God and lean not on your own understanding.
I was very concerned that Nigel would come early. My Chloe was 4 weeks early and if he followed suit, he’d arrive on Christmas Eve.
On November 15th I had a maternity photo shoot. It was another free service provided by Alexandra’s House. It was fun. Honestly probably the only purely fun pregnancy experience I had with Nigel. The gal fixed my hair and make up and made me feel beautiful. The plan was that we were supposed to call her once I went into labor and she’d come and photograph him. I was told by the other parents at Alexandra’s House that good photographs are very important because that’s all you have. After the shoot, I told Tom that I thought the gal was very nice, but for some reason I felt like I was supposed to ask Aimee Price (a gal from my night MOPS group) to come and take his pictures. Tom deferred the decision to me. Nervously I asked Aimee to come and witness and capture what I knew would be a very intense experience and graciously she agreed.
A week before Thanksgiving, November 18, Chloe didn’t sleep well and had a cough. I opted to keep her home from Mothers Day Out and take the day off work. Early that morning when we were getting up and around she and I had a very important conversation. It occurred to me that she and I had talked a lot about how Nigel was sick. But not necessarily that he would die. So I told her that soon, Nigel would come out of my stomach and that because his heart was sick he would die and go live in heaven with Jesus. I re-enforced that I wasn’t sick and she wasn’t sick, just Nigel. She said “He won’t be sick anymore in heaven?” And I assured her no.
We had a beautiful morning together. Chloe was super sweet and well behaved. We played and made crafts. I made an obstacle course out of pillows and toys. We pulled out the Christmas tree and ate warm cookies while we decorated it. While we were decorating I looked down at Chloe and asked her “Do you remember where Nigel is going to go?” She said “With Jesus. He won’t be sick anymore.” Around 10am I sat down on the chair and felt Nigel stop moving. I suspected he was gone although I didn’t say anything to anyone.
The next morning I woke up around 4:30am and woke up Tom. I told him I thought Nigel was gone. He was surprised, but knew how in tuned I was with my body and him. Tom just held us.
I called the doctors office at 9am when they opened and told them the situation. They had us come in an hour later. Within seconds of the sonogram being turned on, we could tell he was gone. We had gotten good at reading those things. Dr Swartzman was off that day, but was due in Saturday morning. The on duty doctor told us to go home and pack up and come back to the hospital that night at 9pm to start the induction. I sent out another email update to let everyone know he was gone. My mom kept Chloe that night at her house and Tom and I rested before leaving. It had been an exhausting 8 months and we were about to meet our son.
When we arrived at the hospital we were given a birthing room in the far corner. A gift not to have to hear other mother’s giving birth to babies that cry. I had a TERRIBLY stuffed up nose/sinus infection and was just miserable. The nurse got me situated and ordered a nasal decongestant. I was given an aggressive induction drug that would have to be re-administered every couple hours. I was already having good contractions so I figured I’d have him in/by early morning. Around 11pm I finally got the nasal spray and did a squirt up each side of my nose. I could breath!! It was glorious, I felt SOO much better. I was given a sleeping pill and we did our best to rest.
My contractions were intense. I endured them and in the wee hours of the morning the nurse had a good talk with me. She encouraged me strongly to get an epidural. We talked about how scared I was of them and how I was able to have Chloe without it. She made me realize I could birth him without but there was no purpose to this pain. I conceded to receive the epidural. I was terrified as they put it in. It did help the pain though. I was still feeling quite a lot on one side of my body so the head anesthesiologist came and redid it. He was good. It was much easier and more effective once he did it. I was numbed up.
My dad, who does not do well in hospitals, arrived in the morning to be with me. Initially I didn’t really think I wanted the “company”, but it turned out to be really comforting to have him there. I realized that I was trying to protect him from having to experience something I knew he didn’t want to, but his parental desire to father me was far greater. Much like our heavenly father’s desire to be near us when we are hurting. The labor went on for a long time. By mid-morning we called Aimee and told her I thought if she showed up around 12:00 or 12:30pm, that would be good.
The morning drug on. We were in oddly good spirits, no tears were shed. I begged for food as I was hungry. At one point Tom was on the phone with my mom giving an update and I thought my stomach growled really loudly. He turned around and looked at me so surprised. I just shrugged my shoulders and said “What?!? I told you I was hungry?” As soon as he got off the phone I let out a looooong fart. The epidural was strong and I had no control. I looked at him and said, “Oh my gosh.” Then I started cracking up because I realized it wasn’t my stomach growling a minute before, but me farting. We both were rolling in laughter which quickly turned to sobbing. It was crazy. It took a fart to make us laugh, to bring us to the tears we needed to shed. After that the tears were more abundant.
Our pastor, Greg Townsed, showed up and we all held hands prayed. Right after the prayer I had a big wave of nausea and kind of panicked and called the nurse. Aimee showed up at 12:30pm. She and the doctor came in and said they’d check me. Everyone was leaving and they pulled my leg up (which was 100% dead weight) and they both jumped back startled and said “Oh, he’s out! Tom you need to move away! Go stand over there.” At that point I freaked out. Their reaction frightened me as I thought he must be really scary looking. I closed my eyes and cried as they tried to reassure me that he wasn’t scary. Once I finally opened them, I saw he was beautiful. He looked like a tiny little Chloe, but with dark wavy hair and bright red lips and oh, he smelled so good. I held him in the blanket, scared to touch him. He looked so fragile, so perfect, so peaceful. He was born at 12:36pm and weighed 3 pounds, 3 ounces and was 16 ½ inches long. Aimee had been in our room for about 10 minutes and captured the fear, pain, love and beauty of that precious time perfectly.
We did opt to have Chloe see her brother. She tickled his little feet and then wanted to go to the mall for pretzel bites☺. We spent about 2 ½ hours with Nigel and then told him goodbye. He was warm and his skin looked good at first, but he deteriorated quickly.
Shortly after he was born, my nose clogged back up and the nose drops did nothing to help. I choose to believe in God’s provision to take away that extreme discomfort for the birth.
I learned after he was born that I had an unusually strong epidural. The doctor and the nurses were trying to spare me from having the emotions of the delivery experience. They had hoped he would just come, just like he did. In retrospect that was so kind.
My pregnancy with Nigel was so special. I learned so much about myself and especially about what faith really means. I thought (and said) when all of this started “how can God be glorified if Nigel dies?” All the prayers will be denied, hearts will be broken, and people will feel let down by God. I couldn’t fathom how good could come from such a tragedy. But God truly can be glorified, even in the worst of experiences. So much good came from my time as Nigel’s mom.
In simple ways, I tangibly saw God’s provision. When I went on maternity leave early we didn’t have the money set aside yet for my being out of work. Shortly after getting home after having Nigel we received a check in the mail for $1000. It was an unexpected bonus and exactly how much we needed to cover our expenses.
Another example of God’s provision is the timing of his delivery. Nigel came a week before Thanksgiving. We were given some time to mourn, but more importantly we were given the distraction of lots of family activities and love over the Thanksgiving weekend. In large part, our pain was behind us. We mourned so heavily up to loosing him, knowing that he was in heaven and the fear of the unknown was gone – was something to be very thankful for.
Another example of God’s provision is that Nigel died of a cord accident. It never occurred to us that would happen, but it did. His umbilical cord got squished and the protective jelly got rubbed off so that the cord came apart – because he didn’t have fluid to protect it. Saying goodbye to him was hard… God spared us from having to do it twice. Had he been born alive, we would have had to watch him die and would really have to say goodbye twice. I’m thankful that he just went straight to heaven. He lived a warm, cozy life. He never sinned, never new any pain and went straight to Heaven.
I learned that waiting grows faith. I’m thankful for the months I had to share my Nigel story with my friends and family. We live in a world of instant gratification, but when you wait, you have the opportunity to learn and to fully experience the depth of your emotions and your experience. Without a doubt, my trials built my character and my faith. In the bible James advised -Don’t try and get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work in you so that you become mature and well developed.
I learned that God uses problems to draw you closer to him. The bible says “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues the crushed in spirit.” Keep in mind it takes time, but my most profound and intimate experiences of worship have been in my darkest days. When I was out of options, and the pain was great, I chose to turn to God. It was during my suffering when I learned to pray my most authentic, heartfelt, honest-to-God prayers. I’m grateful for my time with Nigel, as painful as it was, it was also one of my greatest gifts as it allowed me to truly, truly depend on God.
I also learned an intimate lesson in sacrifice. From a parenting perspective, I have a far greater appreciation and empathy of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus was God’s son and he died for his glory. Before I mentioned I couldn’t fathom how Nigel’s death could bring God glory – I get it now… If we turn to God, not rebelling against our hurt, we can allow God transform that hurt to greater good… The bad things that happen to us can either be taken into ourselves as pain (anger, bitterness, regret), or given back to God as a holy offering, one that transforms the experience from bad to one that glorifies his name, and our case and ultimately gives meaning to our loss.
Romans 8:28 - All things work together for good for those who love God.
I feel honored to be a part of this journey. People that don’t pray prayed for us... Nigel got them talking to God. I have received numerous emails that our experience has deepened or even started faith in people. A few short years ago, I would never have guessed I’d be someone telling a story like this… But here I am. By allowing God to turn our tragedy into something with meaning that I can share with you, I’d like to think Nigel brought glory to God.