“Held” by Natalie Grant
I don’t like choking down tears. I don’t like pretending to be happy or content when all I can think about is how my baby should be with me, how I should still be pregnant, how Louie and I should have been celebrating our 10 year anniversary with our first child (instead, we looked at each other and shared the same feelings — It doesn’t feel right celebrating anything without Calvin).
It maybe selfish of me, but I think I have the right to be a little selfish in this way. I can’t always be strong. I can’t always seem like I’m “handling it well.” Try replacing the pronoun it with what Louie and I went through, with what we are still going through, and then try telling me that I need to be strong. This is what I need: I need to be able to cry until my eyes sting and my face hurts and my shirt is covered in tears and mucous and every word I try to speak comes out as an incoherent wailing. It may seem unproductive or self-destructive to wallow in my grief, but I think I have the right to fall apart once in awhile.
I just can’t. I try to be a good Christian. I try to accept his will. But does this mean I have to like it all the time? Even Jesus asked God if He would take that cup from him, and, yes, I know, Jesus still only wanted what the Father willed for Him. So what does this mean for me? Everyday, multiple times a day, I prayed: Dear God, please, if it is Your will, please allow me to bring this baby into this world and for and Louie me to raise him. And everyday, I am thankful that Calvin is with God, that his soul is back with the Creator, that he is in the presence of our Savior, that he is surrounded by our departed loved ones. But I still long for my child.
When we found out out that the radiologist saw amniotic bands and that our baby was missing the fingertips of his right hand, we chose life for our baby. When we found out that our baby still had his complete fingers, we praised Him, though it was also when we learned that there were three bands that threatened the baby’s face, his right arm, and his left leg. We still chose life, though we were told of risks. And I started researching amniotic band syndrome. I looked up cleft lips and cleft palates and found out that I may not be able to breastfeed, that the baby may need surgery because cleft palates are linked with ear and nose problems, as well. I learned about club feet and the surgeries that are necessary to correct it.
When the screening for Down’s syndrome came back positive; that was the first time I cried at work. I felt like God was testing me by piling more and more challenges for my baby. Still I said, “Yes, Lord, I’ll take.” I decided against the amniocentesis because of the risks of miscarriage. Instead, I started researching on Down’s Syndrome, as well. I was overwhelmed by what I learned because I didn’t know that the mental effects were also accompanied by tendencies for heart problems and muscular issues. But still, I wanted my baby.
Now, I am less than 3 months away from my due date, and I’m trying so hard not to ask why, but there are times when I just can’t get these questions out of my mind. Did I want my baby too much? Is that why God took him from me? Were my sins during this pregnancy so great that God saw me unfit to have my child? Because I questioned becoming a mother so much, did He want me to feel the pain of being denied? I don’t believe that God is cruel. I still believe that God’s love me. I believe that God chose me and Louie to be Calvin’s parents, and I feel so blessed, even in this anguish and despair that overtakes me in waves. I know that children are God’s gift to us. I know that Calvin is God’s child first. I don’t really believe that God would use taking away my child as a punishment, but what of Ramses and his son and all the first born sons?
I know that He is not surprised when I break down. I know that it is when I am in my deepest grieving that He is with me the most. I still trust Him, I do. I believe He has great reason for allowing my child to die. And amidst my desire for understanding and my deep longing for Calvin, I still praise Him. And I hope He forgives my weakness, and my need to fall apart, and I hope Calvin does, too.