stick figure family

My wife, Lisa, and I have one daughter. Felicity is almost two-years-old. When she was six months we were shocked and delighted to find out we were pregnant again. The first child was such a joy; a second would be icing on the cake.

We discovered our secret early—just a few weeks in—so we had time to be shocked, recover, and begin to dream about the future. We were facing another significant change and the Lord was being faithful to craft a hope and a vision for that change. We began to discuss moving to a bigger house and other practicalities such as careers, insurance and income. Is our house ready to be on the market? Are we financially ready for this? These types of reflections were expected. Perhaps unexpected was the story of change that wove its way into our hearts and thoughts.

We began to imagine two children in the house. We imagined the new child as a girl and then at times as a boy. How will a little boy be different? How will he impact the family dynamic? We had the most joy picturing Felicity as a big sister, imagining her delight at having someone smaller to dote on.

These imaginings took place over five weeks or so. Not a lifetime, but enough time to accept change and create a new vision for an expectant future.

Around 10 weeks Lisa started having complications. The doctors could provide little explanation and we tried not to worry. The complications continued. With Felicity needing to be cared for and Lisa on bed rest, the two went to stay out of town with my in-laws so that I could continue to work.

There were lots of times of prayer and lots of conversations about “what ifs” and the like. Ultimately though, we remained positive never dreaming that anything really terrible would happen. Around 13 weeks the complications ceased. We were overjoyed. Lisa and I went for a scheduled doctor’s visit without really considering anything negative. We were out of the woods. The doctor struggled to find a Doppler reading, which is nothing unusual for 14 weeks of pregnancy. We went for an ultrasound, excited to get another picture of our baby. After ten seconds of searching, the nurse informed us that our baby did not have a heartbeat.

What we thought was the end of pregnancy complications was really the end of our child’s life. We were shaken to the core. Nothing had prepared us for the abrupt end of a life that has just begun.

Our only relief came in a moment of Spirit-inspired clarity when we remembered that our child was safe, peaceful and laughing in the arms of Jesus. When our time on this earth is complete, we will meet our child for the first time. We will hold him and kiss him. It is the best gift.

I wrote the following poem to honor our child:

To My Child, Unborn

In my imagination you have red hair and a joyous smile.
In my imagination you are my son.
In my imagination I watch while you explore, discovering everything strewn across the living room floor.
You look over periodically to make sure I am still paying attention.
Of course I am, my darling boy. How could I take my eyes off you?
Your bright eyes find mine and smile at the corners.
I mouth “I love you.”
You turn away, back to the exploration.

In my imagination your sister is at your side, directing your way.
In my imagination she plays the part of mother.
In my imagination she is diligently removing items from your mouth and trying to make you smile.
She calls your name repeatedly trying to gain your attention.
She adores you, except when you try to steal daddy’s affection, then she asserts her authority, clearly delineating sibling order.
Often, you remain unfazed. Your affections are reserved for mommy.

In my imagination mommy is taking pictures, cataloging every new experience.
In my imagination I have never seen her happier.
In my imagination she swoops you up and covers you in kisses.
You are content viewing the world from her arms.
She swings you around and kisses your nose.
You smile wide and laugh with delight, absorbing every ounce of her love for you.

These images of our expectant future are imprinted in my mind. They grasp my heart with both hands at every rereading of this poem. Change has taken place within, without our little one ever taking a breath. His short life has changed everything. Literally life changing. I am a better man, better father, better husband. I am a better receiver of love and hopefully a better giver. I look at the world differently. Life is more tangible—time with loved ones sweeter.

How did this change occur? For Lisa there is a powerful, physical dynamic. For me the physical was remote. It is through my imagination, used at God’s discretion, and the searing pain of loss, that has imprinted change upon me.

Chris, 31
Memphis, TN

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